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Cotter Savors First Taste Of NHL

2018 4th round pick was blown away by experience at T-Mobile Arena

by Gordon Weigers @GoldenKnights /

If you've attended a practice at City National Arena since the start of Vegas Golden Knights training camp, you'll have seen full-time roster players, prospects and invitees sharing the ice as they try to demonstrate why they belong in the NHL.

The work that's put in on and off the ice each day is serious, but hockey players have a knack for finding the fun to be had in hard work.

Fans at practice will have noticed that forward Paul Cotter has found the perfect balance between giving 110 percent and enjoying the process all the while. He cites some familiar inspiration for his consistent positive attitude at camp.

"You watch Nate Schmidt and he's constantly in a great mood out there," Cotter said. "That's the only way you'll enjoy working your butt off every single day. If you have that mentality, it's not work. It's just a fun thing you get to do every day."

Cotter, 19, suited up as a Golden Knight for the first time when Vegas opened the preseason against the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday afternoon at T-Mobile Arena. As is custom at The Fortress, the Golden Knights fans came out in force and perpetuated their reputation for creating the best home ice advantage in the league.

When the 2018 4th round pick (115th overall) skated out for warmups, he tried to treat it as business as usual. But when Cotter heard the crowd of 17,767 strong roar as the team took the ice, his linemate Cody Eakin noticed the same excitement he felt when he banked his first Golden Knights memory.

"Right away he was buzzing because of that crowd, he's never seen that before. It was fun to see," said Eakin. "On the bench when we were waiting for the anthem, I saw him standing there looking around at everything all excited."

When a player gets his feet wet in the NHL, there are moments that stick with him forever. For Cotter, a moment came when he took his first look around at the crowd minutes before puck drop.

"When I went on the ice for the game, I looked up and it was like a picture book," he said. "I got on the bench and my eyes were like golf balls. Eakin said to me: 'Welcome buddy.'"

As much as Cotter might have resembled a kid in a candy store before the game, he showed Eakin that he belonged on the ice during their first shift together.

"He was playing pretty smart, low-risk hockey," said Eakin. "All around he looks like a pretty good young player."

Like many prospects at training camp, Cotter's fate is yet to be determined by Vegas management. But as the preseason carries on and opportunities present themselves, Cotter aims to keep his upbeat attitude and prove that he belongs with the Golden Knights.

"I just wanted to play my game as hard as I can and show them that I deserve to be here," Cotter said.

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