‘Miracle on Ice’ star Mark Pavelich found dead at 63 at a mental health treatment center


Miracle on Ice star Mark Pavelich is found dead at 63 at a mental health treatment center where he was committed after ‘beating his neighbor with a metal pipe’

  • Pavelich assisted on the game-winning goal in the 1980 upset of the USSR
  • After the 1980 Olympics, Pavelich went on to play for a decade in the NHL
  • In 2019, Pavelich faced four felony counts for beating his neighbor with a metal pole, but was found to be incompetent and committed to a mental facility
  • Pavelich is the second member of the ‘Miracle on Ice’ team to pass away 

Mark Pavelich, who played a key role for the legendary ‘Miracle on Ice’ Olympic team, is dead at 63 years old after being found at a Minnesota residential treatment center.

Prior to his death, Pavelich was receiving mental health treatment at Eagle’s Healing Nest, where he was committed after assaulting a neighbor in August 2019.

The Star Tribune reports that Pavelich’s cause of death is not yet known, but that his body was taken to a medical examiner’s office.

He had not been seen since around 8pm on Wednesday night and was likely dead for several hours when police were called to the center at around 8:30am on Thursday morning. 

Mark Pavelich, a member of the ‘Miracle on Ice’ team, passed away at 63 years old

Pavelich was in a Minnesota treatment center, where he was receiving mental health treatment

Pavelich was in a Minnesota treatment center, where he was receiving mental health treatment

Pavelich faced four felony counts after beating his neighbor with a metal pipe, which left James Miller with cracked ribs, a bruised kidney, and a fractured vertebrae, among other injuries.

A judge found Pavelich to be incompetent to stand trial in December 2019, however, and was committed to a treatment facility.

This summer, he was moved to the treatment center where ultimately died.

He was due in court on Tuesday in regards to his commitment to the treatment center.

‘Our firm is heartbroken that we have lost our friend and legend,’ said Carolyn Bruno, an attorney representing Pavelich in his commitment case.

‘Recently Mark was filled with hope and renewal for the future. He had been thriving at the new facility since leaving St. Peter.’

Pavelich provided the game-winning assist in the upset of the USSR in the 'Miracle on Ice' game in 1980 (February 1980 exhibition between USA and USSR pictured)

Pavelich provided the game-winning assist in the upset of the USSR in the ‘Miracle on Ice’ game in 1980 (February 1980 exhibition between USA and USSR pictured)

The team would be immortalized by the 2004 film 'Miracle' ('Miracle on Ice' game pictured)

The team would be immortalized by the 2004 film ‘Miracle’ (‘Miracle on Ice’ game pictured)

Pavelich is best known for playing for the 1980 USA Olympic hockey team, which upset the Soviet Union in one of the most famous sporting events of all-time before the team beat Finland in the gold medal game.

Pavelich provided two assists in the game, including the assist to Mike Eruzione for the game-winning goal in the 4-3 upset of the USSR.

He was portrayed by Chris Koch in the 2004 dramatization of those Olympics, ‘Miracle.’

After the 1980 Olympics, the Minnesota native went on to play in the NHL for a decade, suiting up for the New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars, and San Jose Sharks.

Pavelich (right) would go on to play in the NHL for a decade with three teams, including the New York Rangers

Pavelich (right) would go on to play in the NHL for a decade with three teams, including the New York Rangers

In 355 regular season games, Pavelich scored 137 goals and provided 192 assists.

Tough times followed Pavelich following the conclusion of his NHL career in 1992.

Pavelich’s second wife, Kara, died in 2012 after falling from a second-story balcony of their home. She was 44 years old.

In 2014, Pavelich sold his gold medal from the 1980 Olympics for $262,900, claiming he wanted to provide financial security for his daughter.

It was purchased by Brian Raduenz, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who attended some of Pavelich’s high school and college games.

Pavelich is the second member of the famed ‘Miracle on Ice’ team to die, after defenseman Bob Suter passed away in 2014 of a heart attack.

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