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Ten American hockey heroes for the Fourth of July

Ryan Kennedy
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Steve Christoff and captain Mike Eruzione hop over the boards (Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Ten American hockey heroes for the Fourth of July

Ryan Kennedy
By:

There have been some pretty dramatic wins in the history of USA Hockey and with the nation celebrating its independence, we thought it would be nice to remember some of those golden hockey moments (we're polite like that).

It's the Fourth of July in the United States, which means hot dogs, fireworks and Uncle Sam costumes. But we're The Hockey News, so we're going to concentrate on hockey. USA Hockey may not have as many gold medals or international titles as Canada or Russia, but there have been some pretty dramatic championships in America's history. Here's a look at the true patriots of the sport:

 

10. T.J. Oshie – It may not have been for a medal, but Oshie's 4-for-6 shootout performance against the Russians at the 2014 Sochi Olympics was instant-legend stuff. And the fact it happened on Russian ice made the feat even sweeter.

9. Patrick O'Sullivan – Sure, he didn't have to do much to get the winning goal, but let's not forget that O'Sullivan tallied earlier in the third period as well when he was helping the U.S. win its first-ever world junior gold in 2004. The fact it was a comeback win against Canada in Canada? Pretty sweet.

8. Jack McCartan – Let's go to the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley, California. The Americans weren't expected to do much, but McCartan's 39 saves pushed the Americans past Canada in the medal round, en route to a shocking gold medal on home ice.

7. John Gibson – Heading to the 2013 world juniors, let's give a shout-out to Gibson, who was virtually unbeatable in net. The future Anaheim Ducks starter was named tournament MVP and gave up just one goal to Sweden in the gold medal game, which the States took 3-1.

6. John Carlson – Man, that overtime goal. The 2010 world juniors in Saskatchewan were the first I covered in person and I can still remember that goal. Carlson, now doing big things for the Washington Capitals, broke a lot of Canadian hearts when he downed the Canucks in the gold medal game.

5. Billy Christian – While McCartan held down the fort in net for the 1960 Olympic team, Christian was one of many clutch offensive performers. But his best effort came in the semifinal against the favored Soviet Union, so he gets the call here. Christian scored the tying and game-winning goals in a come-from-behind effort.

4. Sandra Whyte – Team USA only has one Olympic women's gold, but it was the first one – and it was pretty special. Whyte did the major damage against Canada in 1998, tallying points on all three goals in a 3-1 victory. Fun fact: the Harvard athlete was the 1990 Ivy League player of the year in both hockey and field hockey.

3. Jim Craig – You don't have a Miracle on Ice without strong goaltending and Craig was the man in 1980. His 36 stops in the semifinal against the Soviet Union helped his troops forge that shocking 4-3 victory over their Cold War rival.

2. Mike Richter – You'd assume a Canadian team featuring Wayne Gretzky, Steve Yzerman and Joe Sakic would win any three-game series, but Richter proved that wrong at the 1996 World Cup. His heroics (John LeClair was pretty important, too) earned Team USA an upset win for gold, landing the New York Rangers goaltender MVP honors in the process.

1. Mike Eruzione – Who else, right? He scored the game-winning goal over the Soviets in the 4-3 Miracle on Ice game at the 1980 Olympics. And he was the team captain.

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Ten American hockey heroes for the Fourth of July