Tuesday, March 11, 2014
By RACHEL LENZI
Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer: Oliver Wahlstrom, 9, of Cumberland demonstrates the technique he used to score a goal, video of which has become an internet sensation at the WCSH6 television station in Portland on October 15, 2009. Wahlstrom and his father Joakim were interviewed for ESPN's Sportscenter.
PORTLAND — Joakim Wahlstrom's phone rang around 11:30 Wednesday night, and it hasn't stopped ringing since.
The first call came from a family friend, who had just watched ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose break down a video of a shootout goal scored by Wahlstrom's son, Oliver. On SportsCenter, ESPN's nightly sports news showcase.
Then, the phone rang again, another friend calling. Oliver's goal had made ESPN's top 10 plays of the night.
The 70-second video of the goal has made its rounds on ESPN, YouTube and NHL.com. Oliver Wahlstrom of Cumberland, who's 9 years old, has become a viral video hockey hero.
''It's just hitting hard right now,'' said Joakim Wahlstrom, who played hockey at the University of Maine during the 1998-99 season and played professionally in Sweden for 10 years. ''I've been taking phone calls, and it's everything from going to Connecticut to going on the CBS morning show. Everybody wants a piece of this.''
Taped on Oct. 4, during a shootout competition in an empty TDBank Garden in Boston, Oliver reaches the top of the face-off circles and lifts the puck with the blade of his stick.
Almost instantly, while cradling the puck, he spins clockwise, does a full revolution and, on the fly, unleashes a chest-high shot past a bewildered goalie.
''I worked on it for about four months, and I had to work hard at it,'' said Oliver, a third-grader at Cumberland's Drowne Road School who has been playing hockey since he was 2. ''It felt really good to do that.''
The goal was shown first on Monday, during NESN's broadcast of the Boston Bruins' loss to the Colorado Avalanche, as a preview of the TDBank Mini 1-on-1, an event that has been held since 1973.
''Yikes,'' NESN analyst and former Bruin Mike Milbury said to NESN's Kathryn Tappen. ''Even I couldn't do that in my best days. I'd have to stop, take off my gloves and put (the puck) on my stick just to get it on the blade.''
By Thursday afternoon, the video of the shot, called ''The Michigan,'' had gotten hundreds of hits on YouTube, had been posted on the Bruins' Web site and been replayed on ESPN -- which interviewed Oliver via satellite.
It's the kind of goal that comes only every few years.
In 1996, Michigan's Mike Legg scored the tying goal in an NCAA playoff game from behind the net, picking up the puck with the blade of his stick and flinging it over the shoulder of Minnesota goalie Steve DeBus. The play won an ESPY -- ESPN's annual sports awards, akin to the Grammys or Oscars -- for Outrageous Play of the Year.
''We've seen that kind of shot by Alex Ovechkin (of the Washington Capitals), who's done it in NHL All-Star games, but I've never seen it in competition,'' said Ron DeGregorio, the president of USA Hockey, who oversaw the Mini 1-on-1 competition on the day Wahlstrom competed in Boston. ''But Oliver, he perfected that shot.''
Even Ovechkin had something to say about the shot -- via the Twitter account of Washington Capitals media relations director Nate Ewell.
''That was sick,'' Ovechkin told Ewell.
Could Ovechkin pull it off? ''No way, are you kidding me?''
As of Thursday afternoon, Oliver still hadn't seen the video of the goal.
But plenty of others had, and Melrose, of ESPN, interviewed him via satellite at WCSH's Portland studios.
Nearby, Oliver's father carried a legal pad covered with names and phone numbers. NBC had called. So had Jeremy Roenick, the former NHL player whose No. 97 Wahlstrom wears for the Portland Junior Pirates. CBS had called, and Wahlstrom will appear this morning on ''The Early Show.''
''The last four hours,'' Joakim Wahlstrom said, ''have been complete chaos. I wish I had an agent.''
Next, they were off to eat dinner and, at some point before leaving for New York, Oliver had to get his hair cut. But before he could do that, his father's phone rang. Again.
Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at:
email@example.comBy Thursday afternoon, the video of the shot, called ''The Michigan,'' had gotten hundreds of hits on YouTube, had been posted on the Bruins' Web site and been replayed on ESPN.