Do you believe in miracles?
That’s a question Ken Morrow, Dave Christian, Buzz Schneider and 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team captain Mike Eruzione have been asked a countless number of times, and they never get tired answering it.
They were part of the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” team that stunned the sports world by downing the Soviets in the Lake Placid Winter Olympics and then went on to defeat Finland for the gold medal.
“It was 34 years ago,” said the personable Eruzione, who scored the winning goal in the 4-3 win against the Soviets, “and I still get goose bumps when I think about it.”
As he talked about that memorable Olympics, ABC broadcaster Al Michaels counted down the final seconds of the game on a big-screen television at a VIP reception at The Rink at Burlington Creek, and tears welled in Eruzione's eyes.
“It always gets me,” Eruzione said. “Thirty-four years later, it still gets me.”
His Olympic teammates echo his thoughts.
They came to Kansas City at the invitation of Morrow, a metro area resident since 1990. The boys of winter took part in a skating session at The Rink at Burlington Creek to raise funds for KCIce and the UnCommon Foundation, which raises funds for kids to participate in ice skating and hockey.
“We just did a team appearance back East,” said Morrow, who moved to Kansas City to coach the IHL's Kansas City Blades, “and I asked some of the guys if they would like to come to Kansas City. It's been a great weekend.
“It's funny how we all get famous every four years.”
He was referring to the Winter Olympics, which take place every four years. This year’s Winter Games begin this week in Sochi, Russia, and Missouri Mavericks defenseman Henrik Odegaard is playing for his native Norway.
But Morrow was underestimating the impact he and his teammates have had the past 34 years, following the greatest upset in, not only in Olympic, but sports history.
“We were better than most people thought,” Eruzione said, “but we didn't think we could beat the Russians going in. Most of us were hoping to win a bronze medal. But then we won a few games, got some momentum and we played like we had nothing to lose.
“And our coach (Herb Brooks) was a great motivator. Oh, he was tough on us. But his coaching philosophy worked.”
Morrow, who won four Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders, said Brooks gave the greatest pregame speech he had ever heard before the game against the Soviets.
“He said, ‘This is your moment,’ and he meant it,” Morrow said, grinning. “Then, before we played Finland, all he said was, ‘If you lose, you will take it to your grave.’ That was all he needed to say. So many people think we won the gold by beating the Soviets, but we won that game Friday and then beat Finland on Sunday.”
Scott Moore, a Bonner Springs, Kan., fireman, was at a Kansas City Kings game that Sunday and recalls a moment he will never forget.
“It was Feb. 24, 1980 – I still have it in my date book,” Moore said. “The Kings lost to Milwaukee 94-72, but in the middle of the third quarter, they stopped the game and announced that we had won the gold medal in hockey.
“And they played the national anthem. It was just an amazing moment. You don’t forget moments like that.”
Editor's note: Please turn to The Examiner's Wednesday Sports page for more comments from Morrow, Christian, Schneider and Eruzione from their Miracle on Ice Weekend in the metro area.