As the wolverines have now won three games in a row to start their 2009 season many fans are feeling lighter than air now that Michigan is ranked 23rd and have an "undefeated dream" in the midst. However the celebration doesn't begin until Michigan get's it's first Big Ten conference win of the season which that opportunity will be this weekend in Ann Arbor against the Indiana Hoosiers. So far Michigan has done a great job of proving their talent, scoring ability and ability to win games with their shocker over what was an 18th ranked Notre Dame squad. Most importantly these three wins are proof that this year Michigan finally has an offense that can score a lot of points and win back to back games.
However with all of this celebration their is a dark side, Michigan's defense. The Wolverines defensive line this year is smaller than that of 2006 or 2007 and is not much bigger compared to 2008 which has a lot of fans concerned about bigger opponent's like MSU, PSU and of course arch rival Ohio State. With these fears fans are predicting Michigan to lose to all three but with the recent preformance of Ohio State, Penn State's running game and Michigan State losing to Central Michigan and Notre Dame some now are seeing Michigan having a great chance to make some huge upsets as the season moves on. But this isn't the first time that a team like Michigan has been faced with a powerhouse opponent and not been voted to win.
Even though hockey is a far cry from football their are many similairities. Hockey is fast paced, physical and requires both physical and mental toughness to win games. In the year of 1980 at the winter Olympics in Lake Placid New York the United States men's hockey team was the youngest of it's time. The average age of it's players only 22. For the powerhouse Big Red Machine which was the Soviet Union who had won 15 world titles including an NHL Challenge cup the average age was 35 but age was not a factor in this organization. Skill, talent, speed and relentless attack was. For it's semifinal game USA would find itself pitted against the greatest team in the hockey world, the Soviet Union.
More than 20,000 people flocked to the Olympic Arena for the match. 90% of the world voted that the USSR would manipulate and destroy team USA in one period instead of three. Team USA would soon become the underdog of the century. Before the game Coach Herb Brooks of USA took a minute of silence then cleared his throat and gave his team one of the most memorable coache's speeches of all time. "Tonight we are the greatest hockey team in world. Tonight we don't defend them, we attack them! Tonight we skate with them and we take their game and shove it right back in their face because we know we can!" But the most memorable line of Brook's speech was "now go out their and take it, or take it to your fucking graves"
With that speech and the cheers of crowd USA did exactly what Brooks said they would do. Including tying the USSR after the end of the first period. Something not even the NHL all stars were able to do. Going into the third the scoreboard read 3-2 USSR but with unbelievable goaltending from Jim Craig the United States stayed in the game and not long after Mark Johnson scored to tie it at 3-3. Then with only 10 minutes to play the Soviet defense was shattered as Mike Eruzione scored to give the United States the 4-3 lead. As the clock wound down to it's last seconds the countdown began and as Al Michaels said "Eleven seconds, you've got ten seconds, the countdown going on right now! Morrow, up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles? YES, the United States had pulled off the most spectacular upset in sports history defeating the mighty Soviet Union by a goal.
Moment's like these define a team's potential, determination, spirit but more importantly their heart. Their love and passion and going out there on that field and believing in themselves that they are the greatest team in the world. This is what the United States men's hockey team believed on the night of February 22nd 1980 and they were victorious. Michigan can learn so much from this moment in history. Ohio State's dominance over Michigan as of late is a shadow of the Soviet Union's hockey team. Both were unstoppable until one team, like Michigan stood up and said not tonight, tonight is our night. If Michigan can play this season with the heart and determination of the 1980 United State's Men's Hockey Team and go up against every opponent with this kind of mentality especially against Ohio State, then the question is simple, "Who can stop them?"