While every athlete wants to have a long career, certain players are defined by one iconic moment. Kirk Gibson’s career, for example, pales in comparison to his one, iconic home run; Stéphane Matteau might have had an unremarkable NHL career, but New York Rangers fans will never forget his name. For Mike Eruzione and his teammates, though, no moment will ever be bigger than the Miracle on Ice.
While that iconic moment defined sports for a generation of hockey fans, the 1980 Lake Place Olympics took place 40 years ago. After winning the gold medal, what happened to Mike Eruzione?
Remembering the Miracle on Ice
During the 1980s, the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in the Cold War. That battle of supremacy, however, would also extend into the sporting sphere at the Lake Placid Olympics.
After both the United States and the Soviet Union went undefeated in group play, the nations were scheduled to meet in the first game of the medal round. Despite their identical records, the teams weren’t evenly matched. While both squads were technically composed of amateurs, the Soviets sent world-class players to New York; in contrast, Herb Brooks’ team was full of young skaters, primarily plucked from the college ranks.
After Brooks’ famous speech, the two teams took the ice. The Soviet Union jumped out to an early lead, but the United States managed to claw their way back into the game; at the first intermission, the game was tied at 2-2.
A single Soviet goal found the back of the net during the second intermission, giving the guests a 3-2 lead heading into the final frame. The scoreline, of course, was due to change drastically. Midway through the period, Mark Johnson tied the game; a few minutes later, captain Mike Eruzione gave Team USA the lead. While the Soviets started firing pucks from every angle, couldn’t beat Jim Craig in net, giving the young American team a place in history.
Mike Eruzione’s playing career
Despite Team USA’s historic triumph at the 1980 Olympics, not all of the players found professional success. Mike Eruzione, unfortunately, experienced that reality firsthand.
After growing up in the suburbs of Boston, Eruzione earned a scholarship to play hockey at Boston University. He potted 92 goals and 116 assists during four seasons with the Terriers, earning himself the nickname, “Pete Rose on skates.”
After graduation, Eruzione joined the Toldeo Goaldiggers of the International Hockey League. The forward would win the IHL Rookie of the Year Award in 1977-78, scoring 86 points in 76 games; while his production would drop the following season, Eruzione and his teammates won the Turner Cup title that season.
After winning an Olympic gold medal, Eruzione wasn’t keen on returning to the IHL. There was a catch, however: he hadn’t been drafted by an NHL club. Although there was talk of him joining the New England/Hartford Whalers and the New York Rangers offered him a contract, the forward decided he had reached the peak of his hockey career and retired.
Where is Mike Eruzione now?
While Mike Eruzione retired from professional hockey shortly after the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, he couldn’t stay away from the game he loved. He stayed close to the sport as an announcer, covering both NHL and Olympic action, before returning to the bench as a coach.
In the 1990s, Eruzione headed back to Boston University to serve as an assistant coach. While he no longer prowls the bench, he still works for his alma mater as the athletic department’s director of special outreach. In the role, he “travels the country to meet with alumni and donors, host University events and solicit leadership support for Terrier Athletics.”
“1980 has given me the opportunity to do what I do today,” Eurzione told Inside Edition. “The attention I received, I was able to do a lot.”