Sunday, October 9, 2011

Australian makes history in Extraliga debut

With information from Petr Polák of hokej.cz:

Australia's Nathan Walker made history on Sunday when he played for Vítkovice, becoming not only the first Australian to play in the Czech Extraliga, but to play in any European professional hockey league.

Photo: hc-vitkovice.cz.
The 17-year-old left winger, who normally suits up for Vítkovice's junior squad, dressed as the pro club's 13th forward in their home game against Mladá Boleslav. Despite his minor role in the game, he saw more ice time in the third period as his team built up a large lead, and assisted on Denis Rehák's goal, which gave Víktovice an 8-2 lead. They held on for an 8-4 victory.

Walker only found out earlier in the day that he would be making his professional debut. "The coach called me this morning to tell me to come to the game," he said. "I was immediately sure that this was a great chance. I felt a bit nervous, but it was not too bad, because I already played with Vítkovice in training camp and I knew my way around the team."

Walker, who has played in the Czech Republic for five years now, first made news when he scored 6 goals in a Junior Extraliga game last December. Overall, he recorded 40 points in 35 games last year at the junior level. He later represented Australia in the Division 2 World Championships in Melbourne, where he recorded 6 points in 4 games, helping the host nation win the group and qualify for the Division 1 tournament  in 2012 in nearby Krinyca-Zdrój, Poland, where he will presumably play again.

"I doubt that anybody notices in Australia, because there football and rugby are really popular," said Walker about his history-making feat. "Nobody cares about hockey, especially now with the World Cup of Rugby, but for my career it is great to play in the Extraliga," he said, smiling. "It's definitely better competition than in Australia."

Walker hopes that the Czech Extraliga isn't the final stop in his career. "I hope to play the NHL, but it remains to be seen." According to Vítkovice captain Jiří Burger, that's not out of the question. "I think we will hear it mentioned more," he said. "Sure, Nathan is on the small side, but he makes up for it with great skating."

7 comments:

  1. Hi,

    sorry this isn't about your entry, but I couldn't find another way to email you. I'm a Canadian (living in London) who will be visiting Prague next week. I'm in town for 4 nights (October 23, 24, 25 & 26) and was hoping to see a game. I've searched the Internet high and low and have been unable to find a schedule that a)is in English and b) says which team is the home team. If there is a Prague team playing a home team one of those nights could you tell me which one and where I'd have to go to get a ticket? Thanks in advance, Michael Davidson (michaelldavidson@gmail.com)

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  2. Ha.. the whole Ice Hockey community here talks about Nathan. I can't believe he said no one cares... we friggin care!

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  3. Central Coast Stiff Breeze AKA "The Stiffy's"December 8, 2011 at 4:58 AM

    Absolutley AWESOME....Go you good thing!
    Stormy,all of the Australian Hockey community is REALLY proud. Don't let anyone tell you anything different

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  4. Stormy, you are definately followed and your progress and success is talked about, well done you deserve all of the success, look forward to you next big thing

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  5. The Aussie ice hockey community is relatively small, but tight, and we're all enjoying Stormy's rise and rise.

    Just a correction though, there's been many Aussies play pro in Europe. Greg Oddy, Matt Ezzy, Lliam Webster, Mark Rummunkainen, and even Casey Minson in Germany, Adrian Esposito in UK, and some ex-pats such as Robert Starke who played in Netherlands and Yugoslavia before he became an Aussie.

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    1. it is correct, however Nathan is playing the true pro-hockey at one of the highest profile leagues in Europe.

      Netherland, UK etc leagues are so called "retirement hockey-leagues"

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  6. Back in 1985 Melbourne born Glenn Lynch played Div 2 in Germany and set a scoring record of 3 goals in something like 40 seconds.

    Former National Senior Team & Detroit draft pick Jason Elliot also played in Finland.

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