Local family witnesses son's hockey dream come true
It was an opportunity Airdrie residents Rob and Shauna Rattie weren’t going to miss for anything, even if it meant spending the holiday season on the other side of the world.
The Ratties got to watch their son, Ty, achieve his childhood dream of competing for Team Canada at the 2013 World Junior Championships (WJC) in Ufa, Russia.
“We were thrilled,” said Shauna. “It was a very nerve-wracking tryout, but we felt he had a really good shot. It was really nice because it’s always been his dream and he worked so hard to get there, especially after last year.”
Ty was among the last players cut from the 2012 squad, but when he was invited back to the development camp in Calgary, the Ratties decided that they would make the trip to Russia with him, along with their younger son, Taden, 14, and Ty’s grandparents.
The team was named Dec. 15 and the tournament started Dec. 26, which would have given the family only a week to book the trip to Russia, so they booked in advance in the event that Ty made the team.
They made it to Ufa in time for Canada’s tournament opener against Germany. Canada won 9-3 and Ty scored the team’s fifth goal, but returning to their hotel after the game proved to be a challenge for the Ratties and the rest of the Team Canada families.
Their bus driver had dropped them off for the start of the game, but didn’t understand that he was supposed to pick them up after the game.
“(Ufa) was a huge culture shock,” said Shauna. “The first couple of days it was -40°C. The people are very much more aggressive. In Canada, we’re so gentle and easygoing. They’re very aggressive and pushy.”
“If you stood in line for something, there was no order whatsoever,” Rattie added. “The traffic was the same way. There was the world’s biggest traffic circle and it was chaos, but it worked for them. Don’t ask me how, though.”
The players weren’t the only celebrities in the arena during the Canadian games. The Canadian parents said they were treated like movie stars and had the Russian fans clamouring to meet them and take pictures with them. Rob said Taden was one of the most popular.
“He probably took 200 pictures with the Russian girls during the week,” he said. “We’re just glad he didn’t come home with a Russian bride at 14.”
On the ice, the tournament came to a heartbreaking end for the Canadians as they lost the bronze medal to the Russians in overtime.
“Ty was devastated,” Rob said. “They felt the pressure and he’ll tell you himself, it was gold or nothing. They also put so much pressure on themselves, but we’re very proud of him. After those games, it was hard to talk to the kids. It’s unfortunately part of the hockey business. Ty’s chosen to be a professional hockey player and there’s pressure along the way. The privilege is so great that it’s more important (than the pressure).”
The Juniors capped off a rollercoaster year for the 19 year old, which included a Game Seven loss in the WHL Finals with the Portland Winterhawks and the signing of his entry-level contract with the St. Louis Blues in the summer.
The Ratties said this summer will be the first in nearly four years that Ty will have a full four months off and they can’t wait to have him home.
Having their son living 1,300 kilometres away for eight months of the year is one of the sacrifices the family has to make to help Ty achieve his dream of being a professional hockey player, said Shauna.
“It was huge (having my family there),” Ty said. “The biggest thing for me was having them over there. We got to celebrate New Year’s Eve together.”