The Norwegian phrase for the term “humiliation” is “Ydmykelsen på grunn.”
That’s exactly what Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen was feeling Thursday night, courtesy of promising Maple Leafs rookie Tyler Bozak.
The Flyers press notes list Tollefsen as only the fifth Norwegian-born player to lace up a pair of skates in the NHL. If that’s the case, it’s a good bet he never saw a move in the Oslo beer leagues like the one Bozak put on him.
With 8:44 remaining in the second period of a scoreless tilt between the visiting Flyers and the host Leafs, Bozak streaked down the right wing into the Philadelphia zone.
The only obstacle standing between Bozak and the Flyers goal was a 6-foot-2 Norwegian defenceman.
Not for long.
Within a blink of an eye, Bozak weaved around Tollefsen, all the while slipping the puck through the big blueliner’s legs.
As you read this, Tollefsen may still be looking for the puck, not to mention his jock strap, which Bozak did a nice job deking him out of as well.
Then, with a flick of the wrists, Bozak picked the top corner on Flyers goalie Michael Leighton who, like much of the throng at the Air Canada Centre, probably was still stunned by Bozak’s highlight-reel manoeuvre.
“That,” summed up linemate Phil Kessel, “has to be the highlight of the night.”
Yes, shock did ripple through the building at the sight of the scoreboard reading 1-0 for the Leafs.
This was, after all, just the 14th time in 48 outings that Ron Wilson’s crew had opened the scoring.
But the significance of this goal ran much deeper than just giving the Leafs a lead, something almost as rare as a Jimmy Hoffa sighting these days.
No matter where the Leafs finish in the standings in 2009-10, this is a season for players to audition for future roles. Brian Burke said as much during an animated press conference Thursday morning, threatening to gut a roster that will feature nine unrestricted free agents this summer, including injured defenceman Mike Van Ryn.
One player who will survive the purge is Bozak, the highly touted college free agent out of the University of Denver inked by the Leafs almost a year ago.
No wonder former Leafs executive Joe Nieuwendyk, now the general manager of the Dallas Stars, spent countless hours wooing Bozak to Toronto last year.
During his playing days, the hall of famer was one of the niftiest stickhandlers in the NHL. As such, he understood that you can’t teach moves like the one Bozak executed for his first NHL goal.
It’s pure talent.
“The guys were joking that I won’t have to lie to my grandkids about how nice my first NHL goal was,” Bozak laughed after the Leafs’ 4-0 win. “It was pretty special, especially it being my first NHL goal and all.”
Bozak showed flashes of his talent with the Leafs during the pre-season but things went downhill from there. He was sent to the Marlies. He was felled by swine flu. Then, after covering from that, he suffered an ankle injury.
Now all that bad luck is just a distant memory.
“It’s definitely been a roller-coaster ride,” said Bozak, who also chipped in with an assist. “But what happened tonight was amazing.”
It certainly was. Just ask Ole-Kristian Tollefsen.