Nathan Walker might be Australian but he had the luck of the Irish on his side on St. Patrick’s Day.
The Capitals prospect scored twice, including the game-winning goal, to give the Hershey Bears a 4-2 victory over the Springfield Thunderbirds. He also came tantalizingly close to his first career AHL hat trick.
Walker’s first goal came 52 seconds into the second period to tie the Bears and Thunderbirds at 1. After taking a give-and-go pass from Aaron Ness, Walker faked a shot before curling around the net and scoring on a wraparound. The shot went off Samuel Montembeault’s pad and in.
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) March 18, 2018
Walker’s second goal of the game occurred in 5:27 into the third period. After taking a backpass from Lucas Johansen (who had two assists on the night), Walker ripped a shot past Montembeault to the far side of the net.
Here’s another look.
And now the most AHL play of this whole sequence. While the Thunderbirds had their goalie pulled, Walker had a chance to get a hat trick. Forward Bobby Farnham whiffed on a slap shot from the defensive zone, which went directly to the Aussie forward. Walker shot at the empty net, but a diving Farnham deflected the puck away to the corner.
But the play didn’t end there. Walker went hard into the corner to dig out the puck as the clock went to zero and a scrum broke out. Walker got in a wrestling match with Francois Beauchemin and two players got matching minors for roughing.
The game would mark Walker’s fifth career AHL two-goal game. Walker now has all nine of his goals this season in his last 24 games, including two multi-goal games in his last 11 contests.
More from the Hershey Bears:
The Hershey Bears scored three unanswered goals including two from Nathan Walker in a 4-2 win over the Springfield Thunderbirds on Saturday at Giant Center. The performance marked the eighth multi-goal game in Walker’s professional career.
Springfield struck first and grabbed the only goal of the opening period. On a give-and-go play from the right wing, Chase Balisy sent a head-man pass towards the slot for a streaking Anthony Greco. Immediately off the pass, Greco fired his 26th goal of the season into the cage past Hershey goaltender Vitek Vanecek. Shots after 20 minutes were 10-8 in favor of the Thunderbirds.
Less than a minute into the second period, the Chocolate and White drew even on Walker’s first of the night. Walker entered the offensive zone on a rush along the left wing and fed Aaron Ness along the center point. After receiving the return pass, Walker danced around the net on a quick wraparound and buried the equalizer at 52 seconds.
At 3:11, the Thunderbirds quickly regained the lead. Immediately following an offensive zone face-off, Jayce Hawryluk snapped the puck back to Dryden Hunt, who blasted home his 17th goal of the season.
Hershey quickly responded with two goals and gained their first lead of the night. On a shorthanded rush, Ness found Dustin Gazley along the left wing and he snapped a shot past the glove of Samuel Montembeault at 4:34.
Only 53 seconds later, the Chocolate and White grabbed their first lead of the night. Lucas Johansen crossed the blue line and dropped a pass to Walker. A quick wrist shot into the net gave Hershey a 3-2 lead they would eventually carry into the second intermission. Shots were tied at 18 after 40 minutes.
Wayne Simpson added an insurance tally for the lone strike in the third period at 12:01. After an offensive zone draw was won to Johansen along the right point, he fed Liam O’Brien along the half boards. O’Brien found Simpson uncontested in the slot for the quick blast into the net for his 13th goal of the season.
The Bears outshot the Thunderbirds, 29-24. Hershey improved their record to 27-29-4-5 on the season, while Springfield slides to 28-30-5-1. The win was Hershey’s sixth straight victory on St. Patrick’s Day.
Hershey returns to the ice tomorrow afternoon to finish their current three-in-three stretch. The Bears will travel north on I-81 to battle their instate rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Puck drop is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. from the Mohegan Sun Arena.
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