By Cap Carey
LAKE PLACID — The same arena where Mike Eruzione scored the goal that beat the Soviet Union in a hockey game in the 1980 Winter Olympics will once again be the home of the ECAC Hockey championship weekend.
Lake Placid's Herb Brooks Arena, site of the Miracle on Ice, hosted the ECAC Hockey championship weekend from 1993-2002 and never stopped trying to get it back while the event spent the past decade taking place in Albany and Atlantic City, N.J.
There is one more year left in Atlantic City's contract, but Lake Placid gets it back for a three-year term starting in 2014.
“Lake Placid has a special bond with ECAC Hockey,” conference commissioner Steve Hagwell said. “This is home for this league.”
There were some hard feelings in the spring of 2002 when the league moved the championship weekend to Albany despite making a verbal agreement to stay in Lake Placid.
But Lake Placid's Olympic Regional Development Authority, which runs the sports events in town, maintained a positive relationship with the league and never quit trying to get the event back.
One of the first steps in bringing the event back was hosting an ECAC nonconference doubleheader the last two years, featuring rivalry games between Rensselaer and Union and Clarkson against St. Lawrence University.
Hagwell came to last year's event and he said seeing the snow on the drive into town helped rekindle the feelings he had for the community back when the final weekend was in Lake Placid.
Among the benefactors of the move will be north country fans. If Clarkson or SLU make this year's final four in Atlantic City fans are looking at over a 900-mile drive, round trip. Lake Placid is 70 miles from Potsdam and a little more than 80 miles from Canton.
Clarkson coach Casey Jones was an assistant with the Golden Knights during the early years of Lake Placid's first run as host and brought his team here last December for the nonconference game with SLU.
The Golden Knights had their own miracle moment in Lake Placid en route to winning the 1999 championship, when Willie Mitchell, now a Los Angeles King, scored this goal with three seconds left to beat Princeton in the semifinals.