‘Miracle on Ice’ star Mark Pavelich dies at treatment home

Jack O’Callahan, left, and Mark Pavelich of the 1980 U.S. ice hockey team talk during a “Relive the Miracle” reunion at Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y. Pavelich has died at a treatment center for mental illness. (AP)

Mark Pavelich, the speedy center from the Iron Range who played on the “Miracle on Ice” Olympic hockey team, has died at a treatment center for mental illness. He was 63-year-old.

Officials in Anoka County, Minnesota confirmed Friday that Pavelich died at the Eagle’s Healing Nest in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, on Thursday morning. The cause and manner of death are still pending.

“We are saddened to hear about the passing of 1980 Olympic gold medalist Mark Pavelich,” USA Hockey said in a statement. “We extend our deepest condolences to Mark’s family & friends. (He is) forever a part of hockey history.”

Pavelich was undergoing treatment at the home as part of a civil commitment for assaulting his neighbor in Cook County, Minnesota, in August 2019, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. Pavelich thought the man had spiked his beer.

Mark Pavelich set up the winning goal in the U.S. hockey team’s “Miracle on Ice” victory against the Soviet Union in 1980. (Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images)

He was charged with felony assault but Judge Michael Cuzzo found he was incompetent to stand trial because he was mentally ill and dangerous. According to the judge’s order from December 2019, a psychologist found Pavelich was suffering from delusions and paranoia. Another psychologist found he suffered from a mild neurocognitive disorder due to traumatic brain injury, likely related to repeated head injuries.

Pavelich assisted on Mike Eruzione’s winning goal against the heavily favored Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics. He sold his gold medal for more than $250,000 in 2014, two years after wife Kara died in an accidental fall.

Pavelich starred at Eveleth High School and was an All-America selection at the University of Minnesota Duluth before earning a spot on the Olympic team.