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Following the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver in which both the men's and women's ice hockey teams were awarded silver medals, it is interesting to point out the difference between these silver medals, as well as the U.S.'s silver medal in 2002 Salt Lake City and the 1972 silver medal in Sapporo.

Because the format of the tournament in recent Olympics, the silver medal was awarded after the U.S. teams lost the gold medal game.

In 1972, the U.S. WON the silver medal by virtue of its win over Czechoslovakia in the round-robin tournament format. This is an important difference that is noteworthy because the 1972 team did not have the chance to play in a "gold medal" game. This is the same format used in Lake Placid in 1980 that helped propel the U.S. to gold. Read More 
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At war then the Olympics...

Think for a minute...about the upcoming Olympics in Vancouver and the young men and women who will be participating.

I have no idea what stories will develop in the course of the Games, nor do I know too many stories of the athletes that will be competing. That is one of the glorious asides of the competition - the storytelling of these amazing athletes.

Now, let's ponder this. Imagine it's 1968 and the Vietnam War has been raging. You have been tagged as an Olympic hopeful in 1968 after failing to make the Olympic Hockey Team. You are disappointed but encouraged because the coach, Murray Williamson, will be behind the bench four years later and he's interested to keep an eye on you as you develop. He's even presented an opportunity to you to gain experience and exposure in order to develop as a potential team member in 1972. Life is good. Your dream is taking shape. Then Uncle Sam calls. Welcome to Vietnam Pete Sears.

Now, let's go even further. You are embedded in the MeKong Delta on a tour of duty that has served witness to things you never thought you would ever see in a lifetime. You nearly made the 1971 US National Team but didn't quite make it. But there is hope. So, you write your Dad and ask him to send a dozen sticks and pucks to Vietnam where, between dodging bullets, you keep your Olympic dream alive by taking shot after shot after shot, with stick and puck, into bunkers of the front line of action. Nice to meet you Stu Irving.

Both Pete and Stu served tours in Vietnam before suiting up for Team USA in 1972. In fact, Irving was plucked from the jungle before his tour had ended in order to try-out and play in the Olympic Games.

I wonder if there are any American stories of athletes from the war in Iraq and Afghanistan out there this year that will rival the two silver medal-winning hockey players from 1972?  Read More 
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Baby-faced and still one of the youngest ever...

The NHL.com website has a story about the "Gordie Howe Hat Trick." It has no significance to US Olympic Hockey but the name HOWE sure does.

Mark Howe was a 16-year-old high school junior when he joined the 1972 US Olympic Hockey team three weeks before the Games in Sapporo began. It's not unheard of for teenagers to participate in the Olympics but...for Olympic hockey, then and especially now, it is an anomaly. Today, it would be unheard of to have a 16-year-old on the ice in the Olympic hockey competition.

Howe was described by his teammates as a boy inside a man's body at 16. He held his own, contributed and ended up with a silver medal around his neck when he returned home.

As we know, he later went on to an All-Star NHL career.  Read More 
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Deserving Hall of Famers?

There is a mounting campaign to create awareness about the 1972 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team and its contribution, as a team, to the development of the sport in the United States.

The contention spelled out in the book makes a case that without the silver medal-winning effort in Sapporo in 1972, the 1980 Miracle on Ice probably never occurs.

Herb Brooks admitted as much to Coach Murray Williamson in a note following the '80 Games.

Dear Murray,

Your influence as a teammate and coach helped produce this victory.

Herb Brooks

Therefore, the 1972 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team - The Forgotten Team - should rightfully be included in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame for their contribution to the betterment of the sport in the United States and a win that eventually led to a miracle.
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54 Years and Counting...

In 1956, the United States Olympic Hockey Team captured the silver medal in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy at the VII Olympic Winter Games.

A little known fact in U.S. Olympic Hockey history (Men's competition) is that since then only one team has captured an Olympic medal in ice hockey on foreign soil since - the 1972 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team in Sapporo, Japan. Another fact worth noting, since '56 only four U.S. teams have managed to stand on the medal podium:

1960 - Gold, Squaw Valley, USA
1972 - Silver, Sapparo, Japan
1980 - Gold, Lake Placid, USA
2002 - Silver, Salt Lake City, USA

Can Team USA break the cycle in Vancouver?  Read More 
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