Whitecloud honors culture in chasing Golden Knights dream

Updated June 30, 2018 - 5:59 pm

The significance is not lost on Zach Whitecloud, his ethnicity hardly an immense part of NHL history and yet such is a force that drives him up and down a sheet of ice.

“You don’t see many First Nation hockey players,” he said. “But my parents raised me to believe I can do anything with the right mindset and work ethic.

“I’ve wanted this for as long as I can remember.”

Development camp for the Golden Knights concluded with a final scrimmage Saturday at City National Arena, where an all-star game broke out and Team White beat Team Grey 11-6. Which means goalies coach David Prior probably has more film to watch than he would prefer this time of year.

From here, most of the 42 players who began the week prepare for their next step on the ladder of professional advancement.

It’s a long and tough climb. Most never reach the top.

Whitecloud is nearly at it.

More than his dream

He owns the same dream as the rest, that he will ultimately make and stick to the team’s 23-man roster, a defenseman who actually played a game for Vegas last season after being signed as a college free agent in March out of Bemidji State in Minnesota.

He would see 16:42 of ice time against Edmonton and then sit and watch the team’s improbable run to the Stanley Cup Final, ineligible to compete after not being on the reserve list at the trade deadline.

There is every chance he will get a serious look come training camp, be it for unknown roster moves that could occur in the coming days or just the fact he proves himself worthy.

All the while, he will remember his roots and what his pursuit means to so many.

He was born in Brandon, Manitoba, and raised in the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation. In Canada, those from First Nation are the predominant indigenous peoples south of the Arctic Circle. While hockey has some influence across all of the country’s 10 provinces and three territories, it doesn’t always present the same advantages.

“It’s very important to me to get in touch with my culture because of where things are between Canada and North America in general right now,” Whitecloud said. “A lot of our communities are facing tough times. A lot of youth with little hope.

“Kids need a chance. They need help, opportunities. I wasn’t given everything, but I also wasn’t at the bottom of the food chain. I want to teach them that it’s all about how hard you work and view life. If I can instill in them to do something good today, then they will do something good tomorrow. Just live the right way.”

Building his body

He has certainly done the right things chasing a roster spot, a 21-year old who arrived from college a gangly 6 feet 2 inches, 189 pounds, but who weighed in at 206 this week.

He has learned about training and nutrition and that the body he had in March wouldn’t last very long in the NHL.

“I came in as a kid,” he said. “The body is not exactly that of a man just yet, but we’re working toward that state.”

Whatever happens during the free agency period, whatever potential trades Vegas might make that could include some of its top defensive names, could determine how realistic a chance Whitecloud would own of making the roster out of camp or, more likely, being sent to the American Hockey League affiliate in Chicago.

Or, does it simply come down to him trying to beat out the likes of, say, Brad Hunt for a spot?

Coaches liked what they saw from Whitecloud this week. Called him a sponge. Liked the way in which he put on weight and still kept his speed and mobility. Liked how he saw the ice and passed.

They absolutely love his character.

“I thought he really looked good, but you have to think that 2½ years ago, Zach was playing in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League,” said Wil Nichol, director of player development for the Knights. “Then he plays two years at Bemidji, a great program, but he still has quite a bit ways to go up. We’re real confident he’s going to keep (progressing).”

For now, Whitecloud heads home, intent on taking whatever evaluation coaches offered this week and working to improve, perhaps even finding opportunity to address some of those youth he believes need more of a chance in life.

Then he will return to Las Vegas for training camp, his goal to make it and stick.

“If you’re not coming back with that mindset,” he said, “then what are you doing here?”

More Golden Knights: Follow Golden Knights coverage at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

