LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — At least publicly, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas said he wasn’t looking at his team’s trip to the USA Rink at the Whitehead Lake Placid Olympic Center, site of the “Miracle on Ice,” as a source of inspiration to keep beating the Montreal Canadiens.
“It’s hard to say. We’ll see on Thursday,” said Thomas about the chance he might be re-energized by the visit to the Adirondacks today and tomorrow. “Really, already the main focus is switching to Thursday and then playing in Montreal. This isn’t the Olympics. It wouldn’t be a miracle if we were able to win Thursday. So it’s a totally different situation.”
Boston would’ve needed a miracle had they lost Monday’s Game 3 at the Bell Centre. Instead they pulled off a 4-2 win, buoyed by Thomas’ 34 saves, to cut the Canadiens’ lead in the series to two games to one. Most of Boston’s players took today as an off day. The team is scheduled to practice Wednesday morning on the ice sheet that witnessed the Americans’ dramatic win over the USSR in the 1980 Olympics en route to the gold-medal triumph.
While chatting with the media in Locker Room 5, the room the U.S. team allegedly used during its “Miracle” run, Thomas recalled today how he was 5 years old when watched the U.S win gold on television back at his home in Flint, Mich.
“I already had some inkling that I wanted to be a goalie, but those Olympics and Jim Craig sealed the deal,” said Thomas. “That’s why I became a goalie. And my goal was, at age 5 until really until probably 20, was to play in the Olympics. Not that I didn’t want to play in the NHL, but the main goal was the Olympics.”
The Bruins can be thankful that Thomas decided to stay in the crease for his career and that he didn’t give up on the NHL dream even when he was thriving in Europe with scant attention from the scouts back home.
On the verge of winning a second Vezina Trophy in three years, Thomas has become a cornerstone of Boston’s franchise turnaround. Once out of the playoffs two years in a row out of the lockout, the Bruins have qualified for the postseason four straight years and won two division titles. Thomas has been their starter for three of those seasons.
Some would even say that Thomas’ career has been a miracle, considering how long it took him to establish himself as a regular at the game’s highest level. In that way, the “Miracle” has already made its impact on Thomas.
He summed up the U.S. 1980 win and his team’s current visit to its site better than anyone else really could.
“It’s more inspirational to life though than this one upcoming game in Montreal.”