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For many people, the history of United States Olympic hockey begins and ends in 1980. Books have been written, movies have been made, and for many Americans it was a seminal moment in which they will never forget where they were when they heard the news, "The U.S. beat the Russians!" The gold medal miracle in 1980 has been documented as arguably the...
For many people, the history of United States Olympic hockey begins and ends in 1980. Books have been written, movies have been made, and for many Americans it was a seminal moment in which they will never forget where they were when they heard the news, "The U.S. beat the Russians!" The gold medal miracle in 1980 has been documented as arguably the greatest American sporting moment of the 20th century. It is categorically the greatest moment in the history of American hockey. Less chronicled, but very much a part of United States Olympic hockey lore, is the gold medal victory of 1960 in Squaw Valley, California. Even today, people would be hard-pressed to forget that the Americans were runner-up silver medalists in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. Since 1956 the number of men who have won an Olympic medal in hockey while playing with "USA" emblazoned across the chest of their sweaters is small. The names Eruzione, Craig, Johnson, and Morrow from the miracle team in 1980; McCartan, Christian, and Cleary from the gold medal team of 1960; as well as NHL stars Chelios, Hull, Roenick, and LeClair from 2002 may be more prominent in United States Olympic hockey history, but they must forever be mentioned along with one team, that for many reasons, seems to have been forgotten. Striking Silver tells the story of that forgotten team and its members which included players that were plucked from the jungles of Vietnam, schoolboy heroes, and college All-Americans: Ahearn, Bader, Boucha, Brown, Christiansen, Curran, Ftorek, Howe, Irving, McElmury, McGlynn, McIntosh, Mellor, Naslund, Olds, Regan, Sanders, Sarner, Sheehy, and Sears - the Silver Medal-winning 1972 United States Olympic hockey team. Thirty-four years later the accomplishment of the United States Olympic hockey team during the 1972 Winter Games has seemingly been one of American hockey's most well-kept secrets. The team's anonymity through the years most certainly was due to the extremely low expectations others had for them going into the Games. They were playing in a remote land, Sapporo, Japan. The time difference to parts of the United States was 10 hours. There was also, in large part, a lack of media coverage and exposure. Part of that was by the coach's design, trying to protect his team from pressure. Perhaps being sandwiched between the Cold War heroics of the 1960 team and the miraculous victory in 1980 made it easier for people to forget the silver medal-winning team of 1972? The glow of those golden moments blinded others into never letting the brilliant shine of unexpected silver line their collective memories. Or maybe it was just the times. The country's collective conscience was preoccupied with the Vietnam War and the turmoil of world events while the feats of this other band of brothers, who were also representing their country in Asia, became overshadowed and unrecognized. Like the returning Vietnam veterans, it became easier to forget them than to remember. They became forgotten in the times, but are now remembered in Tom and Jerry Caraccioli's Striking Silver: The Untold Story of AmericaÂs Forgotten Hockey Team.
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