GREATEST MOMENTS | Goalie remembers 1980 NCAA title and the ‘Miracle in Mankato’


Minnesota-State-greatest-1Steve Carroll made 42 saves on March 16, 1980, to lead Mankato State’s 5-2 victory against Elmira College in the NCAA Division II hockey championship.

Today, the Division II Tournament is history and Mankato State is Minnesota State. The Mavericks compete in the Division I WCHA. The Mavericks won their first MacNaughton Cup in 2015 as the conference’s regular-season champions and have appeared in four NCAA Tournaments.

They are big time, but the 1980 national championship is not just a footnote in the school’s hockey history. It’s the sports moment judged the greatest in Mavericks’ history.

After losing the 1979 national championship game, the 1979-80 Mavericks adopted the slogan “Going For The Gold” and came back champions, cruising to a 30–9–1 record. Carroll, who runs the The Minneapolis-based Carroll Goalie School, recalled the championship in 2001 on the CGS website.

I was a goalie for Mankato State (now known as Minnesota State University, Mankato), where we made four straight trips to the NCAA Division II semifinals.

By far the most memorable experience happened during my junior year. About a month after the U.S. shocked the world and won gold at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, our team headed to New York in search of our own miracle.

In the NCAA semifinals, we stunned the defending champions from Lowell University 8-1. That put us into the championship game against Elmira College, which was hosting the tournament.

There was about 5,000 fans at the championship game and it seemed like all but a couple dozen MSU parents, were cheering for the Soaring Eagles. The game was televised on ESPN on a taped-delayed basis.

While the final buzzer sounded, the Mavericks skated away with the upset victory, defeating Elmira 5-2 on their home ice — giving the Mavericks a Miracle in Mankato.

It was a remarkable feeling to win the national title and I still have vivid memories from that night in New York. (During my four years at MSU, we finished third in the country during my freshman year, second as sophomores, first as a junior and third as a senior). It was a pretty good run!

You can see some game action from that national championship game in this video.


• Minnesota State Hall of Fame

On the cover and above: Mankato State’s hockey team celebrates a 5-2 victory against Elmira College to win the 1980 NCAA Division II championship in Elmira, N.Y. This photo originally appeared in the Mankato State University Reporter on March 27, 1980. (Courtesy Minnesota State University, Mankato Archives Digital Collection)

Monday: Middle Tennessee and Milwaukee
Tuesday: Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota State
Wednesday: Missouri-Kansas City and Morehead State
Thursday: Murray State and Navy
Friday: Nebraska Omaha and New Hampshire

Mike Bambach

Mike Bambach is senior web producer for ASN.