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Summer with Stanley

Oshie's day with Cup adds to small Minnesota town's hockey heritage

Capitals forward says he fell in love with game in Warroad

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

WARROAD, Minn. -- T.J. Oshie brought the Stanley Cup to Warroad on Tuesday because it's where he says he fell in love with hockey.

The Washington Capitals forward played high school hockey here between 2002-05 after relocating from Everett, Washington. His father, Tim, was born here.

Oshie, 31, fondly remembers visits as a child to the area to visit relatives, including his second cousin, Henry Boucha, a former NHL player and United States Hockey Hall of Fame member.

 

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"I didn't really fall in love with the game, I don't think, until my first time up here in Warroad," Oshie said. "I was just a little guy. We stayed at [Boucha's] house and skated out on his outdoor rink, from morning until night.

"I remember there was one time I couldn't sleep and I remember going out and putting on my skates and skating on his rink from about 4 until 6 a.m. before everyone woke up, and that's still, to this day, maybe my best childhood memory."

It began a journey that reached its apex June 7 in Las Vegas. The Capitals defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 in Game 5 to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in their 43-season history.

The return was also special for Tim Oshie, who caught up with many old friends and former neighbors throughout the morning.

"I was in Warroad for a long time. It's a very emotional day, with T.J. here and hoisting that Cup," he said. "It was a great day, a fantastic day."

Father and son had one of the iconic moments of the Stanley Cup Final celebration when they lifted the Cup together. Afterward, T.J. referenced his father's Alzheimer's disease and how important it was to share such a powerful moment with him.

On Tuesday, Tim mentioned several times how proud he was of his son.

"He was always the smallest kid on the ice and he worked his butt off and got himself to the NHL," he said. "He's such a great son and father."

T.J. Oshie shared many of the joys he experienced during his hockey journey in remarks to a packed house at The Gardens, one of the town's two rinks. The crowd included family, friends, former teammates and coaches, and nearly every current Warroad youth hockey player.

"My dream as a kid was always to win the Stanley Cup," Oshie said. "There's nothing else like it and there's no better feeling that raising it above your head. I had that dream always in my life and I'm sure many of you kids here have that dream. ... I want to leave you a couple words of advice that I learned from my family and my dad and coaches.

"No. 1 is to work hard, challenge yourself and always treat people right. Always, always have fun. Hockey has never felt like a job to me, and if it did, I don't think I'd have been able to be standing here before you today. With all the state championships and section championships and gold medals that this town has, now a Stanley Cup, there's no doubt that Warroad truly is Hockeytown USA."

Many of Warroad's 1,794 residents started filing into The Gardens almost three hours before the plane carrying Oshie from his home outside Minneapolis/St. Paul arrived at 10 a.m.

When he brought the Cup into the arena to a loud ovation, he was celebrated first in the formal program by an Ojibwa honor song written for the event by the Warroad Parent Indian Education Department.

The program also included remarks from former teammates and coaches, and a video tribute that included his highlight no-look pass to Aaron Marvin for the overtime goal in the 2005 Minnesota State Class A championship game at Xcel Energy Center.

Boucha, who played 247 games for the Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota North Stars, Kansas City Scouts and Colorado Rockies between 1971-77, was thrilled to see the Cup come to his hometown and recall the start of Oshie's love affair with the game.

"This is a great honor to have [Oshie] here," Boucha said. "His family is originally from here and he has family all around Lake of the Woods. This is overwhelming to top this year off.

"You had Gigi Marvin winning the gold medal (with the United States at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics) [to go with] her two silver (medals). You've got T.J. bringing the Stanley Cup. Earlier, we had the Warroad girls place second in the state [high school] tournament. We had the Peewee A's win the state tournament. It just goes to show you that a small town can compete and do well, through hard work and community effort."

Boucha joked that the Cup had been in Warroad before, getting in a dig against the neighboring town of Roseau, 20 miles to the west. Dustin Byfuglien, who won the Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, is from Roseau.

"It's actually the second time it's been here because when Byfuglien brought it over to Roseau, they couldn't land there so they had to land in Warroad," he said. "So that's going to be a teasing point for the Roseau Rams over there."

Among the Warroad youth teams that had their picture taken with Oshie and the Cup was Landon Haggen, 14, of the Warroad Bantams. He said he still was in disbelief after his dad, Steve, snapped several pictures with Oshie and the Cup.

"I didn't think it would really happen, didn't think the Cup would really come here," Landon said.

Landon said he was cheering hard for Oshie and the Capitals, but not at the start of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I was for the [Minnesota] Wild," he said.

When they arrived at Warroad International Memorial Airport, Oshie, his wife, Lauren, and their daughters Lyla and Leni were paraded into town in a 1933 Lincoln convertible. When the ceremony was finished at The Gardens, the motorcade toured the town with stops for photos and autographs in front of Warroad's iconic water tower, at Point Park near the shore of Lake of the Woods, at Main Street Bar and Grill and at Izzy's, another restaurant/bar.

Oshie and his family then flew 65 minutes south for the second part of his public schedule for his day with the Cup. They were greeted by hundreds at Saint Thomas Ice Arena in Mendota Heights, Minnesota, where Oshie trains in the offseason with MAP Hockey.

"This is where they put me through the ringer and got me ready to go out there and try and win [the Stanley Cup], so I'm excited to be here," Oshie said. "These guys run an unbelievable camp. I've really taken strides in my game since I started training here, so a lot of that is credit to the staff and the way they work things and do it very professionally with people having fun."

Wild forward Zach Parise, who also trains at MAP and, like Oshie, played at the University of North Dakota, stopped by with his family to congratulate Oshie.

After every photo was taken and every hand shook, Oshie said he planned to bring the Cup back to his house for some family time before a private party with 150 of his closest family and friends.

"It's been pretty surreal, it really has," Oshie said. "I thought maybe everything would catch up to me today when I got [the Cup] back, but carrying this thing around, you see people's faces when they see it, there really is no other trophy like it.

"I couldn't imagine this. That many people have showed up. The people of Warroad that came out, the people that are here at St. Thomas at MAP. I even had someone in Warroad say they came all the way from California. That's quite the ride to see this thing, but definitely worth it. I'm thrilled to be able to share it with as many people as I can."

NHL.com correspondent Jessi Pierce contributed to this story.

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