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9-year-old talks about his spectacular shootout move

Friday, 10.16.2009 / 6:33 PM / NHL Insider

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- Somewhere in the D.C. area, Alex Ovechkin is smiling and maybe even taking notes.

Oliver Wahlstrom is out for Ovi's title as the NHL's breakaway king -- and the kid from Cumberland, Maine, is only 9 years old and plays in the Portland Junior Pirates organization on the Pee Wee Majors '97 squad.

Wahlstrom, who plays regularly with 12-year-olds, caused a media stir this week with his ridiculous goal on NHL ice at TD Bank Garden.

Shooting in the TD Bank Mini One-on-One competition, the kid skated the puck into the zone and got between the circles before picking it up on the blade of his stick, doing a Savardian spin-o-rama and flinging the puck into the net, lacrosse-style, past a stunned goalie.

He has quickly become an Internet sensation and is now all over the airwaves.

Wahlstrom was in New York on Friday to be interviewed on CBS and ESPN. He's going to Fox studios Saturday and will also be interviewed by a Swedish television reporter for TV4 back in Sweden, where his father, Joakim, is from and used to play professionally.

He toured the NHL Store Powered by Reebok on Friday evening and got to meet San Jose stars Dan Boyle, Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi, who were in for an event. Wahlstrom was also given a Winter Classic retro T-shirt and a Boston Bruins puck by Brian Jennings, the NHL's Executive VP for Marketing.

"It's chaos," the soft-spoken Oliver told NHL.com. "I thought they would only see it at the rink."

Joakim said he didn't have to set up any of Oliver's media opportunities. The media outlets all called him.

"If we have gotten to a third of everything that has been asked of us in two days that would probably be a stretch," Joakim told NHL.com. "It's in Canada, in Europe, it's everywhere and it's absolutely amazing. He got 20,000 hits on his name on Google."

Actually, a quick check at 6 p.m. ET on Friday showed roughly 711,000 hits on his name.

"It's absolutely mind-blowing, but I guess the timing is good," the proud dad continued. "The economy is tough and here he's having fun, a big smiling kid. It's just good. We're fortunate."

Oliver, who started playing hockey when he was 2, said he first tried his amazing move roughly five months ago after seeing a clip of someone doing it on YouTube. He had to practice many times and needed encouragement from his father, but says now he's become quite good at it.

"It's not really hard if you get used to it," Oliver said quietly with a shy, is-this-really-happening-to-me look on his face. "Probably picking up the puck is the hardest part. Once the puck is on your stick, it gets easy."

The overnight fame has been overwhelming for Oliver and his family.

Joakim, who played in the Swedish Elite League for Frolunda after four years at the University of Maine, said Jeremy Roenick called Oliver on Thursday night to congratulate him and tell him to "keep having fun, keeping trying stuff."

Oliver, who wears Roenick's No. 97, said his two favorite players are J.R. and Ovechkin. Of course, his goal is to one day play in the NHL just like them.

"If he wants to," Joakim said. "If not, that's OK, too."

Oliver's immediate goal is to actually try his now-famous shootout move in an actual game. He hopes to find himself on a breakaway sometime soon so he can see if he can make it work.

"He's become pretty successful with it," Joakim said. "He plays lacrosse and loves lacrosse, so some of that is probably coming from lacrosse with the wrists and stuff. He's got a couple of other moves that have yet to be seen, but I think the fun part of that one is to do it with speed. Standing still is one thing, but doing it with speed is another."

Perhaps the only thing more amazing than the goal was Oliver's gall in trying it.

It was only the first round of the finals of the TD Bank Mini One-on-One event in Boston. The event won't be aired on NESN until Oct. 29 when the Bruins host New Jersey, so Joakim couldn't reveal what other moves his son tried in the event or if he won.

Suffice to say, Oliver has more and we should all be watching.

Yeah, that means you too, Mr. Ovechkin.

"I think that's what we were all shocked over, the nerve to do it first in a best out of three," Joakim said. "He doesn't function that way. He just does whatever he feels like. He's all about fun. He was nice and relaxed and, well, he did it."

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com

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