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T.J. Sochi: Former UND star Oshie wins it for USA

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sports Grand Forks, 58203

Grand Forks North Dakota 375 2nd Ave. N. 58203

This time, USA didn’t need a miracle.

It just needed T.J. Oshie.

The former UND and Warroad High School star scored four times in the shootout to give the Americans a 3-2 victory over Russia in pool play action.

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Oshie was the only American player to score in the shootout, and after the initial three shooters, U.S. coach Dan Bylsma exclusively used Oshie. In the eighth round, after Ilya Kovalchuk missed for Russia, Oshie finished off the victory for the U.S., which can earn a bye to the quarterfinals with a win over Slovenia at 6:30 a.m. Sunday.

“You try to keep the tender guessing, which I did a pretty good job,” said Oshie, one of the NHL’s best at the shootout. “I told the boys that I’m running out of moves.”

Oshie’s popularity around the country vaulted after the game. He was the top worldwide trend on Twitter and picked up more than 80,000 new followers. Many people wrote about him, even U.S. President Barack Obama.

“Congrats to T.J. Oshie and the U.S. men’s hockey team on a huge win!! Never stop believing in miracles,” Obama wrote on Twitter.

“I don’t know if the US won or if TJ Oshie won,” wrote Mike Eruzione, the hero of the Miracle on Ice game in 1980. “That was amazing.”

“T.J. Oshie is a household name in the USA today,” ESPN’s John Buccigross wrote.

“With the world watching and your country hanging on every shot, insane amount of pressure,” Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt wrote. “Unreal work by (Oshie).”

USA Today posted a blog entry titled: “Meet T.J. Oshie, everyone’s new favorite hockey player.”

Oshie also did a live interview with Dan Patrick in the NBC studios after the game.

Dramatic win

While the Russians alternated between Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk, the Americans stuck with Oshie. He beat Russian goalie Sergei Bobrovsky four times in six attempts, shooting five-hole three times and off the crossbar once.

After finishing off the shootout victory, Oshie pointed at U.S. goaltender Jonathan Quick, acknowledging his efforts on the other end.

“T.J. has been exceptional in the shootout this year and his career,” Bylsma said. “We were going to ride him out.”

Datsyuk scored two goals for Russia, including the tying goal with 7:16 left in the third period. Cam Fowler and Joe Pavelski scored goals for the Americans in regulation.

The Americans had a power play late in the third period and to start overtime, but couldn’t get the winner there. Then, they turned to Oshie in the shootout.

“I was more nervous on the ones I had to score just to stay in (the game),” Oshie told Patrick. “Thankfully, Quicky (U.S. goalie Jonathan Quick) didn’t put me in that situation too many times.”

GF and Warroad

In Grand Forks, fans rushed to Ralph Engelstad Arena’s fan shop to purchase Oshie’s custom USA jersey. By the time the UND women’s game started at 2 p.m., the Sioux Shop was sold out. They started taking orders for future jerseys.

Old Time Hockey, the only company that can make custom USA player T-shirts, said last week that it was only doing one big run of USA player shirts. They changed their minds Saturday morning and will make another batch of Oshie shirts on Monday morning.

The arena also planned to recognize Oshie during the first period of UND’s game against Miami.

In Warroad, Minn., the town where Oshie played three years of high school hockey, there was more celebrating.

“Ever since it happened, my phone has been going off,” said Warroad boys hockey coach Jay Hardwick, whose brother, Kyle, graduated with Oshie. “People who aren’t even hockey fans know who T.J. Oshie is.

“It’s great for hockey and it’s great for Warroad.”

Oshie is the latest Warroad player to enter Olympic hockey lore.

The U.S. men have never won gold without a Warroad player on the roster. Bill and Roger Christian were both on the 1960 team. Dave Christian was on the 1980 Miracle on Ice team.

“The way the whole game played out, and playing against Russia in Russia. … just the way it happened, nobody’s going to forget it anytime soon,” Hardwick said.

 While Oshie became America’s newest star, he says not to call him a hero.

 “American heroes are wearing camo,” he told reporters. “That’s not me.”

Herald staff writer Christopher Bjorke contributed to this report.

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