GLENDALE – Like many Americans, Coyotes TV/Radio Host Todd Walsh remembers precisely where he was that Friday evening in February when Team USA shocked the world by beating the Soviet Union, 4-3, at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.
"I was 15 years old and I was in Penfield, New York, and as soon as I heard we’d won I ran out to the street and my friends and I recreated the game on my driveway," Walsh recalled without hesitation. "We had a big American flag, and the people in the neighborhood were very excited. I remember people stopped by as we played and celebrated with us, and I remember cars passing by honking their horns. It was incredible."
|Ten of the 1980 U.S. Olympians reunited in Glendale last year. Photo by Norm Hall. |
The 35th anniversary of that "Miracle on Ice" game is this weekend, and it will be relived, discussed and celebrated once again via a unique and intimate ceremony - which Walsh will host - in the world famous yet still modest hockey rink in which it occurred. All surviving players on that 1980 team are scheduled to attend. It will be their first time together as a group in Lake Placid since they received their gold medals 35 years ago.
Coyotes fans will recall a similar reunion a year ago when 10 of the "Miracle on Ice" team members gathered in Glendale for a pre-game ceremony to send the 2014 Olympians off to Sochi in style. The brainchild of Coyotes Co-Owner/CEO Anthony LeBlanc, that event was a huge success locally, and many suggest it triggered the idea for this year’s reunion in Lake Placid.
"People were watching that ceremony from afar and people noticed it," said Walsh, who served as emcee that night. "The things that struck me – and the 1980 Olympians themselves - were the U-S-A! chants and the thunderous ovation they received from the fans in Arizona. The players all walked off the ice looking at each other with that you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me look in their eyes. They tasted in Glendale that night what they’d tasted 35 years ago in Lake Placid."
|Mike Eruzione and Keith Yandle. Photo by Getty Images. |
Team USA captain Mike Eruzione agreed.
"That was absolutely amazing and something we enjoyed immensely," Eruzione said this week when asked to reflect on the Glendale reunion. "No one had ever asked us to do that. The Coyotes did that, and our team has great respect for their organization."
Eruzione dropped the ceremonial first puck to cap the 15-minute ceremony in Glendale last year that featured highlights from the "Miracle on Ice" game. This year’s reunion inside Herb Brooks Arena will feature similar highlights, and the gathered team members will share their personal perspectives on the experience in a talk-show format. The event also will include a tribute to teammate Bob Suter, who passed away in September; his USA sweater will be raised to the rafters.
The reunion in Lake Placid is the signature event of the eighth annual nationwide celebration of the sport called "Hockey Weekend Across America." It begins Friday.
Like he was in Glendale a year ago, Walsh has been selected to serve as emcee in Lake Placid on Saturday night.
|Todd Walsh. Photo by Norm Hall. |
"The thing that I was so struck by in Glendale last year was that the minute the players all got together they all went back into their role and into their team structure," Walsh said. "It was as if no time had passed. That’s what I’m hoping happens on stage again this Saturday."
Organizers chose Walsh to serve as host for the Lake Placid reunion because he feels great passion for the subject matter. Anyone who witnessed the ceremony in Glendale a year ago can attest to that.
Walsh said the job is beyond a dream come true.
"This is the greatest honor ever bestowed upon me in my lifetime," Walsh said. "Their accomplishment means that much to me. It's the greatest sports story ever told. And now having met many of the people involved, their humility as a group is the most striking part of it."
He added, "Their moment is instantly recognizable and will live forever and, in my opinion, will never be duplicated."
EDITOR'S NOTE: For more information visit miracleonicereunion.com