NASHUA - The timing couldn't have been more appropriate.
Just minutes after the U.S. Olympic ice hockey team earned a dramatic 3-2 shootout victory over the Russians in Sochi, the movie "Miracle" began playing on the big screen in front of dozens of youth hockey players and their parents and siblings at Chunky's Cinema and Pub in Nashua.
The movie was part of a fundraiser to send the Nashua Squirt A hockey team to play in a tournament in Lake Placid, N.Y., the same venue that served as host to the United States' iconic 1980 upset of the Soviet Union in the semifinals of the XIII Olympic Winter Games, aptly remembered by most Americans as "The Miracle on Ice."
One of the key players on the "Miracle" team was Dave Silk, then a talented 22-year-old forward from Scituate, Mass., who was a standout at Boston University before playing five seasons in the National Hockey League for the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets.
Silk was the featured guest at the Nashua event, where he answered questions from those in attendance before signing autographs and posing for photos with the young hockey players.
"It's an idea that we thought would be a lot of fun, and it tied in perfectly to the Olympics. We're just amazed by how well everything came together with the U.S.A. game against Russia today. I mean, these kids are 9 and 10 years old, so this is going to be an experience that they'll never forget," said parent John Goode, who works for the Lowell Spinners, where he met Silk while organizing other charity and community events. "I shot (Silk) some dates, and Feb. 15 worked out, and I guess it's really just a miracle that it all worked out this way."
Silk, who said he was texting Mike Eruzione and other former teammates during the United States' most recent victory against the Russians, explained to those in attendance that there are few words that can accurately describe the feeling of beating the Soviets in the semifinals in 1980 before earning the gold medal against Finland two days later.
"It's absolutely, positively the greatest feeling you could ever imagine having while playing a team sport," said Silk, who added that 34 years later, he still feels a connection while watching Olympic ice hockey. "It's kind of neat to watch (recent) generations and think that I was a part of it."
Every four years, Silk said, the calls and emails begin flooding in for appearances and speaking engagements.
"Yeah, they dust us off and trot us out," he said. "Those of us who can walk, walk, and those of us who need walkers roll out."
Still, he said, speaking to up-and-coming youth hockey players brings a unique joy, since his playing days are now over.
One of the youngsters in attendance Saturday, 10-year-old Tyler Marti, said his main takeaway was what it means to be a good teammate.
"It was good to have (Silk) come and watch the movie with us and give us tips and stuff to do," said Martin. "He told us to have fun in Lake Placid, but he also encouraged us to not get too many penalties and stuff like that."
The Nashua Squirt A Team travels to Lake Placid from March 13 to 16, and Goode said the team has raised about 80 percent of its goal. The fundraiser with Silk, he added, is expected to raise around $5,000.
"Chunky's donated the theater, Dave Silk donated his time and we wanted to make sure it was a family event, so we kept the prices at $20 a ticket," he said. "Between all that, the auction, passing the helmet around and parents donating their time, this day was a huge success for us."