T.J. Oshie was one of the last players picked by U.S. coaches to join the Olympic men's hockey team, but today he proved he belongs.
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Chosen for his shootout prowess, Oshie, a right wing for the St. Louis Blues, scored on four of his six shootout attempts, give the U.S. a thrilling 3-2 victory over Russia in their preliminary round matchup.
"Oshie's got that shootout move," Chicago Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman told ESPN last month. Bowman was one of the men who assisted in picking the men's U.S. hockey team.
The game was tied 2-2 at the end of regulation, after Russia had an apparent goal disallowed in the third period. Neither team could score in overtime, so the game went to a shootout.
Unlike the National Hockey League, international rules allow the same player to take multiple shots after the first three rounds of a shootout.
Oshie started off the shootout with a low shot between Russian goalie Sergei Bobrovsky's legs, and the next four shooters missed before Ilya Kovalchuk scored in the third round, keeping the shootout alive.
Pavel Datsyuk, who had scored both of Russia's goals in regulation, and Kovalchuk scored in the fifth and sixth rounds, respectively, but Oshie tied it both times.
In the seventh round both Datsyuk and Oshie missed, and then in the eighth, U.S. goalie Jonathan Quick denied Kovalchuk, giving Oshie the chance to win it.
But already having shot five times, he wondered if he had anything new to confound the Russian goalie.
"I was just thinking of something else I could do, trying to keep him guessing," Oshie said. "Had to go back to the same move a couple times, but I was glad it ended when it did. I was running out of moves there."
He found one more, and the U.S. improved to 2-0, al but assuring them of a spot in the medal round.
Although there was no medal on the line, there was still plenty of pressure for the U.S. and Russian teams, especially with an energized crowd and Russian President Vladimir Putin watching.
The epic finale to the game brought back memories of the U.S.-Russia rivalry that took place at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid. The win was known as the "Miracle on Ice," when a team of American college students stunned the heavily favored Soviet Union team.
Learn more about T.J. Oshie here.
Name: T.J. Oshie
Events: Men's Hockey Competition
Stats: 5'11, 189 pounds, 27 years old
Hometown: Warroad, Minn.
Olympic Record: Sochi will be Oshie's first appearance in a Winter Olympics.
Oshie is making his Olympic debut in Sochi but has played for the St. Louis Blues organization since he was drafted in 2005. He decided to skip his final year at the University of North Dakota to be considered for the draft.
Since joining the team, the 27-year-old has become a fan-favorite in St. Louis for his energetic style on the ice.