While covering the CC-Clarkson series two weekends ago, I visited Herb Brooks Arena, site of the 1980 Miracle on Ice. That event ended up shaping my life although I never would have guessed how as an 8-year-old watching from my family’s orange shag carpet in Billings, Montana.
Mike Eruzione’s goal fired mine and my brother James’ imagination, prompting us to re-discover two plastic hockey sticks and a red puck from a forgotten game set. We put the basement concrete to good use, defeating the Soviets again and again and again.
That sock hockey sparked an interest in sports and eventually led to my career as a sports writer. I was the only one in the Butte, Mont. newsroom who seemed remotely interested when a Junior A hockey team moved to town; the Butte Irish of the America West Hockey League.
The museum is small and it only takes two hours at most to see everything. The rink is old-fashioned with orange chairs by the ice and wooden bleachers in the top level. The low ceilings above the concourse make the arena seem even smaller.
I expected it to be bigger, or at least as large as my 8-year-old imagination. I suppose that is what happens when an adult visits what he imagined as a child. I was glad to get the chance to go back where it all started, in a sense, for me.