Australian-raised Nathan Walker has shown he’s got plenty of Aussie spirit in him after he was involved in a fiery fist fight during an NHL pre-season game.
Walker was playing for the St Louis Blues against the Colombus Blue Jackets in their fourth pre-season game on Friday (AEST) when Walker got hot under the collar.
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The 28-year-old had just provided the assist for Hugh McGing to score the go-ahead goal for St Louis when all hell broke loose in the corner of the ice rink.
A furious Walker ripped off his gloves and started swinging wildly at Colombus’ Gavin Bayreuther.
He kept punching Bayreuther and managed to drag the much taller Blue Jacket to the ground before the referee sent him to the change rooms at the end of the second period.
“McGing gives the Blues the lead and now Nathan Walker is swinging in the near corner with the Blue Jacket Gavin Bayreuther,” the commentator said.
“Everything coming to a head as Walker gets those right hands in, Bayreuther coming back with some rapid punches over the top.
“Walker giving up plenty of size in this battle but we know Nathan Walker’s never on E (empty) as he takes Bayreuther down to the ice. What did we just see?”
Another commentator added: “We saw some old school hockey right there, fans on their feet. Nathan Walker, they’re going to put him in the locker room.
“Releases the strap, team on their feet, pats on the butt all round and the goal song. What a sequence of events right there all started from Nathan Walker.”
Walker had a solid game and continued to press his case to be selected in Blues’ starting side in the fourth line, which traditionally features players who aren’t afraid to get physical.
Despite his fisticuffs, St Louis coach Craig Berube was pleased with Walker’s performance in the Blues 4-2 win.
“(Tyler) Pitlick and Walker, they’ve done a good job providing forechecking and energy for our team and skating and getting on top of people, penalty kill and things like that,” he said.
“I’m pretty happy with it so far.”
Walker became the first Australian to make the NHL in 2017 and won the Stanley Cup in 2018 as part of the Washington Capitals’ roster.
Walker was born in Cardiff, Wales but his family moved to Australia when he was two. It was in Australia he grew up and started his hockey journey that took him all the way to the NHL.
Walker previously represented Australia at World Championships before becoming an NHL player and was drafted for the Capitals in 2014.
In December last year, Walker scored his first hat-trick for St Louis against the Detroit Red Wings.
Growing up, Walker played rugby league for the Cronulla Sharks but moved to the Czech Republic as a teenager in order to chase his NHL dream.
The new NHL season begins next week on October 7.
— With Andrew McMurtry