ANNAPOLIS – Saturday morning, Washington Capitals forward TJ Oshie posted a picture of the USS Saint Paul, a ship both Oshie’s grandparents served on. The ship is a Baltimore-class Cruiser that served the United States Navy for 26 years and earned 18 battle stars during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
Later that night, Oshie took the ice at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium at the United States Naval Academy, with 200 midshipmen minding the rails along the faux aircraft carrier where the 2018 Stadium Series took place.
“It was pretty amazing out the there,” Oshie said of his feelings when he first stepped out in front of 29,516 freezing fans before ticking off practically the entire NHL press release about the game. “I don’t think you can ever get used to this. This is awesome.”
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The start time was in doubt due to severe winds battering the east coast – at one point the during the game stadium’s lights went out. Oshie said all the distractions went away at puck drop, but he couldn’t block out the atmosphere completely.
That atmosphere: a flyover by F-18 Super Hornets on full afterburner, which shook the stadium; a procession of midshipmen; and the names of Naval campaigns – some that cost the lives of countless members of the armed forces – plastered across at the bottom of the upper and bowls.
“Every whistle, you’re looking around and taking it all in,” Oshie told reporters in the Navy football team’s locker room.
Oshie is one of five Americans, the others being Matt Niskanen, John Carlson, Brooks Orpik, and Travis Boyd, playing on the team that represents America’s capital.
The gold medal-winning US Olympic men’s curling and women’s hockey teams were also honored at the game.
Team USA’s capitan Meghan Duggan, Monique Lamoureux-Morando, Amanda Kessel, and Lee Stecklein. (Photo credit: Brian Babineau)
“It was cool to have them in the building,” Carlson said. “To see the rise they got out of a lot of fans and all that kind of stuff throughout the area was really cool. And it was a heck of a job by both of those teams to bring back gold.”
The game ended in a 5-2 Capitals victory. It was worth two points in the standings, but it meant more to Oshie and company.
“For us to be able to go out and enjoy something like this is an experience of a lifetime for us, and it’s all possible because of what our military does for us,” Oshie said. “You can’t appreciate it enough. You can’t show enough support.”
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