By: John Molori
January 20, 2006

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THIS WEEK:

- Tom and Jerry
- Blitz Bits

Twins team up to tell a true tale of triumph

A full eight years before a certain more popular miracle on ice, the US Olympic hockey team pulled off one of the most miraculous accomplishments in international hockey history. The 1972 US team stunned the hockey world by garnering a silver medal at the Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan.

Twin brothers Tom and Jerry Caraccioli have chronicled this fascinating saga in their new book, "Striking Silver: The Untold Story of America's Forgotten Hockey Team" from Sports Publishing L.L.C.

The Caraccioli's are no strangers to the world of sports media. Both are network communications executives, Tom for NBC Universal/USA Network and Jerry for CBS Television.

"Our personal connection to the 1972 team is Pete Sears, the backup goalie," says Jerry. "Pete was our coach in minor hockey and high school in Oswego, NY."

Adds Tom, "I worked in the athletic office at Merrimack College while Stu Irving, a member of the '72 team, was an assistant coach under Ron Anderson. Jerry and I had always talked about writing this book. In the summer of 2004, we began to work on it."

Jerry and Tom embarked on a series of interviews with members of the forgotten team and were stunned at the personal stories of triumph. Irving told them, "I was on temporary duty with the Olympic team. If I got cut, I'd have to go back to Vietnam."

Dick McGlynn, a Bedford, MA native and star at Colgate, showed up uninvited for a team tryout at Tully Forum in Billerica. Team coach Murray Williamson didn't even know who he was. After McGlynn delivered a series of punishing hits during workouts, Williamson added him to the team.

The book was as much labor as it was love. Says Jerry, "Most of the players were from either Boston or Minnesota with a few sprinkled in from other areas.

"Tom interviewed the east coast guys and I focused on the western guys. We didn't even have a publishing deal. We told the players that we were going to write the book, even if we just made copies for them."

Among the area stars on that team were local legend Robbie Ftorek, Boston College All-Americans Tim Sheehy and Tom Miller, and Boston University star Tim Regan. Mark Howe, son of Gordie Howe, was also a member. Coach Williamson hailed from Minnesota and was a true innovator who inspired a certain miracle-making coach.

Says Jerry, "Williamson played with (1980 US hockey coach) Herb Brooks and later coached him in international competition. He revolutionized the way US Hockey was played. He actually was invited to Moscow to observe the Soviet style of play and adopted a lot of what they did."

The Caraccioli's relate that after winning the gold medal at Lake Placid in 1980, Brooks sent Williamson a note that read, "Your influence as a teammate and coach helped produce this victory."

"Striking Silver" is a complete chronicle of one of the most underrated and overachieving teams in American sports history. Says Tom, "Leading into 1972, the level of failure that US Hockey experienced was incredible.

"They were not even invited to the pre-Olympic tournament. Needless to say they had a little chip on their shoulders." According to the authors, the US routinely finished last in international competition and often surrendered double-figure goal totals.

The US team's run to a silver medal in 1972 went largely ignored. There were only 37 hours of coverage that year and not even the medal ceremony was televised. The eventual success of the 1980 team further pushed the '72 club into obscurity.

Says Jerry, "These guys were so unheralded, but they were a great team. In that final game against Poland, Williamson wanted to play everyone, but players like Larry Bader and Pete Sears said that winning was more important. Their goal was to win a medal."

"Striking Silver" hits stores the week of January 23 and is a more than worthwhile read. Says Tom, "This is not just a hockey book. It's about the social ramifications of when this occurred and how it occurred.

"It's about having dreams come true. Back then, playing in the Olympics was a player's ultimate goal. This story transcends sports."

Ice princesses

NESN has finally debuted its long-awaited "Bruins All Access" show after months of delays. Media Blitz reported on December 27, 2005 that the show would begin airing in mid-January. It was on hold due to the lackluster play of the team.

Hosts Jillian Nathan, Mike Adams' former sidekick on AM 1510, and Kelly Barons, an ex-Red Sox ball girl, bring much-needed pep and vigor to the dour world that is the 2005-06 Boston Bruins.

The show is predictably light, playful and entertainment-based, but it does something that NESN's game coverage and "Bruins Breakaway" has failed to do, namely, bring personality and character to this relatively anonymous team.

The premiere episode featured a segment at F-1 Boston racing, a look at the Bruins Wives' Charity Carnival, a team bowling outing and more. Hardly rocket science, but it was fun to hear Tom Fitzgerald and Andrew Raycroft tossing verbal jabs at teammates. It was enjoyable to watch Hannu Toivonen try his hand at racing. Heck, it was nice to see what Nick Boynton looks like.

Nathan and Barons are appealing and enthusiastic, so is the program. If you are tired of all the negativity surrounding the B's, check out "Bruins All Access" for a fresh perspective on what has been a predominantly stale team.

Blitz Bits

It's been a tough week for Patriots tailback Corey Dillon. As a guest on FSN' s "New England Sports Tonight," Michael Felger stated, "Corey Dillon stinks." NECN's Chris Collins said, "It is no longer (Dillon's) job. This year, hurt or not, the numbers were unacceptable." Meanwhile, on CN8's "Sports Pulse," Patriots Football Weekly writer Tom Casale said of Dillon, "He's old and he' s done."

Jon Goode is taking his "Catching Up" column to the airwaves on AM 1510. His weekly "Blast from the Past Radio Hour" premieres Thursday at 7:00 p.m. and will benefit Goode's C2 Mission charity (c2mission.org). Ex-Patriot Roland James is on the first show. Future guests include Mark Bavaro, Bill Cleary, Steve Kasper, Gordie Lockbaum, Bill Monbouquette and more.

Fox Sports Net has added three Celtics road games to its HD broadcast schedule, February 6 at Miami, 7:30 p.m., February 21 at Utah, 9:00 p.m. and February 26 at the Lakers, 7:30 p.m.

EX-AM 1510'er Dave Jageler's ascendance to the Washington Nationals broadcast booth at WTWP AM and FM is a testament to his persistence and talent, but according to one source in Boston and another in DC, the reason for the opening was due to former Bruins announcer Dave Shea's work ethic. Said one source, " Dave Shea is known as a pretty lazy guy in this business and that's why he's out."

"Celtic Pride" hosted by Patrick Gilroy and Jeff Hickman on AM 1510 and AM 1320 in Providence has been picked up by WFPB AM 102.7 in Falmouth, MA. C's owner Wyc Grousbeck is scheduled to appear on Monday.

I received a recent email implying that there was an opening for a weekend sports anchor/reporter at 7NBC. Sports producer Fred Nutter responded, "There is no opening to my knowledge. We have Joe (Amorosino), Wendi (Nix) and Dave (Briggs) and we are happy with them."

John Molori's columns are published in The Boston Metro, Patriots Football Weekly, The Providence Journal, Boston Sports Review, New England Hockey Journal, New England Ringside Magazine, TheRemyReport.com, ColdHardFootballFacts.com, PatsFans.com, BostonSportsReview.com, BostonPressBox.com, BostonSportsMedia.com and BostonSportz.com. Email John at MoloriMedia@aol.com.


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