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Eruzione believes diversity is Team USA’s greatest strength

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The United States men’s hockey team will begin their quest for the Gold Medal on Feb. 14th with non-NHL players. The Olympic Athletes from Russia are the favorites. Sound familiar?

In 1980, Herb Brooks, Mike Eruzione and others completed the impossible, defeating the mighty Soviet Union to bring the men’s hockey Gold Medal back to the U.S. for the first time since 1960.

With active NHL players not participating for the first time since 1994, another unique group of Americans will try to win the ultimate prize.

Brian Gionta, 39, will captain this year’s team filled with players of varied experience ranging from collegiate athletes to former NHL players.

“With Brian as an older leader, I guarantee he’s got that team in place and everybody hanging together and being together,” Eruzione said in a recent interview with NBC Olympics.  ”The sport of hockey brings people together right away. You learn that at a young age, how important your teammates are and how important it is to become a team right away. They’ve played against each other; they’ve played with each other. There are four players from Boston University there that know each other.”

Eruzione is a BU Alumnus and is still involved with the University today, working in the development office. Jordan Greenway, a current junior at BU, will become the first African-American to play on the men’s side.

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“Jordan’s a great player, and he doesn’t need my advice,” Eruzione said. “My opinion was just, ‘Embrace it. Enjoy it. It’s a great opportunity.’ He has represented the United States before at the World Junior Championships so he knows what it’s about. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime.”

Before the 1980 Winter Games, Herb Brooks ran a grueling six-month training to find the right players for his system and develop a familial environment. Additionally, his coaching staff had plenty of opportunities to experiment with different line combinations and cultivate team chemistry.

The team played a 61-game pre-Olympic schedule against foreign, college and professional teams, ultimately finishing with a 42-16-3 record.

Tony Granato, the current head coach, did not have the same luxury.

The team was announced on Jan. 1st, at the NHL Winter Classic at Citi Field. Just 40 days before the Opening Ceremony in PyeongChang.

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The Winter Games get underway swiftly and each game counts just as much as the next. There is little room for error, especially at the beginning. Remember, the 1980 squad almost had a dream-crushing loss in their opening game against Team Sweden.

“You can’t be too patient because it’s a quick tournament,” Eruzione explained. “You’re playing a lot of games in a short period of time. It’s not like you have two months to put a line together. I think it’s just going to go based on Tony’s knowledge and the coaches that are involved. They’re pretty quick to figure out who should play with who.”

Despite the difference in length of preparation, the 2018 squad’s makeup has a similar feel to the 1980 Miracle team.

“All American athletes, we come from different backgrounds, we all have different heritage and we’re very diverse,” Eruzione said. “We know we’re diverse as a country, but our team was very diverse.”

As part of the AncestryDNA campaign from Ancestory.com, several members of the 1980 team wanted to check into their past. Robbie McClanahan, John Harrington, Buzz Schneider and Davey Christian got involved.

“When the campaign was designed to celebrate America’s greatness, I thought this would be a lot of fun for us to see the diversity of our hockey team, and it was amazing,” Eruzione said. “What was funny was that Buzzy had some Russian heritage. “Now I know why Buzzy always scored against Vladislav Tretiak (Soviet Union goalie), because of the Russian roots.”

This time around, it’s a new group of diverse players heading to foreign soil. The seasoned veteran Gionta alongside young guns such as Greenway look to complete the impossible once again.

Eliud Kipchoge wins London Marathon; no world record (video)

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Eliud Kipchoge won his eighth straight marathon (ninth if you count Nike’s sub-two attempt), but missed the world record at a steamy London Marathon by more than one minute on Sunday.

The Kenyan Olympic champion clocked 2:04:17, pulling away from Ethiopian Tola Kitata by 32 seconds. Mo Farah, the four-time Olympic track champ in his second marathon, finished third in 2:06:21.

Kipchoge and Kitata fell off Dennis Kimetto‘s world-record pace around the 20th mile. Kimetto ran 2:02:57 at the 2014 Berlin Marathon.

Full results are here.

The temperature eclipsed 70 degrees Farenheit during the race, making it one of the hottest London Marathons ever. Perhaps considering that, Kipchoge said he ran “a beautiful race” for his third London title in four years.

“The conditions, I can’t complain, because all of us were running in the same arena,” he told media in London. “No regrets at all.”

Farah was satisfied, too, achieving his primary goal of breaking the 33-year-old British record held by Steve Jones.

“If you looked at the field before the start of that race, you would never have put me third place,” said Farah, who ran nearly two minutes faster than his marathon debut in London in 2014. “You would put ahead of me so many other guys.”

No world record in the women’s race, either. Kenyan Vivian Cheruiyot won in 2:18:31, passing pre-race favorite Mary Keitany in the 23rd mile. Cheruiyot won by 1 minute, 42 seconds over countrywoman Brigid Kosgei. Keitany slowed to fifth in 2:24:27.

Cheruiyot, a 34-year-old mom, made her marathon debut in London last year, finishing fourth. Before that, Cheruiyot earned four Olympic medals on the track, plus four world titles combined in the 5000m and 10,000m.

Paula Radcliffe‘s world record with male pacers — 2:15:25 from 2003 — was a target for Keitany. Last year, Keitany broke Radcliffe’s world record without male pacers by 41 seconds, winning her third London title in 2:17:01.

The other leading contender Sunday, Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba, stopped in the 20th mile.

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MORE: Shalane Flanagan looks to future after last Boston Marathon

2018 London Marathon results

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Top finishers from the 38th London Marathon (full searchable results here) …

Men’s Elite
1. Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) 2:04:17
2. Tola Kitata (ETH) 2:04:49
3. Mo Farah (GBR) 2:06:21
4. Abel Kirui (KEN) 2:07:07
5. Bedan Karoki (KEN) 2:08:34
6. Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) 2:08:53
7. Lawrence Cherono (KEN) 2:09:25
8. Daniel Wanjiru (KEN) 2:10:35
9. Amanuel Mesel (ERI) 2:11:52
10. Yohanes Gebregergish (ER) 2:12:09
17. Guye Adola (ETH) 2:32:35

Women’s Elite
1. Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN) 2:18:31
2. Brigid Kosgei (KEN) 2:20:13
3. Tadelech Bekele (ETH) 2:21:40
4. Gladys Cherono (KEN) 2:24:10
5. Mary Keitany (KEN) 2:24:27
6. Rose Chelimo (BRN) 2:26:03
7. Mare Dibaba (ETH) 2:27:45
8. Lily Partridge (GBR) 2:29:24
9. Tracy Barlow (GBR) 2:32:09
10. Stephanie Bruce (USA) 2:32:28
DNF. Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH)

Men’s Wheelchair
1. David Weir (GBR) 1:31:15
2. Marcel Hug (SUI) 1:31:15
3. Daniel Romanchuk (USA) 1:31:16
4. Josh George (USA) 1:31:24
5. Kurt Fearnley (AUS) 1:31:24

Women’s Wheelchair
1. Madison de Rozario (AUS) 1:42:58
2. Tatyana McFadden (USA) 1:42:58
3. Susannah Scaroni (USA) 1:43:00
4. Manuela Schar (SUI) 1:43:01
5. Amanda McGrory (USA) 1:43:04

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MORE: Shalane Flanagan looks to future after last Boston Marathon