Golden Knights Videos
Golden Knights Break Losing Streak At Home - VIDEO
The Golden Knights break their home losing streak and beat the Nashville Predators 5-1 with Subban at net.
Golden Knights snap losing streak, defeat Nashville 5-1
The Vegas Golden Knights snapped a 5-game losing skid when they defeated the Nashville Predators at home, 5-1. Head coach Gerard Gallant and players discuss the win at the T-Mobile Arena.
Golden Edge: The Golden Knights Lose Their Fifth Straight at Home
For the first time in franchise history, the Vegas Golden Knights lost their fifth straight game at home. This time they fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs, 6 to 3. Video produced by Heidi Fang
Golden Knights on what they need to end losing streak - VIDEO
After suffering their fifth consecutive home loss, the Vegas Golden Knights talk about what went wrong against the Toronto Maple Leafs and what the team needs to end its losing streak. Video produced by Heidi Fang
Gallant Talks Improving Knights Game After Fourth Straight Home Loss - VIDEO
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant talks to media after practice about what the team needs to improve on in order to win at home against the Maple Leafs.
Golden Knights ready to celebrate Valentine's Day
Even though they have a game on Feb. 14, Marc-Andre Fleury and Ryan Reaves are ready to spoil the ones they love this Valentine's Day.
Gallant Ramps Up Golden Knights Practice - VIDEO
Gerard Gallant ramps up practice for the Golden Knights as they have suffered four straight losses at home.
Golden Knights Fall to Coyotes for Fourth Straight Home Loss - Video
The Golden Knights lose their fourth straight game at home with a 5-2 loss against the Coyotes. After the game, head coach Gerard Gallant spoke with players after the game in the locker room. Golden Knights reporters Adam Hill and Ben Gotz go over the loss and what the players said after the game.
Gallant delivers scathing response to media following the team's loss - VIDEO
Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant was furious following the team's loss to the Arizona Coyotes and gave a scathing response to a question asked during his postgame news conference. The loss marks the team's fourth straight loss at home, which ties the franchise record.
Golden Edge Mailbag - February 12, 2019 - VIDEO
Ben Gotz and Adam Hill answer all your burning VGK questions and comments here on the Golden Edge Mailbag
Gerard Gallant Talks About Trade Deadline - VIDEO
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant responds to a question about the trade deadline and what it means for the team.
Golden Knights Practice Before Game With Coyotes - VIDEO
The Golden Knights skate on the ice a day before their game with the Arizona Coyotes while the trade deadline comes closer. Golden Knights reporters Ben Gotz and David Schoen go over what to expect from the Knights before trade deadline and William Carrier's return to the ice.
Golden Edge: Golden Knights lose their third straight at home
Adam Hill and Ben Gotz recap the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 loss to the Blue Jackets and talk about the team losing their third straight home game.
Gallant, Golden Knights players reflect on their loss to the Blue Jackets
Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant says what went wrong against the Columbus Blue Jackets and the players assess their performances and the team's mental state at this point in the season.
Gallant talks about losing streak
Gerard Gallant talks about breaking a four-game losing streak. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on finishing road trip
Gerard Gallant talks about finishing the road trip on a high note. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gerard Gallant talks about the win over Detroit
Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about the 4-3 win over Detroit on Feb. 7, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights End Road Trip With A Win Over Red Wings, 4-3 - VIDEO
The Golden Knights ended the team's four-game road trip with a win in Detroit, defeating the Red Wings 4-3.
Gallant on Karlsson
Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about William Karlsson. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights Break Four Game Losing Streak - VIDEO
The Golden Knights win with a comeback victory and Tuch scoring the only goal during a shootout. Golden Knights reporters David Schoen and Adam Hill break down the game including Ryan Carpenter being escorted off the ice after hitting his head.
Gallant on breaking the losing streak
Gerard Gallant talks about breaking a four-game losing streak agains one the NHL's best teams. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on Valentin Zykov's goal
Gerard Gallant talks about Valentin Zykov's goal against Tampa Bay on Feb. 5, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-journal)
Gallant on penalty killing
Gerard Gallant talks about the Golden Knights' penalty killing against Tampa Bay on Feb. 5, 2019. (Davis Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Edge Mailbag: Defense Problems? - VIDEO
Ben Gotz and Adam Hill answer all the burning questions about the Golden Knights.
Gerard Gallant on facing Tampa Bay
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant on facing the Tampa Bay Lightning. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gerard Gallant on Valentin Zykov
Golden Knight coach Gerard Gallant talks about Valentin Zykov. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on next game after loss to Panthers
Coach Gerard Gallant talks to reporters after Knights loss to Panthers. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on big plays hurting Knights in loss to Panthers
Coach Gerard Gallant talks to reporters after Knights loss to Panthers. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on breakaway goals in loss to Panthers
