As kids, Golden Knights players asked Santa for hockey gifts

Updated December 24, 2017 - 3:44 pm

Deryk Engelland remembers waking up as a 6-year-old on Christmas morning and looking under the tree and finding his dream gift — a hockey stick.

But this wasn’t just any stick. This was an Easton black-and-silver aluminum Wayne Gretzky model. After all, what kid didn’t want to be like The Great One? Especially a kid growing up in Edmonton like Engelland.

“My grandparents got it for me,” Engelland said. “It was a pretty good stick.”

The Golden Knights have much to be grateful about as they celebrate their first Christmas as an organization. They are in first place in the NHL’s Pacific Division with 23 wins in their first 34 games and 48 points, looking like a team that will be playing in the postseason.

But when players reflect on their childhood, they recall fond memories of waking up on Christmas morning, usually in frigid conditions, and receiving the gifts they had asked Santa for weeks before. For some like Engelland, it was a stick. For others, it was a pair of skates. For a couple, it was a jersey of their favorite team or a video game. But for all, Christmas and hockey went hand-in-hand.

Sticks and skates

Center William Karlsson grew up in Sweden and wanted a new model stick when he was 12.

“I remember once getting a white Montreal stick,” he said. “I scored a lot of goals with it.”

James Neal is the oldest of five children. The Knights’ forward and leader in goals always expected some sort of hockey present under the tree.

“One year I got this Easton hockey stick,” Neal said. “It was green, and you’d put it over the stove, heat it up, put the blade in it, and you were ready to go. It was one of my favorite sticks.”

Jonathan Marchessault’s birthday is Dec. 27. But he said Christmas in his house meant an upgrade in skates.

“I’d always get the newest model,” he said of the skates. “And because my birthday is two days after, I’d get some sort of equipment or a new stick, something like that. It was always the best Christmas. And they always did it two separate days. It was awesome.”

For defenseman Nate Schmidt, getting his first new pair of skates when he was 12 was his favorite Christmas.

“I was always wearing hand-me-downs,” he said. “So I got these Graf skates, pretty old school. But I remember how much my feet hurt trying to break them in. I never had to break in a pair of skates because the ones I always wore were already broken in. But it was worth the pain, definitely.”

Games and gear

Marc-Andre Fleury must have known he was born to be a goaltender. Fleury said that when he was 5, he got street hockey goalie’s gear for Christmas.

“We would play down in the basement and on the street,” Fleury said.

Fleury said one advantage of being a goalie as a kid was you never had to worry about not being picked.

“You were always chosen, so that was good,” he said.

Malcolm Subban, the Knights’ backup goaltender, said equipment was never found under the tree in his house.

“We got normal Christmas stuff,” Subban said. “Hockey stuff we’d get during the year as we needed it.

“But we got NHL 2003 and a PS2. That was really good. Jarome Iginla was on the cover that year, so I liked playing the Calgary Flames.”

Forward Alex Tuch recalled getting a hockey table game when he was young.

“I got a bubble hockey game when I was 6 or 7,” he said. “I’d always get the NHL video game for Playstation or Xbox. That was fun.”

Coach Gerard Gallant remembered getting a table rod hockey game when he was a kid growing up on Prince Edward Island. Coming from a family of 11, there were no shortage of opponents.

“I was real good,” Gallant said. “Me and my younger brother would play for hours and hours.”

Center Erik Haula said one Christmas his dad went the extra mile for him.

“I was 13, and my dad got me these sticks with my name on them,” he said. “I thought that was pretty cool seeing my name on my stick.”

Forward David Perron said there was never any disappointment on Christmas for him.

“Anytime you got a gift of hockey, it was unbelievable,” he said. “My parents were awesome. We always got what we needed for hockey. But there’d always be a little something extra. Anything with hockey is unreal.”

Contact Steve Carp at or 702-387-2913. Follow @stevecarprj on Twitter.

