Zach Whitecloud of Manitoba’s Sioux Valley Dakota Nation has been called to the National Hockey League by the Vegas Golden Knights.
Update: Whitecloud wore his usual No. 2 for the Golden Knights on Saturday night in Nashville and had a solid game. In 13 minutes and 34 seconds of ice time, he was plus-one with a hit, a blocked shot and a takeaway in Vegas’ 3-0 shutout of the Predators.
Whitecloud, who starred with the Brandon Wheat Kings midgets, the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Virden Oil Capitals and the Bemidji State University Beavers has been a top pair defensemen with the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound defender led the AHL last season with a plus 39, plus-minus rating.
A favourite of Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon, Whitecloud is a classic stay-at-home defensemen who also possesses the skills to anchor a power play. He had appeared in 35 games for the Wolves this season and has two goals and seven points.
With the call up, the Golden Knights now have five Manitoba-born players — Cody Eakin (Winnipeg), Mark Stone (Winnipeg), Cody Glass (Winnipeg), Ryan Reaves (Winnipeg) and Whitecloud (Brandon) — and one other Wolves’ player who has been with the big club this year, Keegan Kolesar (Brandon).
Last season with Chicago, Whitecloud had six goals and 28 points in 74 regular season game sand then led the Wolves to the AHL’s Calder Cup championship. During the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs, Whitecloud recorded three goals and 15 points in 22 post-season games.
He made his NHL debut with the Golden Knights at the Edmonton Oilers on April 5, 2018. Whitecloud signed with the Golden Knights on March 8, 2018 after finishing his collegiate career with Bemidji State University.
“I knew what I had to do coming to Chicago and especially, playing with this group,” Whitecloud told Game On Magazine last spring. “Playing with this group, I’ve learned a lot of the lessons you need to learn in order to move up. These guys, many of them veterans, have taught me a lot about being a professional.
“I know that the work I’ve done and continue to do will definitely pay off. I’ve learned from my experience this season about all the little things you need to do every day in order to be a pro.”
All that work paid off on Friday night with the call from Las Vegas.