By Ian Oland
Washington Capitals star TJ Oshie will get a huge honor in his hometown on Saturday.
Oshie will have his number 19 retired by Warroad High School, joining three others in the rafters: Bill Christian (no. 3), Dave Christian (no. 10), and Henry Boucha (no. 16). Notably, Dave Christian played for USA’s Miracle On Ice team. All four players have played in the Olympics.
Oshie will participate in Warroad’s annual celebrity goal tournament on Saturday before heading over to The Gardens Arena for the honor.
Happening tomorrow at The Gardens Arena on the corner of Elk and Cedar in Warroad! #warroad #hockeytownusa pic.twitter.com/nZbreIxLhx
— Warroad Hockeytown (@WHockeytownUSA) July 29, 2022
“I don’t think this is why you start playing hockey as a kid, but I’m just very excited to have my number sitting up there,” Oshie said in an interview with The Rink Live podcast. “Moving to Warroad, my dream was just to fit in with the varsity players on the high school team. To have my number going up there is super special. Two of those yellow banners you can see up there with the state title, those are the banners that are a little more important to me because those are obviously from the state titles I won with my boys and my buddies, but having the 19 up there [will be] pretty special.”
Oshie arrived in Warroad, Minnesota, his sophomore year of high school after spending his childhood in Everett, Washington where he played 10 seasons in the Seattle Junior Hockey Association. Oshie’s second cousin, Henry Boucha (graduated 1969, nice), starred at Warroad and had his number retired there while his uncle Max (graduated 1948) found great success, too.
“I remember I came out here for a hockey camp, the summer before I actually moved out here, to see if it’d be somewhere we’d want to live,” Oshie said. “I remember seeing these guys skate on the ice — I think it was incoming sophomores coming on up — these were literally the best hockey players I had ever skated with, this high school. Seeing these guys going around, I was like ‘Gosh, it’d be so cool to skate like these guys.’ It was just the coolest thing to come from a very large town where hockey is the last thing on everybody’s mind to come to Warroad where hockey is just a way of life here and everyone rallies around — not just the hockey team — but all the youth sports in general. Playing in this rink here that I’m in now, at the Gardens, this was my NHL. This was kind of the dream for me. So cool to be able to live that out.”
Getting ice time in Washington state proved to be a significant challenge, which in part pushed Oshie to move.
“I remember my last year [in Washington], the state tournament was only three teams because there was only three bantam teams in the state,” Oshie said. “My last two years there we had to play in a BC hockey league. So we had to play in Vancouver every other weekend. That was just the way it was. Typically my family couldn’t come and I’d jump in the team bus or jump in with another family and they’d drive me up there. It was tough. I was driving an hour and 15 minutes to the rink. With traffic it’d take a little longer. We would practice during the week usually after 9pm and then on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning we’d drive up to BC come back Sunday and do it all again. It was rough. When we moved here and we realized I could just walk to the rink and skate whenever I wanted, and didn’t have to pay $20 for 40 minutes of ice before school, it was kind of a no brainer for me.”
Oshie played three seasons for the Warroad Warriors, leading the team to two state titles. Warroad went undefeated his senior year and Oshie, one of the most dominant players in the state, scored an astonishing 100 points (38g, 62a) in 31 games. He also chipped in 85 points his junior season.
Oshie would later earn an invite to play for the University of North Dakota where he’d be a teammate of future three-time Stanley Cup champion and Chicago Blackhawks captain, Jonathan Toews.
Congrats @JonathanToews! Must have been all those skill sessions @TheREA before Fine Arts class. Even more impressive you’ve done it without @rduncan16 on the left side!! @UNDmhockey #FightingSioux https://t.co/J9cZ9r9TT8
— TJ Oshie (@TJOshie77) December 13, 2019
After winning the Stanley Cup with the Capitals in 2018, Oshie brought the NHL’s championship trophy to Warroad and for good reason. Oshie is the only player to play for Warroad’s High School team to ever win the Stanley Cup.
In honor of his hometown, Oshie named his hockey apparel brand after the city.
“This place changed my life, for sure,” Oshie said.
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