Ice Hockey Wiki
Mark Pavelich
Born February 28, 1958(1958-02-28),
Eveleth, Minnesota, U.S.
Died March 4 2021 (aged 63),
Sauk Centre, Minnesota, U.S.
5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
170 lb (77 kg; 12 st 2 lb)
Position Center
Shoots Right
Pro clubs New York Rangers
Minnesota North Stars
San Jose Sharks
Ntl. team Flag of the United States.png United States of America
NHL Draft Undrafted
Playing career 1979–1992

Mark Thomas Pavelich (February 28, 1958 – March 4, 2021) was an American professional ice hockey forward who played 355 regular season games in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks between 1981 and 1992. Pavelich was a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team that won the gold medal in what has been called the "Miracle on Ice".

Amateur career[]

The son of Croatian immigrants, Pavelich grew up in rural Eveleth, Minnesota. A star performer on his high school hockey team, Eveleth High School. He attended the University of Minnesota Duluth as an amateur player for three seasons in 1977–79. Pavelich is best known for being a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, that won the gold medal in Lake Placid. In the game against the Soviet Union, Pavelich was credited with two assists, including one on Mike Eruzione's game-winning goal.

Professional career[]

After the Olympics, Pavelich, who was not drafted by an NHL team, played one season for HC Lugano in Switzerland where he registered 73 points. He returned to the US national team for the 1981 Ice Hockey World Championship tournament. He was brought back to the United States the following year by his former US Olympic coaches Herb Brooks and Craig Patrick, who managed the New York Rangers. Despite his size, Pavelich thrived in his role as a center for the Rangers, and holds the Rangers record for most points as a rookie (76). However, his career in New York was ended by a feud with Brooks' successor Ted Sator, who introduced a traditional North American dump-and-chase style of play.

Pavelich briefly played for Brooks with the Minnesota North Stars in 1987 before returning to Europe. He had a stint in Britain for the Dundee Rockets and played two seasons in Italy for HC Bolzano. The expansion San Jose Sharks brought him out of retirement for the 1991–92 NHL season, but he would play only two games for the Sharks before retiring. However, he did record an assist on the Sharks' first-ever goal, scored by Craig Coxe in the third period of a 4-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on October 4, 1991.

On February 23, 1983, Pavelich became the first American ever to score five goals in a single game, against the Hartford Whalers at Madison Square Garden; he remains the only American to do so.


In the 2009 book 100 Ranger Greats, the authors ranked Pavelich at No. 83 all-time of the 901 New York Rangers who had played during the team's first 82 seasons.[1]

Personal life[]

Pavelich married Sue Koski on September 11, 1985. The couple had one daughter, Tarja, in 1987 and divorced in 1989.[2]

Pavelich married Kara Burmachuk in 1994; they had no children. She died at age 44 in an accidental fall from a second-story balcony at their Lutsen, Minnesota, home on Thursday, September 6, 2012.[3]

In April 2014, Pavelich announced that he was putting his Olympic medal up for auction, with bidding beginning at $62,500.[4] The medal sold in May 2014 for $262,900 through Dallas-based auction house Heritage Auctions.[5] Pavelich is the second player from the 1980 team to put a medal up for sale, with teammate Mark Wells having sold his in late 2010.[6]

He died on March 4, 2021 at a residential treatment centre in Sauk Centre, Minnesota.[7] He is the second member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team to die, the first being Bob Suter.


Pavelich was arrested on Aug. 15, 2019, after allegedly assaulting and seriously injuring a neighbor with whom he'd earlier been fishing.[8] He was charged with four felony counts: second- and third-degree assault, possession of a short-barreled shotgun and possession of a firearm with a missing or altered serial number. On Oct. 28, Pavelich's upcoming trial was suspended and he was found incompetent to stand trial by Cook County District Judge Michael Cuzzo, who said Pavelich "lacks the ability to rationally consult with counsel, is incapable of understanding the proceedings, and is incapable of participating in the defense due to mental illness or deficiency." Cuzzo initiated civil commitment proceedings.[9] On Dec. 4, Cuzzo ruled that Pavelich is mentally ill and dangerous and ordered him committed to a secure treatment facility.[10]

Pavelich's sister, Jean Gevik, has said that she believes he is suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and had noticed behavioral changes in the years leading up to the incident which led to his arrest.[11]

In popular culture[]

In Miracle on Ice, a 1981 TV movie about the 1980 U.S. hockey team, Pavelich is portrayed by Jack Blessing.

In the 2004 Disney film Miracle, he is portrayed by Chris Koch. Koch played junior hockey for the Delta Ice Hawks in his native Canada before concussions ended his career.[12]

Awards and achievements[]

Award Year
All-WCHA First Team 1978–79 [13]
AHCA West All-American 1978–79 [14]

Career statistics[]

Regular season and playoffs[]

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1975–76 Eveleth High School HS-MN
1976–77 University of Minnesota-Duluth WCHA 37 12 7 19 8
1977–78 University of Minnesota-Duluth WCHA 36 14 30 44 44
1978–79 University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs WCHA 37 31 48 79 52
1979–80 United States National Team Intl 53 15 30 45 12
1980–81 HC Lugano NDA 28 24 25 49
1981–82 New York Rangers NHL 79 33 43 76 67 6 1 5 6 0
1982–83 New York Rangers NHL 78 37 38 75 52 9 4 5 9 12
1983–84 New York Rangers NHL 77 29 53 82 96 5 2 4 6 0
1984–85 New York Rangers NHL 48 14 31 45 29 3 0 3 3 2
1985–86 New York Rangers NHL 59 20 20 40 82
1986–87 Minnesota North Stars NHL 12 4 6 10 10
1986–87 Dundee Rockets BHL 1 0 2 2 0
1987–88 Bolzano HC ITA 36 31 44 75 19 8 9 13 22 8
1988–89 Bolzano HC ITA 44 23 34 57 42
1991–92 San Jose Sharks NHL 2 0 1 1 4
NHL totals 355 137 192 329 340 23 7 17 24 14


Year Team Event   GP G A Pts PIM
1980 United States OG 7 1 6 7 2
1981 United States WC 8 2 3 5 4
Senior totals 15 3 9 12 6


External links[]