I was 12. It was an amazing thing to see. Remember the game was on tape delay, so word was spreading about what had happened. I don't think I knew the outcome (the game was only delayed 4 or five hours, I believe), but I remember knowing something special had happened, so I needed to watch.
It's funny, if you did a poll of Americans, I bet a large percentage would say that the game was for the gold medal. It is similar in the way that so many people think the Steelers won the Super Bowl the year of the Immaculate Reception. I remember how we almost lost the gold medal game to Finland. Apparently Herb Brooks told his players between periods that, "if you lose this game, you'll take it to your "f*cking graves." A great man he was. May he rest in peace.
Here is a perfect cover of SI. No words necessary. I just wish I would have saved a copy.