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The First Miracle on Ice

Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Cleary nets game-winning goal for USA
By Larry Schwartz
Special to

February 28, 1960

In the past three days, the goaltending of Jack McCartan had helped the United States Olympic hockey team upset co-favorites Canada, 2-1, and the Soviet Union, 3-2, at Squaw Valley, Calif. With a 6-0 record, the United States still needs a victory or tie today against 3-3 Czechoslovakia, which the Americans defeated 7-5 in their opening game, for the gold medal.

After two periods, the U.S. trails 4-3. Soviet captain Nikolai Sologubov makes a surprise visit to the U.S. locker room, and using sign language (he puts his hands over his face and huffs and puffs), suggests the players take oxygen. The trainer runs to find a tank and when he returns, the Americans refuel.

After almost six scoreless minutes, the energized U.S. team scores six goals in a 12-minute span to win 9-4 and capture its first Olympic hockey gold medal. Roger Christian scores three goals in the period, giving him four for the game. Bob Cleary scores two, including the game-winner.

Sologubov and some of his teammates heartily congratulate the victors. Cleary says, "We've been playing those Russian guys so many times the last several years that we know them all. They're real friends.

"Sitting around talking, they don't talk about communism. Like us they talk about hockey -- and girls."

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