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U.S. players feel the history in Lake Placid

Friday, 08.10.2012 / 3:14 PM

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor / USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

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USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog
U.S. players feel the history in Lake Placid

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- It doesn't take long upon arriving in Lake Placid to see all the reminders of the 1980 Winter Olympics. That includes the Olympic Center and the ice sheet in what now is known as Herb Brooks Arena, which hosted the most memorable moment in North American sports history, the "Miracle on Ice" game.

"Everybody knows where you were in 1980," U.S. coach Phil Housley, who was 15 when the United States memorably beat Russia, told NHL.com. "I skipped school that day to watch that game."

The aura that hovers around that ice sheet is easy to feel for Housley as well as the players taking part in this week's USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp.

It's the first time since 2007 the camp has been held on the Olympic-size ice sheet in Herb Brooks Arena, because the tournament has been in North America the past five years. The players here this week all were born nearly 15 years after the Miracle happened, but they all know the stories.

"Every day your first steps out on the ice you think about it," defenseman Andy Welinski, an Anaheim Ducks prospect, told NHL.com. "It's something people are never going to forget. It's always in the back of your head when you step out on the rink."

Forward Steven Fogarty, a New York Rangers prospect, said he certainly appreciates his surroundings.

"When you see these signs about this is where it happened, it's really special," he told NHL.com. "To think that something so great in history happened in the same building we're skating in is so cool. … It's really special to be thinking I was skating on the same ice as those guys."

Goaltender Jon Gillies, who grew up about four hours southeast in Concord, N.H., played in a tournament in Lake Placid as a youngster, but still appreciates every chance he has to stand in the same crease legends Jim Craig and Vladislav Tretiak stood in.

"It's kind of surreal you get to experience this," he told NHL.com. "I played on this ice when I was younger and that's a memory I treasure."

Playing on a legendary surface certainly has provided an extra boost of motivation for most players.

Phoenix Coyotes prospect Connor Murphy said, "It still has that kind of feel that you go out there and you have that extra jump in your step because you know you're playing on that ice."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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