Bill Baker talks about meeting the vice president after a big goal, playing at 3 levels under Herb Brooks

Former University of Minnesota All-American defenseman from Grand Rapids, Minn., shares memories of playing in the 1980 Olympics and what it was like playing for a legendary coach in college, the

Bill Baker 2020 3.JPG
Bill Baker shares his memories of playing on the 1980 Miracle on Ice hockey team that won the gold medal in Lake Placid, N.Y. Baker was an All-American defenseman who helped the University of Minnesota win national titles in 1976 and 1979 after helping Grand Rapids (Minn.) win its first boys high school state title in 1975. Baker went on to play in the NHL and was an oral surgeon after retiring from playing hockey. He has been retired for three years and shared his memories on Feb. 13, 2020, from his home in Brainerd, Minn.
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BRAINERD, Minn. — When you walk into Bill Baker's office upstairs at his home, one of the first things you notice is his pride in his hockey accomplishments.

On the walls, there are photos of Baker playing defense for the University of Minnesota, framed posters and his 1980 Olympic jersey is in a frame on one wall, near a framed edition of Sports Illustrated that features the team.

Before all of that, Baker helped Grand Rapids High School (Minn.) reach three state boys hockey tournaments and to its first state title as a senior in 1975. Baker went on to win two NCAA Division I titles under head coach Herb Brooks in 1976 and 1979. His last season with the Gophers, he was the team's captain and a first team All-American.

After his senior season, Baker applied to go to dental school when he was invited to try out for the 1980 Olympic hockey team. Baker tells the story of how he had a meeting with Brooks before the Olympic festival to assess what to tell the dental school about his chances to make the team.

In the video below, Baker discusses several key moments for the Olympic team, including the famous long skate in Norway after the Americans tied a game with a Norwegian club team. Baker also talks about the team's confidence level going into the Olympics, his game-tying goal against Sweden in the first round robin game of the tournament and what it was like trying to play in pro hockey a few weeks after winning the gold medal.


Baker, 63, had one point in seven Olympic games. After the Olympics, he went on to play 143 NHL games for the Montreal Canadiens, Colorado Rockies, St. Louis Blues and the New York Rangers. In 1982-83, Baker was reunited with former Olympic teammates Mark Pavelich and Rob McClanahan under Brooks. Baker talks about the differences he saw in Brooks at each level he coached him at.

After retiring from pro hockey, Baker became an oral surgeon. He has been retired for the last three years.

Read more Miracle on Ice coverage on The Rink Live , a Forum Communications' website dedicated to amateur hockey.

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Mick Hatten is a reporter and editor for Forum News Service and helps manage, a website dedicated to hockey. He began working for Forum Communications in November 2018 and has covered St. Cloud State University hockey since 2010. A graduate of St. Cloud State, he has more than 30 years of experience as a journalist and has been a youth hockey coach since 2014.
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