10 greatest Capital Region sporting achievements of the past
note on how a couple of unusual votes were counted: One respondent
voted for the Siena and UAlbany NCAA appearances as one item,
so we split the points in half and applied them to each schoolís
individual ranking. Also, a vote was cast for the Patroonsí
ďearly years,Ē so we split those point among three more specific
items pertaining to the team in that time period.
It was 29 years ago this month that one of the greatest sporting
achievements of all time happened right here in our Adirondack
backyard. The U.S. Olympic menís hockey team, never thought
to be good enough to beat the mighty Soviet Union, won the
gold medal at Lake Placid. The well-coached and well-conditioned
U.S. boys surprised the Soviets with a gritty semifinal victory
and completed the job by besting Finland for the gold. The
unbelievable finish made instant darlings of the team, in
particular their coach, Herb Brooks, and goalie, Jim Craig.
The memory still resonates, and the achievement tops our list.
Three other very significant milestones tied for second place.
Local boy Jeff Blatnick overcame cancer to earn a heartwarming
Olympic gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling; the dominant
RPI menís hockey team (including Adam Oates, who went on to
a long and successful career in the NHL) won the NCAA Division
1 national title, but not before a thrilling overtime win
over Minnesota-Duluth in the semifinal; and Siena menís basketball
capped a remarkable era of the program with a trip to the
NCAA tournamentóand a thrilling upset of Stanford in the first
round, which, among other things, showed that supposedly minor
basketball schools like Siena deserved to be there.
Who could forget Saratoga Springsí own Funny Cideís run at
the Triple Crown, or the í80s glory days of heavyweight Mike
Tyson, who trained at Cus DíAmatoís gym in Catskill and lived
for a time in Albany? Hard to believe it was the legendary
Phil Jackson who coached the Albany Patroons to their 1984
CBL title.Voters also gave the AHLís Red Wings and River Rats
their due. And a few had fond memories of when up-and-coming
Yankees got their seasoning right here in Colonie.
Survey respondents ranked up to 10 choices, and points were
tallied as follows: 10 for 1st place, 9 for 2nd, and so on.
U.S. Menís hockey team wins gold medal at 1980 Lake Placid
2. Tie: Jeff Blatnick 1984 Olympic gold medal in Greco-Roman
wrestling (35); RPI menís hockey 1985 national championship
(35); Siena menís basketball 1989 NCAA tournament appearance
and upset of Stanford (35)
5. Funny Cide wins the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 2003
6. Mike Tysonís rise and heavyweight boxing title win in 1986
7. Phil Jackson coaches Albany Patroons to 1984 Continental
Basketball League title (16)
8. Tie: Adirondack Red Wings win four Calder Cups (12); Albany
River Rats win the 1995 Calder Cup (12)
10. Yankees double-A franchise comes to Heritage Park (10)
to Metroland 30th Anniversary