2002: ‘Miracle’ team scores again, lights caldron

The following is an excerpt from an article published in the Deseret News on February 9, 2002:

The best-kept secret of the 2002 Winter Games opening ceremonies turned out not to be much of a surprise.
Led by captain Mike Eruzione, 18 members of the gold-medal winning 1980 “Miracle on Ice” hockey team grasped the torch to ignite the Olympic caldron atop the south bleachers at Rice-Eccles Olympic Stadium on Friday night.

Eruzione, the enthusiastic leader of the team that stunned the Soviet Union 22 years ago, appeared from a door at the base of the caldron wearing a USA hockey jersey with his name and number emblazoned on the back. He stood holding the torch as the crowd erupted in cheers.

A few moments later, the entire team dressed in red, white and blue jerseys emerged to face the crowd. Members then banded together to set the fire in motion at the bottom of the caldron.

The fire slowly spiraled upward 130 feet to the pinnacle of the angular steel-and-glass structure, disappearing at one point before coming to a roaring burn. It looked like a giant flaming icicle that had fallen from the sky.

Lights at the base gave the caldron a blue tinge, while four beams of light streamed skyward from behind.

“That was just something that was kind of mind-boggling for all of us,” said Eruzione, who added the team wondered after the game 22 years ago if anyone was watching them beat the Soviets.

The media and others had speculated for months that the 1980 team, which came together for a reunion at the NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles last week, would put the final torch to caldron at the Salt Lake Games.

Eruzione’s game-winning goal propelled the 1980 team to improbable victory over Russia at Lake Placid, N.Y.

The team beat Finland two days later for the gold medal.

Click here to read the entire article.

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