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.
During the first half of the Super Bowl, my favorite commercial was the Avocados From Mexico First Draft Ever ad. It was almost as funny as Chapelle Show’s Racial Draft. Taking place 4 billion years ago (give or take), Jerry Rice, Doug Flutie, and a caveman comment while delegations from across the planet make their animal selections.
Australia was up first and selected the kangaroo.
Photo: Hershey Bears
Nathan Walker is the first Australian to be drafted by an NHL team. Someday he’ll be the first Australian to play in the NHL, but right now, Walker is the first Australian to play in the American Hockey League.
The Hershey Bears are doing something to honor that fact. On Saturday, the Bears will be giving snow globes away to the first 5,000 fans.
The globes will showcase Walker. Also: a kangaroo.
I’m not making this up. Look at this zoomed-in photo below. That really is a kangaroo.
Photo: Alex Brandon
I was working on my new patio on Sunday night, so I missed the entire Washington Capitals/Buffalo Sabres preseason game. Bummer, I know. Luckily for me, Steve Wilhite of CompuServe invented GIFs in the late 80s, so I didn’t to have to miss one of the greatest hip checks ever.
And I’m saying that last part seriously, without hyperbole.
Australian Nathan Walker is teeny-tiny. He’s a baby joey hanging out in his mama’s pouch. But when Walker knocked Vaclav Karabacek heels-over-head on Sunday night, his slight 5-foot-8 frame didn’t matter.
Look at this.
On Wednesday, CSN aired a feature by Jill “Sasha Whisperer” Sorenson on Washington Capitals prospect Nathan Walker. It’s a fascinating piece.
Sorenson documents just how difficult Walker’s road to the NHL has been. There are only 22 ice rinks on the entire (!) continent of Australia. The rink closest to Walker was 45 minutes away– we assume that’s drive-time in a V8 Interceptor Pursuit Special.
But the best part of the story was when Walker told a story about Jakub Vrana from rookie camp.
Photo: Mark Bradford/Wulos
At Friday’s Rookie Camp, Washington Capitals prospect Nathan Walker was asked what the reception was like in Australia after he became the first countryman ever to be drafted into the NHL.
“It wasn’t as big [a deal] as I guess I was expecting,” Walker said to the media, captured by Monumental Network. “As you know, hockey’s not as big down there. I wasn’t making front pages or anything like that. But yeah, I had a couple of gigs and a couple of photoshoots.”
When asked what his weirdest photoshoot experience was, Walker dropped the single best nugget of his young career.
“I wouldn’t say the weirdest one, but the best one was the one where I got to take photos with kangaroos and koalas,” Walker said with a big smile. “That was pretty cool. They were all hoppin’ around everywhere. It was pretty good.”
[Emphasis added because kangaroos “hoppin’ around everywhere “demands to be emphasized.]
I needed to know moar. I needed to see moar. I tracked down Walker’s Australian representation and begged for proof.
Prepare for some of the greatest hockey photos ever to hockey: Aussie edition.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.