"You were born to be hockey players -- every one of you, and you were meant to be here tonight." (Herb Brooks)
The Soviets had dominated men's Olympic hockey for decades, winning gold every every time from 1956 to 1976 except for once. Now, they were facing the underdog Americans, made up of nothing but amateurs, fully expecting to defeat them. Sports columnist Dave Anderson wrote: "Unless the ice melts or unless the United States team or another team performs a miracle, as did the American squad in 1960, the Russians are expected to easily win the Olympic gold medal for the sixth time in the last seven tournaments."
But you couldn't rule out the fact that the Americans were playing on home ice. More importantly, there was something different about this team, a completely revamped squad with only one player from the 1976 Olympics. Coach Herb Brooks sensed this, reflected in his pre-game speech:
"Great moments are born from great opportunity, and that's what you have here tonight, boys. That's what you've earned here tonight. One game: if we play them ten times, they might win nine. But not this game, not tonight. Tonight, we skate with them. Tonight, we stay with them and we shut them down because we can. Tonight we are the greatest hockey team in the world. You were born to be hockey players -- every one of you, and you were meant to be here tonight. This is your time. Their time is done. It's over. I'm sick and tired of hearing what a great hockey team the Soviets have. Screw 'em. This is your time. Now go out there and take it."