There was 4:40 to go in the third period of Team USA’s preliminary round game against the host nation at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Russian defenseman Fedor Tyutin blasted a slap shot from the point past American goalie Jonathan Quick to put his team up by one. But the goal was disallowed. The net was off its moorings. They headed to overtime.
With 27 seconds remaining in the extra frame, Russian goalie Sergei Bobrobsky stoned USA forward Patrick Kane on a breakaway. The game would have to be settled in a shootout.
Enter T.J. Oshie.
It is fitting that the 27-year-old St. Louis Blues winger hails from Mount Vernon, Washington. Like the state’s namesake, who called a town of the same name home, Oshie would lead his country to victory in a hard-fought battle against a tested foe.
When Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, tapped to coach his country’s Olympic squad, was putting together a roster, Oshie sat on the bubble. Bylsma cited his shootout skills in selecting him for one of the last few roster spots. The decision would prove prescient.
Fans couldn’t know it at the time, but as Oshie played his heart out in Sochi, he was dealing with more troubling concerns at home. His girlfriend Lauren Cosgrove was pregnant, and the couple had discovered that their unborn daughter suffered from a rare condition called gastroschesis. She would need surgery immediately after birth.
Even with his girlfriend and child in the back of his mind, Oshie shined.
The shootout with Russia would eventually go eight rounds. Bylsma selected Oshie, Toronto Maple Leafs winger James van Riemsdyk, and San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski to represent Team USA.
Oshie put his first shot through the five-hole. After the first three rounds, the teams were tied at two goals apiece.
Under National Hockey League rules, Bylsma would have been forced to pick additional shooters in subsequent rounds. But international play allows shooters to go as many rounds as their coaches see fit.
Byslma didn’t think twice. He tapped Oshie for the next five rounds. Oshie scored four times, leading Team USA to a glorious 3-2 victory.
The kid from Mount Vernon dashed Russia’s hopes as a despondent Vladimir Putin looked on.
Herb Brooks would be proud.
A month after Oshie’s stellar performance in Sochi, Cosgrove gave birth to Lyla Grace Oshie. A month after that, she was recovering from surgery like a champ.
For making his country proud, for besting the autocratic host nation at one of their most prized sports, for carrying on a legacy of American hockey dominance over the Evil Empire, and for doing it all through tough times at home, T.J. Oshie is a Washington Free Beacon Man of the Year.
Published under: Man of the Year