The digital clock is into the final seconds and the countdown has begun. Al Michaels, commentating for ABC on the Lake Placid 1980 Winter Olympics ice hockey medal-round game between a Soviet Union team stacked with experienced, bemedalled and effectively professional talent and a home team of aspiring college boys, joins in.
And then, memorably, cuts loose, his voice cracking with emotion as the scoreline of United States 4 Soviet Union 3 hardens into a final, scarcely credible reality.
“Eleven seconds, you've got 10 seconds, the countdown going on right now! Morrow, up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”
The screen fills with images of jubilation. The vast majority of the 8,500 spectators present in the Field House International Ice Rink specially built for the Olympics are whooping and yelling.
Soviet players, their ambition of earning a fifth consecutive Olympic title effectively ended, drift singly and dazedly across the ice. Meanwhile the men in red, white and blue converge with mad energy as their team-mates froth from the bench, a flood tide of US pride.
The home team still needed to defeat Finland in their final match two days later to earn Olympic gold - and duly did so, despite a significant wobble.
But it was the drama of February 22 1980 that resonates and reverberates. Forty years on, the 'Miracle on Ice' is about to be thoroughly re-lived and relished once again, for the delectation of the US sporting nation.
The imminent celebrations - ESPN, ABC, NBCSN and the National Hockey League Network have all announced special programming to mark the latest anniversary - are part of a sequence that has been going on in one form or another since that now relatively distant February evening.
In March 1981, ABC aired a made-for-TV film entitled, unsurprisingly, Miracle on Ice, which starred Karl Malden as the idiosyncratic US team coach Herb Brooks and Steve Guttenberg as goaltender Jim Craig.
It incorporated footage from the game and sections of the original commentary.
In February 2001, documentary film Do You Believe in Miracles? premiered on HBO and was subsequently released on home video.
Three years later, Walt Disney Pictures released the film Miracle, starring Kurt Russell as Brooks, and with Michaels recreating his commentary for most of the games featured.
For the final seconds, however, the film makers used the original commentary. Not even Michaels could recreate the emotional pressure that created those timeless lines.
In 2015, a documentary which told the story from the Soviet perspective, entitled Of Miracles And Men, was premiered on ESPN as part of the channel’s 30 for 30 series.
In 1999, Sports Illustrated named the Miracle on Ice as its top sports moment of the 20th Century, commenting: “It may just be the single most indelible moment in all of U.S. sports history. One that sent an entire nation into a frenzy.”
And as part of its centennial celebrations in 2008, the International Ice Hockey Federation named it as the best international ice hockey story of the previous 100 years.
For any English sports followers, the parallels are very strong between this glorious US hockey triumph and the victory of England’s footballers in the home World Cup of 1966. As with the Miracle on Ice, the crowning English victory over West Germany at Wembley Stadium - 4-2 after extra time - will forever be accompanied by a few moments of inspired, instinctive TV commentary, in this case from the BBC’s Kenneth Wolstenholme.
Having seen West Germany level the match at 2-2 in the last minute of normal time, England had gone 3-2 up through the controversial goal scored by Geoff Hurst from a shot that bounced down off the crossbar.
After a long pass from his West Ham club-mate Bobby Moore had freed him for a final run on the German goal, Hurst - amidst some confusion over whether the referee had blown his whistle - thumped the ball in for his hat-trick, to the accompanying, timeless words of Wolstenholme.
"There are some people on the pitch…they think it’s all over…it is now."
Speaking recently to Bob Costas on NHL Network, Michaels recalled amiably - for perhaps the millionth time - his own words and emotions on that Winter Olympic occasion.
“Little would I know as I’m saying those words - and I barely remember saying them at that time because there was the aftermath and the players were going crazy on the ice. Then we had to do another game that night - Sweden against Finland.
“When I got back to the hotel everybody said to me ‘Boy that was great what you said at the end of the game’ and I went: ‘What?’
“I didn’t think the US had a chance to win the game. No chance. So you have this thing that happens and the only word that came into my brain I guess at that point was ‘miraculous’ - it got morphed into a question and an answer.”
But while the result may have been, as Michaels judged it, miraculous, it was not entirely mysterious. There was much thought and imagination behind the preparations laid by the US coach - and there appeared to have been a serious mid-game mistake made by his Soviet counterpart. On such misjudgements are sporting contests won and lost.
The Soviet team that arrived in Lake Placid had not lost an Olympic game since 1968. It counted among its leading players the team captain and legendary right winger Boris Mikhailov, Vladislav Tretiak - generally regarded as the finest goaltender in the world - the swift and skilled Valeri Kharlamov, renowned defender Viacheslav Fetisov and the dynamic forward Sergei Makarov.
The majority of the Soviet squad played hockey full-time while employed by industrial firms or located within military organisations.
