First Nation defenceman captures Stanley Cup with Vegas teammates

Wednesday, June 14th, 2023 12:47pm


Image Caption

Zach Whitecloud is a Stanley Cup winner.


“Proud. That’s how I feel right now.” — Zach Whitecloud
By Sam Laskaris
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Zach Whitecloud needs to update his resume.

Whitecloud, a member of Sioux Valley Dakota Nation in Manitoba, recently started blogging. And he also became a Stanley Cup champion on June 13.

Whitecloud is a defenceman with the Vegas Golden Knights. The Vegas squad downed the visiting Florida Panthers 9-3 on Tuesday night.

With that victory the Golden Knights captured their best-of-seven National Hockey League championship series in five games.

Whitecloud blogged about his experiences of participating in the league’s championship final for

“Proud,” Whitecloud wrote in his seventh and final blog submission, after the Golden Knights won the league title. “That’s how I feel right now.”

With a 3-1 series advantage, Whitecloud and his Vegas teammates had a glorious opportunity to capture the Stanley Cup on their home ice on Tuesday.

The Golden Knights led 2-0 after the opening period and were well on their way to victory after building up a commanding 6-1 advantage heading into the final period.

Whitecloud said he didn’t want to get too far ahead of himself.

“I didn't start celebrating until near the end of the game,” he wrote. “In this league, there is no point where the game's over until it's over. I've talked about that multiple times in this blog. It's really easy to look ahead and get excited and get in that mode where it's right there, but you can't let your guard down for one minute. I'm proud of our guys for playing the way we did, and we came out on the right end.”

As per tradition, all members of the league champs take a turn hoisting the Stanley Cup above their heads in on-ice celebrations.

“When I got the Cup, it was everything I thought it would be, and more,” Whitecloud wrote. “I saw it on video games growing up. You dream of it in the backyard on the outdoor rinks. You never think you're going to be able to touch it and hoist it on the ice in the NHL. It's unbelievable.”

For the Golden Knights, who were founded in 2017, this was their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Vegas had also advanced to the 2018 Stanley Cup finals. But the Washington Capitals won the best-of-seven championship final that series in five matches.

Whitecloud, who is 26, joined the Golden Knights’ organization that spring after finishing off his collegiate career at Bemidji State University in Minnesota. Though he played one regular season contest that season with Vegas, Whitecloud didn’t appear in any of the team’s playoff matches that spring.

Whitecloud is obviously thrilled to be part of a Cup championship squad.

“I'm just so proud of everyone in our organization and sticking to what we do well and obviously, this organization always puts good people first and hockey takes care of itself,” he said.

He’s especially thrilled with those who have been with the squad since its inaugural season.

“Those guys set the blueprint for what this organization is and what the culture is,” he said.  “You're proud to see those guys lift it because they have been here since Day 1. But you're proud to see everyone get to lift it. Our equipment staff, our training staff, everyone that puts in long hours to make sure we can perform and be our best. They're the real heroes.”

Whitecloud chipped in offensively for the Golden Knights during their playoff run by earning eight points (two goals and six assists) in 22 games.

Local Journalism Initiative Reporters are supported by a financial contribution made by the Government of Canada.