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'Miracle on Ice' hockey star Mark Pavelich found dead in treatment

Raised in Eveleth, the 63-year-old hockey recluse had been undergoing mental health treatment and was facing criminal charges related to the alleged 2019 assault of a Lutsen neighbor.

Mark Pavelich.jpg
Eveleth native and former Minnesota Duluth player Mark Pavelich competes for the U.S. Olympic hockey team in 1980. (File / News Tribune)
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"Miracle on Ice" hockey star and longtime Northland resident Mark Pavelich died Thursday, according to a release from the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office.

Pavelich, 63, was found dead at 8:35 a.m. at a rehabilitation center in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, where he resided as part of a criminal case stemming from his alleged assault of a neighbor at Pavelich's Lutsen home in August 2019.

The Midwest Medical Examiner's Office is investigating the cause of death.

Pavelich had been scheduled to appear in court again March 23.

According to a criminal complaint, Pavelich had accused the 63-year-old victim of "spiking his beer." The victim said he was beaten with a metal pole, suffering two cracked ribs, a bruised kidney and a fractured vertebra in the attack.

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Pavelich was subsequently arrested at his Lutsen home, where authorities seized several weapons, including an illegally modified shotgun and two guns with filed-off serial numbers.

He was charged in State District Court with second- and third-degree assault and two counts of possession of a firearm with a missing or altered serial number.

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Mark Pavelich

A forward on the U.S. Olympic hockey team that famously defeated the Soviet Union and went on to win the gold medal in 1980, Pavelich grew up as a prep star at Eveleth High School and became an All-American at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He went on to spend several years in the National Hockey League, mostly with the New York Rangers.

Pavelich had been undergoing mental health treatment since his arrest. With attorneys indicating Pavelich was making significant progress in treatment at the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter, a judge ruled in May 2020 that Pavelich was competent to stand trial on the criminal charges. The judge in September loosened his conditions of release, allowing Pavelich to move to a less-restrictive treatment facility.

While several members of the team have capitalized on their fame, it famously took Pavelich 35 years to return to Lake Placid, New York, where the upset took place. Media reports often describe how Pavelich enjoys fishing and covets his privacy. In 2012, Pavelich's wife, Kara, died following a second-story fall at the couple's home in Lutsen.

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