U of Maine hockey gets commitment from 13-year-old YouTube sensation

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The University of Maine hockey program has fallen on hard times in recent years after being one of the most dominant programs of the early 1990s. They’ve never quite had a player like Paul Kariya, who put up 100 points in just 39 games as a true freshman in 1992-93 before going onto a successful NHL career. Well, they might have found their next Kariya, only he probably won't be on campus for a while.

The Black Bears recently picked up a verbal comment from Oliver Wahlstrom, a Maine native who plays for the varsity team at North Yarmouth Academy as a seventh grader. Yes, Wahlstrom, 13, will not even be able to attend the university until the fall of 2019.

If the name sounds at all familiar to you, it is likely because Wahlstrom first burst onto the hockey scene as the 9-year-old youth hockey player who pulled this incredible shootout move in a skills competition hosted by the Boston Bruins.

Wahlstrom received national attention for that remarkable lacrosse-style move and even appeared on some of the morning news shows to talk about it. As of today, that video has more than 4 million views on YouTube.

Two years later, Wahlstrom wowed the crowd at TD Garden in Boston again when he pulled this move:

Now Wahlstrom will receive attention for being the youngest player in the country currently committed to a college hockey program. Of course, verbal commitments are not binding and Wahlstrom could change his mind someday over the next five years. Regardless, any time a player not even in high school commits to a college athletics program, it raises eyebrows.

College hockey recruiting, due in part to competition with Canadian major junior and amongst other schools, has seemingly created more and more early commitments, but few have ever approached this level of youth.

“Oliver is a very special player who has done well for us this year despite facing much older competition," North Yarmouth head coach Eric Graham in a press release from the school. "His skating ability and ice awareness have allowed him to not only compete at the prep level, but get noticeably better in every game he’s played. His skill set is exceptional, and his approach to the game is mature well beyond his years. As serious as he is about hockey, he has a pure love of the sport which becomes clear whenever he steps on the ice. He loves scoring goals, and he loves having the puck on his stick. The University of Maine has landed a great talent and person in Oliver Wahlstrom.” 

The other factor in this commitment is Wahlstrom’s father Joakim played for the University of Maine in the late 1980s and also played in the Swedish professional ranks. The family also currently resides in Maine. So it’s hardly a surprise a young player wants to follow in his father’s footsteps and play close to home, but a lot can happen in five years.

Now scoring amazing goals on YouTube as a youth hockey player is one thing. Turning into a college hockey star is another. Kevin Roy, however, recently was able to prove that sometimes you can turn YouTube stardom into actual college hockey success.

Roy, who was selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the fourth round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, made the Hockey East All-Rookie team last year with 34 points in 29 games as a freshman at Northeastern University last year. He already has 26 points in 20 games for the Huskies this season.

The current Northeastern star, who cut his teeth in the United States Hockey League with the Lincoln Stars before heading to school, first came to hockey notoriety for this YouTube video shot when Roy was 13 years old and taking part in a skills competition similar to the one Wahlstrom did. It has over 1.4 million views.

Since Wahlstrom, who was born in 2000 (!), still has a ways to go, it’s anyone’s guess if he’ll have been worth recruiting so young or if he ever makes it to Maine’s campus at all. A 13-year-old making such a big life decision is bound to make a lot of people uncomfortable (me included), but even at a young age Wahlstrom has been in the spotlight before, and if this is any indication, he’ll be in it again in the very near future.

(h/t @OTBPuckWatch, @jrhockeywriter)

CBS Sports Writer

Chris Peters has been a hockey writer for CBS Sports since 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for numerous outlets and edited the United States of Hockey blog, covering the sport at all levels. Peters also... Full Bio

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