East Meadow, NY– In a season cut short due to injury, there weren’t many highlights in 2022-23 for New York Islanders forward Oliver Wahlstrom.
However, one of his most memorable moments came a year ago today against the Philadelphia Flyers when he dropped his gloves and then dropped Tony DeAngelo.
Emotions were already high between the Metropolitan Division rivals, with tensions gradually heating up as the game wore on.
While Romanov’s hit appeared to be high while watching at full speed, it’s clear that he made contact with Hayes’ shoulder when the play is slowed down. Nonetheless, Nicolas Deslauries took exception to the hit and jumped Romanov, starting a melee.
As the two teams converged, DeAngelo went directly to Wahlstrom and began throwing punches before Wahlstrom could even turn his head.
“I was just checking in to see if Romanov was good after a weird hit, and I got jumped,” Wahlstrom said. “It’s part of the game, so you always got to be ready.”
As soon as Wahlstrom was able to get his gloves off, he took it right back to DeAngelo with a combination of lefts and rights.
DeAngelo tried wrestling Wahlstrom to the ice once he realized he was outmatched. That proved pointless, though, as Wahlstrom tossed him around like a dog with a chew toy.
The fans at UBS Arena were elated while watching the bout, and so were the Islanders.
“I think everyone gets energy off that,” Noah Dobson said. “Especially at home when the crowd gets into it. It can definitely give you a boost and get things going.”
Wahlstrom’s fight with DeAngelo was the fifth of his career. Although he trains in MMA to stay in shape and maintain his cardio, Wahlstrom doesn’t consider himself a fighter. Rather, it’s an ability he keeps in his back pocket when needed.
“If I really have to [I can], but I’m not really ever looking for it,” Wahlstrom said. “I grew up in Maine, so I was always feisty with my friends. I guess I kind of know how to protect myself.”
Fights are becoming increasingly less frequent in the NHL these days as the league continues to shift to a game predicated on speed and skill. However, fighting is a skill in itself.
On the surface, it may look as simple as two players hitting each other in the face as hard as possible, but it’s an art form that is as nuanced as anything else in hockey.
“The guys that actually do fight, it’s an art when you look at it,” Wahlstrom said. “There’s a certain way you have to grab a guy. There are certain ways to stay in and certain ways to protect yourself. I have a lot of respect for the guys who do that often.”