Day: August 27, 2016

Nathan Walker aims to be first Australian in NHL


Washington Capitals prospect Nathan Walker is aiming to make history by becoming the first Australian player to reach the NHL.

“All my friends back home, the hockey community there, they’re all rooting for me.” Walker told CSN Mid-Atlantic on Thursday. “Every time I go home, they keep asking me when that first [NHL] game is gonna happen. It’s a really close hockey community back home, so it’d be pretty big.”

Walker, a forward, was a third-round pick (No. 89) by the Capitals at the 2014 NHL Draft. At 5-foot-8, 186 pounds, he is a natural left wing but spent some time playing center with Hershey of the American Hockey League last season. He had 17 goals, 24 assists and a plus-20 rating in 73 regular-season games, and two goals and three assists in 20 AHL playoff games.

One of his two goals in the playoffs was a game-winner that sent Hershey to the Calder Cup Final, where it lost to Lake Erie.

“I think that’s one of the biggest attributes in my game, is my speed,” Walker said. “I like to be a so-called pest out there and try to get under guys’ skins and do my job that way and chip in [offensively] every now and then I guess when I can.”

He’s already the first Australian to be selected in the NHL Draft. Next up is an opportunity to make more history and make the Capitals roster out of training camp.

“That’s definitely the goal I have set in mind,” Walker said. “I’m just [going to] come to camp, try to be the best shape I’ve ever been in and work hard and just take it day by day there.”

Chinese hockey team ready to make KHL home debut in Beijing


After an away match against HC Amur in the Russian city of Khabarovsk, Red Star Kunlun will make its home debut at the LeSports Center in Beijing, playing its first hockey match as part of the KHL on September 5.

The wheels were set in motion for the Red Star back in June, when an agreement was signed between the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China that allows a Chinese team to enter the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).

Although the KHL is based and managed in Russia, where most of the teams are based, it has teams from European countries such as Finland, Croatia, Slovakia, and Latvia as well. However, the addition of an Asian country such as China brings a whole a new dynamic into the mix.

Many would expect travel times to be an issue, but it is important to remember that the KHL is divided into East and West conferences, which minimizes long distance travel for both players and fans alike.

Despite earlier reports claiming that China’s arena, which was constructed for the 2008 Olympics, would not be ready in time to host KHL games, it now seems that everything will go ahead according to plan.

“Preparation of the arena is well underway. It is already perfectly set up for KHL matches of the highest level. Kunlun Red Star’s first match will take place at the LeSports Center and nowhere else,” a press officer for the Chinese club said.

Though the LeSports Center has a maximum capacity of 18,000, it will be reduced to 14,000 for KHL matches. It will still be the second largest venue in the league, however, coming in just behind the Minsk-Arena in Belarus, which is home of Dynamo Minsk and holds 15,000 spectators.

China’s entry into ice hockey sees the country continue a trend of investing in more popular sports.

China’s new super-rich Super League has already managed to attract top soccer players from around the world as part of the country’s strategy to win the World Cup by 2050.

Whether China’s move into the KHL is the first step in a plan to enter