Posted: Feb 18, 2014 6:13 PM by Corey Miller, KOMU 8 Sports Digital Producer
Updated: Feb 19, 2014 3:20 PM
SOCHI, Ru. - It's been a whirlwind week for St. Louis Blues' forward T.J. Oshie. Now representing Team USA during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, Oshie became an overnight, (or early morning depending upon your location), sensation.
St. Louis Blues fans have known about this mop-haired, teenage heartthrob, ultra-smooth hockey player for quite some time. When Oshie was drafted by the Blues with the 24th overall pick in the 2005 NHL entry draft out of North Dakota University, the expectations were sky-high. Oshie debuted for the Blues during the 2008-2009 season where he had a spectacular 39 points in 57 games. From that impressive start, St. Louisans knew this star was not going to burn out.
Since his rookie year, Oshie has lived up to the hype. Even though he hasn't quite made the jump to super stardom, Oshie is a fan favorite in St. Louis. His ability to make exciting plays and emergence as a leader in the Blues' locker room (He is now an assistant captain) have endeared him to the home crowd. Oshie's flair for the dramatic during shootouts has been a staple of his play during his time in the NHL, and fans all over the world saw his ability on display when the United States took on Russia.
In the grand scheme of things, the game last weekend did not mean that much. It wasn't for a medal, and this United States team certainly wasn't a "Miracle on Ice" type of club. However, defeating the host country in the sport they most covet in front of President Vladimir Putin is cause for attention.
The game was close throughout, and eventually went into overtime. After neither team tallied a goal in OT, a shootout commenced. Unlike in the NHL, international hockey rules allow the same player to take multiple shots in a shootout. That rule played right into T.J. Oshie's wheelhouse. Oshie was called on by Coach Dan Bylsma time after time to either attempt to win the game, or match Russia's goal. In the 8th round, he won the game for the United States with his 4th goal of the shootout on a shot through the legs of Russian goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. Pandemonium soon followed.
Oshie has been called an American hero since his performance, to which he responded, "The American heroes are wearing camo. That's not me." Nonetheless Oshie's popularity now reaches far beyond the boundaries of St. Louis. Just in the first day after the game Oshie gained 45,000 followers on Twitter. Some of the most notable individuals to congratulate the new American star were President Barack Obama via the official White House Twitter feed, as well as Mike Eruzione, who was the captain of the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" gold medal team.
T.J. Oshie's talent is now something that those outside of St. Louis can appreciate too. The ultimate goal for Oshie and the Americans is to leave Sochi with a gold medal hanging around their necks. They will continue their quest this Wednesday versus the Czech Republic with a potential semifinal match up against Canada looming.