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T.J. Oshie, when he played for UND, lifts his stick in celebration of his first period goal to tie the game at 1-1 in a playoff game against Michigan Tech in Grand Forks. Herald photo by John Stennes

MEN'S HOCKEY: T.J. Oshie's Olympic performance no surprise to those at UND

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When T.J. Oshie played at UND, there were no shootouts in college hockey.

But at the end of every Thursday practice, the coaching staff and players had a little fun and held a team shootout with every player participating.

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Even back then, Oshie was a nightmare for goalies in the shootout.

Oshie took those skills to the biggest stage possible Saturday morning, scoring four times in a shootout to lead the U.S. to a win over Russia in pool play at the 2014 Sochi Games.

What the world found out on Saturday, those at UND already knew.

“He’s one of the guys that did things that just made you laugh and shake your head,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “He could do so many things, as we say today. Obviously, today is on a little bit different stage. I think that’s just Osh competing and having fun and I think you saw that today.”

Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, the starting goalie for almost all of Oshie’s college career, told the Herald back in 2007 that Andrew Kozek had the hardest shot on the team. But when it came down to whose shot was the hardest to stop?

“I’d say Osh, for sure,” Lamoureux said at the time. “I’ve never seen a guy shoot the puck like he does. He has such a deceptive shot and such a good release. He shoots hard and hits his spots. He has one of the most unique shooting styles I’ve ever seen. In his release, he has a unique knack of being able to roll his wrists at the last second and change the angle of his shot. I’m definitely not the only guy who struggles against him.”

That was clear in Sochi.

Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky allowed four shootout goals on six attempts against Oshie. On the two he missed, Oshie had the goaltender beat. One of them, Bobrovsky made an unbelievable stick save. Oshie shot high on the other.

He went three-for-three on five-hole attempts and also scored on a snap shot off the crossbar.

Oshie’s favorite move is a fake to the backhand before shooting forehand, but he only tried that one once.

Oshie returns to Grand Forks every summer in the offseason, and former UND goalie Aaron Dell would make it a point to practice shootouts against Oshie.

“That’s his specialty,” Dell told the Herald.

Oshie followed in the footsteps of his former linemate Jonathan Toews, who scored three times in a shootout in the World Junior semifinals in 2007 to help Canada win. The Canadians won the gold.

“It’s a similar stage,” Hakstol said. “Obviously, you can argue the different stages of their lives. But both were high pressure situations for their country on large stages. There’s no stage bigger or brighter than today’s.”

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference finally instituted shootouts this season.

“Yeah, we’re about 10 years late,” Hakstol said with a laugh.

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Brad Elliott Schlossman
Schlossman is in his 11th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2014, he was named one of the top three beat writers in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.
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