It has been 10 days since Blues forward T.J. Oshie became the most talked about topic in the world. Oshie’s shootout heroics against Russia put him on a pedestal, at least for a brief time. Though Team USA’s performance against Russia feels so irrelevant after they bowed out of the Olympic tournament with no medals to show off, Oshie’s name is now anything but.
Oshie stunned the world as he almost single-handedly defeated Russia in the shootout two Saturdays ago. Oshie scored four shootout goals on six attempts, a feat that will not soon be forgotten or re-accomplished, as Team USA defeated Russia 3-2.
“He only scored four of six, but he beat him all six times,” said Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock. “That was incredible. He missed the net on one and he hit the corner of the stick on the other one, otherwise he would have beaten him all six times. That, to me, is incredible.”
Team USA head coach Dan Bylsma had the likes of Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel, and Zach Parise, available to take attempts in the shootout. Yet, he chose Oshie to take five consecutive shots.
“I think it just shows you how he excels in pressure situations,” said Hitchcock. “That pressure was unbelievable. He had everybody cheering for him, including the teams in the tournament. We were all in the building watching him and we were cheering for him. You put that kind of pressure on him, and you want him to succeed and he did every time.”
Team Canada was in attendance for the USA-Russia game, so general manager Doug Armstrong, Hitchcock, and teammates Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester had the chance to witness the spectacle in person.
“We were all at that game and as a hockey fan it was riveting,” said Armstrong. “Just watching them throw him out there over and over, and you could see the excitement on their bench. The coaches are looking at the players, who are saying put him back out there.”
Pietrangelo said he knew exactly which moves Oshie would be using.
“It’s pretty special to see what he did,” said Pietrangelo. “I was calling all of the shots, so I knew what was coming. That was unbelievable. None of us were surprised, but it was a big coming out party for him.”
Oshie’s friend and Blues teammate, Patrik Berglund, was preparing for his game with Team Sweden when he saw Oshie’s performance. He joked that, since it’s been a few weeks since the game, Oshie is likely past talking about the four goals.
“I think he’s more calm now,” Berglund said. “I remember watching it on TV as we were getting ready for our game. It was pretty cool to see him put four in the net. That’s pretty good.”
Since the performance, Oshie has become famous worldwide. The Blues’ team store sold out of their Team USA shirts with Oshie’s name on the back just hours after the forward dazzled the world. Oshie’s family began getting a flood of calls for interviews from news corporations all over the country around the same time. That’s when the sensation became real for Oshie.
“It was a little crazy,” said Oshie. “It was a pretty cool after that scene. I saw my family on some major TV shows and things like that.”
Oshie’s Twitter account gained more than 150,000 new followers in the week following the shootout. The White House even tweeted a personal congratulations to Oshie on the performance. Oshie said he didn’t even realize that until a media member pointed it out to him.
But Oshie doesn’t expect all of his new followers to hang with him for the long haul.
“I’m more interested in seeing how many people get sick of me and unfollow me, so we will see how that number goes,” he said.
The end result wasn’t what Oshie and Team USA expected. And while Oshie isn’t returning to St. Louis with a Gold medal, he is returning with his name implanted in Olympic history. Despite the fame it brought him, to Oshie it was just like any other shootout.“To me, it was just a shootout that went into extra innings,” he said. “Maybe I’ll look back in a couple of months or years and realize how big it was. Right now it still just feels like a game that I wish was a little later in the tournament.”