Washington Capitals’ forward T.J. Oshie would “100 percent” give back one preeminent moments in USA Hockey history in exchange for a gold medal.
The historic shootout, which carried Team USA to a preliminary-round victory against Russia during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, was certainly a standout moment for Oshie and his teammates. But he wanted an Olympic gold medal more.
“It was pretty awesome, and everybody talks about the shootout, which was a pretty big experience for me,” Oshie said. “But I would definitely trade in the shootout experience for a medal that I can hang on my wall.”
Oshie, then with the St. Louis Blues, brought the country together in the early-morning hours when he converted four of six high-pressure shootout attempts, including the game-winner to lead the Americans past Russia on its home ice. It was a game that conjured memories of the 1980 “Miracle on Ice,” which united the country after the underdog Americans defeated the heavily-favored Soviets.
This was a little different as both teams were stocked with elite professional players, but it was still special for Oshie and his teammates.
“I was happy to win, but for everything to follow and that many people to care and show their support, I was glad to see it spark our country and USA Hockey,” Oshie said. “I don’t think you ever think of the reaction, but you always dream of scoring the big goal or making the big play.”
Oshie didn’t realize the reach of his moment after it initially happened.
“I figured the people in the hockey world and my family and friends would be watching,” Oshie said. “Other than that, I didn’t know there would be bars open, that’s for sure. Then, you go home, talk to your family, jump on Twitter and things were really blowing up.
“Definitely, watching the video of the bars around the U.S., you get chills.”
Oshie appeared on the “Today” show, attended the ESPY Awards and later competed in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship Tournament in Lake Tahoe, Nev. President Barack Obama also congratulated Oshie and his teammates via a Twitter message.
“Everything that followed, and just the shout out from the president, was amazing,” Oshie said. “Not too many people get that experience, and for him to reach out with all the things he has going on, means a lot.”
It all happened because of the historic shootout.
With the score tied at 2-2 after regulation, Oshie was the first of three shooters to face Russian goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, and he buried a quick snap shot between Bobrovsky’s pads. After four straight misses by both teams, the Russians were down to the final shot. But Ilya Kovalchuk’s goal continued the shootout.
That meant sudden death. In international rules, teams can repeat shooters after the third round. And so it was Oshie’s turn again.
“I scored the first one, and I was pretty confident,” he said. “But I was most nervous for the second one.”
Indeed, he missed.
“If I remember right, I had an empty net and shot it over the net,” Oshie said.
But because U.S. goalie Jonathan Quick had saved Kovalchuk’s shot, the shootout continued. And because international rules allow teams to repeat shooters after Round 3, coach Dan Bylsma called Oshie’s name again.
“Coach never told me I was going to keep shooting,” Oshie said. “I thought it was kind of a shot-to-shot decision. I thought we would go to a couple other guys and circle back to me.”
Instead, Oshie had to convert two sudden death tries after Pavel Datsyuk and Kovalchuk both scored. And he nailed them both, putting the first one between Bobrovsky’s pads before giving a deke and sending a shot over the Russian goaltender’s glove in the second attempt.
“After I went out for my third attempt, I figured I was going to keep going,” Oshie said. “[Bylsma] never told me. Each time I would look up to see what he had to say, and he would just give me a nod every time. I kind of started laughing towards shot five and six because it was getting kind of ridiculous, but it was fun.”
In Round 7, Quick stopped Datsyuk and Oshie missed a partially open net to the left with a backhander. Then Kovalchuk put a shot off the goal post in Round 8, setting the stage for Oshie’s heroics on his sixth shootout attempt.
“Nothing was really going through my mind,” Oshie said. “I was really just focusing on my next move.”
The next one was the game-winner as Oshie snapped a third shot between Bobrovsky’s pads.
“It was a great sense of accomplishment,” Oshie said. “I was just excited that we got the win.”
It was a memorable moment for Oshie and his teammates. But he hopes for more if he gets another Olympic opportunity.
“Hopefully the next one, they won’t have to remember a shootout,” Oshie said. “They can remember a medal that is hanging on their wall.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.