Oliver Wahlstrom of Yarmouth first gained notoriety four years ago when he scored an amazing lacrosse-style goal during the Mini One-on-One competition that airs on NESN between periods of Boston Bruins games.
The 9-year-old laid his hockey stick on the ice, balanced the puck on the blade of his stick and elevated his stick before doing a 360-degree spin and launching the puck into the net past the startled goalie. A published report said it has received four million hits on YouTube.
A year later, in another Mini One-on-One, he dragged the puck behind him and between his legs before elevating the stick to shoulder level and balancing the puck on the blade of his stick, moving it back and forth until he flipped it behind the goalie.
Now 13, Wahlstrom is believed to be the youngest hockey player to ever to commit to a school when he verbally committed to attend the University of Maine Thursday.
The 5-foot-9, 150-pound son of former Black Bear forward Joakim Wahlstrom and wife Penny (Seely) is currently playing left wing on the top line for the North Yarmouth Academy varsity team as a seventh-grader.
North Yarmouth Academy plays in the New England Prep School Athletic Conference in hockey so it isn’t required to meet Maine Principals’ Association guidelines pertaining to the use of underage players.
“He’s a pretty special player because of his skill set,” said NYA head coach Eric Graham. “He’s pretty well advanced for his age. He has great ice awareness. He has the ability to see a play develop. He is very strong on his skates and has great speed. He has a heavy shot and a great release on it. And he works on his shot all the time.”
Graham said Wahlstrom’s maturity is “off the charts,” which has helped him to fit in with the older players.
“He is a great team guy and he works really hard so the kids have embraced him. He is really focused,” said Graham. “It’s great for us to see him live out his dream.”
Wahlstrom has three goals and six assists in 10 games and also plays on the power play.
Wahlstrom said Maine is an ideal fit for him.
“I thought the campus was great. I liked their training facility and the coaches are unbelievable,” said Wahlstrom, who is an outdoors enthusiast, which also played into his decision.
“I don’t like cities that much. I love the woods, hunting, fishing and playing golf,” said Wahlstrom, who spends parts of his summer attending hockey clinics and training in Sweden, his father’s homeland.
Joakim Wahlstrom said he understood it is early for his son to commit to a school but he said “so many things made sense for us.
“He isn’t a city boy. He’s a humble, quiet kid who likes to fish and hunt. Orono is a safe place for him. Penny and I went to school there. There are few distractions. It’s a great environment for him. It all came down to what he wanted to do,” said Joakim Wahlstrom.
“The hockey piece is a no-brainer, as is the education he will receive at Maine,” he added.
The Wahlstroms went through the proper channels under the NCAA guidelines by contacting the coaches, arranging an unofficial visit and paying for it.
Eileen Flaherty, UMaine’s associate athletic director for compliance and its senior woman administrator, said NCAA guidelines allow potential student-athletes of any age and their parents to contact and talk to the coaches and visit the school at their own expense, which is what occurred.
Coaches aren’t allowed to return calls or call recruits until June 15 after their sophomore seasons.
Joakim Wahlstrom, who was recruited by current assistant Jay Leach and played in the 1988-89 and ’89-90 seasons, said he was very impressed with the dramatic upgrade in facilities at Maine, including the Alfond Arena and the dining halls.
And he feels his son will receive top-notch coaching.
Oliver Wahlstrom’s coming to Maine is contingent upon his acceptance into the school and meeting NCAA eligibility requirements. The earliest he would come to Maine would be the 2019-20 season.
Verbal commitments are nonbinding.