It’s been a couple of days, but Zach Whitecloud still can’t believe it.
“Honestly I’m still shocked now,” said the former Oil Caps blueliner who earlier this week was named to Team Canada’s roster for an upcoming pre-Olympic tournament in Finland.
“I haven’t had a whole lot of time to think of anything regarding it and still haven’t. I’m just kind of still processing everything.”
The 20-year-old Brandon product will join the rest of the 26-player Canadian national men’s team roster next week for the Karjala Cup, Nov. 8-12 in Helsinki, Finland. Whitecloud, who is currently a member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s Bemidji State University Beavers, will join the likes of former NHL’ers Rene Bourque, Ben Scrivens and Mason Raymond, among others on the squad, hoping to impress the coaching staff, led by former Vancouver Canucks bench boss Willie Desjardins.
“I’m just excited to go over there, do my best to help the team win and play my game, do all the little things right and pay attention to detail,” he said. “I’m pretty excited to just go over there and learn how the pros do it. Hopefully I’ll come out of there with a good report, leave a good impression and just do my best.”
As is the case with every player at the tournament, the goal is to make the opening night Team Canada roster in PyeongChang for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
“Even making this roster is kind of an accomplishment in itself,” Whitecloud added. “Now that I’ve done that, you got to work for it and look at the big picture – and eventually try to stay on the roster as long as you can. You just have to play well every single time you’re with the team, whether that’s practice or off the ice or paying attention to video sessions, stuff like that. Just doing all the little things that all the pros do that allow them to earn their spots.”
Looking back on his time in Virden, Whitecloud says he has fond memories and it’s a time in his life he’ll never forget.
“Anyone who asks me about Virden, I happily talk to them for a couple hours if they’d let me,” said Whitecloud, who spent the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons with the Oil Capitals. “There’s a lot of people who had a big impact on my life. I learned a lot of lessons there. I learned how to play and I have a solid foundation for the game of hockey because of it. From billets, friends, school, coaches, it all really helped me to being what I am today.”
You can keep track of Canada’s national men’s team at the Karjala Cup at HockeyCanada.ca as well as through social media. TSN will broadcast the games against Sweden on Nov. 10 and Finland on Nov. 12.
The Oil Caps would like to wish Whitecloud all the best at the Karjala Cup!