FORGOTTEN MIRACLE is the story of the U.S.’s 1960 gold-medal-winning Olympic hockey team.
It was the first U.S. team to win an Olympic gold medal in hockey.
The premise for the documentary is that before there was a Miracle on Ice in upstate New York, there was a miracle on ice in Squaw Valley, California, the big difference being, no one really remembers the Squaw Valley upset.
There are reasons for this.
The 1980 Miracle is more recent, so it’s stronger in our memories. Plus, it was a huge TV moment.
Also, the 1980 Miracle on Ice took part during one of the more intense points in the Cold War.
The 1960 Miracle seems to have taken place during a relatively calmer time. The American players speak of Russian players openly talking to them, with no anger or hostility, only to have Russian agents pull the Russian players away.
In fact, one of the best stories is about the U.S. team playing their final game against Czechoslovakia, going into the third period tied. A Russian player pops into the American locker room to communicate the Americans should take some oxygen to get their energy back.
The Russian was willing to help the Americans because Russia was much more concerned about the political ramifications of a Czechoslovakian victory than an American one.
The most interesting part of the documentary is the description of U.S. coach Jack Riley, a tough, no-nonsense coach who didn’t care if his team liked him and who firmly believed strong legs won games and that those games were all won in the third period.
If it sounds like another American Olympic coach, it’s because Herb Brooks was one of the last guys Riley cut from that 1960 team.
Brooks obviously borrowed a lot of Riley’s persona and ideas for his own coaching.
The nicest part of the documentary is the players talking about how amazing the victory was and how they didn’t need any recognition to know they performed an incredible feat.
The 1980 Olympic team was a media creation that ultimately transcended sports and bled into politics and popular culture.
The 1960 Olympic team was more of pure sports moment that lacks the notoriety of the 1980 Miracle but is no less important or impressive.
FORGOTTEN MIRACLE certainly lags in places, especially since none of the players went onto the NHL, making them somewhat anonymous, but it’s still a fascinating story that more hockey fans should know about.