When you’re a professional hockey player like Ty Rattie, you can pretty much pick and choose where you’ll spend your summers.
For the Edmonton Oilers prospect, coming back to his old stomping grounds in Airdrie, Alta., each year is a no-brainer.
“I can’t say enough good things about Airdrie,” Rattie said ahead of the Rogers Hometown Hockey stop there on Dec. 17. “All my family and friends are still there and I make my home there still in the off-season.
“Great city, great people and a great place to call home.”
The second-round pick of the St. Louis Blues in 2011 grew up in the Alberta city of over 60,000 people, just a half-hour drive from Calgary.
It’s where he picked up the game of hockey, beginning a career that would lead to a one-year contract with the Oilers, signed this off-season.
“Family’s split half and half with who they’re cheering for now,” said Rattie, who grew up a diehard Calgary Flames fan, along with his little brother, Taden, and parents Rob and Shauna. “Some of my favourite childhood memories were Flames games and going to Flames games with family.”
Of course, he’s had to put that fandom on hold now that he’s a member of the Oilers organization, playing for the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors and angling for another NHL shot.
It’s his family that Rattie credits with helping him develop as a hockey player.
“They gave me every opportunity that I wanted to practise, and whether that was power skating or playing summer hockey or going to the outdoor rink every other day, obviously my dad and my mom were huge helps,” explained Rattie.
He played minor hockey with the Airdrie Xtreme AAA bantam hockey team, where he exploded as a 15-year-old, scoring a team-record 75 goals and 131 points in 33 games in the 2007-08 season.
“That was a fun year,” said Rattie. “We had a really good team, and when you have a good team like that obviously the points are going to come and (that was) one of those years that I guess things just go your way.”
If averaging over four points a game isn’t impressive enough, consider the fact that Rattie managed the feat despite spending a considerable amount of time in the box — ranking third on his team with 101 penalty minutes.
“I was a little bit of a hothead at that time,” said Rattie, laughing. “I was a little bit bigger than everyone else, so… I don’t know — maybe I had a little bit of a temper on me so that’s just the way that one went.”
After that gaudy 131-point season, Rattie was drafted second overall in the WHL bantam draft by the Portland Winterhawks. He caught the eye of Blues decision-makers after his second year there, and really took off in his third (2011–12) when he led the team with 57 goals and 121 points in 69 games.
He put up similarly strong numbers once more the following season — this time earning a call to Canada’s world junior team — and got named MVP of the 2013 WHL playoffs.
Rattie then made his Blues debut in April of 2014, and bounced between the NHL and the AHL the following three seasons before hitting free agency this past off-season. That’s when the Oilers came calling.
Now 24, Rattie was sent to Bakersfield after clearing waivers in late-September, and currently leads the Condors in scoring with eight goals and 17 points in 23 games.
But no matter where hockey has taken him through the years, he’s still kept in touch with his former Airdrie Xtreme teammates.
“I still have lifelong friends on that team that I see every summer,” said Rattie. “Hockey teams are close-knit and especially the community of Airdrie.
“People remember how good of a team [we had], and you still see guys all the time.”