The United States won Olympic gold for the first time in 1960 at Squaw Valley and when someone writes a book about that, modern-day American teams can study it for guidance. In the meantime, American blueprints for Olympic victory will have to make do with the many volumes commemorating that other golden campaign, in 1980, which include Miracle On Ice: Victory For America! and One Goal (“the victory that united a nation in an explosion of joy and pride”) to Going For The Gold and The Boys of Winter. The latter, by Wayne Coffey, is the best of these chronicles, if not not the one we’re talking about here today in our review of Olympic-hockey how-to books. What does Joe Dunn’s Miracle On Ice (2008) have that the rest of those others don’t? More pictures, fewer words, a whole bunch of very angry and obviously steroid-ridden Russians, and the quickest guide to getting hold of the gold.
It’s tough times in the 1970s for America. The energy crisis, inflation, Iranians taking hostage. The world is in turmoil.
Forget all that. Focus on the Olympics. Can anybody beat the Soviet Union? They’ve won five out of the last six gold medals. Their players are wily and old and, also, young and quick. They have square heads, and scowls on their faces.
Hire Herb Brooks. Convene a number of tryout camps. Test your players mentally as well as physically. Pick a team. Condition them. Train them to work hard and be fast.
Call them lazy. Suggest your mother can skate better than them.
Play a gruelling exhibition schedule. Lose your last game to the Soviets by a score of 10-3.
Go to Lake Placid. Don’t worry about the Canadians — in fact, you know what? Don’t even mention them. Tie Sweden. Dominate the Czechs 7-3. Beat Norway, Romania, Germany.
Meet the still-scowling Soviets in the medal round. Scowl at them. Let them be aggressive in the first period, taking shot after shot. Have a goalie named Jim Craig be up to the task of stopping them all.
See Krutov finally score.
Don’t be discouraged. Tie the game. See Makarov score. Tie it up again, scowlingly.
Be shocked when the Soviet coach pulls Tretiak after the first period in favour of Myshkin. Wilt a bit, but don’t collapse. Eventually take a 4-3 lead. Hold on to it. Win. Skate around with a flag for a cape while the crowd chants U!S!A! and U!S!A! Call it one of the greatest moments in sports history, a miracle, but don’t forget, you still have to beat Finland if you want to win the Olympics.
Miracle On Ice
by Joe Dunn, illustrated by Ben Dunn
(Edina: Magic Wagon, 2008)