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Boris Mikhailov: 'We shouldn't have lost to Americans'

6:02 PM, Feb 14, 2014   |    comments
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MOSCOW - It could very well be one of the most famous hockey games of all time: Team USA versus the Soviet Union at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics. It was the game of college boys versus grown men. Hollywood made a movie about it called "Miracle."

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But 33 years later, Russians would not use that particular word to describe that game. One man who had a hand in the loss still can't get over it 33 years later.

Boris Mikhailov was the USSR team captain - the team which until that moment in Lake Placid reigned the ice and put fear in the hearts of their opponents.

"A painful point in my career," Mikhailov said.

Mikhailov, 69, is funny, engaging but also bitter.

"We don't talk about 1980, no, no!" he said.

Bitter about one of the things Americans still celebrate: a historic win over a dominant team on the 1980 Olympic ice.

"You traveled this far to ask me to remember a painful point in my sporting career, isn't that right?" he asked, "Was it worth coming all the way from America here to Moscow?"

Mikhailov is a legend in Russia. He was the captain of a team that history now calls "the most dominant team of all time in international play."

Mikhailov was a part of the USSR crew that ruled the ice. Mikhailov was a captain for six years. He led the team to two Olympic gold medals. Mikhailov would have liked to have had a third.

"And what do you think, do I like remembering this?!" he asked. "Here I am, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, I could've been a three time. One, two, three, nope!"

Mikhailov takes some of the responsibility for the fall that particular night.

"We weren't prepared because a week before the Olympic Game, we played a game of cat and mouse with this team [Team USA]," he said. "We scored nine, but could've scored 15 [goals]. After that game, in our minds, we thought we can take with gloves off."

But during the game that would eventually lead to the Olympic medal, Mikhailov said after the second goal, he knew the powerful team USSR was in trouble.

"During the game, we couldn't shift our mindset. We weren't ready," he said. "It turned out, they showed character and played such a spirited give-it-their-all game. We weren't mentally prepared for that."

Losing is always hard, but this loss stung like no other.

"We felt horrible, horrible," Mikhailov said. "I felt that I personally didn't do something, I felt first, the opponent won. Second, I wasn't 120 percent ready to win against this team."

This legend of Soviet hockey is optimistic about Russia's chances in Sochi.

"Our team will win gold," he said.

Mikhailov's honesty probably resonates in the hearts of many Russian hockey lovers today, 33 years after the famous game.

"We should've won against [Team USA], no matter what they say now," Mikhailov said. "That night, they were stronger. Still, we should not have lost to them."

The United States ended up winning the Olympic gold medal, the Soviet Union got silver and Sweden skated away with a bronze.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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