WHEN Nathan Walker was 14, he did something that was beyond brave.
He left his home and family in Sydney for the Czech Republic to pursue a dream.
Now 19, he came to Penrith when back home on a recent visit before returning overseas. That dream is indeed tantalisingly close to being fulfilled.
Walker went to the Czech Republic to play ice hockey and pursue his ultimate dream of becoming the first Australian to play in the US National Hockey League,, the pinnacle.
The former Blacktown Flyer and Sydney Ice Dog has now been invited to a Washington Capitals rookie camp.
Walker has been considered for the past two NHL drafts after impressing during his six seasons in the republic, and a partial season with Youngstown Phantoms in the US Hockey League in 2012-2013.
In the republic, he had to cope with homesickness, He applied himself to learning enough of new languages to get by and has become something of a linguist.
It was quite a homecoming when the player nicknamed Stormy for his speed and aggression visited the Atoms, the youngsters who are future Flyers, at Penrith Ice Palace.
He was the king of the kids, staying for three hours, helping with training, answering their questions and signing autographs.
The Atoms won't need to keep their new-found knowledge on ice.
They can show their stuff when they host a round-robin for other Atom (aged 5-11) teams from NSW and Canberra at the ice palace on Sunday, September 15, 7am-1pm.