Shooting Star

Four Years Removed From His Shootout Heroics In Sochi, T.J. Oshie Is Still In The Spotlight
Jason Kates

The USA Hockey history book is filled with many memorable moments and heroic feats on the Olympic stage. There’s the first men’s gold medal in Squaw Valley, Calif., in 1960. Of course there’s the “Miracle on Ice” in 1980 and the first gold medal award in women’s ice hockey, 20 years ago to this day.


And then there is Feb. 14, 2014, the day that the legend of “T.J. Sochi” was born.


For those who are too young to remember those other milestone moments, witnessing another epic clash between the U.S. and Russia at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games is something they’ll never forget.


Shootout Star


For those unfamiliar with international rules, when 65 minutes of back-and- forth hockey was not enough to determine a winner, a victor would be determined by a shootout. And when the first three rounds failed to break the tie, the shootout continued until the last man standing. And that man, on this night, was T.J. Oshie.


After the initial three shooters, a head coach can continue to send out the same player to take multiple shots. That’s exactly what U.S. head coach Dan Bylsma did with Oshie, given his track record in those situations.


In total the Mt. Vernon, Wash., native was called upon by Bylsma six times, including the last five attempts, converting on the his final four to lead the U.S. to a dramatic, 3-2, shootout victory.


Oshie recalls not knowing when he would go in the shootout, but had a feeling he would play a part.


“I thought it was a really good game by both teams,” Oshie said in a recent interview. “We got to the shootout and that’s kind of where I feel like I’m most comfortable in those moments. It was nice to go first and score that first one.”


Still, with the star power on the U.S. bench, he wasn’t sure if his first attempt would be the only one he would get.


“With so many good players on the team I assumed you go through the list and see who else could score,” he said. “Even on my sixth shot I still didn’t know if I would keep going or not.”


He may not have known, but his teammates had a pretty good idea.


 “At one point it looked like they were actually kind of laughing at me on the bench,” Oshie recalled.


While the humble Washington Capitals superstar may have captured much of the attention, he is quick to praise U.S. goaltender Jonathan Quick, who made 29 saves and turned back five Russian shots in the shootout.


“It’s one thing to go down there and score, but its another to continuously stop the other team,” Oshie said. “Without Jonathan Quick, the game could’ve been over. I had a couple misses.”


No Olympic Encore 


With NHL players not participating this year’s Olympics, Oshie and his fellow countrymen were

offered no chance at redemption from a disappointing 5-0 loss to Finland in the bronze-medal game.


Like his NHL brethren, Oshie can only watch from afar and wonder what might have been this time around.


“It’s pretty frustrating that we don’t get the opportunity, and that’s saying we as a whole as far as the NHL goes,” he said. “I think I would’ve been in more of a support role because of how many good young American players we have in the game now. But still, it’s an opportunity that we didn’t even have a chance to make.”


Still, Oshie is in full support of the 25 players who are donning the red, white and blue in PyeongChang and plans to tune in as much as possible.


“I got two crazy little girl alarm clocks at home so I’m sure they’ll wake me up in time for the games, whether it’s planned or not,” said Oshie when asked if he will be tuning in. 


“It’s a really cool opportunity for them to put on the USA sweater, it’s going to be fun to watch and see how much success they have.” 


One of the players named to the team is current University of Denver forward Troy Terry, who is one of four collegians on the roster.


Like Oshie, Terry has enjoyed his own shootout success against Russia in the semifinals of the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship. The Highlands Ranch, Colo., native scored three straight goals in a shootout to send the U.S. to the gold medal game, where he scored the team’s only shootout goal against Canada to earn the gold medal.


Oshie believes Terry could be the one to fill the team’s shootout role this time around. And if that happens, his biggest supporter will be watching back home in Washington, D.C..


“With his history and how calm he was at the World Juniors, I think if there’s a shootout he’s going to be called upon and we’re all going to be behind him,” Oshie said. “I hope he can seize the moment again.”


Time Marches On


People may think that Oshie’s clutch performance in Sochi would have dramatically  changed his life, but with a wife and two small children, not to mention a flourishing NHL career, it’s all background noise.


“It comes up every once in a while, if we go to a shootout or if we are playing Columbus and I’m facing [Sergei] Bobrovsky. That’s when somebody brings it up,” Oshie said about facing the Russian goalie at the time. “If anything, it gave me confidence in my ability in what I’m able to do and what stage I’m able to do it on.”


That doesn’t mean Oshie didn’t enjoy his newfound celebrity at the time. He made an appearance on the “Today” show, competed in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship Tournament in Nevada, and even got a shout out from former President Barack Obama on Twitter.


“I was able to do a lot of really cool things and still am able to do a lot of cool things and take advantage of some opportunities that not everyone gets. I’m thankful for that,” he said. 

“As far as me as a person, I’m pretty set in my ways. I’ll always be the same guy I’ve always been, smiling and waiting for the next shootout.”

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