SUN Hockey Pool

My way, Norway

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:14 AM ET

By earning a roster spot with the Edmonton Oilers, rookie Patrick Thoresen is enjoying his proverbial 15 minutes of fame.

Back in Norway, a country that produces NHL players less often than kids north of the 49th parallel make it to the NBA or NFL, Thoresen has got the country abuzz by landing a job with the Oilers.

There's a TV crew, from NRK Sports, chronicling Thoresen's every move going into the Oilers 2006-07 season-opener against the Calgary Flames at Rexall Place tomorrow. There's a newspaper reporter from Oslo doing likewise.

The 22-year-old forward admits it'll all be quite a kick, but he's determined to be more than a man-bites-dog feature piece or a flash in the pan. The kid who's been the surprise of pre-season says he intends to stick around and let his story play out awhile.

That would be a first back home.

"It's great," smiles Thoresen of the spotlight he's under. "When I came, I set myself the goal that I wanted to make the team. Now that I've done that, I'm going to set myself new goals.

"I want to try to stay on this team. If I don't prove that I belong here, they're going to send me down, so I set new goals and said to myself that I'm going to stay for the whole season."

Only four players born in Norway have ever worn an NHL jersey. If you know any of them beyond Espen Knutsen, a forward who toiled with Anaheim and Columbus for a combined 207 games, you're a trivia buff or from Norway - the others are Anders Myrvold, Bjorn Skaare and Ole Tollefsen.

Thus, all of the attention, plus the fact Thoresen first made headlines in Oslo as a whiz kid when he became the youngest player ever to score a goal as a professional in Norway, accomplishing it as a 15-year-old before he played in the QMJHL with Moncton and Baie-Comeau.

"It started there with a lot of publicity," Thoresen said. "It took two years until I left Norway and went to the juniors. It was the best thing I ever did, going to the QMJHL."

While Thoresen, a free agent signing by the Oilers June 1, will begin his NHL career as a fourth-liner, Morten Stenberg of NRK Sports says such modest beginnings are big news in Oslo.

"It's really big at the moment," said Stenberg, who'll follow Thoresen through the home-opener against the Flames and Saturday's rematch in Calgary. "Of course, he has been well known for seven years because of his historic goal in Norway.

"The Edmonton Oilers are not what we call a Donald Duck club. The Anaheim Mighty Ducks, that's a Donald Duck club. Edmonton is the biggest, for us, because of the history, the championships of the 1980's and also Wayne Gretzky."

Having survived the final cut yesterday - Marc-Antoine Pouliot got a ticket to the minors as the Oilers trimmed their roster to the 23-man limit - the five-foot-11, 188-pounder admits he's pumped.

"For sure, my dad's going to stay up," he said of Saturday's game, which will be available on the Internet at 4 a.m. in Norway.

"I guess other people, too, will watch the game. This is pretty huge for Norwegian sport, so I'm glad it's me."


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