When Nathan Walker was 6 years old, he laced up his in-line skates to play organized hockey for the first time in his hometown of Sydney, Australia.

His relentless, havoc-causing playing style quickly earned him the nickname Stormy.

"He used to skate the fastest from one end of the rink to the other, causing a storm," said Walker's mother, Ceri. "The name has stuck with him since then."

Still playing with the same seemingly endless energy, Walker is eager to make a name for himself with the Washington Capitals as the first Australian to play in the NHL. The 23-year-old left wing is scheduled to make his debut Saturday in the home opener against the Montreal Canadiens at Capital One Arena (7 p.m. ET; CITY, TVA Sports, NBCSWA, NHL.TV).

Walker, who was born in Cardiff, Wales, before moving with his family to Sydney when he was 2, understands that his first NHL game will be significant not only for him and his family but also for Australia.

"I'd be pretty proud to represent not only myself, but the country and Australian hockey as well," Walker said this week. "It would be something to get Aussie hockey on the map."

Hockey ranks well behind soccer, rugby and Australian-rules football in popularity in his country, which has a population of more than 24 million, but Walker has become the sport's key figure there.