I usually only do one of these posts per week but there’s been a lot happening so you get double your usual lot.
First of all, Doug Wilson Jnr (I promise, we will talk about other Ice players some time but he appears to be the go-to media guy. *shrug*) did another interview with Fox Sports. Points:
Nathan Walker, the undrafted Australian winger playing in Czech Republic, has been invited to #Caps training camp.
— Matias Strozyk (@MaStrozyk) June 27, 2012
This is fantastic. From all accounts it seems that Nathan has the skills to impress. (Corey Pronman, NHL Draft/Prospects writer for Hockey Prospectus and ESPN, rated him at #42 in the draft.) It’s dev camp for prospects rather than actual training camp for the team, but hey! It’s a foot in the door!
And update: Walker won’t be signed because there’s a rule in the NHL CBA (sections 8.9 and 10.1 d) that prevents undrafted European players under the age of 22 from being signed as he’s still draft eligible. However, his could be a similar case to Tomas Hyka, who was undrafted last year, impressed the pants off the Flyers in training camp last year, but wasn’t able to be signed by them. Hyka was picked up this year as a 6th round pick by the LA Kings.
I’d be really interested to see if Walker goes back to the Czech league or goes to Major Junior in Canada (And a further ETA: he didn’t get selected in the CHL draft today. Oh well, next year). I think that playing in North America and being more accessible to scouts, as well as showing that he can cope with the North American game in spite of his size will only improve his chances in the NHL. Hopefully playing well in the Caps Development camp will be sufficient to get him drafted next year.
So that’s really good news. Go Nathan!
For those who follow me on twitter, I’m sorry, I lied. This is the next post on River Road Hockey and it is NOT a post of AIHL players with waffles photoshopped on their heads. Neither is it a post about the Toronto Maple Leafs (sorry, J. I tried, I did, but they’re not my team and all I could come up with was “AhahahahHAAHAHAHA Leafs.”).
Doug Wilson Jnr appeared on ABC Radio, on 774 The Conversation Hour with Jon Faine (beginning at about 19 minutes). Doug Wilson Jnr remains, as always, a delight (and still lol!defensive about the San Jose Sharks. Awww, bless.). Personally, my favourite part is where he chirps Jon for having watched a Canucks game. Then he implies Vancouver are thugs. I KNEW I LIKED YOU FOR A REASON, DOUG WILSON. Y’know. Besides the goals. He still can’t pronounce Goodall (stress on the first syllable, mate), although Sharelle does make note of the fact that someone has schooled him on how to say Melbourne. He’s very diplomatic about Australian refereeing (“It’s an adjustment”). Also, I like the fact that he’s going to use the Trans Tasman Champions League to assess the North Stars, who are probably the Melbourne Ice’s main competition this year. In short, go listen!
Probably not if you’re a Canberra Knights fan. (Sorry, friend D! You get Mike Brown back next week!)
(As a completely unrelated aside before I begin, I’d just like to extend sympathy to the person who found this blog today by searching “Why wasn’t Nathan Walker drafted”. I’M SORRY, RANDOM PERSON. I DON’T KNOW. I WANTED HIM TO BE DRAFTED TOO.)
I’m really happy that the Melbourne Ice got BOTH away games. If you’d asked me before the weekend what I thought the outcome would be, I would have said that the team would have resoundingly thumped the Canberra Knights (Yes. Yes we did. Those penalties are. Um. What the hell HAPPENED? I mean, obviously Canberra were pretty frustrated in the third, but three misconducts with two additional game misconducts? Also, it looks like Joey Hughes is aiming for a personal best in penalty minutes. Last year he got 123 penalty minutes in 28 games. This year, he’s on track for 160+ with 83 minutes in 13 games. Impressive. Jason Baclig got an unassisted shorthanded goal. OUCH. Sorry about your life, Canberra Knights.) but that the game against the Bears would be a toss up–they’re a more difficult team to play than the Knights, it’s the second game in as many days on a road-trip with significant travel.
When we were down by two ten minutes through the 2nd period, my heart sank. But the Ice sparked up and kept on playing. I don’t know what on earth happened in the third–it looks like the Bears stopped playing and from reactions on twitter it seems their relative (lack of) fitness was telling against them. From twitter reports, it seems that they switched goalies in the third only to switch back. Guess that didn’t help much, huh. It’s also nice to see such a relatively penalty free game, although a penalty for too many men, Melbourne Ice? Be better.
As an amusing side note, check out the surnames of the second linesman and the Bears’ #12 player. Oh, AIHL. You remain tiny.
Just for everyone who got here by searching “nathan walker nhl draft”, unfortunately Nathan Walker wasn’t drafted this weekend. There isn’t any news at this time about what his next career moves are, but we’ll be watching with interest.
ETA: There are further developments (invited to Caps Development Camp). I posted about them here in a little more detail.
You may have noticed this blog has been a little quiet this week. Admittedly, it could have been difficult to write about last Sunday’s game, because how much can you really say about perfection? In reality, though, Jane and I have been completely snowed under by our respective jobs this week and just haven’t had the time to write. So here’s a bit of a catch-up post on the events of this week, the games this weekend, and Nathan Walker Draft Weekend.
As you may know, the NHL Draft is taking place this weekend. In any other year I might say “Oh, the draft” and be mildly interested in who the Blackhawks pick, but this year is different. Nathan Walker from Sydney (via the Czech Republic where he’s been playing for the last few years) is set to become the first Australian drafted to the NHL. For me, as well as apparently most hockey-loving Australians, this is practically the entire reason to show an interest in 2012 draft. Oh, there are other people in the draft? Who cares?
The first round of the draft will take place at 9 am on Saturday Australian Eastern Time, but Walker isn’t expected to get picked until round two or three. After the first round, the remaining rounds won’t resume until 12 am Sunday AEST. I’m told the draft can be viewed live online if you have an NHL Gamecenter subscription, assuming you can stay awake until midnight. (I probably won’t.) If you still want more, Walker has profiles on the NHL Draft website and Elite Prospects.
And now to the actual AIHL news…
When the Gold Coast (Brisbane?) Blue Tongues return to the Icehouse on Sunday to play the Melbourne Ice, there are going to be a lot of much-missed players pulling on the skates again for the first time in a while. As I understand it, Ice captain Vinnie Hughes will finally be returning after a six-game suspension – assuming the game that was called off still counts towards his suspension time. And we also have Tommy Powell returning to the Ice for the first time this season after injuring his knee at the World Championships. On the other side, Hewitt Sports are reporting that Blue Tongues goaltender Anthony Kimlin is returning after an injury, too. Add in the teams’ recent history – the Ice’s home ice shutout loss, Greg Bay’s hit on Daniel Szalinski, the cancelled game and subsequent relocation of the Blue Tongues to Brisbane, and this game is a real box of fireworks.