Las Vegas Golden Knights rookie defenceman Zach Whitecloud couldn’t have picked a better time to score his first NHL goal.
Stepping up on Thursday, August 6th during Cup qualifiers round robin play, Whitecloud, who is only 23 years-old had a night to remember. Not only did he step up physically by dishing out a team high five hits, but he also scored his first NHL goal in what was a critical 6-4 win against the defending Stanley Cup champions St. Louis Blues.
Playing at Rogers Place in Edmonton Alberta, Whitecloud made his mark early in the third when just past the two- minute mark, he successfully took a pass from line- mate Nicholas Roy and scored to make it at the time a 4-4 game.
“It’s definitely fun to contribute and obviously (do so) at a time like that,” Whitecloud said. “But, I mean, at the end of the day, you score your first one, you just have to get back to work right away.”
Following the game, Whitecloud received some glowing reviews from his Vegas coach Pete DeBoer.
“Offence isn’t a huge part of his game, but his game has come so far just in the two, three months that I’ve seen him play,” DeBoer said. “And he’s adding pieces to it every game. It was a big goal at a big time for us.”
Recognized for his hard work, Whitecloud, who was originally undrafted, signed on March 8th, 2018, a three- year $4.475 contract. Less than a month later, this Brandon Manitoba resident fulfilled a life long dream when on April 5th, he made his NHL debut and posted a plus 3 in a 4-3 loss against the Edmonton Oilers.
The following season Whitecloud played in the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves where he scored six goals, 28 points along with 52 penalty minutes in 74 games. This year, he played 35 games with Chicago before finding himself back in the NHL, where he registered one assist in 16 regular season games with the Golden Knights.
Currently Whitecloud is averaging just under 20 minutes of ice time per game during the Golden Knights first round playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks. He has posted two points and has shown no fear in blocking shots.
You can bet that people in the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, where Whitecloud was raised, will be closely rooting for this blueliner during the Golden Knights run to a Stanley Cup.