Western nations fielding players who were amateurs in more than name only protested in vain to the International Olympic Committee, which did not change its rules on this issue until the late 1980s, with Canada making a stand by withdrawing from the Games of 1972 and 1976.
Of the 20 players chosen for the US Olympic squad, nine had played under Brooks at the University of Minnesota, including Rob McClanahan and Mike Ramsey, while four more were from the University of Boston, including Dave Silk, goaltender Jim Craig and team captain Mike Eruzione.
Brooks had made his selection with minute care from an original field of 68 potential Olympians, using a 300-question psychological test to offer an insight on how every player would react under stress. Anyone who refused to take the test ruled themselves out of possible selection.
The average age of the American team was 21 years old, which made it both the youngest team in the tournament and the youngest team in US history to play in the Olympics.
A year before the Lake Placid Olympics, the Soviet Union had beaten the National Hockey League (NHL) All-Stars team - including many Canadian players - 6-0. The 1980 US players included a number who had signed contracts to go professional with NHL teams straight after the Games, but even they were in the category of “promising” rather than “accomplished.”
Meanwhile, Brooks got the team playing an intensive series of exhibition matches in the five months before the Olympics, involving 61 games against teams from the US and Europe. The emphasis was on speed, endurance and discipline.
However, as a measure of the task ahead, the US Team was beaten 10-3 by the Soviet Union in its last exhibition game, at Madison Square Garden on February 9.
But this heavy defeat on the eve of the Games contained what turned out to be one of the seeds of their unlikely success The Soviet head coach Viktor Tikhonov later admitted that the win “turned out to be a very big problem” in that it caused his players to underestimate the hosts when they met them in the first of the medal rounds.
The home team impressed in their group matches, reaching the final round-robin playoffs without defeat, having won four matches and drawn 2-2 with Sweden thanks to an equaliser 27 seconds from the end after Brooks had gambled by taking Craig off and adding an extra attacker.
Had that equaliser not arrived, given the way all other results went, the home team would - despite their defeat of the defending champions - have had to settle for silver on goal differential.
But it did arrive. And, soon enough, so did a victory over the apparently unbeatable Soviets.
The favourites took an expected lead after nine minutes and 12 seconds of the first period when Vladimir Krutov deflected a shot by Alexei Kasatonov past Craig.
Buzz Schneider equalised with a speculative 50-foot shot after 14:03, but just over three minutes later the Soviets were ahead again through Makarov and Craig was being kept increasingly busy.
But in the final seconds of the period - drama. Dave Christian tried a long-range shot from 30 metres away and while Tretiak saved it he misplayed the rebound, pushing it about 20 feet in front of him and allowing Mark Johnson to nip in between two defenders to fire the loose puck home with just one second of the first period remaining.
The defending champions appeared to have recovered their equilibrium as they dominated the second period, sending in 12 shots to the hosts’ two. But they only scored one goal, after 2:18, as Aleksandr Maltsev made the most of a powerplay.
As things turned out, however, the most significant factor in the second period was that Tikhonov had replaced the fabled Tretiak with the second-choice goaltender, Vladimir Myshkin.
In his account of the Miracle in liveabout.com, Jamie Fitzpatrick recalls how Tretiak later wrote in his autobiography: “I don’t think I should have been replaced in that game. I had made so many mistakes already, I was confident my play would only improve. (Myshkin) is an excellent goalie, but he wasn’t prepared for the struggle, he wasn’t ‘tuned in’ to the Americans.”
Years later, when they were NHL teammates, Johnson asked Soviet defenseman Fetisov why Tikhonov had shown so little faith in Tretiak. “Coach crazy,” replied Fetisov.
Tikhonov later suggested the change, which he described as the biggest mistake of his career, had been made under pressure from Soviet officials at the game.
So as the Soviets entered the third and final period they were 3-2 up but, it seemed, holed below the waterline in terms of morale.
When Krutov was sent to the penalty box after 6:47, the home side - eventually - made the most of their powerplay opportunity when Johnson fired home an equaliser under Myshkin after 8.39.
Shortly after the powerplay ended, Mark Pavelich found Eruzione, who had just arrived on the ice, in space, and the captain, screened from the goaltender by Vasili Pervukhin, fired home what turned out to be the winning goal.
The Soviets almost hit back immediately as Maltsev’s shot hit the post, but that was to be the closest they came to an equaliser as they grew increasingly anxious to the point of panic. Brooks implored his men to remain expansive in terms of their game. Tikhonov did not gamble by swapping his goaltender for an extra attacker - he apparently did not believe in the tactic. And soon the countdown began…
In the Soviet locker room, Tikhonov singled out first-line players Tretiak, Kharlamov, Vladimir Petrov, and Mikhailov, and told each of them, "This is your loss!" After the Soviet players had defeated Sweden 9-2 in their final match, none of them followed the customary practice of having their name inscribed on their silver medal.
