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Just after winning the 1979 NCAA hockey championship, University of Minnesota head coach Herb Brooks got the call to lead Team USA in the 1980 Olympics. At the time, the United States adhered to the original Olympic ideal of using only amateur athletes, and Brooks hand-picked the best collegiate hockey players in the nation. For his center, Brooks needed to look no further than his championship Minnesota team, selecting Steve Christoff. Christoff had led the Gophers in scoring in back to back seasons and had recently completed his college career by scoring Minnesota’s NCAA tournament-winning goal. As it turned out, Christoff’s presence on the team would have a direct impact on the team winning the Gold at the Lake Placid Games. Heading into the Olympics Steve Christoff was considered by many the most important player on the team.  This makes sense as he had just won the Hobey Baker award for the best college hockey player in the country.  During the Olympics Christoff did not disappoint as he had been the most successful over all Olympics of any player in the tournament not just the United States Olympic team, having more points than any other player during the entire tournament (including Olympic qualifiers).

The way hockey was featured at the 1980 games was as a “round robin,” with four teams eventually winning the chance to compete for the Gold, Silver and Bronze. As it turned out, the final quartet was the Soviet Union, Finland, Sweden and the United States. With 1980 being the height of the Cold War, the first round featuring the US vs USSR held much more at stake than just a medal. In the dramatic game, Team USA prevailed over the heavily-favored Soviets in what has become known as the “Miracle on Ice.” This victory, though emotional and dramatic, was not the Gold Medal game. That game was played two days later against Finland. With the “round robin” setup, a Team USA loss to the Finns, coupled with a USSR win over Sweden would mean the Russians would win the Gold. Thus, the US-Finland game meant much more than first and second place finishes.

The Finns showed their professionalism by holding the US to a single goal, scored by Christoff, after two periods and the game was frozen at 2-1 Finland going into the third and final period. That is when Steve Christoff stepped up. According to Team USA’s goaltender Jim Craig, ““Steve Christoff was one of the leaders of our team. Steve also had an excellent professional career. And Steve liked the big games. In fact, I believe the Gold Medal game verse Finland was his best Game of the tournament when he scored the game tying goal and assisted on the final goal.” Christoff’s first period goal energized his teammates by evening up the score and as Craig stated above, his assist to Mark Johnson’s third period short-handed goal put the American’s up 4-2, ensuring them the Gold.

This blue jersey was the one worn by Steve Christoff that afternoon in Lake Placid when his goal tied the game and inspired his team to do the impossible. You can see it in the iconic game. The jersey shows great game use, with the kind of wear you want to see on the jersey of a Gold Medal winner. There is toning throughout, with some snags to the mesh fabric. Light staining, abrasion marks and scuffs are visible and there are some loose threads present. The front has “USA” in red and white tackle twill. The sleeves and waist are trimmed in bold bands of red and white with Christoff’s number “11” on each shoulder in red and white tackle twill. The back has “CHRISTOFF” across the shoulders in white tackle twill on a blue name plate. His number “11” is below in red and white tackle twill. The original Norcon size XL label is intact inside the collar. Any game used piece from the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team contains incalculable historical significance, but the jersey worn by the player who scored the tying goal that paved the way for the most dramatic moment in American sports is quite simply extraordinary. This jersey comes with a detailed letter of provenance from Steve Christoff, along with the original purchase receipt for when this historic jersey previously sold at auction for $325,000.

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