AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The rich history of USA Hockey was on display when eight members of gold medal-winning Olympic teams were honored during the second intermission of the 2020 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series between the Colorado Avalanche and the Los Angeles Kings at Falcon Stadium on Saturday.
"It's nice celebrating 60 years of USA Hockey here," said Buzz Schneider, a member of the men's team that authored the Miracle on Ice at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. "This is such a beautiful setting."
Schneider was joined by Bill Cleary of the men's team from the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics, Guy Gosselin of the 2018 Paralympic men's sled team, Nicole Hensley of the women's team from the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, Taylor Lipsett of the 2010 and 2014 Paralympic men's sled teams, A.J. Mleczko Griswold of the women's team at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, Kip St. Germaine of the 2002 Paralympic men's sled team and Andy Yohe of the 2010 Paralympic men's sled team.
Each of the players, wearing a gold medal, were introduced to the crowd and stepped forward between two lines of area youth hockey players.
The biggest ovations were for Mleczko Griswold, Cleary and Schneider. After the introductions, the crowd broke into a spirited chant of "USA, USA, USA" and the United States Air Force Academy singing group, In the Stairwell, sang "America the Beautiful."
"I can't believe after 40 years that we are still resonating with all the excitement and everything that goes along with what we did in 1980," Schneider said. "We just wanted to play hockey and that is what we did. We never realized the impact of what we did when we did it."
[AUCTION: Game-worn Stadium Series jerseys]
But the 1980 team was not the first United States team to win Olympic gold, something Cleary, who did it in Squaw Valley 20 years prior, was eager to point out.
"Well, we were really the benchmark because we were the first," he said, smiling.
Those teams were pioneers for the growth of hockey in the United States. Each set the template for the success and the good fortune that has followed USA Hockey during the past four decades, a legacy of championships that was celebrated Saturday.
"It helped out with hockey in the United States," Schneider said of the 1980 win. "It opened up doors for American players. We helped [the growth] out. The women's game has come a long way and they are playing very well and then the sled hockey. It's a trifecta; it's pretty special."