On the peak of the Chilly Warfare, James Craig and the Olympic American hockey group lifted America’s morale to new heights once they achieved the gold medal within the 1980 Winter Olympics after defeating the “undefeatable” Russian group to win a spot within the playoff sport. Within the Russia – U.S.A sport Craig, a Bruins group member from 1980 to 1981, confronted down the Russians, stopping 36 of the 39 Russian pictures on purpose to take the sport 4-3. That match has gone down insportsbook lore as one of many greatest upsets in sports activities historical past.
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James Craig acquired his begin taking part in hockey when he was a younger little one. He took to the sport like a fish to water, particularly to the goaltender place. “I began to play purpose as a result of I did not know the foundations,” Craig later stated. “I figured, you understand, it is not too arduous. You are simply supposed to maintain that puck out of the online.” He practiced within the household driveway along with his brothers and different youngsters within the neighborhood taking pictures pictures at him. His father remembered, “If I had a greenback for each damaged window and misplaced puck, I might be driving a Lincoln.”
Craig performed hockey on the Oliver Ames Excessive College after which at Massasoit Group Faculty in Brockton. He moved to Boston College the place, in 1977, he led the Terriers to the NCAA Division I hockey championship. Coach Block recruited him to the American Olympic group in 1979 the place he gained recognition for his expertise because the group goalie.
Olympic guidelines state that opponents should be “amateurs” so James Craig hadn’t but signed with any main league groups when he was drafted to affix the American ice hockey group that will play within the 1980 Winter Olympics. The Soviet Unions group was filled with older, extra skilled gamers who had performed in a lot of worldwide tournaments.
The Russian group which nonetheless had gamers who had participated in successful the gold in 5 of the six earlier Winter Olympic Video games, stood in sharp distinction to the American group, the place solely 4 gamers had minimal minor-league expertise. The American group was the youngest group in U.S. nationwide group historical past and the youngest group within the Olympics that yr.
Within the first sport of the medal spherical, the US was paired in opposition to the Soviets. The sport got here at a tense time in U.S. – Soviet relations and at a time when the general temper in America was grim. America was within the midst of one in every of its greatest international challenges, the Iran hostage crisis, during which radicals in Iran had been holding 52 Individuals hostage.
The Soviet Union had simply invaded Afghanistan and brought management of the nation, leaving the Individuals at a loss as to how one can proceed. America itself was getting ready for an election and tensions had been excessive because the query of how the U.S. ought to relate to Soviet aggression and non-compliance with worldwide requirements.
James Craig was the goalie for the American group. In a pre-game exhibition match the Soviets routed the Individuals 10-3 which, many American followers feared, would set the stage for the same expertise within the Olympic sport. But Craig and the American group stunned everybody. They confronted off in opposition to the Soviets in a toe-to-toe match. IN the ultimate quarter they took the lead and completed the match with a 4-3 win.
The sport in opposition to Russia wasn’t the gold medal decider – that was decided two days later when the U.S. met Finland and closed the deal in a 4-2 win. The picture that most individuals keep in mind concerning the U.S. – Finland sport is the picture of James Craig, skating across the rink draped within the American flag mouthing the phrases “the place’s my father?” When Craig and his father locked eyes, the entire crowd shared within the father’s delight.
Inside every week of the USA-Finland sport Craig discovered himself taking part in for the then-Atlanta Flames. Because the season progressed Craig suffered from nervous exhaustion and an ulcer. The Flames traded Craig to the Boston Bruins the place he performed the 1980-81 season. His difficulties in dealing with the puck away from the online put him in #3 goaltender place as he continued to wrestle with well being points – a damaged finger, benign development, damaged ankle bone and again spasms.
Craig ended his profession after the 1983-84 season with the Minnesota North Stars. At the moment he’s a motivational speaker and president and spokesperson for Gold Medal Methods, a Boston-based motivational gross sales coaching and talking firm. He’s the writer of “Gold Medal Methods: Enterprise Classes from America’s Miracle Workforce”.