Golden Knights Videos
Fleury on his three-year extension: To stay in Vegas a long time was big
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said he's glad he'll be a part of the team for a long time. Fleury spoke about signing a three-year contract extension at a news conference at the City National Arena in Las Vegas on Friday.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Thursday, July 5
Las Vegas Morning Update - Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Golden Edge: Free Agency Update
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and Golden Knights beat writer David Schoen go over the latest free agency news from the Vegas Golden Knights.
Golden Edge: Knights Host Scrimmage
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the Knights second day of scrimmage at City National Arena.
Golden Edge: Prospects Prepare For Scrimmage
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the Knights getting ready to participate in a scrimmage for the next few days.
Golden Edge: Previous Prospects Fight For Spot
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over day two of the Golden Knights development camp.
Golden Edge: One-On-One With Reid Duke
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond interviews Golden Knights prospect Reid Duke.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Wednesday, June 27
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Development Camp
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the Golden Knights development camp and how the prospects are looking to improve their game.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Tuesday, June 26, 2018
David Perron, James Neal set to leave Golden Knights
David Perron, James Neal set to leave Golden Knights Perron and Neal were key contributors on the second line for the Knights, helping the expansion team to the Pacific Division and Western Conference championships. Perron’s agent, Allan Walsh, told the Review-Journal on Sunday that the Knights have not made a new contract offer since the season ended. Neal turned down a five-year, $25 million offer from the Knights at the trade deadline, according to the Calgary Sun.
Golden Edge 2018 NHL Draft Recap
Bryan Salmond Recaps The Vegas Golden Knights 2018 Draft picks Rounds 2-7.
Golden Edge : NHL Draft Round 1
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the first round of the NHL Draft picks and the rumors surrounding the Knights recruiting Ilya Kovalchuk.
Golden Knights 2018 NHL Draft Preview
Golden Edge video host Bryan Salmond provides a preview heading into the 2018 NHL Draft and Golden Knights General Manager George McPhee discusses how the team has prepared for it.
Golden Knights Release Schedule For 2018-19 NHL Season
Golden Knights release schedule for 2018-19 NHL season. The Golden Knights will play five of their first six games on the road. The Knights are at Washington on Oct. 10 in a rematch of the Stanley Cup Final and face Pittsburgh the following night. The NHL previously announced the Knights open the season at home Oct. 4 against Philadelphia.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Thursday, June 21
Golden Edge: Knights Take Home Four Awards
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond recaps the NHL awards where the Golden Knights won in four of the categories.
George McPhee On Winning General Manager Of The Year
Golden Knights General Manager George Mcphee talks about winning General Manager of the Year and the Golden Knights.
Deryk Engelland On Winning Mark Messier Award
Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland talks about winning the Mark Messier award how much impact a team can have on a community.
Gerard Gallant On Winning Jack Adams Award
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant talks about winning the Jack Adams award at the NHL Awards.
William Karlsson On Winning The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
William Karlsson goes over the Golden Knights season and him winning the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy.
Bark-Andre Furry meets Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog
Two of NHL's furriest fans met at the Forum Shops in Caesars Palace on Tuesday, June 18, 2018, in Las Vegas. Vegas Golden Knights superfan Bark-Andre Furry and Washington Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog shared a plate of meatballs and spaghetti with help from Logan, "The Girl with the Hat." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Las Vegas Morning Update - Tuesday, June 19
Golden Knights release 2018 preseason schedule
The Golden Knights will be back on the ice at T-Mobile Arena Sept. 16. The team’s 2018 NHL preseason schedule was announced Monday. Scheduled is a matchup with the L.A. Kings — Sept. 20 at Staples Center and Sept. 28 at T-Mobile. Two games against the Colorado Avalanche — Sept. 18 in Denver and Sept. 24 at T-Mobile. Two games against the San Jose Sharks — Sept. 22 at San Jose and Sept. 30 in Las Vegas. The team also announced it will hold its training camp at City National Arena beginning Sept. 13.
Golden Edge Look Ahead: What The Knights Next Season Will Look Like
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond, Review-Journals sports columnist Ed Graney and Adam Hill go over what to expect from the Golden Knights next season.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Thursday, June 14
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Stick Salute To Fans
The Vegas Golden Knights host a fan fest on Fremont Street to celebrate the teams achievements throughout the 2017-2018 season. Fans were treated to live entertainment, free Golden Knights merchandise and the players came out to see fans.
David Perron talks about becoming a free agent
Vegas Golden Knights winger David Perron talked to the news media a day after their season ended in the Stanley Cup Final. Perron said he wants to stay in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Knights' season ends, but accomplishments stand
Take a video tour through the Golden Knights' accomplishments in their inaugural season.
Golden Edge: Knights Reflect On Stanley Cup Loss
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond recaps the Knights emptying their locker room and how the team feels about their season ending with a Stanley Cup loss.
Golden Knights fans give advice to their team
Golden Knights fans give advice to the team as they head into Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final down 3-1 against the Washington Capitals. (Rochelle Richards/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Knights fans swarm T-Mobile Arena for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final
Vegas Golden Knights fans party at Toshiba Plaza outside T-Mobile Arena before Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Washington Capitals on May 30, 2018 in Las Vegas.
Crowd goes crazy moments before puck drop
The crowd at T-Mobile Arena goes crazy moments before the puck drops in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Vegas Golden Knights and the Washington Capitals, Monday, May 28, 2018 in Las Vegas. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights fans swarm T-Mobile Arena before Game 1
Golden Knights fans swarm T-Mobile Arena before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Washington Capitals, Monday, May 28, 2018 in Las Vegas. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ryan Reaves becomes Golden Knights' latest unlikely hero
Ryan Reaves has become the Golden Knights latest unlikely hero. Reaves scored the series-clinching goal in the Western Conference Finals. It was his first goal with the Golden Knights. It came after Reaves sat for Vegas' first nine playoff games. Now he's become a integral part of the team's forecheck. He gets his chance and he goes in there and he played great hockey. It’s not surprising.
Golden Knights’ Fleury tickles Wheeler’s ear during Game 3 scrum
Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury tickled Jets' Blake Wheeler during a scrum in Game 3. The scrum occured behind Vegas’ net with 2:34 left in the second period of the Golden Knights’ 4-2 victory over Winnipeg on Wednesday night Wheeler, whose helmet was off and had his back to the goalie, somehow seemed unfazed. The Golden Knights lead the Western Conference final series 2-1, and host Game 4 on Friday night.
Voices of Golden Knights players welcome visitors at McCarran airport
Four Golden Knights players will start delivering recorded messages this week as part of the “Voices of Vegas” program at McCarran International Airport.
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like