WARROAD, MN—T.J. Oshie could have kicked off his day with the Stanley Cup any number of places he played en route to the Capitals.
But he brought it first to the place where his journey to NHL stardom took flight: Warroad, a quaint, lakeside Minnesota town that lies just a few miles from the Canadian border.
Why? Oshie moved here at 15 years old and attended Warroad High, where, thanks to an abundance of ice time, top-notch coaching and a hockey-obsessed environment, he quickly progressed from a promising youth player to a professional prospect.
“It’s a home that I found that welcomed me,” Oshie said. “It’s been a long time that I’ve been saying if I ever won it, that I’d bring it back here.”
And so on Tuesday, Oshie followed through on that promise, bringing hockey’s biggest prize to Warroad, which has a population of only 1,800 but is known as the original Hockeytown USA due to its history of producing elite talent.
Former NHL and Olympic star Dave Christian grew up here. So did current Islanders standout Brock Nelson and 2018 Olympic gold medalist Gigi Marvin. It’s also produced dozens of Division I players as well as numerous high school state champions.
Oshie, however, is the first Warroad alum to hoist the Cup.
After arriving on a private jet and pulling into town in a convertible 1933 Lincoln, Oshie received a hero’s welcome at the Gardens Arena, where the town had arranged for a program in his honor.
Almost all of the youth and high school players in Warroad are here to see @TJOshie77 and the Stanley Cup. Listen to the reception Oshie got at The Gardens Arena, where he played as a high schooler. #Caps pic.twitter.com/rC44UqIBrc— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) July 24, 2018
The mayor, Bob Marvin, declared July 24th 'T.J. Oshie Day’ in Warroad.
“That was very unexpected and pretty amazing that I get my own day here in town,” Oshie said. “It’s really cool for my family.”
Oshie was also saluted by a Native American honor song, a nod to his ancestry and family’s roots in Warroad.
Following the welcome, Oshie took to the stage and addressed the estimated 2,500 on hand, thanking his family as well as his former coaches and teammates for the role they’ve played in his success. He also offered some advice to the young players in the crowd: work hard, respect your teammates and opponents and, most of all, have fun.
And then Oshie posed for a picture with every…single…team in town, from the mites to the Warroad High varsity squads.
He also made sure to get a photo with Gigi Marvin, a high school classmate.
The Cup’s visit meant just as much to the residents of Warroad.
“We’ve had a lot of success in Warroad, with gold medals and whatnot,” said Izzy Marvin, owner of Izzy’s Lounge and a huge supporter of the town’s hockey initiatives. “But to have the Cup come home is pretty special. We’re very thankful for T.J. He could have brought it to Grand Forks [where he played college hockey at the University of North Dakota]. He could have brought it to Everett, Washington [where he grew up]. But he brought it here.”
Marvin added: “It’s kind of the missing link to all of the success in the hockey world that Warroad has had, and all of the players we’ve had. The Stanley Cup was missing from that.”
Longtime youth and high school coach Son Shaugabay shared a similar sentiment.
“It completed the circle of hockey in Warroad,” he said. “With T.J. and the Caps winning it, that was my first emotion—Warroad has everything now. It’s truly Hockeytown USA.”
After posing for what seemed like a hundred pictures, Oshie went for the traditional “whip” around town in the classic Lincoln.
A time-honored tradition for Warroad players is the postgame “whip” around town. The route goes down the main drag and ends up at the lake. Today, @TJOshie77 got to take a whip with the Cup. #Caps pic.twitter.com/zLygUEVB0B— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) July 24, 2018
Along the route, Oshie made stops at a couple of his favorite bars. (Though, somewhat regrettably, he did NOT drink a beer through his shirt.)
The whip through Warroad ended in the same place the cruises did when Oshie was a teenager: at Lake of the Woods. There, Oshie and his family—wife Lauren and daughters Lyla and Leni—posed for one final picture on the pier before heading back to the airport.
Oshie’s day ended with a nightcap in Minneapolis, where he shared the Cup with Washington teammates Shane Gersich and Travis Boyd as well as some of his former teammates at North Dakota.
But the decision to start his day in Warroad was, in his words, a “no-brainer” because of the special place it occupies in his heart.
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