“I play for the United States of America!”
Americans rejoiced. The world was shocked. And, hockey player Mike Eruzione was merely doing what he loved best- playing hockey. Yet, this time was different. He scored a goal that would go down in history as one of the greatest moments in sports.
In 1980, an Olympic game was played that would be known as “The Miracle on Ice”. The U.S. Men’s hockey team defeated the Soviet Union, during a tense political era. As broadcaster Al Michaels questioned fans “Do you believe in miracle?”, Mike Eruzione, the captain of the U.S. team, scored, putting the U.S. in the lead. The Soviets had recently invaded Afghanistan and the U.S. economy was suffering during the Cold War. The game, which they went on to win, represented more than just a hockey game to Americans. Eruzione understands, stating, “Around the country, and for others around the world, it was a good versus evil thing.” This game advanced the team to play for the gold, where they were victorious over Finland. The Miracle on Ice game has been dubbed the “Number 1 Greatest Sports Highlight” by ESPN’s Sportscenter. In addition, Sports Illustrated called it the “Number 1 Sports Moment of the 20th Century.” Eruzione asserts, “I think in 1980, Americans were looking for something to feel good about, and that happened to be us. We showed that despite the obstacles and the odds, we can do anything.”
After his victory in the 1980 Olympics, Eruzione opted to not join the NHL. He felt that he had reached his greatest accomplishment and decided to work as a sports commentator. He covered the New York Rangers, the New Jersey Devils, and then went on to become an Olympic broadcaster. He commented on multiple Olympic Games and lit the cauldron at the 2002 Winter Olympics with his old team. He worked as an assistant coach for Boston University, his alma mater, and has been inducted into multiple halls of fame. His stunning victory has been recreated with a made-for-TV movie Miracle on Ice and a Disney film, Miracle.
Today, Eruzione inspires others as a speaker, motivating audiences around the world. He is the director of special outreach at Boston University and involved in the community. Respected and praised, Eruzione remains truly humble. He shuns the word hero, saying “Vietnam Vets are heroes. The guys who tried to rescue our hostages in Iran are heroes. I’m just a hockey player.”