Four years later the Soviet Union, with Tretiak in the goal, won its sixth Olympic ice hockey title at the Sarajevo Games.
In the 1989-1990 season, as the USSR pursued its perestroika policy, Soviet authorities permitted six 1980 Olympians - Helmuts Balderis, Fetisov, Kasatonov, Krutov, Makarov and Sergei Starikov - to join NHL clubs, but only after they agreed to play in their final World Championship. Which they won.
Maintaining concentration to finish their job at the Lake Placid Olympics by beating Finland was not easy for the home side, who were 2-1 down after the second period before rallying with three goals in the third to claim a second Olympic title for the US.
The first had come 20 years earlier at the Squaw Valley Games. The final team selection was made a week before those Games began, with one player being cut - Herb Brooks.
Three weeks later, Brooks sat at home with his father and watched the team he had almost made win gold. Afterwards, he reportedly went up to the US coach, Jack Riley, and said: "Well, you must have made the right decision - you won.'"
Before the game against the Soviet Union, with the arena packed and seething, Brooks had read his players a statement he had written out on a piece of paper, telling them: "You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here. This moment is yours.”
He later explained: "The Russians were ready to cut their own throats. But we had to get to the point to be ready to pick up the knife and hand it to them.
“So the morning of the game I called the team together and told them, 'It's meant to be. This is your moment and it's going to happen.' It's kind of corny and I could see them thinking, 'Here goes Herb again....' But I believed it."
In the course of the previous five months the team had heard Brooks come out with a lot of arresting statements - some more intelligible than others.
The players came to describe such utterances as “Brooksisms” and Silk, Eruzione and John Harrington put a number of choice examples on record.
They included: "You’re playing worse and worse every day and right now you’re playing like it’s next month."
"You can’t be common; the common man goes nowhere. You have to be uncommon."
"Boys, I’m asking you to go to the well again."
"This team isn’t talented enough to win on talent alone."
"The legs feed the wolf."
"We walked up to the tiger, looked him straight in the eye, and spat in it."
"You know, Willie Wonka said it best: we are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams…"
But perhaps his most telling comment was recalled by Eruzione, and it came as he entered the dressing room after the second period of the final match against Finland.
Brooks turned to his players, looked at them, and said: "If you lose this game, you'll take it to your fucking graves." He then walked towards the locker room door, paused, looked over his shoulder, and said to them again: "Your fucking graves."
A total of 13 players from the US squad went on to play in the NHL, with three playing more than 1,000 games.
Neal Broten made 1,099 NHL appearances over 17 seasons and won the Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 1995 - thus becoming the first player in the history of the sport to win a championship at collegiate, professional and Olympic levels.
Ken Morrow, namechecked by Michaels in those closing seconds of the Soviet match, signed up with the New York Islanders after the Games and later in 1980 became first hockey player to win Olympic gold and a Stanley Cup winner’s medal in the same year. He went on to play 550 NHL games and win three more Cups, all with the Islanders.
Ramsey played in 1,070 NHL games in the space of the next 18 years, 14 of them with the Buffalo Sabres. He was a five-times member of the NHL All-Star team.
Christian played in the NHL for 14 years with Winnipeg Jets and then Washington Capitals, playing 1009 games and making the All-Star team in 1991.
Johnson also made the All-Star team in the course of an 11-year NHL career and later served as head coach of the US women’s team that won silver at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Jack O’Callahan, Mark Pavelich and Silk all played more than 200 NHL games, while Jim Craig appeared 30 times.
Team captain Eruzione did not continue with a high-level hockey career after the 1980 Olympics, although he worked as a TV hockey analyst in the 1980s and 1990s.
Brooks went on to coach several NHL teams following the Olympics, with mixed results.
He returned to the Olympics as coach of the French team in 1998, and then led the United States to the silver medal at the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympics, where the Olympic Cauldron at the Opening Ceremony was lit by the team he had led to gold in 1980.
Brooks died in a car crash near Forest Lake in Minnesota on August 11 2003, aged 66.
Two years later, in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice, the rink in which it took place was re-named the Herb Brooks Arena.
The historic sporting conflict between the US and the Soviet Union prefigured a political conflict later that year as US President Jimmy Carter decided that his country should boycott the Moscow Summer Olympics in protest over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979.
Asked during his NHL Network interview to try and assess the significance of that game of games in Lake Placid, Michaels responded:
“When you think back to where we were at that time as a country it galvanised the country, and who could ever believe that a hockey team - a hockey team - could do that and make everybody feel so much better about themselves?”
Well said indeed. But Willy Wonka said it best...