Young kids chanted defenseman Zach Whitecloud's name as he walked off the ice after practice during Vegas Golden Knights development camp presented by City National Bank.
Of all the prospects skating for Vegas this week, he might be the most familiar name with the most experience.
The 21-year-old Whitecloud is skating in his first development camp with Vegas, but this isn't his first go-around skating at City National Arena. The Brandon, Manitoba, native signed with Vegas on March 8 as a college free agent from Bemidji State University and spent the rest of the regular season with the Golden Knights.
Prior to joining Vegas, Whitecloud recorded 36 points (seven goals, 29 assists) in two years at Bemidji State. He made his Golden Knights debut on April 5 against the Edmonton Oilers. In typical rookie fashion, he was the first to hit the ice and took a lap by himself before warmups.
"It was the time of my life to be able to sign with the Golden Knights and to come to an organization that welcomed me with open arms," Whitecloud said. "I'm extremely grateful for that opportunity every day, and not every kid gets to do that. It was a dream come true."
Whitecloud has some familiarity with the coaching staff, having worked with them extensively since arriving in Vegas. But while he's also trying to learn, he has what most of the other prospects don't have: experience. He's willing to lend that.
"Having that experience, it's good for me to help the younger guys with most of them being 17/18 years old," Whitecloud said.
When Whitecloud arrived in Vegas and joined the active roster in March, he was in a similar position as the prospects this week - willing and wanting to learn. The defenseman hopes to lead by example for that.
"Definitely coming into this situation and being familiar with the coaches and everyone, you just have to lead by example," he said. "Work hard every day, do the right things at the right times and just help anyone out that is struggling along or needs any questions answered."
Whitecloud is ready to soak up everything in development camp to get back in game mode.
"As far as this development camp goes, it's definitely one for the books and I am having the time of my life," he said. "It's fun to get out here and get to work and improve with all these guys."