At the time, it seemed like T.J. Oshie’s shootout heroics against Russia would be spoken about in hushed tones as a prelude to something bigger.
Would it spur the U.S. on to greater heights? Could the loss wake up Russia on its way to winning gold?
Few would have predicted how poorly things would go for the two proud countries after that thrilling finish. In a way, the Americans’ 3-2 preliminary-round win over the Russians was the unexpected high point for both as far men’s hockey went during the 2014 Winter Olympics.
By the tournament’s end, the U.S. flopped against Finland to fall short of a bronze medal while Russia didn’t even sniff the podium to the shock of hometown fans.
Looking back, all we have is that moment in which Oshie became something of a mainstream star … but oh, what a moment it was.
As Russia trotted out high-end stars such as Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk, American head coach Dan Byslma tabbed Oshie over and over. Again and again. Simply put, Oshie’s simple-but-deadly shootout move was the best bet in Bylsma’s mind. Considering the results, it was pretty difficult to quibble with such a thought process.
Oshie scored four shootout goals in that game. He received six total opportunities and five in a row. It was the kind of moment that just begged for “Miracle” references.
Things really took off when he got the “meme” treatment, though.
“It was very surreal,” Oshie told PHT days after that memorable run in the shootout. “I’m very humbled by it. It was a crazy night for me.”
Ultimately, the U.S. fell well short of expectations. Considering their offensive struggles against elite teams (they didn’t score at even strength against Russia, Canada or Finland), there’s something uncomfortably fitting about the fact that the United States’ best moment came in a “skills competition.”
That kind of nitpicking certainly wasn’t happening on the day Oshie became a household hockey name, though.
More on that great moment: