February 28, 1960 was an important day for the United States hockey program. That day, in Squaw Valley, California, Team USA defeated Czechoslavkia by a score of 9-4 to capture the country’s first Olympic men’s hockey gold medal.
Although nowadays, many people focus on the 1980 “Miracle on Ice,” which undoubtedly was an amazing feat… how many people don’t realize that the US did win Olympic gold prior to that? The 1960 win is often referred to as “The Forgotten Miracle,” and a film was released in 2010 to honor the 50-year anniversary of the hockey event.
The United States team wasn’t one of the highest-ranked squads going into the tournament; those honors belonged to Canada, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Sweden. But the US defeated all of them to capture the country’s first gold medal in men’s hockey. (Note: the women’s hockey program did not participate in the 1960 Winter Olympics.)
The United States and Czechoslovakia had a hard-fought first period, with each team scoring three goals in the first 20 minutes of play. A much tamer second period led to just one goal (for Czechoslovakia). The United States then came out raging in the third period, scoring six goals in less than 12 minutes. They captured the 9-4 victory and the gold medal.
The win included three power-play goals and a four-goal performance by Roger Christian. Bob Cleary had a three-point performance (2 goals, 1 assist), while his brother Bill had had three assists in the win.
Fun fact about the 1960 Winter Olympics: Herb Brooks – who coached the 1980 Miracle on Ice team to gold – was originally on the roster for the 1960 squad but was cut days before the tournament began.
In Buffalo Sabres history: on this day in 1971, Steve Atkinson had a hat trick in a 5-2 win over the Minnesota North Stars at the Memorial Auditorium. Ron Anderson and Gilbert Perreault also scored in the win.
Overall in the team’s history, the Sabres are 8-4-2 on February 28.