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VIRG FOSS: Three events that highlighted a career

There are journalists all over the planet who are busy putting the finishing touches on their list of the top stories in 2013. I thought I'd try something different. Following is a listing of three sports events that impacted my life. I participa...

Virg Foss
Virg Foss portrait

There are journalists all over the planet who are busy putting the finishing touches on their list of the top stories in 2013.

I thought I'd try something different.

Following is a listing of three sports events that impacted my life. I participated in one, was at another and watched the third on TV.

They range from the majestic to the mundane, from a story that rocked the world to one that perhaps only a small group of rookie college players ever knew about.

Here they are, in no particular order:

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n UND loses 4-3 to Minnesota

in the '79 NCAA hockey title game

I began covering Fighting Sioux hockey for the Herald in 1969, when I came here from the La Crosse (Wis.) Tribune, drawn to Grand Forks by Sioux hockey.

In my first nine years, UND had one winning record and went 131-176-10 combined.

But in 1978-79, Gino Gasparini's Sioux rang up a 30-11-1 mark. They beat Minnesota at Mariucci Arena in the dramatic final game of the WCHA regular season to win their first league title since I began covering them.

Even though UND lost the NCAA title game in Detroit, I had the strong sense that the Sioux had moved back into national prominence after a lengthy absence.

UND won the NCAA title the following year and has been a national threat most years since.

n 1958-59, freshman

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hockey game, St. Olaf vs. Carleton

Frosh were not eligible to play varsity sports their first year of college those days, so we had our own rookie team.

We played crosstown rival Carleton College in our big grudge battle in Northfield, Minn. We didn't like them much.

I was the starting goalie in that game, and we led 8-0 about halfway through it. That's when one of players crashed into the Carleton goalie, a skate badly slicing his leg.

Carleton had just one goalie, so their coach said they'd have to forfeit. We had two goalies. David Olson, our other goalie, had replaced me to finish the back half of the game just before the accident.

I spoke up and said I'd play goalie for the Carls so we could finish the game.

I played in great fear of giving up a goal to my teammates and being accused of helping run up the score.

I played my best ever. I shut out my teammates the rest of the way.

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The fact that I played goalie for two colleges in one game was noted by the Twin Cities' newspapers and by Sports Illustrated as well. I don't know of another athlete to play for two NCAA colleges in one game.

n 1980 Miracle on Ice

That a group of mainly college players would shock mighty Russia and win the Olympic Gold Medal in hockey was unthinkable.

The Soviet Union dominated world hockey, even beating the NHL all-stars 6-0 the year before. Sportscaster Jim McKay said for the USA to beat the mighty Red Machine was the equivalent of a Canadian college football team beating the Pittsburgh Steelers, the 1980 Super Bowl champs.

ABC chose to show the game prime time later that night on a tape-delayed basis. But for those of us around here, we could watch it live on Canada's CTV in the afternoon.

Coach Herb Brooks and his boys did the impossible. As the clock wound down in a 4-3 win, sportscaster Al Michaels uttered his famous line "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!"

It's still regarded as one of the greatest upsets in sports history. Two days later, the U.S. beat Finland in the actual gold-medal game.

A week later, Sports Illustrated's cover was simply a photo of the U.S. team celebrating _ without a headline or photo caption. By then, the whole country _ the whole world _ knew the story. No words were needed.

Virg Foss reported on sports for the Grand Forks Herald for 36 years until his retirement. He writes a column exclusively for the Herald from October through April. Contact him at virgfoss@yahoo.com or (701) 772-9272.

Related Topics: COLLEGE HOCKEY
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