By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — The “Miracle On Ice” Olympic hockey star Mark Pavelich has died.

He was an integral part of the 1980 “Miracle” team, and went on to play 355 NHL games. He assisted on Mike Eruzione’s winning goal against the heavily-favored Soviet Union. He sold his medal for more than $250,000 in 2014, two years after wife Kara died in an accidental fall.

Pavelich grew up near Eveleth, Minnesota and played for University of Minnesota-Duluth before he went on to play for the USA.

The 5-foot-8, 170-pound forward spent five seasons with the New York Rangers and played briefly for the Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks, finishing with 137 goals and 192 assists in 355 NHL regular-season games. He had a five-goal game for the Rangers on Feb. 23, 1983, in an 11-3 victory over Hartford.

“As a kid growing up in Hibbing I used to go to the arena and hang out with gear in hand waiting to see if I could skate with the teams that rented the ice,” former Minnesota and NHL player Pat Micheletti tweeted. “Mark Pavelich always let me join with the Eveleth guys. He taught me so much about the game.”


According to the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office, he died at Eagles Healing Nest in Sauk Centre on Thursday morning. He was being treated for mental illness after he attacked a neighbor with a metal pole in 2019.

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.

An autopsy is underway to determine the cause of death.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)