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USGNN Original StoryGlass Industry Believes in Miracles … For a Day

Even though he is know as a hockey player, Mike Eruzione hit one out of the park with the crowds at the Glass Association of North America's Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) Conference here in Las Vegas today. Eruzione, who was the team captain of the 1980 Olympic Gold Medal hockey team, provided attendees, rapt with attention, with stories of his unforgettable hockey team and their victory, along with some analogies to business.

He was a hit with the crowd. Unlike other sports heroes on the speaking circuit, Eruzione did not dwell on his own accomplishments (like making the winning goal in the U.S. vs. Russia game) but rather talked of team efforts and advancements.

He explained how coach Herb Brooks had analyzed the Russian and European styles of play and decided that his team would practice together for six months before the Olympics, and would practice in Europe at skating rinks the same size as the Olympic ones. "There's only one rink of such size in the United States," he said. The team then began an exhibition series that culminated with a 7-3 loss to the Russians at Madison Square Garden right before the Olympics.

"Herb had a real knack for knowing exactly what to say," Eruzione said. "After that game all he said was 'play like you played the second two periods, not the first.' That made us feel ready. We had been down 4-0 after the first period, and ended up losing 7-3, after that, so we knew we had a shot."

He spoke affectionately of his teammates and said they had only been together twice since the Olympics-for the Salt Lake City Olympics and for the funeral of Coach Herb Brooks.

When asked his most proudest achievements he named two: when the movie "Miracle" premiered and getting to light the torch at the Salt Lake City games. "I was proud of the movie, because it means that people who were there can relive it and people who weren't alive, or who aren't yet alive will get to see it. It was very exciting for me."

"The only thing that tops it is lighting the torch to open the Olympics," he said. "They didn't tell us until very late the night before that we were going to do it. It was a very big secret. We had to rehearse at midnight to keep it a secret. I came back to the condo I was staying in at 3 a.m. and told my wife, to which she replied 'Yeah, right, what bar were you guys drinking at?'"

It was just that kind of humor and self-deprecation that endeared the star, who never played professional hockey, to the crowd.

"I liked him because he was a regular guy," said one attendee, "you could really relate to him."

Eruzione still lives in the same Boston neighborhood he grew up in, next to his Dad, surrounded by siblings, cousins, kids and nieces and nephews. He remains close to his father, and has taken the lessons he taught him into adult life.

"We were cut off from TV and the media during the Olympics, so we had no idea how big this thing had gotten. As soon as the game was over and we had won, everything changed. There was pandemonium, bedlam," he said.

"We got back to the locker room. Remember security is very, very tight at the Olympics and, still to this day, I don't know how he did it, but there was my Dad in the locker room with a six-pack of beer, raising a bottle to me," he said.

Eruzione's speech was co-sponsored by Guardian Industries and Tubelite Inc. It was followed by three additional seminars at the BEC ended today.

Watch tomorrow for more details about those and other BEC coverage.

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