Coach Gerard Gallant speaks to media after Knights loss to Panthers. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on loss to Panthers
Coach Gerard Gallent speaks about Knights loss to Panthers. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Maxime Lagace talks about the loss to Carolina
Golden Knights goaltender Maxime Lagace talks about the 5-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Feb. 1, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant talks about the loss to Carolina
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about the 5-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Feb. 1, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights' prospect Cody Glass talks about his development
Golden Knights' prospect Cody Glass talks about his development and working to gain a spot in the NHL. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights' prospect Cody Glass talks about the NHL
Golden Knights' prospect Cody Glass talks about pushing for a roster spot in the NHL. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ryan Reaves On Fighting In Hockey - VIDEO
Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves goes over how he fights in hockey and how he scouts out his opponents before games.
Golden Edge Mailbag: Did Bellemare Bite P.K. Subban? - VIDEO
Ben Gotz and Adam Hill answer all the burning questions about the Golden Knights including if Bellemare bit P.K. Subban's hand.
Fleury on boos at NHL All-Star game
Fleury at NHL All-Star game (pokecheck)
Fleury about scooter at NHL All-Star game
scooter incident
Fleury on NHL All-Star game atmosphere
NHL Commissioner Talks Player Tracking Success with Golden Knights - VIDEO
Ahead of the NHL All-Star game, commissioner Gary Bettman discusses how the league implemented player tracking during two Golden Knights games and how the Knights have been a positive impact on hockey.
Subban says Bellemare knows he bit him
Vegas Golden Knights assistant head coach Mike Kelly, right wing Ryan Reaves and Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban tell their sides of the alleged finger biting incident that occurred between Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Subban late in the second period of their game at the T-Mobile Arena.
Golden Knights Fall To Predators, Bellemare Bites P.K. Subban? - VIDEO
The Golden Knights lose 2-1 against the Predators and suffer two straight losses at home and a bizarre end to a second period between Bellemare and P.K. Subban. Golden Knights reporters Ben Gotz and Adam Hill go over the loss and Bellemare's alleged bite.
Golden Knights recap their loss to the Predators
The Vegas Golden Knights speak on their most recent loss to the Nashville Predators, the team's slump in momentum and their mindset as they head into the NHL All-Star break.
Real Estate Millions: Jonathan Marchessault
Vegas Golden Knight Jonathan Marchessault, shows off his Summerlin home.
HyperX Esports Arena hosts "VGK Twitch" event
Vegas Golden Knights players Alex Tuch, Colin Miller, Nate Schmidt and Erik Haula attended the “VGK Twitch” event at HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor hotel-casino on Tuesday. The players battled fans and each other at Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and the members of the Blue Man Group made an appearance as well.
Golden Edge Mailbag: Nick Holden
Golden Knights defenseman Nick Holden takes your questions on our Golden Edge mailbag!
Golden Knights' McPhee, Gallant on trading Brad Hunt to the Wild
Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee and head coach Gerard Gallant addressed trading Brad Hunt to the Minnesota Wild at a news conference on Tuesday.
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Fall for the Third Time in Five Games
The Vegas Golden Knights lose to the Minnesota Wild 4-2. Dave Schoen, Adam Hill, and Ben Gotz report from T-Mobile Arena.
Golden Knights after their loss to the Wild
Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant says the team needs to be tougher in certain areas and the players assess their loss to the Minnesota Wild.
Gallant: The Wild had our number last year
Head coach Gerard Gallant says the Minnesota Wild had the Golden Knights number last year. Tuch talks about the playoff hopes of the Golden Knights and Schmidt chimes in on team's tenacity.
Golden Edge recap: Golden Knights vs. Penguins
Review-Journal reporters Ben Gotz and David Schoen discuss the Golden Knights’ 7-3 win over the Penguins at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday.
Gerard Gallant talks new tech
The Golden Knights coach discussed the new iPad technology expected to be available to coaches after the All-Star break.
Gerard Gallant talks after practice Jan. 18
The Golden Knights coach talked about the team’s upcoming three-game stretch, injuries and the power play.
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Put up Record Amount Shots but Fall Short - VIDEO
The Vegas Golden Knights lose to the Winnipeg Jets 4-1. In the second period the Knights put up a record number of shots on goal but still go back to the locker room down 2-0. David Schoen reports from Winnipeg.
Gallant: Knights played a 'good game' vs. Winnipeg
Gerard Gallant says the Knights played a good game in the loss to Winnipeg on Jan. 15, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on Golden Knights power play
Gerard Gallant talks about the Golden Knight power play vs. Winnipeg on Jan. 15, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gerard Gallant on loss to Winnipeg
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about the team's loss to Winnipeg on Jan. 15, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gerard Gallant on Winnipeg
Gerard Gallant talks about continuing to play good hockey in Winnipeg. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on facing Winnipeg
Gerard Gallant talks about trying to take 2 points in Winnipeg. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
ad-high_impact_4
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like