With four shootout goals in six attempts, T. J. Oshie vaulted U.S. men’s hockey to the forefront of the 2014 Winter Olympics, with a 3-2 preliminary round victory over the home country in Sochi, Russia.
While the instant classic still doesn’t come close to the “Miracle on Ice” victory in 1980, this U.S. team – headlined by the shootout heroics of Oshie – has generated the current most exciting U.S. moment of this Winter Olympics – what with the likes of Shaun White, Bode Miller and Shani Davis all disappointing.
Oshie, meanwhile, has become an instant sensation, and a household name overnight.
Heading into the game, the majority of hockey fans were likely familiar with Russian stars Pavel Datsyuk, Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, or with American team representatives such as Patrick Kane, Ryan Callahan, Phil Kessel and Zach Parise.
After all, each of these seven stars cracked the top 20 in NHL jersey sales for the year 2013.
But T. J. Oshie?
Who-shie, do you say?
No chance, even though the 27-year-old forward is currently playing in his sixth NHL season.
Nope, still doesn’t ring a bell.
Even though he is a former first round pick by the St. Louis Blues, back in 2005?
Yes, the same St. Louis Blues that have 84 points in 57 games, trailing only the Anaheim Ducks for the best record in the NHL this season.
That’s Oshie, O-S-H-I-E.
This is the same player that is tied for the St. Louis team lead, with 46 points (14 goals, 32 assists).
With a solid career under his belt and a 4 million dollar per season salary in his pockets, Oshie was already in a great situation, generating plenty of cheers from the local fans in St. Louis.
But now those cheers have exploded to ‘Cheers’, as everyone in the country now knows his name.
So, how should we expect that to affect him going forward?
If this tweet is any indication, not one bit.
Oshie putting it into perspective when asked what it’s like to be an American hero: “The heroes are the ones in camo.” #Sochi2014
— Joy Russo (@thejoyride) February 15, 2014
Clearly, Oshie is a grounded guy both on and off the ice.
His cool demeanor stabilized, yet didn’t hinder his relentless play and clever goal-scoring moves during the extended shootout – and this frantic finish could very well spark a deep Olympic run by a United States team that is talented enough to rise to the top.
It won’t be easy though, as heading into the tournament, the favorites to win gold were the hometown Russians, along with Team Canada.
The hockey excitement only sparks from here, so, thanks for the fireworks, T.J. and Team USA.
Now let’s bring home the gold!