GREATEST MOMENTS | Boston University’s miracle men from Massachusetts


Greatest-for-BUAs sequels go, Boston University’s “Miracle on Ice II” was about as good as it gets.

In 2009, the Terriers scored twice in the final minute against Miami (Ohio) in the NCAA men’s hockey championship game, then won in overtime for their fifth national championship.

But perhaps nothing in the history of U.S. sports can top the first Miracle on Ice.

On Feb. 22, 1980, the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team beat the Soviet Union 4-3 in Lake Placid, N.Y. It’s also judged the greatest moment in BU sports because it couldn’t have happened without four Terriers players — Jim Craig, Mike Eruzione, Jack O’Callahan and Dave Silk.

Craig, O’Callahan and Silk helped the Terriers to the 1978 NCAA men’s hockey championship, beating rival Boston College 5-3 in the title game (Eruzione graduated in 1977).

Two years later, they helped make the young Americans virtually unbeatable in the Olympics. At least against everyone except the Soviets.

Three days before the Olympics, the USSR hammered the Americans 10-3 in a tune-up at Madison Square Garden.

The U.S. opened the Olympics with a 2-2 tie against Sweden, with Silk scoring a goal. He added a goal and an assist in a 5-1 win against Norway. The U.S. then beat Romania, 7-2, and West Germany, 4-2, to reach the medal round. Craig allowed seven goals in five games, the fewest in the preliminary round.

The rematch with the USSR in the Olympic semifinals came on Day 111 of the 444-day Iran hostage crisis and the third month of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. “It was a sliver of the Cold War played out on a sheet of ice,” Al Michaels said in HBO’s 2001 documentary on the team.

The game was tied at 3 midway through the third period when Eruzione electrified Lake Placid’s Olympic Arena with a goal that gave the U.S. a 4-3 lead.

It set off chants of “USA! USA! USA!” that became louder with each passing minute. In the final seconds, Michaels made his memorable call on ABC: “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”

Boston University contributed Eruzione’s game-winner, Silk’s assists on two goals and Craig’s stops on 39 of 42 shots. Afterward, draped in the American flag, Craig scanned the crowd and famously mouthed the words, “Where’s my father?”

Indeed, it was a moment to be shared.

“People will come up to me and say, ‘Hey, I remember where I was when we won that game.’ And I say we? I didn’t know you were on the team,” Eruzione told PRI in 2014. “But that’s what it felt like for people. Around the country, and for others around the world, it was a good versus evil thing. But for us, it was just a hockey game. It wasn’t going to solve the world’s problems.”

Two days later, the U.S. beat Finland 4-2 to win the gold medal but their greatest moment will always be beating the Soviets.

“I don’t think half of us knew where the Soviet Union was,” Silk joked in 2015. “If they asked us about [Soviet Premier Mikhail] Gorbachev, we would’ve thought he was a left winger.”

• BU Sports Hall of Fame

Above: Jim Craig  jumps with jubilation after the U.S. beat the Soviet Union 4-3 in an Olympic semifinals on Feb. 22, 1980, during the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y. The game was dubbed The Miracle On Ice. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

• Monday: Ball State and Belmont
• Tuesday: Bemidji State and Boston College
• Wednesday: Boston University and Bowling Green
• Thursday: Brown and Bucknell
• Friday: Buffalo and Cal State Bakersfield

Mike Bambach

Mike Bambach is senior web producer for ASN.