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1980 Olympic “Miracle On Ice” Team Member Mark Pavelich Dies at 63

By Todd Kortemeier | March 07, 2021, 1:31 p.m. (ET)

Mark Pavelich plays in the preliminary round of the Olympic Winter Games Lake Placid 1980 on Feb. 12, 1980. 

 

Mark Pavelich, who assisted on Mike Eruzione’s game-winning goal to upset the Soviet Union in the “Miracle on Ice,” has died at the age of 63.

Pavelich had been receiving mental health treatment for several months at a facility in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, where he was found dead Thursday morning, according to the Midwest Medical Examiner’s office. Pavelich had been in treatment since August 2019, when he committed felony assault against a neighbor. Pavelich was found incompetent to stand trial, and began receiving treatment for mental illness, and was reportedly making progress in his recovery.

It was a sad end to the life of one of Minnesota’s greatest hockey heroes. Born and raised in tiny Eveleth — home to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame — on Minnesota’s Iron Range, Pavelich first starred for the storied Eveleth High School Golden Bears. He then played college hockey at the University of Minnesota Duluth until 1979, then joining the U.S. national team as it prepared for the Olympic Games Lake Placid 1980.

At the Games, Pavelich had one goal and six assists, including two in the final-round upset of the USSR. His pass to the center of the ice that found Eruzione proved to be the game-winner as the U.S. moved on to play and beat Finland for its historic gold medal. Pavelich began his pro career in Switzerland after going undrafted in the NHL, later signing in 1981 with the New York Rangers, then coached by “Miracle” head coach Herb Brooks. Pavelich had a brief but successful NHL career, recording 329 points in 355 career games. He retired from pro hockey for good in 1992, later becoming a land developer.

Pavelich is the second player lost from the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” team. Defenseman Bob Suter died after a heart attack in 2014. Brooks died in a car accident in 2003.

Todd Kortemeier

Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.