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Miracle magic

1980 Miracle on Ice players return for 4th fantasy camp

March 30, 2018
By ANDY FLYNN - Editor ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Last year at age 60, goalie Steve Janaszak probably played his last game here on the Olympic Center ice, where he and 19 other young hockey players won the "Miracle on Ice" game against the Soviet Union during the 1980 Winter Olympics.

This year, he's taking a break, off the ice, but still spending time with his 1980 teammates and 65 "campers" at the 4th annual Miracle on Ice Fantasy Camp, which was held Sunday, March 25 to Wednesday, March 28.

Between fantasy camp games, the final score of the Miracle on Ice game - 4-3 - could be seen on the scoreboards at the Herb Brooks Arena, named after the 1980 U.S. hockey coach, who died in 2003. When the team won the Miracle on Ice game, and then the gold medal game against Finland, Janaszak wouldn't have dreamed that their game against the Soviets would result in a fantasy camp a month after their 35th anniversary reunion in 2015 and three subsequent years.

Article Photos

Manca Rakovec Asvec (82), a 22-year-old veteran forward from Slovenia, welcomes fellow Blue team player Joseph Sassone (80) to the ice Tuesday, March 27 prior to their game against the Gold team during the 4th annual Miracle on Ice Fantasy Camp at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid. Sassone, a 50-year-old rookie from Commack, New York, plays defense.
(News photo — Andy Flynn)

"It was great winning and everything, but I think everybody kind of figured that life would go on," Janaszak said Tuesday, March 27 at the Olympic Center. "I didn't really realize how it registered on the population as a whole."


Campers and Olympians

Of the 65 fantasy campers this year, 45 are returning from previous years and 20 are rookies.

This was the first year for 22-year-old goalie Matthew Ikawa, formerly of Hampton, New Hampshire, and now of Florida. A recent graduate of Salve Regina University in Rhode Island, he joined his father, 57-year-old defenseman Warren Ikawa, who is a second-year veteran of the fantasy camp.

"I was kind of bummed I couldn't go last year with him," Matthew Ikawa said, "but I was still in school. I was on spring break with my lacrosse team."

Fourteen of the 19 surviving members of 1980 hockey team participated in the fantasy camp this year: Janaszak, U.S. Olympic team captain Mike Eruzione, Neal Broten, Dave Christian, John Harrington, Mark Johnson, Ken Morrow, Mike Ramsey, Buzz Schneider, Mark Wells, Mark Pavelich, Rob McClanahan, Dave Silk and Eric Strobel. In addition, Ralph Cox was added to the line-up. He was the 1979 ECAC Player of the Year at the University of New Hampshire and a member of the 1979 U.S. national team. He suffered a broken ankle in a game against Poland one month before the Olympic team tryouts, and he was the final player Coach Brooks cut before the Olympic tournament. Cox played seven seasons of professional hockey and joined the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins as a scout, where he won two Stanley Cup rings, in 1991 and 1992.


Camp directors

Katie Million "invented" the Miracle on Ice Fantasy Camp - as Mike Eruzione said during the draft on Monday - with state Olympic Regional Development Authority Director of Corporate Development and Events Jeff Potter. Although she left her position as ORDA's director of events in 2016, moving to Minnesota to become the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's vice president and Women's League commissioner, she still returns to Lake Placid every spring co-direct the fantasy camp with Potter.

"It's always awesome to come back and see my co-workers and all the returners from the camp," Million said Monday after the draft. "I wouldn't miss it."

There were some changes in the schedule this year. For example, a new part of the program is the team-bonding dinner on Monday night. Each team was transported to a different restaurant for a private dinner: Ramsey's Blue team at Nicola's on Main; Morrow's White team at Big Slide Brewery & Public House; Harrington's Gold team at Caffe Rustica; and Broten's Red team at the Back Alley Bistro.

"Since today was the first day that our teams are put together, and they are now going to practice, we thought we'd give them a chance tonight to bond more as a team and then come out tomorrow morning and start playing games," Million said.


One season in three days

For the most part, the fantasy camp is treated like a real professional hockey season, only boiled down to three days of intensity.

Campers skated on the Olympic Center ice Monday morning so members of the 1980 U.S. hockey team could evaluate their skills. The Olympians then conducted a draft Monday afternoon at the Lake Placid Conference Center, selecting players to fill four teams: Red, White, Blue and Gold. After the teams were filled, the players participated in practice time on the ice.

Teams played three games each, Tuesday morning and afternoon and Wednesday morning, before moving on to either the Bronze Game or the Gold Game Wednesday afternoon. A medal ceremony was held afterward before the official fantasy camp photo was taken on the ice.

The cost, as listed on the fantasy camp website, is $6,795 for forward/defense rookies and $6,295 for goalie rookies.



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