Thunderbirds honor first responders, Olympic champion for Hometown Heroes Night

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It was Hometown Heroes Night at the MassMutual Center Saturday.

Fire and police first responders were saluted along with a hockey hero of America’s Miracle Olympic Hockey team of forty years ago.

Prior to the start of the game, where the Thunderbirds wore the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team colors, former Olympic team captain Mike Eruzione enjoyed rare moments with Springfield area hockey fans who remember the Eruzione led U.S. victory over the Soviet Union like it was just yesterday.

“Forty years ago in the summer of 1980, he signed this stick at a Jimmy Fund golf tournament,” said Robert Brennan of East Longmeadow. “His signature wore off after all these years.”

After meeting with Eruzione again Saturday Brennan told 22News, “He got it back on today, it was one of the sticks he actually used in the Olympics.”

“Oh it’s awesome, I’ve been a sports fan all of my life,” added John Hemingway of Springfield. “I’ve always supported the American teams, this is the greatest thing.”

Olympic hockey hero Mike Eruzione from Winthrop, Massachusetts, was clearly humbled by the attention, by the lasting memories proclaimed by Springfield area hockey fans of his team’s iconic victory in 1980.

“it’s a proud feeling to know that people still remember us, remember our team,” Eruzione expressed. “When you get to a place like this, that people appreciate your accomplishments 40 years later, I’ve always taken pride in how it’s touched so many livers in such a good way.”

It was an evening Eruzione will likely long cherish along with countless local hockey fans, who together shared magic memories from forty years ago.

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