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Vegas Golden Knights has a Rising Star: Mathieu Cataford

In the serene setting of a small rink in Châteauguay, Quebec, the rhythmic scrape of skates and the echo of pucks on boards marked the beginnings of Mathieu Cataford’s love for hockey. From those early days, the young forward has grown into a formidable player, catching the eye of the Vegas Golden Knights and the broader hockey community.

Drafted 77th overall by the Vegas Golden Knights in 2023, the 19-year-old Cataford clinched the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s (QMJHL) MVP trophy for the 2023-24 season. Leading the Halifax Mooseheads with an impressive 90 points, Cataford’s journey is a testament to his resilience, dedication, and relentless pursuit of excellence.

Cataford joined the Mooseheads at the beginning of the 2021-22 season, and over three seasons, he has amassed 211 points in 195 games. His stellar performance has solidified his place among the franchise’s greats, setting the stage for further success as he returns to the QMJHL next year.

The 2023-24 season was a breakout year for Cataford. Donning the alternate captain’s ‘A’ and signing his entry-level contract with the Vegas Golden Knights, he also added the Michel-Brière Trophy as the league’s MVP to his accolades, scoring 40 goals and 50 assists in just 65 games.

“These past three years with the Mooseheads were probably the best of my life,” Cataford reflected. “Playing in the QMJHL with this team was a real-life dream.”

Cataford credits his coaches and teammates for his development, particularly his first hockey coach, who instilled in him the importance of making the right play over scoring a goal. His chemistry with linemate Markus Vidicek has been a significant factor in his success, showcasing the value of teamwork.

“We had great chemistry,” said Cataford. “I was happy with myself and my season and especially signing my contract with Vegas, but I didn’t do it all by myself. I did a lot of that with my teammates.”

Joining the Golden Knights organization has been a pivotal step in Cataford’s career. The support from Vegas’ Director of Player Development, Wil Nichol, and Skating and Skills Development Consultant, Scott Jones, has been crucial to his growth.

“They followed me throughout the year and gave me feedback on what they wanted from me, what I need to improve, and the things I was doing well,” Cataford shared. “I think it had an impact. I was glad to see that they were following me.”

Cataford’s brief stint with the Henderson Silver Knights at the end of the 2023-24 season offered a glimpse into professional play. Assigned to Vegas’ AHL affiliate on April 9th, he played four games, tallying two assists, including a point in his debut.

“My AHL debut was a great moment,” Cataford recalled. “I was anxious before the game, but once I got on the ice, the nerves settled. Playing those games gave me a good sense of what to expect and how I need to prepare for the future.”

As Cataford prepares for the next chapter in his career, his focus remains on continuous improvement. Whether it’s enhancing his speed, sharpening his skills, or building his physical game, he is committed to becoming the best player possible.

Standing at 5’11, Cataford is determined to demonstrate his development to the Golden Knights and aims to make a significant impact in the NHL. He also aspires to represent Team Canada in the World Junior Championship at the 2025 tournament.

“The dream is to make the NHL with the Vegas Golden Knights, but I think I’m going to focus on my AHL seasons first and just try and make the jump as quickly as possible.”

Las Vegas: The Hockey Hub

Las Vegas, home to the Golden Knights, has become a vibrant hub for hockey since the team’s inception in 2017. The city, known for its entertainment, nightlife, and gambling, has embraced the Golden Knights, making hockey an integral part of its sports culture. The T-Mobile Arena, where the Golden Knights play, has become a fortress of fan support, contributing to the team’s rapid rise in the NHL.

With the addition of promising talents like Cataford, the Golden Knights continue to build on their success, aiming for future championships and further embedding themselves in the heart of Las Vegas sports. The city’s unique blend of excitement and passion for sports ensures that Cataford and his teammates have a supportive and enthusiastic fan base as they strive for greatness in the NHL.

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