This is great timing with the Olympics now behind us and the NHL playoff stretch run just ahead…I’m back to share my newly found 1980 Team USA ‘Miracle on Ice’ coaches interviews from when I announced 2 of their 61 pre-Olympic tournament games (just 2 weeks before the Lake Placid Olympic Games) while broadcasting all University of Wisconsin hockey games on WIBA Radio in Madison that season. Can you imagine an Olympic team NOW playing 61 games just to prep for their run to win a medal?
The Badgers under legendary coach Bob Johnson had lost 2 of his best players to the Olympic squad and his rival coach from Minnesota Herb Brooks. ‘Badger’ Bob’s son Mark and defenseman Bob Suter were both keys to the Olympians success while making it a tough year in Madison due to their talent-depleted roster.
Team USA beat the Badgers twice, the first game an easy 6-2 win in Minneapolis followed by a 4-2 score at the old Dane County Coliseum in Madison with Mark Johnson unable to play in front of his hometown because of injury. Fortunately for the Americans, Johnson healed up in time for the real games in Lake Placid and the rest is incredible history.
I’m posting my interviews with all 3 coaches who were involved just as I recorded them 34 years ago this month. And when you hear some of my questions, please remember that we were involved in many political issues which were affecting the Olympic movement at the time including the Iran hostage crisis.
As for Team USA’s head coach Herb Brooks, I was told at the time that he could be very ornery with the media (especially with the new kid on the block ‘ME’, who’s working for his rival Wisconsin broadcast team). So I must admit that I was a little intimidated by his presence. Although as our 6 minute chat continued it was obvious that he couldn’t have been more gracious with his time, and I wished that I would’ve asked a few more questions (certainly more directly pertaining to his team which would go on to produce the greatest upset in sports). During this time they were totally under the radar and nobody expected them to medal…let alone go on to beat the mighty Russians and then Finland for the gold. But it was a magical time that will never be forgotten. And it was a true pleasure to be a minute part of it.
Ted Sobel with Herb Brooks who told me ‘We’re an underdog, but a good underdog!”:
Ted Sobel with Team USA assistant coach Craig Patrick:
Ted Sobel with Badgers head coach Bob Johnson:
And I found some of my play by play of the first game at the Met Center in Minneapolis with partner Mike Lucas, which includes much of the 2nd period with Wisconsin stunning Team USA early on tied at 1-1. But then reality set in.. and it’s fun to hear those familiar names again wearing red, white, and blue who just a few weeks later would shock the world: