As the world watched a Team USA vs. Team Russia hockey game that seemed more suited for the Gold Medal match than a group stage game, it surely seemed that a player with immense star power would end the game. After all, the two sides feature the likes of Joe Pavelski, Phil Kessel, Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin, so one only had to pick out of a hat full of star players to choose who would end a deadlocked 2-2 game in the shootout.
The only thing is, it turns out that one man who was off the radar of the average sports fans was waiting in the wings to take over a shootout of epic proportions. That man was U.S. forward T.J. Oshie.
After not scoring a goal during the first two games of the Men’s Olympic Hockey Tournament, Oshie became a one man wrecking ball for the U.S. during the shootout against the Russians. After scoring on his first attempt, Oshie would wait for James van Riemsdyk and Pavelski to take their turns before once again returning to shoot five more times. He would score on three of these five attempts, finishing the night 4-for-6 during the shootout against goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and taking on Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk by himself.
While going about these continued chances on the net, Oshie seemingly took apart Bobrovsky every way imaginable, using the five hole, dangling to his stick side, and even narrowly missing out on a back-handed opportunity. Even after six opportunities on the net, it appeared that the American born winger would have whipped out something new and exciting if he had been given a seventh opportunity. This type of skilled hockey is the type of thing that many people claim the U.S. does not produce, but it is clear that Oshie and this Olympic team are proving that wrong.
To say that the world was stunned by Oshie’s performance is an understatement, and one can only imagine the rage that Vladimir Putin is feeling right now after losing to the dreaded arch-nemesis that is the United States. The hockey tournament is supposed to be the Russian President’s crown jewel of the Olympics, and to lose a match against a country in which the President has so much animosity towards has to be a bit embarrassing. Surely he will be giving the Russian team and earful about Oshie, and likewise the whole sporting world will be hearing his name for a long time moving forward.
Of course, this is not to say that Oshie has not been on the minds of hockey pundits everywhere for the last few seasons, and in fact, he is a top forward on the St. Louis Blues. During the current season he has 46 points in 57 games, and he is certainly more than just a scorer, as the 27 year old possesses an edgy game that translates to both ends of the ice.
Still, for the current day, he will have to make due with being an Olympic hero for the U.S. and earning the large amount of recognition that will come with it. Oh yeah, and try to replicate this performance once the knockout stages and medal round begin.