Donald Trump said he was "thrilled" to be joined on stage by the players ©Getty Images

The 'Miracle on Ice' team responsible for one of the most iconic moments in Olympic history have defended appearing alongside Unite States President Donald Trump at a rally in Las Vegas.

Many were wearing red hats adorned with slogan "Keep America Great", which is being used for Trump's re-election campaign.

Saturday (February 22) marked the 40th anniversary of the US team - who was mostly college players - upsetting the Soviet Union en route to winning gold at the Lake Placid 1980 Winter Olympics.

The Soviet team were professional in all but name and had won four Olympic titles in a row.

The appearance of 14 players alongside Trump, who remains a polarising figure, drew criticism from some quarters, but now the team have hit back.

"To us, this is not about politics or choosing sides," read a post from the team's Twitter account.  

"This is about proudly representing the United States of America.  

"Whether your beliefs are Democratic, Republican, Independent, etc. we support that and are proud to represent the USA.  

"It is an honor and privilege!"

Joining 14 players on stage was Kelly Brooks, daughter of the team's late coach Herb, and she certainly didn't steer clear of politics.

"My personal opinion, he would have been a Trump fan," she said of her father.

Trump also boasted about his golfing acumen with captain Mike Eruzione.

On Saturday, the day of the anniversary, 18 of the team's 20 players dropped the ceremonial puck ahead of the National Hockey League game between the Vegas Golden Knights and Florida Panthers.

The two players not there were Bob Suter, who died in 2014, and forward Mark Pavelich, who was jailed last year on assault charges and ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial, so is now in a secure treatment facility in Minnesota.