USA’s T.J. Oshie Inspiring the Next Generation of Stampede Players

by Dakota Case

While the United States Men’s Olympic hockey team failed to medal in Sochi this February, St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie made hockey history; scoring four goals on six attempts in a 3-2 win over Russia.

But nine years before his success in Sochi, Oshie was lighting the lamp in Sioux Falls. A native of Warroad, Minnesota, Oshie was a small, underrated player by both opposing teams and coaches. His determination and scoring ability, however, eventually made him a desirable commodity for the Sioux Falls Stampede, the University of North Dakota and the Blues, who selected him 24th overall in 2005.

Though his time in Sioux Falls was short, he left a lasting impact on an organization that boasts one of the deepest NHL alumni classes in the USHL.

Now, a new crop of Stampede players take to the ice, each one dreaming of one day playing in the NHL.

Second year forward Zeb Knutson is the first Stampede player in history to have been born, raised and developed within the Sioux Falls area. Oshie’s recent success is something Knutson has monitored closely.

“It was really cool to see, knowing he played for the Stampede,” said Knutson. “It means, someday, one of us could be doing the same thing. So, it gives you a lot to look forward to and it keeps you motivated to play the game hard ever day.”

A player many within the Sioux Falls Youth Hockey Association have long admired, Knutson found himself in a similar situation this February.

“Little kids here may look up to me, but I look up to people, too, such as T.J. Oshie,” said Knutson, when asked about the comparison to his situation with the fans in Sioux Falls. “The things he’s done at the Olympics [are] unbelievable and you can only wish one day that that would be me or someone else on this team.”

T.J. Oshie may have been the first former Stampede player for the United States, but it’s a good possibility he won’t be the last.