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They believe in 'Miracle'

Youth hockey group sees movie about Olympic win

Youth hockey group sees movie about Olympic win

February 08, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

Their hockey sticks clacking, making black scuffs on the floor, members of the Hagerstown Bulldogs' midget hockey team took turns flipping a wadded ball of tape at a goal Saturday.

The place was the tiled lobby of R/C Theatres at Valley Mall, a surface lacking the glide necessary for real action.

But it was a day for thinking and seeing championship hockey rather than playing it.

The occasion was the opening weekend of "Miracle," the Disney movie account of a fairy-tale triumph that wrote itself: the U.S. hockey team's fantastic, improbable gold medal in the 1980 Winter Olympics.

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Marked by a semifinal upset over the massive and mighty Soviet Union - a symbolic slaying of an opposing empire - the U.S. hockey team's run might best be remembered by broadcaster Al Michaels' stunned call: "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!"

But does that medal 24 years ago in Lake Placid, N.Y., resonate with today's young skaters?

Clustered around their coach after seeing the movie Saturday, the Bulldogs seemed stoked. But why?

The first step was finding out who knew the story beforehand.

Left wing and utility man Corey Dalton, 17, said he did. He had seen tapes of the games, but knew that watching them now doesn't approximate the spirit of the times.

Several players in Bulldog jerseys chimed in that they also knew about the gold medal run.

Not me, right wing Dan Jensen, 16, admitted.

Pipe down, a teammate cautioned him. You'll make us look ignorant.

After several minutes of comments, what emerged was that the boys liked the movie best for its hockey.

"Instead of teaching actors to play hockey, they taught hockey players to be actors," said defenseman John Swanson, 17.

"All the hits were legal," said left wing Mike Crumrine, 16.

Besides the nostalgia - and they weren't around to remember - "Miracle" works because "it popularizes the sport more," defenseman Ryan Low, 15, said. "Hockey hasn't been (as) popular as the Super Bowl lately."

Wouldn't it be great to have Stanley Cup parties with the same hoopla as Super Bowl parties, Mike wondered aloud.

Bulldogs head coach Larry Dalton said Ryan's father, Pete Low, came up with the idea to set up a goal and a booth at the theater all weekend to celebrate and promote local hockey.

On overhead monitors, a tape of the Bulldogs' 8-2 thrashing of a Baltimore team last month played. The team hung its red banner of crossed hockey sticks framing a bulldog.

The Bulldogs are having a fine season of their own. As of Saturday, they had 17 wins, five losses and a tie, and a stranglehold on their division title.

When the season ends, a tournament will begin. The male Bulldog coaching staff has vowed to walk through Valley Mall in dresses if the team wins the tournament championship game.

Anticipation explained some of the boys' nervous energy in the lobby after the film ended. Usually, the Bulldogs play two or three games a week, but this weekend they were off, which allowed them to hang out at the movies.

"Now, I want to get out and play," John Swanson said.

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