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Walker's family witnesses history, Capitals fans go wild for Australian

Rookie gets outpouring of love from crowd, scores first goal

by Dan O'Leary @DanOLeary25 / Staff Writer

For one night, Washington D.C. could have been mistaken for Canberra. At least inside of Capital One Arena.

Washington Capitals forward and Australian Nathan Walker made his historic NHL debut Saturday, and the fans made sure his family felt right at home.

Chants filled the arena, fans held signs that read "G'Day, Nate" and one pair of ticket holders even donned Australian flag-themed full body suits.

Tweet from @Capitals: ���� ��#GdayNate! #ALLCAPS

"It was surreal," Ceri Walker, Nate's mother, told after her son became the first Australian player in League history. "We saw the flags. They were chanting 'Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!' in our section. It was a great atmosphere."

Walker, of course, didn't disappoint, scoring a second-period goal by deflecting Devante Smith-Pelly's shot past Montreal Canadiens goalie Al Montoya. It was so subtle, he wasn't initially credited with the goal.

Video: MTL@WSH: First NHL Aussie Walker scores in debut

"We thought it was his (goal). We've watched him play for so long. We know his stance and what he does," Ceri Walker said. "But we thought maybe we were wrong. Then there was an alert, they changed it to his goal. It was absolutely tremendous."

The group Ceri spoke of included Nathan's father, Wayne, Nathan's fiancee, Tayla Billinghurst, Nathan's brother Ryan and his girlfriend, Ellyse, and longtime family friends.

"So many fans had the signs that said 'G'Day Nate,'" Billinghurst told "It was really cool to see. I can't wait to jump online and see all the pictures."

The family's amazing and emotional night, which began with near tears of joy from Ceri when the Capitals sent Walker out to the ice by himself for a few laps to loud applause, was a whirlwind.

"My gosh," Billinghurst said. "I was literally shaking. I am still shaking. We were so excited."

Real-time correspondent Elyssa Morris contributed to this report.

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