"Miracle" Gamma Ray
"American Metal" Lizzie Borden
The Reaper's been busy these past few weeks. I've kinda lost track of the celebrity/notoriety deaths (there was Glen Frey of The Eagles & David Bowie of Ziggy Stardust ... There were others but I forget). But here's one that I did not lose track of but I'm sure slipped under a lot of your radars.
John “Jack” P. Riley, Jr. (Medford, Mass.), who as head coach led the U.S. to its first-ever gold medal in Olympic ice hockey in 1960, passed away today (02/03/2016) at the age of 95. As documented in the movie "Forgotten Miracle" - many of the tactics Coach Herb Brooks used on the 1980 team Coach Riley used on the 1960 team and for good reason. One of the most controversial decisions make by Coach Riley was to cut 3 players to make room for The Cleary Brothers (Bill Cleary was considered a worthy addition but he wouldn't go without his brother Bob and many on the team thought he wasn't worthy) and Defenceman extraordinaire John Mayasich. Players cut were Bob Dupis, Larry Alm and the a fore mentioned future USA coach (whose father said to him after watching his old team win the gold medal "Looks like Coach Riley cut the right guy, Huh?"). One of the ballziest things Coach Riley said/did was in the planning of the Olympic schedule was that he wanted to play Canada & "Russia" (Soviet Union) back-to-back when no one else would and "conventional" wisdom said not to. His response was "Screw it, we'll play 'em both and beat 'em both cuz we're going undefeated!".
Coach Riley also played for team USA in the 1948 Olympics. That participation was also married by controversy as the US sent two teams to the St. Moritz games . One was sent by the AAU & the USOC, the second was sent by the Ametur Hockey Assc. (AHA) & the LIHG (forrunner of IIHF). As a result, the AHA team played (Jack's team) but they were disqualified from the possibility of winning any medals. The team (would have) finished 4th. Mr. Riley would be a player/coach for the 1949 team that would win the bronze.