Wisconsin is known for its rich history in sports, and hockey is no exception. It is a state that has produced top players, teams, and memorable moments that have left a lasting impact on the sport. From dominant college programs to successful NHL franchises, Wisconsin has a long-standing tradition of excellence in hockey.
But what makes the sport even more exciting are the unexpected upsets and wins that have occurred throughout Wisconsin’s rich hockey history. These historic moments are etched in the minds of fans and have become legendary tales that are still talked about to this day.
In this article, we take a journey through time to revisit some of the most memorable upsets and wins in Wisconsin hockey history.
The Miracle on Ice: 1980 Winter Olympics
Our journey begins with the most iconic moment in Wisconsin hockey history – the Miracle on Ice. The game took place during the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, where the underdog United States team faced off against the heavily favored Soviet Union.
The U.S. team consisted of a group of college players, including six from the University of Wisconsin. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, was a powerhouse in hockey and had dominated the sport for years.
But the American team, led by head coach Herb Brooks, defied the odds and shocked the world by defeating the Soviet Union 4-3 in what is now known as one of the greatest upsets in sports history.
The U.S. team went on to win the gold medal, capping off an incredible run that started with an unexpected victory over the Soviets. This moment not only put Wisconsin hockey on the map but also inspired a generation of young players to pursue their dreams in the sport.
Wisconsin Badgers: Dominating College Hockey
There is no discussion about Wisconsin hockey without mentioning the legendary college program at the University of Wisconsin – the Badgers. The Badgers hold a record seven NCAA Division I national titles, with their first coming in 1973 and their most recent in 2006.
They have also produced some of the top players in the sport, such as Mark Johnson, who was part of the Miracle on Ice team, and legends like Tony Granato, Joe Pavelski, and Ryan Suter.
But one of the most memorable seasons for the Badgers came in 1990, when they faced off against an undefeated University of Maine team in the NCAA Championship Game. Despite being the heavy underdogs, the Badgers pulled off a 7-3 upset, winning their fifth national title and solidifying their dominance in college hockey.
Milwaukee Admirals: The Underdogs of the AHL
While Wisconsin is known for its college hockey, it also has a strong presence in the American Hockey League (AHL), a top minor league for the NHL. The Milwaukee Admirals are a prime example of this, as they have been a successful franchise for over 50 years.
But in the 2003-2004 season, the Admirals made history by completing one of the greatest comebacks in the AHL playoffs. After going down 2-0 in their first-round series against the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks, the Admirals came back to win three straight games and advance to the Western Conference Semifinals.
They continued their Cinderella run by defeating the heavily favored Chicago Wolves in the second round and eventually winning the Calder Cup Championship – their first in franchise history. This moment is still revered by Admirals fans as one of the greatest upsets in AHL history.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Milwaukee Admirals: A Historic Rivalry
Sticking with the Admirals, their rivalry with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks is also worth mentioning. Being just a short distance away, the two teams have a fierce competition that has led to some memorable moments on the ice.
In the 2005 exhibition game between the two teams, the Admirals made headlines by defeating the Blackhawks 5-4 in a shootout. This victory marked the first time an AHL team had ever defeated an NHL team in a pre-season game.
Eau Claire vs. Wisconsin Game: A Thrilling Matchup
College hockey in Wisconsin extends beyond the Badgers, and one of the most exciting rivalries is between the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and the University of Wisconsin. The two teams have a fierce competition that has led to some unforgettable moments on the ice.
In 2016, the two teams faced off in the NCAA Division III quarterfinals, a game that would go down in history as the longest game in Division III history. After six overtime periods, Eau Claire’s Lucas Kohls scored the game-winning goal, leading his team to an exhilarating 4-3 upset victory over their in-state rival.
This historic game not only added to the long-standing rivalry but also showed the dedication and determination of the players on both sides.
From the Miracle on Ice to dominating college hockey and exciting rivalries, Wisconsin has had its fair share of historic upsets and wins in the world of hockey. These moments have not only solidified the state’s reputation in the sport but also continue to inspire future generations of players to dream big and achieve the unthinkable.
As fans, we can only wonder what other memorable moments will come out of Wisconsin’s hockey legacy in the years to come – but one thing is for sure, they will have big skates to fill.