EDMONTON – Former Bemidji State University defenseman Zach Whitecloud made his National Hockey League debut Thursday with the Vegas Golden Knights in Edmonton. The Oilers defeated the playoff-bound Golden Knights, 4-3.
Whitecloud logged 16:42 of ice time, recorded a blocked shot and posted a team-high +3 plus/minus rating.
The Brandon, Manitoba native, who wore No. 2 for Vegas, has been with the team since March 9. Whitecloud joins BSU great Brad Hunt on the Golden Knight blue line. In 44 games for Vegas this season, Hunt has 18 points (3g-15a).
Whitecloud became the ninth Beaver to skate in the NHL. He follows Jim McElmury (1967-71), Dale Smedsmo (1969-72), Gary Sargent (1972-73), Joel Otto (1980-84), Andrew Murray (2001-05), Matt Climie (2004-08), Matt Read (2007-11) and Hunt (2008-12).
Whitecloud made an appearance in 36 of the Beavers’ 38 games as a sophomore. The defender finished seventh on the team in scoring with 19 points (4g-14a), which included a career-high mark of 14 assists and a pair of game-winning goals. Whitecloud also finished the season with a team-best 51 blocked shots and was the anchor of a BSU power-play unit that set a Division I-era program mark for efficiency converting 31-of-143 opportunities (.217) finishing the season third on the team in power-play scoring, netting 10 (1g-9a) of his 19 points came on the man advantage.
In 77 collegiate appearances over two seasons with Bemidji State, Whitecloud posted 36 points (7g-29a) and he finished his career with an even plus/minus rating.
A WCHA Scholar-Athlete honoree and member of the WCHA All-Academic Team, Whitecloud was named to the 2016-17 WCHA All-Rookie Team. In addition he was a two-time WCHA Player of the Week recipient.
The Beavers finished the 2017-18 campaign with an overall record of 16-14-8 overall and recorded a 13-9-6-4 record in WCHA play, to earn fourth place in the WCHA standings and the right to host the first round of the WCHA Playoffs for the third time in four years.
Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).