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James Downey Craig (born May 31, 1957 in Easton, Massachusetts) is a former American ice hockey goaltender who is most notable for being the goaltender for the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team that won the Olympic gold medal at the Lake Placid Winter Games. Craig had a standout Olympic tournament. In the Olympic semifinal game against the heavily favored Soviet Union, Craig stopped 36 of 39 shots on goal as the U.S. beat the Soviets, 4-3, in what is widely considered one of the greatest upsets in sports history. Two days later, the U.S. defeated Finland, 4-2, in the Olympic final and captured Olympic gold. Craig went on to play professionally in the National Hockey League, where he started for the Atlanta Flames, Boston Bruins, and Minnesota North Stars between 1980 and 1983.

BiographyEdit

Amateur careerEdit

File:Jim Craig Equipment.jpg
Craig attended and played hockey at Boston University, then one year at Massasoit Community College. He led BU to the NCAA Division I championship in 1978[1] and was an NCAA All-Star in 1979. He was inducted into the BU Hall of Fame in 1989.[2]

1980 Winter OlympicsEdit

He is best known as the goalie for the United States in the Miracle on Ice, when the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team defeated the favoured Soviet Olympic hockey team. Craig played a key role in one of the landmark moments in United States sports history. In the game against the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics, Craig deflected 36 of 39 shots from an attacking unit led by the great Boris Mikhailov. Craig's skill was the most helpful in the final moments of the game and allowed the underdog U.S team to retain their one goal lead and eventually win 4-3. The flag that Craig wore after the upset is now displayed at the Sports Museum of America in New York City.[3] Two days later, he again would lead the way to a 4-2 victory over Finland, clinching the gold medal.[1]

Professional careerEdit

Originally drafted by the Atlanta Flames with the 72nd pick in the 1977 NHL Entry Draft, Craig joined the Flames shortly after the Olympics and won his first game as an NHL professional. However, he found it difficult to duplicate his magic in the NHL. The following season, the Boston Bruins brought him home to Massachusetts in a trade with Atlanta.[4] He served as the Bruins' backup goaltender during the 1980-81 regular season but again failed to make an impression and he did not participate in the 1981 NHL Playoffs. Craig returned to the US national team for the 1981 Canada Cup but missed the tournament due to injury and the following season was spent in the minor leagues with the Erie Blades. Craig's final moment of glory was in 1983 when he again played very well for the United States in the 1983 IIHF Pool B tournament. Craig was named goaltender of the tournament and the Minnesota North Stars promptly signed him to a free agent contract.[5] He would make a final three NHL appearances for the North Stars in 1984 before retiring from hockey.

Post playing careerEdit

Craig is employed as a motivational speaker, spokesperson, marketing and sales strategist. He is president of Gold Medal Strategies [6], a Boston-area based promotions and marketing firm that also manages and represents Jim and his appearance business. Over the past 25 years, Jim has provided strategic direction for employees and associates from more than 300 organizations.

In popular cultureEdit

In the 1981 made-for-TV movie about the 1980 U.S. Hockey team called Miracle on Ice, Craig is portrayed by Steve Guttenberg.

In the 2004 Disney film entitled Miracle, he is played by actor Eddie Cahill, who considers Jim Craig to be one of his childhood heroes.[7]

Awards and achievementsEdit

  • ECAC First All-Star Team (1979)
  • NCAA East First All-American Team (1979)
  • Olympic Gold Medal Team U.S.A (1980)
  • Ice Hockey World Championships B Pool Tournament All-Star Team (1983)
  • Inducted into International Hockey Hall of Fame in 1999

ReferencesEdit

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