Hershey Bears’ left wing Nathan Walker was on the verge of his first career promotion. Now he will sit for the next four to six weeks due to an unlucky injury.
On Saturday, Walker broke his hand after blocking a shot in the Bears 4-2 win over the Springfield Thunderbirds.
The tiny but pugnacious Australian has tallied nine goals and 10 assists this season with the Bears, after getting a career best 41 points last season.
Friday night, the Hershey Bears jumped all over their rival, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, to the tune of a 5-2 victory. The win extends Hershey’s point streak to ten games and pushes the Bears atop the AHL’s Atlantic Division.
Two quick first period tallies from Australian Nathan Walker and Chandler Stephenson set the tone and the Bears never really looked back from there.
Recently demoted Caps prospect, Zach Sanford got the game-winning goal later in the second period, his second AHL goal. Zach Sill and Garrett Mitchell added the remaining two tallies. Vitek Vanecek earned the win in goal for the Bears stopping 26 shots
The Hershey Bears were able to beat the Springfield Thunderbirds 5-2 in the first leg of a home-and-home, Friday night. The Bears would receive a strong outing from goaltender Joe Cannata stopping 25 of 27 shots.
Liam O’Brien began the scoring for the Bears early in the first. After Springfield finished the period up 2-1, the Bears would score four unanswered goals to win the game 5-2.
The Hershey Bears were able to snap their three-game skid Wednesday night in Utica, beating the Comets 4-2. Capitals prospect Nathan Walker scored two goals, including the game-winning tally. Recent ECHL call-up Domenic Monardo added two assists.
The Bears’ first goal was scored by Liam O’Brien on a fire drill in front of the net.Hershey would increase their lead later in the period on a Chris Bourque five-on-three power play goal with assists from Paul Carey and Jakub Vrana.
The assist marked Carey’s 12th point of the year in 13 games. Vrana’s assist would bring his season point total to ten. Walker now has four goals and four assists on the year. Bears Goalie Joe Cannata stopped a total of 19 shots against his former team.
The Hershey Bears did their best Washington Capitals impression Sunday evening, besting the Rochester Americans 5-3 to win their fifth straight game. They swept their weekend three-in-three. After losing four of their first five, Hershey has cruised to a 6-2-2 record while recording points in eight straight outings including Sunday.
Five different Bears scored goals for Hershey, and eight others got assists. Christian Thomas would score a first period goal for the Bears for the second time in two nights on a nice backhand feed from prospect Chandler Stephenson. Riley Barber added to the Bears lead later in the first on a tip in front of the net off a Chris Bourque centering pass, his third goal of the season. Along with two tallies from Rochester in the second, Nathan Walker would get his second goal of the year on a Zach Sill pass from behind the net.
Bears Captain Garrett Mitchell scored the fourth goal for the Bears at the beginning of the third on a nice little drop pass from Sill, a goal that would end up being the game-winner. Sill ended the game with two assists. Aaron Ness added an insurance power play marker with a little over eleven minutes left in the game.
Goaltender Joe Cannata made 21 stops in the victory, posting his fourth win of the season.
The Hershey Bears won their first game of the 2016-17 AHL season, defeating the Bridgeport Sound Tigers 5-2 at GIANT Center, Saturday night. Five different Bears scored including several top prospects. 2014 third-round pick Nathan Walker netted his first goal of the season after going one-on-one with a Sound Tiger defenseman and overpowering him to the net. Walker was shoved into goaltender Stephon Williams and the puck somehow went in. Meanwhile Madison Bowey also scored a spectacular empty-net goal in the game’s final minute from the Bears zone. The goal gave Bowey the team lead in points (1 goal, 2 assists). Paul Carey, Aaron Ness (PP), and Brad Malone also scored.
Before tonight’s blowout, the Bears (1-2-0) were outscored 8-4 during their opening two games of the season. They will play rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins tomorrow night.
Nathan Walker has already accomplished a lot of firsts. Walker is the first Australian hockey player to play in the AHL, the first Australian hockey player to be drafted by an NHL team, and the first Australian hockey player to have a snow globe made in his honor as a promotional giveaway. Walker, who was born in Wales but grew up playing ice hockey in Australia, has one last major dream: to become the first Australian to play in the NHL.
If you ask Caps head coach Barry Trotz, it’s not a matter of if, but when.
“He’s going to be a really great story when he plays in the National Hockey League,” Trotz said Monday after practice. “He’ll be the first Australian player who was born in Australia and really started training in Australia. And how he’s done it… I mean, he’ll be an inspiration to a lot of people.”
Trotz’s full comments on Walker are below.
Two seasons ago, Caps prospect Nathan Walker tore his ACL, ending his season early with the Hershey Bears. During the summer, the Capitals asked the Australian forward to rehab in Washington, but Walker needed a place to stay.
Renting an apartment or a hotel would be expensive for a young prospect on an AHL salary. So Caps goaltender Braden Holtby invited Walker to live at his house with his wife and two kids.
Over the last two days, the DC Blizzard dropped two feet of snow in the district and three feet in surrounding areas. The snow forced the cancellation of both Caps’ home games this weekend including tilts against the Ducks and Penguins. That leaves the Caps in a really weird stretch, where they’ll only play one game in 14 days.
Without hockey, the players spent time with their families and messing around on social media. I went ahead and documented it all.
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