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Where were you when?

By Matt Stypulkoski
On February 18, 2014

It was hardly a "Miracle," but I imagine the euphoric feeling wasn't all that different.

T.J. Oshie has become a household name over the past few days in the wake of catapulting the United States to Olympic glory over the Russians in a shootout on Saturday, and deservedly so.

The win was impressive, yes, as the Stars and Stripes took down the favored Russians on their home ice, silencing a nation all with one final penalty shot. But a Miracle? Not a chance.

By now, we know what this U.S. team is capable of. A gold-medal game appearance against the Canadians four years ago began the revelation, and blowout wins against Slovakia and Slovenia this Olympiad helped confirm their legitimacy. So a win over the Russians should not be surprising - in fact, it should even be expected.

But that doesn't change the emotions of a nation come 10:17 a.m. Saturday.

It's a cliché, sure, but people forever ask the same question about defining, emotional moments: "Where were you when...?"

Thirty-four years later, Americans still remember where they were when they found out the heavily favored, dynastic Soviets fell to a rowdy bunch of college kids in the middle of a little town in upstate New York.

I've heard great stories through the years about where friends and family were: with their families watching in the living room, in the car listening on the radio, even in the arena, watching live instead of on ABC's tape delay.

Thirty-four years from now, Americans will be telling similar stories about this most recent defeat against the Russians. Maybe it won't be a movie-worthy, Hollywood-drama moment like the other famous win, but it will almost certainly be as memorable.

Frankly, that's the beauty of the Olympics. Unlike domestic sports - MLB, NFL, NHL, NCAA and any other sporting event you can think of - the Olympics unite, rather than divide.

For a moment, Blackhawks fans who despise Oshie and the rest of his St. Louis teammates forgot their anger and animosity in pursuit of a common glory. For a moment, Devils fans, Rangers fans, Islanders fans, Flyers fans and Penguins fans - who rarely agree on much - were unanimous in their support. For a moment, the nation slowed down a bit, tuned in to NBC Sports and hoped.

Twitter may at times be a glimpse into the worst of our society - a place where insults and hatred can flow all-too-freely behind the protection of a keyboard - but on Saturday, at least within these 50 states, it was a far more joyous, optimistic place.

Tweets flowed as Americans from coast to coast reacted to Oshie's winner. There were jokes ("Oshie just won the Cold War"), euphoric nonsense ("OSHIEEEEEE!") and patriotic pride (USA USA USA!!").

But amidst all the tweets flooding servers and rolling through the web, one caught my eye more than any other.

In the early morning hours, a team of boys crowded around a middle-aged youth hockey coach's smartphone, joining together to cheer and collaborating to watch a moment of history.

That tweet, more than any other, captured the gravity of the moment for me, probably because that's what the Olympics - and in turn Olympic hockey - is all about: pride, unity, competition, hope, joy.

The youthful exuberance on those faces crowded around a barely-three-inch screen displayed everything positive about the Games and what they're meant to embody. The picture displayed a memory in the making.

Take a moment to remember where you were last Saturday morning. Cement it in your mind. Thirty-four years from now, that will still be a story to tell.

I sure as hell won't forget running around the entrance of the XL Center, smartphone in hand, still streaming, screaming and chanting, anytime soon.

That's the beauty of the Olympics. It doesn't take a Miracle. It just takes a little hope, a little pride and one great, unforgettable moment to make a memory that will last forever.

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