A whirl of fame

9-year-old’s move causes a sensation

By Kevin Paul Dupont
Globe Staff / October 16, 2009

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“Mini One-on-One’’ has turned 9-year-old Oliver Wahlstrom into a monster hit.

Wahlstrom - “Ollie’’ to his hockey pals - became an Internet sensation yesterday because of a dazzling goal he scored more than a week earlier on Causeway Street. The tiny dynamo from Cumberland, Maine, flashed a lacrosse-like spin-o-rama goal during a “Mini One-on-One’’ tournament being taped at the Garden Oct. 4, and he became deluged with media requests after video of his goal appeared on ESPN. By nightfall yesterday, he was boarding a flight in Portland for an appearance today on CBS’s “The Early Show.’’

“I call it ‘The Michigan,’ ’’ said Wahlstrom, who fashioned the move in the style of a goal by the University of Michigan’s Mike Legg in the NCAA playoffs in March 1996 - a goal scored more than four years before Wahlstrom was born. “I just dreamt it up.’’

In the video, which as of early last night had elicited 134 comments on, Wahlstrom collects the puck at center ice, standard fare in the tournament, and streaks in toward goalie Jon Svendsen. As he zips down the slot, Wahlstrom drops to one knee with his stick nearly flat to the ice, scooping up the puck on his stick blade like a lacrosse player.

Moving forward, he straightens up while still cradling the puck on the blade, then makes a Denis Savard-like full turn before shooting in a backhander halfway up the left post. The stick blade and puck are about shoulder-height when Wahlstrom makes the sleight-of-hand release.

“I have to write a book on this one,’’ said Joakim Wahlstrom, a former University of Maine winger (Class of ’91) winger who is father to North America’s sharpest shooting third grader (Drowne Road School, Cumberland). “All this attention. We’re definitely not experienced in all these media things, and it’s getting complicated - where to go, who to call back.

“Kind of crazy, really, but Oliver seems to be enjoying it.’’

Wahlstrom was representing the Portland Junior Pirates in the “Mini One-on-One’’ competition, segments of which will air between periods of Bruins games on NESN beginning Oct. 29.

For the record, Oliver counts Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin, the game’s most entertaining player, as his favorite NHLer and the Red Wings his No. 1 team.

In upward of only 40 games, he typically racks up 150-200 goals in any given peewee season, said his father, and this year he is playing in a league with 12-year-olds.

“The social part is kind of hard,’’ noted his father. “Because for his age, Oliver should be playing with the 2000s [his birth year]. But unless he plays up three years, it’s not a challenge for him. And he’ll probably still get his 150 goals. We need to figure how he blends in.’’

The pint-size protégé taped interviews yesterday with Channels 6 and 13 in Maine while his parents fielded an endless stream of calls, some from Europe, said Joakim, who was born in Sweden.

“The first thing I asked him was did he want to do any of it,’’ said Joakim. “And he said, ‘Yeah, no problem,’ because he looks up to J.R. [Jeremy Roenick] and Ovechkin. He said he sees them in front of all the cameras and the microphones and he figures, ‘Why not, that looks like fun.’ ’’

According to his dad, Oliver has an even trickier shot, one that begins with him reaching his stick backward through his legs first to pull the puck forward, followed by the knee drop, the stick flat to the ice, scoop, twirl, and shoot. He hasn’t come up with a name for that one.

Asked what he wants to be when he grows up, it’s no surprise that Wahlstrom wants to be an NHLer, although he is some nine years away from the league’s entry draft.

Meanwhile, he’ll have to settle for New York City this morning, and maybe signing a couple of autographs in Times Square.

“I don’t know,’’ he said. “I’m still printing.’’

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