Zach Whitecloud, first SVDN member to play in the NHL (2018.03.18)

Zach Whitecloud is a 21 year old band member of the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation. Zach is the grandson of the late Peter & Ina Whitecloud and is the son of Tim Whitecloud and Donna Cullen. Zach grew up playing the majority of his minor hockey in the Brandon Youth Hockey Association. At the end of each hockey season he would look forward to playing with his relatives from Sioux Valley at various tournaments throughout Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Zach always aspired to play Junior hockey which he accomplished in 2014-15 when the Virden Oil Caps of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League listed him during his final year of midget. Zach had also dreamt of one day playing NCAA Division 1 hockey in the US. His inspiration came after playing in several summer tournaments and watching a couple of live World Junior games in the Ralph Engelstad arena in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The arena was originally known as home to the North Dakota Fighting Sioux.

In 2014 Zach was chosen the Co-Recipient of the Manitoba Male Aboriginal Youth Achievement award for the sport of hockey. Also in 2014 he was selected to Captain Team Manitoba at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships in Kahnawake, Quebec.

In the fall of 2014-15 Zach made the Virden Oil Caps team of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. In his first year he was recognized as the Most Improved Player and Fans Choice Award. In his first month in the MJHL he was recognized as the Peak Performer of the Month for his volunteer work in the community. Zach also volunteers his time in Virden with minor hockey practices and clinics, public speaking at schools with the RCMP on setting goals, leading a healthy lifestyle and spoke at WE Day. In his spare time Zach worked part time in Virden.

In 2015 he was chosen as the Top Defenseman and made the second Team MJHL All Star team. In 2015-16 playoffs Zach was selected as the top performer and received the Cole Hamblin MVP award..

On December 31, 2015 after being recruited by several USA University’s, Zach chose to commit to play NCAA Division 1 hockey for the Bemidji State University Beavers of Minnesota. While attending Bemidji State, Zach will study Business Management.

In 2016 he was chosen as the teams Top Defenseman and made the second Team MJHL All Star team. In 2016 playoffs Zach was selected as the top performer and received the Cole Hamblin MVP award..

While playing in Bemidji Zach received several Western Collegiate Hockey Association player of the week honors along with Athlete of the week for BSU. Zach also received Deans Honors for academics in his first year 2016-17 and in 2017-18 received All Conference Sport& Academic Award.

On March 8, 2018 Zach fulfilled any boyhood dream and signed a three year Entry Level contract to play Professional hockey for the Vegas Golden Knights of the NHL!  Zach is currently with the NHL club through the remainder of the regular season and playoffs.

Zach understands that when he steps on the ice he is representing Sioux Valley and all aboriginal peoples.  He understands he is a role model for all Aboriginal Peoples and is committed to being the best athlete he can by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Zach was also in attendance to Sioux Valley Dakota Nation’s Youth Hockey Gala Dinner this past May 30, 2017, which can be seen here.

Follow your dreams anything is possible with dedication, perseverance and hard work!!

Yours In Hockey!!

***We will update with photos of Zach in his NHL debut when photos become available***