Nearing the end of an emotional pregame ceremony, Deryk Engelland peeled away from his teammates and glided toward the middle of the T-Mobile Arena ice where he took hold of a microphone.
A longtime Las Vegas resident, Engelland gave a short, passionate speech to cap the team’s tribute to the victims of the Oct. 1 shooting on the Las Vegas Strip. After the game he admitted he was a little nervous for the speech. But during it, that was far from evident.
“We are Vegas strong,” he told a T-Mobile Arena crowd that was raw with emotions after a moving ceremony that included a handful of first responders taking the ice with the Golden Knights and 58 seconds of silence to honor each of the victims who passed.
Minutes later, the defenseman’s one-timer — his first goal of the season — put the Golden Knights up two goals. They eventually went on to beat the Arizona Coyotes 5-2 in the franchise’s home opener.
The goal was one the Las Vegan won’t likely soon forget. Engelland, who first played in Las Vegas during the 2003-04 season for the Las Vegas Wranglers, has been a resident of the city since then.
“I probably don’t really plan on scoring too many in games but to be able to get one tonight, it was pretty special for me and it will go down as a top memory in my career for sure,” Engelland said.
Engelland, at the team’s request, addressed the crowd during the pregame ceremony. He was the only player to do so and during his brief speech, he talked about his pride to call Las Vegas — the city where he met his wife and his kids were born —home.
“I know how special this city is,” he told the crowd.
Engelland thanked first responders and appealed directly to family and friends of the victims, speaking on behalf of his teammates as he told them the Golden Knights would do everything they could to help the city heal.
A day before, Engelland spoke about the desire to — for just a couple hours — distract Las Vegans from the tragedy that befell their city just over a week earlier.
Tuesday, Engelland played his role in helping do so.
“We always say we want to help the city start to heal and hopefully we’re doing that,” he said.