Daily News Sports Editor
What started out as bad news turned out to be a good thing for Ty Rattie.
It was Dec. 14 when Rattie, who turned 19 on Feb. 5, was told that he wouldn’t be playing for Canada in the world junior championship.
It was a double disappointment because Rattie is from Airdrie, Alta., and the tournament was being held in Calgary and Edmonton.
So it was that he returned to the Portland Winterhawks sporting a chip the size of a Douglas fir on one shoulder.
Three days after being cut by Canada, Rattie had a goal and two assists in an 8-0 victory over the Chiefs in Spokane. He hasn’t slowed down since that night.
“Obviously, that was a big blow,” Rattie said Tuesday before going up against the Kamloops Blazers in Game 3 of a WHL Western Conference semifinal series at Interior Savings Centre. “It was something I won’t forget.
“I used it as motivation to prove them wrong and prove that I should have been there. It has helped me in the long run.”
Rattie wasn’t given a reason for not making Team Canada.
“They call you at 6 a.m.,” he said. “You go in and they just say, ‘We’re going to go a different way this year.’ I went from the hotel to the airport in about 45 minutes and back to Portland. It was quick. But it was disappointing.”
In hindsight, Rattie thinks his days were numbered once Team Canada got Brett Connolly (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Devante Smith-Pelly (Anaheim Ducks) from NHL teams. They both are right wingers, as is Rattie.
“I think they wanted two grinding guys for that third- and fourth-line role,” Rattie said.
He was back in Portland that same day, bound and determined “to make sure they noticed me and noticed that maybe they made a bit of a mistake.”
“That,” he stated, “is just the kind of stuff that adds fuel to the fire for me.”
He went on to put up 121 points, including 57 goals, in 69 regular-season games. He went into last night’s game leading WHL playoff scorers in goals (12) and points (18). That includes 13 points, 10 of them goals, in a first-round sweep of the Kelowna Rockets.
His roommate/linemate Sven Baertschi had 17 playoff points.
“We haven’t played more than a handful of shifts without each other since last year’s training camp,” Rattie said. “We live together. I think the off-ice time together really adds to the on-ice chemistry.”
Of course, the on-ice success also leads to some abuse. Things got a bit nasty late in Game 2 of this series, which the host Winterhawks won, 4-1.
“It’s hockey,” said Rattie, while sporting a cut near his right eye. “We love that kind of stuff. It was bound to happen. It adds to the excitement for Games 3 and 4 here.”
You should know, too, that Rattie has great fondness for the Interior Savings Centre.
As he put it, “It’s my favourite WHL rink.”
“Because it’s the first WHL rink that I ever played in,” he replied.
That was five years ago, when he played for the Airdrie Xtreme at KIBIHT. Airdrie was beaten 5-4 by the Phoenix Firebirds in a semifinal game.
Rattie was a first-year bantam and has never forgotten that experience.
Just like he won’t ever forget the year he didn’t make Team Canada.
“The bright side,” he said, “is that there’s always next year.”
Unless, of course, he makes the St. Louis Blues, who selected him in the second round, 32nd overall, of the NHL’s 2011 draft.
On most nights, not a lot happens during pregame warmups. Players skate. Players shoot. Goalies stop some and miss some.
Last night, however, was the exception.
Kamloops winger Ryan Hanes didn’t stray more than 10 feet from the centre red line at any point during the warmup. Shadowed by linesmen Ryan Dawson and Bevan Mills, it was as though Hanes was a security guard protecting a property line.
Hanes yapped at any Portland player within earshot, including G Mac Carruth, Rattie, F Brendan Leipsic, F Brad Ross, D William Wrenn and on and on.
If the Blazers don’t get fined for what the WHL calls a “warmup violation,” it will be because Hanes didn’t appear to cross the red line.
Mick has been working as the director of hockey operations and the under-18 boys coach at the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy in Kelowna.
In Salmon Arm, Mick will take over from Colin O’Hara, who resigned a week ago as GM and head coach. O’Hara was there for two seasons.
Mick is a familiar face in arenas throughout the Interior of B.C. He also has coached the BCHL's Vernon Vipers and the junior B Revelstoke Grizzlies, leading both organizations to championship seasons.
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