Hard to believe it’s been 40 years since that night in March when Mankato State pulled off the upset to win the 1980 NCAA Division II National Championship.
I was the starting goalie for Mavericks at the school that’s now known as Minnesota State University, Mankato. In 1980, the Final Four was held at Elmira College in New York, less than a month after the U.S. shocked the world and won Gold in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.
In the NCAA semifinals, we stunned the defending champions from Lowell University 8-1, despite being outshot 41-24.
That win put us into the championship game for the second year in a row, this time against heavily-favored Elmira College, the school that was hosting the tournament.
You can see Coach Carroll playing in the National Championship Game in this video.
There was a standing room only crowd of more than 4,000 people at the title game and it seemed like all but about 50 MSU parents and fans were cheering for the Soaring Eagles. Elmira outshot us 46-31, but when the final buzzer sounded, we proudly skated away with an stunning upset victory, defeating Elmira 5-2, giving us our own version of a Miracle.
Winning the National Championship was a tremendous thrill and one of my all-time hockey highlights. The game was televised on a new sports TV network called ESPN. It was shown multiple times on the cable on a taped-delayed basis. And through the magic of video, I still have vivid memories from that night in New York.
During my four years at MSU, we finished third in the country during my freshman year, second as sophomores, first as a junior and third as a senior. It was an awesome run! Great memories as a Maverick!