Caps prospect Nathan Walker hopes to put Australia on hockey map

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“The Mighty Ducks,” a hockey-based comedy movie released in 1992, has a footnote that probably isn’t listed on any DVD cases.

It caused a little family upheaval in the Land Down Under.

Wayne and Kerry Walker of Sydney, watched the movie with their sons Ryan, now 26, and Nathan, now 19. Ryan was so taken with the thought of hockey that he wanted to give it a try. Nathan, like many little brothers, wanted to do whatever his older sibling did.

Nothing wrong with any of that, except hockey isn’t what you’d call big in Australia.

“If Alex Ovechkin walked down the street, I don’t think anybody would recognize him,” Nathan Walker said. “The game isn’t very popular at all. Cricket, rugby, some soccer. Those are the three main sports. There’s only a handful who play hockey.”

Nathan Walker waits to take the ice during the Capitals' development camp at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington on Monday, July 9, 2012. (Ryan M.L. Young/The Washington Times)

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Nathan Walker waits to take the ice during the Capitals’ development camp ... more >

Ryan moved to Minnesota to play hockey at the high school level and he’s now back in Sydney. Nathan moved to the Czech Republic when he was 13 to play there before coming to the United States last season to play for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL.

Nathan’s one of 24 players in town for the Capitals’ rookie camp at the Kettler Iceplex, which runs through Monday when the Caps’ rookies square off against the Flyers’ rookies.

Of the 24, Tom Wilson is the one with a strong chance of actually sticking with the Caps this season. He played three games in the playoffs with the big club last season.

Walker and the others are hoping to make enough of an impression to be part of the Caps’ future. An undrafted free agent, Walker probably has more work to do than most, but Caps coach Adam Oates has taken notice.

“He was here two development camps ago,” Oates said. “He looks a little quicker and a little more poised with the puck. He’s someone I’m looking to see how he plays in the game.”

If Walker does make it to the NHL, it would be a first.

According to hockey-reference.com, players from Canada, the United States (37 states plus the District of Columbia) and 37 other countries have been represented on NHL rosters.

There have been two NHL players from Japan and two born in Korea. Indonesia, Taiwan and Haiti are all represented.

Australia? No one. Yet.

“I definitely have a lot of work to do, but I believe if you set your mind to something you can achieve it,” Walker said. “I think I can get to that level one day if I keep working hard, keep pushing hard.”

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