Former Minnesota Duluth college hockey star, ‘Miracle on Ice’ member Pavelich dead at 63

Mark Pavelich played at Minnesota Duluth from 1976 to 1979 (photo: UMD Athletics).

Former Minnesota Duluth forward Mark Pavelich, also a member of the “Miracle on Ice” 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, died Thursday morning.

He was 63.

Officials in Anoka County, Minn., confirmed Friday that Pavelich died at the Eagle’s Healing Nest in Sauk Centre, Minn.. The cause and manner of death are still pending.

“University of Minnesota Duluth athletics department is aware of the passing of former Bulldog Mark Pavelich,” read a statement from the school.

“Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers are with the Pavelich family, the Bulldog family, USA Hockey, all the teammates Mark played along side throughout his career and all the fans that cheered him on,” added UMD coach Scott Sandelin.

According to reports, Pavelich was undergoing treatment at the facility as part of a civil commitment for assaulting his neighbor in Cook County, Minn., in August 2019. He was charged with felony assault, but a judge found he was incompetent to stand trial because he was mentally ill and dangerous.

A psychologist found Pavelich suffered from a mild neurocognitive disorder due to traumatic brain injury, likely related to repeated head injuries, potentially from hockey.

Pavelich assisted on Mike Eruzione’s game-winning goal against the heavily favored Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics semifinals. That U.S. team went on to win the gold medal.

Pavelich played 355 games in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks from 1981  to 1992, accumulation 137 goals and 329 points.

With the Bulldogs, Pavelich collected 57 goals and 85 assists for 142 points in 110 games from 1976-79.