This February we will all relive another Winter Olympic games and with it, will be reminded again of the exploits of the 1980 US Men's Olympic hockey team who shocked the world in Lake Placid by winning the Gold Medal.
That team of amateurs, primarily comprised of Minnesota and BU players and coached by Minnesota's Herb Brooks, live in lore for their "can you believe in miracles" win over the Russians on that Friday night in upstate NY. If you were alive then, you will remember that the game was not on live TV, but you'll always remember where you were when you heard the news.
That Soviet team was made up entirely of professionals, those who played in the Russian Elite League and played for powers like CSKA Moscow (better known as the Red Army team), Dynamo Riga and a team called Moscow Dynamo.
Seven and a half years later, December 21, 1988, the Boston College hockey team would pull off their own miracle on ice, beating that Moscow Dynamo team at Conte Forum, 6-5 in what truly may be, the all time greatest Boston College lost classic.
At the time, playing the Russians was not common, but it wasn't unheard of either. Russian professional teams had regularly traveled to the US and Canada to play against US college and professional teams since the mid 70s. BC had played against Moscow Spartak in December 1986, dropping a 4-2 decision as well as getting trampled at McHugh Forum against Sokol-Kiev 8-1 the previous season.
It's not like those BC teams were devoid of talent, far from it. Players like future NHL talents Bob Sweeney, Doug Brown, Craig Janney, Brian Leetch and Kevin Stevens had all given it a shot against the mighty Russians with no luck.
No one gave the Eagles a chance and for good reason.
Dynamo was considered one of the premier programs in the Soviet Elite League, and held a significant age and experience factor over the Eagles. They boasted three 1988 Olympians, including Russian sensation Sergei Svetlov as well as goal tender Vladimir Myshkin, who was in the net in Lake Placid when Mike Eurozione scored his famous game winner.
Dynamo would come to Boston to finish their 10 game American tour having gone 9-0 already. Seven wins came against WCHA opposition and two against Milwaukee and Peoria of the IHL.
In 1985, Dynamo had gone 2-1-1 against NHL teams, including a 6-4 win over the Boston Bruins at the old Garden and in 1989 they would trash the Washington Capitals 7-2 in Moscow. Over the course of 22 games over six seasons against NHL competition, they would rack up an impressive 12-6-4 mark.
The day of the game, Joe Concannon wrote a piece in the Globe that summed it up nicely:
You can pretty much forget about BC beating the older, more experienced Dynamo team -- one of the best in the Soviet Elite League -- which has three 1988 Olympic gold medalists on the squad and whose goalie, Vladimir Myshkin, was the man in the net when the US upset the Soviets in 1980.
"We should have our hands full," said sophomore defenseman Greg Brown. "We can't open it up and skate with them, and if they dump it in and chase the puck, I just hope we can catch them."
"The Soviets can pour it on when they want to," said Ceglarski. "They play the game the way it should be played. But we can sure use the tuneup, because we won't play again until the 29th vs. Yale."
On the other hand, BC was 10-3 on the season, but missing several key players, including future Hobey Baker winner David Emma and second line center Steve Heinze who were at the World Junior Tournament, just making an already formidable task, much more so.
After Steve Scheifele drew first blood for the Eagles, with a 40 foot short handed goal which ricocheted off the side board and in behind a stunned goaltender, Dynamo wasted little time in recovering and then jumping to the lead. Eventually they stretched it to 5-2 with just five minutes left in the second period, with Svetlov potting two and adding an assist.
BC though didn't wilt. Scheifele completed an unexpected hat trick and he notched back to back goals 30 seconds apart late in the second to pull the Eagles to within 5-4 after two.
At 8:41 of the third, Dave Pergola's power play goal, BC's third of the game, tied the score at five, setting the stage for some high drama.
With just 18 seconds left in regulation, two South Shore boys, Weymouth's Tim Sweeney and Hingham's Marty McInnis, combined on a two on one break, with Sweeney finishing it by batting in a 10 foot backhander out of midair past Dynamo goalie Andrey Karpin for the win and sending the crowd of 3,386 at Conte into delirium.
Current BC assistant coach Greg Brown was immense that night, contributing at both ends of the ice with a goal and three assists. BC hung with Dynamo, being outshot only 38-30 as Coach Len Ceglarski, played all three goaltenders, with backups David Littman and little used Sandy Galuppo (who played the third) not allowing a goal.
Galuppo jumped into the air at the end of the game and said, "The emotion, the crowd, the whole finish was just unbelievable".