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The man who was the speedy center for the “Miracle on Ice” Olympic hockey team, Mark Pavelich, has died at the age of 63. He died in a mental health facility called Eagle’s Healing Nest in Sauk Centre, Minnesota on March 4, 2021. His manner and cause of death are still pending.
Pavelich was born on Feb. 28, 1958, in Eveleth, Minnesota. He attended Eveleth High School where he starred on their hockey team. From there he was an All-America selection at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
The professional ice hockey forward played 355 regular-season games in the National Hockey League. Between 1981 to 1992 he played for the New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks, and Minnesota North Stars.
In 1980, the United States Olympic hockey team — “Miracle on Ice”— he played for won the gold medal. In this game at Lake Placid, New York, Pavelich assisted Mike Eruzione to score the winning goal against the Soviet Union.
On Feb. 23, 1983, his team the Rangers played against the Hartford Whalers. During this game, Pavelich scored five goals. The Rangers won against the Whalers, 11-3.
Pavelich resided at Eagle’s Healing Nest to undergo treatment for assaulting his neighbor in Cook County, Minnesota. The assault happened in August 2019. According to Pavelich, he had thought the man had spiked his beer with something.
Officials charged him with felony assault. However, Judge Michael Cuzzo found the hockey player was not competent to stand trial. Due to him being mentally ill and dangerous he was placed in the mental health facility.
According to December 2019’s judge’s orders, the hockey player suffered from paranoia and delusions. Afterward, another psychologist discovered that Pavelich suffered from a mild neurocognitive disorder caused by traumatic brain injury. The psychologist furthered believed this condition was likely caused by repeated head injuries.
His wife Kara passed away in 2012 after an accidental fall. Two years later he sold his gold medal for $250,000.
Since the news of his death, many people took to social media to pay tribute to the late hockey player. Including the NHL Alumni who tweeted they were “saddened to learn of the passing of Mark Pavelich.” They further stated that he was “instrumental” in the U.S. Olympic team winning the gold in 1980.
Written by Sheena Robertson
USA Today: ‘Miracle on Ice’ star, former NHL player Mark Pavelich dies at 63
Ice Hockey Fandom: Mark Pavelich
Featured Image Courtesy of Darcy’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License