Former Raider captain Pachal reflects on Stanley Cup win with Vegas

Photo submitted by Brayden Pachal. Vegas Golden Knights defenceman Brayden Pachal poses with the Stanley Cup alongside his girlfriend Sydney Usselman (left).

Brayden Pachal is a champion once again.

Pachal, who was the captain of the 2019 WHL champion Prince Albert Raiders, hoisted the Stanley Cup with the Vegas Golden Knights earlier this month after Vegas defeated the Florida Panthers in five games.

“It’s a lot different.” Pachal said about comparing the two championships.  “I think the Western League winning that championship gave me the opportunity to sign my first NHL contract with Vegas. (It) eventually led to this. In Prince Albert, being the captain of that team compared to a small role (in Vegas), it’s a little different, but it is so cool that the organization and the guys can make people feel like that even though I had a very small role on the team, making feel like I was a very big part of it.”

Pachal served as a role player for the Golden Knights in their championship run, appearing in one playoff game (Game 5 against the Winnipeg Jets), but he stayed with the club through their entire playoff run.

Although he played a much different role than he did in Prince Albert, Pachal says there is no better feeling than lifting the Stanley Cup.

“Anybody that grabbed that cup and lifted it for the first time, that was the childhood dream realized. It was super cool to watch. Just the excitement and relief because those guys have battled really hard all season long and extremely hard just over two months to get to that point. It’s the best feeling in the world to lift that cup.”

Pachal’s WHL career didn’t start in Hockeytown North as he was initially acquired by the Raiders via trade on Jan. 9, 2017, alongside a 2017 sixth round pick (Prince Albert used the pick on Hunter Stand) in exchange for Loch Morrison and a 2017 fourth round pick (Victoria used that pick on Alex Bolshakov).

Pachal was selected by the Royals with the 39th overall selection, in the second round of the 2014 WHL Prospects Draft. At the time of the trade when he was acquired by Prince Albert, he had posted 9 points in 75 career WHL games.

After the trade, Pachal became a staple on the blueline for the Raiders. Including playoff statistics, Pachal donned the Raider sweater for 196 games recording 27 goals and 74 assists.

Herald File Photo. Brayden Pachal hoists the Ed Chynoweth Cup following the Raiders Game 7 victory in the 2019 WHL Championship Series at the Art Hauser Centre

Pachal says the trade to Prince Albert is one of the main reasons he is playing in the NHL today.

“I think the biggest part of my growth in the hockey career came from Prince Albert, and I give so much credit to Habby (Marc Habscheid), Mano (Dave Manson) and Truitt (Jeff Truitt). All the coaches that we had there; everybody makes you smile. It was a small part in helping get to where I am.”

“I can’t think of specific instances where somebody told me one thing, but it’s a combination of four years with them and ending in a championship and just the growth as a person and player that that has helped me get to where I am today.”

Although Pachal has been a part of a team that has won the most coveted award in hockey, he has his sights on proving himself at the NHL level. Pachal has played a total of 13 NHL games in the last two seasons, including one playoff game.

He says he wants to make the Golden Knights next season out training camp.

“I got the opportunity to play last year and prove that I can play at that level. I think it was a big thing to not only prove it to them but prove to myself that I can handle the NHL game. I think that the goal is to try to try to make the team out of camp and then prove that I can be an everyday player.”

Former Raider general manager Bruno Campese also serves as a scout with the Golden Knights.