Nearly four years back, in a glum American winter, a US ice hockey team of collegians and bush leaguers took the gold medal at the Winter Olympics--beating Finland 4-2 after a 4-3 upset of the Soviet squad that had previously embarrassed NHL all-stars. Boston Globe reporter Powers, author of a fine close-up of the Celtics (The Short Season), and N.Y.C. attorney Kaminsky, agent for some of the players, offer a nicely paced start-to-finish recap of this triumph--with some insider information on how key candidates actually were recruited. For defenseman Ken Morrow, Kaminsky pre-negotiated a multi-year contract with the New York Islanders, which provided insurance against career-ending injury; with this pact as a precedent, coach Herb Brooks (from the U. of Minnesota) was able to get the talent he wanted. On the roster were the likes of Mike Eruzione, the scrappy captain who scored the winning goal against the Russians; forward Phil Verchota, a fierce competitor but a ""teddy bear on Quaaludes"" away from the rink; and goaltender Jim Craig, who wrapped himself in the flag after the final victory. Brooks molded this motley crew into a world-class club by sticking to a then-radical game plan that integrated Europe's fluid skating and passing patterns with North America's aggressive forechecking. Powers and Kaminsky also credit Brooks' manipulative genius--he was an aloof taskmaster--with unifying and sustaining the Olympians during a full schedule of international exhibitions. The authors provide detailed and surprisingly suspenseful coverage of the championship-round contests--plus some climactic detail. (E.g., Vice President Walter Mondale trying to locate Minnesotans in the winners' locker room--and being rebuffed as a regionalist.) An infectious sports story with appeal for casual as well as avid fans.