Former Olympian speaks at fundraiser

NASHUA – Dave Silk was thrilled the question was asked.

“How did it feel to beat the Russians?” a youth from the large crowd at Chunky’s Cinema Pub asked.

“I would say if you took the very, very best moment in your whole entire lifetime,” he said, “multiply it by a thousand, then wrap it up in everything you ever dreamed of as a kid, that’s what it would be like.

“Thanks for asking that.”

This is Silk’s time. The former Olympian and National Hockey League player – with the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers, among other clubs – jokes about how they “dust us off” every four years, meaning the Miracle team members.

But Saturday couldn’t have worked out any better for the forward from the 1980 U.S. gold-medal-winning Olympic hockey team.

Members of the Nashua Panthers Squirt hockey team (ages 9-10), along with the Nashua High School North varsity and the general public, gathered to watch the acclaimed movie “Miracle,” depicting the huge upset of the Soviet Union by the U.S. in the 1980 Olympic semifinals at Lake Placid, N.Y., on Saturday morning. But just before the showing, the crowd was able to see the thrilling shootout to end a 3-2 U.S. win over the Russians at the Sochi Olympics.

“One of the cool things about this morning watching was how many texts and emails I got from people I haven’t heard from in a long time,” Silk said Saturday. “It’s great to be connected to it.”

The kids felt connected, too.

“I thought it was the perfect day to do the movie, because the Russians and USA were playing today,” Panther Tyler Martin said. “It was cool.”

“That was pretty cool,” said Ryan Catalano, another Panther. “I learned that it’s better to be a good teammate than to score a goal by yourself.”

The event, which featured Silk signing autographs and some memorabilia being auctioned off, was organized by the Panthers and one of their coaches, Lowell Spinners/Nashua Silver Knights Vice President Jon Goode, to raise money to play in a tournament next month in, of all places, Lake Placid.

“They’re all registered with USA Hockey,” Goode said. “So my son Braden thinks (Silk) is one of his teammates.

“That’s why we wanted them to see the movie, so they could understand why they’re going to Lake Placid. … They’re getting it, and hopefully the point is they take this experience and grow from it as people.”

Most of the audience hadn’t even been born when the “Miracle on Ice” occurred – including North coach Dan Legro.

“I first heard about it from my cousins, who were really young at the time,” Legro said. “I used to go over to their house in Bedford and play hockey with them. It was inspiring. I guess it made me have fun with hockey.”

It was the same for Legro’s players, who had a game scheduled for later in the day with local rival Bishop Guertin.

“All hockey players, we grew up on it,” Titans captain Jake Latham said of the movie. “We’d watch it as we’d drive in the car. It pumps me up. I’m ready to play BG today. It’s good for the younger kids. It was a good thing we did here.”

There’s one thing that Silk wants people to know.

“The message of how much fun we had is lost,” he said. “I think for the most part, when you talk about what happened, the perseverance, the late goal, a lot of the message is the improbability of what happened.

“The message is about teamwork, enjoying the game. As good as that feeling was, the message should be that the game should be fun.”

Silk and his 1980 teammates feel the limelight every four years at Olympic time, as they’re in demand for public appearances. They gathered in Phoenix a couple of weeks ago for a function put on by the NHL’s Coyotes.

“There wasn’t any talk of medals,” he said. “We still really relate well to each other. It’s about friendship.”

There are some things about the 1980 Miracle on Ice that we may not know.

“Lots of stuff,” Silk said. “One of the things that’s never been talked about from my personal perspective is my stepfather, who had a pacemaker, was so nervous, he couldn’t attend the game. He had to stay at the house because he was afraid of his heart.

“There’s a lot of that. A lot of stories within the story.”

Also unknown: The team’s backup goalie, Steve Janaszak, met his future wife at Lake Placid.

“She was one of the medal presenters,” Silk said.

But now it’s Olympics time again, and seeing the U.S. win Saturday and win in the “Miracle” movie brought one common reaction. Just ask Panther player Ann McIntosh.

“It made me want to clap my hands,” she said.

It was the same for Silk. Every time Olympic hockey is featured at an event, the memories come back for Silk.

“They do,” he said. “They really do.”

He still believes in miracles.