Blues players take pride in their selection to Team USA

News-DemocratJanuary 2, 2014 

— After being named to the U.S. Olympic hockey team Wednesday, one of the first people St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie thought about was an old high school classmate.

Oshie went to high school in Warroad, Minn., and one of his classmates there was Team USA women's hockey defenseman Gigi Marvin.

Marvin, who played at the University of Minnesota, had a key to the local rink and helped Oshie out on occasion.

"Actually one of my buddies tweeted me and reminded me (about that)," Oshie said Thursday before going out and scoring two goals during the second period of a 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. "On that day I think it was nine years ago, she came and opened the rink for a couple of us and we went out and skated on a day off of school. I thought that was pretty special, it reminded me of some good memories back then."

Oshie was one of three Blues named to Team USA along with David Backes and Kevin Shattenkirk.

Warroad, Minn., has produced three Olympic hockey gold medalists in brothers Bill Christian and Roger Christian (1960) and Bill Christian's son, Dave Christian (1980).

Oshie was watching on television when his name was called during the Team USA announcement.

"It was great, kind of a big sigh of relief and a lot of emotions going through my head right when it happened," Oshie said. "A little disbelief and shock, but I'm very happy and very excited and very honored to be named to the team."

Oshie, who will be playing in his first Olympics, called it a career highlight.

"Just playing in the Olympics ... it's one of hockey's biggest stages and to play for your country and to have that USA sweater on means all that much more," Oshie said.

Backes helped Team USA win a silver medal in 2010. He was excited to get another shot at gold, but may have been more happy about Oshie's inclusion on the team than himself.

The team was announced Wednesday after the NHL Winter Classic in Michigan, with young players skating forward with the names and numbers of the Team USA players on their sweaters.

"Plenty of nerves and thankfully to the alphabet I got to be the first one out there, then I was hoping Oshie was next and Shattenkirk would follow," Backes said. "I was trying to see the kids turning in the line and saw 74 on that kid's jersey. I was probably happier than Osh was. He's done a lot of work and really deserves that honor.

"He'll be a great teammate in Sochi."

Oshie also admitted being nervous while watching the selection ceremony with his girlfriend.

"Right when we saw it, we heard 'from Warroad, Minnesota' and she leaned over and hugged me," Oshie said. "We just sat there for a little bit. It was awesome, a great moment."

Shattenkirk was watching on television with a friend. He was hoping to make the team, but knew there were no guarantees.

"It was quite an experience, not knowing going into it," he said. "It can go any which way, you never know who they're going to pick because there's such a great pool of players now.

"It was fun to see my name and I got a lot of support, a lot of text messages and phone calls from friends and family. It was a very cool experience."

Shattenkirk spoke with pride about being part of Team USA with two Blues teammates.

"We were all pretty excited this morning when we saw each other, pretty big smiles on our faces," Shattenkirk said. "It's special to share with two friends that you get to see every day. I know there's going to be a lot more guys in his locker room going (to the Olympics), but we'll kind of have that other bond that we can always have here for a long, long time.

"Hopefully we can do something special as well because that would be great to do it with those two guys."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who will be an assistant coach for Team Canada, is a big fan of the Olympic hockey experience.

"You're really proud any time any player you're coaching gets to represent their country," Hitchcock said. "You're proud first for them and their families and everybody that helped them a long the way. But secondly from an experience standpoint, this is like nothing else.

"You can't help but become a better player by participating in one of these. Between playing with the people that you're playing with and playing in the atmosphere you're playing in, you get better."

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, or on Twitter @NormSanders

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