It is said that families who play together, stay together.
That couldn’t be more true for Ty and Taden Rattie.
“All my best friends kind of turned into his best friends,” says Ty. “We always used to push him around and now he could come into our house and probably take any one of us.”
Ty says the two have been best friends for as long as he can remember, and the feeling is mutual.
“We’re probably one of the tightest (pairs of) brothers,” says Taden. “I’m glad to call him my best friend.”
“Family” is tattooed on Ty’s right bicep above the initials of himself, his brother and their parents Rob and Shauna.
In the middle of the initials is the number 11, representing the year 2011, when Ty was drafted by the St. Louis Blues.
Taden was following suit in August to get the matching Aquarius (Ty) and Pisces (Taden) symbol tattoos mirroring those on Ty’s forearm.
Ty, 23, is a right winger for the Chicago Wolves (American Hockey League) and is vying for a full-time role with the NHL’s St. Louis Blues where he has been a call-up over the last few seasons and with whom he was travelling this fall. (As of Oct. 28, he had played one game with the Blues and was pushing for more.)
Taden, 18, is following in his brother’s right-wing footsteps and plays for the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Vancouver Giants.
Neither remembers their first time on skates but Ty says he has been told the stories of his outdoor rink debut by their father.
Soon Rob was shuttling Ty – then a tike of about five years old – to 5:45 a.m. practices at the Plainsmen Arena, returning home for breakfast prepared by Shauna.
“They worked well together and they definitely helped us out in the early ages,” says Ty.
Taden had the same experience of practising on Airdrie’s three ice sheets at the Plainsmen and Ron Ebbesen arenas five years later.
“They’ll support us in anything we do and they enjoy watching us,” says Taden of his parents.
The brothers’ careers were mapped out similarly through bantam AAA with the Airdrie Xtreme.
“Hockey has brought some great memories and some of my best friends and it all started here in Airdrie,” says Ty, noting he met two of his best friends, Logan Marlow and Trent Ouellette, with the Xtreme.
Ty then played with the midget AAA Foothills CFR Bisons (formerly the Strathmore UFA Bisons) before heading on to the Portland Winterhawks for five years in the WHL from 2008 to 2013.
He says he had the “time of my life” in Portland, where he was named the No. 1 player in the franchise’s history by The Oregonian online newspaper in September 2014.
“To be a part of a [Memorial Cup] team is something special and I went to three league finals and only won once, so I was lucky enough to get into one Mem Cup and it’s a memory that’s going to be there forever,” says Ty.
Those years were marked by his goal-scoring ability, earning him spots with Canada’s U17 and World Junior teams.
The brothers’ only time competitively on the ice together was in the Winterhawks training camp in the fall of 2012.
Ty has played the last three seasons with the Chicago Wolves and has appeared 26 times with the Blues.
In 13 NHL games last season he notched four goals and two assists.
His first NHL goal was a tip-in in a 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils, Jan. 12, 2016.
Ty recalls his second goal tied St. Louis 3-3 at home against the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 16 with parents and girlfriend Meagan Walsh in the stands.
The Blues won in overtime.
“That first goal was kind of a fluky one, but I scored the next night and it’s just a confidence thing telling yourself you can be here, you can play here, you can play with these players,” says Ty.
Taden has outgrown his 6-0, 189-pound older brother and now stands 6-4 and nearly 200 pounds.
The difference in size lends itself to varying styles of play for the two brothers.
Ty is a goal scorer and opportunity-creator, while Taden has been utilized as an enforcer.
Taden has had two fights in his brief WHL career, one more than his brother did in five years.
“The biggest thing is use what you’ve got,” says Ty. “He’s 6-4, 200 pounds and he can skate good, so there’s not many players like that.”
Ty says he can see Taden improving his game year-over-year.
“He’s more than just a physical guy,” he says. “He’s going to be a skilled player. He’s got the hands, he’s got the smarts.”
Taden’s path has diverged from Ty’s at times, but is incredibly similar.
He played his 15-year-old season with the Airdrie Cochrane Avalanche (minor midget AAA), followed by a move to the Whitecourt Wolverines in the AJHL in 2014-2015 and for the beginning of the 2015-2016 season.
He was moved to the Calgary Mustangs in October 2015 and retained his 2014 commitment with Western Michigan University in the NCAA.
By late 2015 the younger Rattie was in a Red Deer Rebels jersey after his WHL rights were acquired from the Portland Winterhawks.
Although Taden didn’t see any ice time, he too had the MasterCard Memorial Cup experience last May while on the roster of the host Red Deer Rebels, who traded him to Vancouver this fall.
The Rebels lost in the semifinal.
The brothers stay in constant contact despite being miles apart.
“I’ve got to listen to him,” says Taden. “He has seen it all. He’s been to world juniors, he has played [in the] NHL. When I see him doing these things, I want to push myself and do them, too.”
The two have worked out together for the last four summers with Matt Sebastian at Explosive Edge in Airdrie.
“There’s nobody else I would rather train with,” says Ty of his brother.
Taden doesn’t see the profession as work in his budding pro-career.
“You’re getting paid for it but [it’s] something you’re doing that you’re loving,” he says. “You can’t really call that a job.”
“There are times when you don’t want to practice,” he says. “You got to think about how many people would rather be doing what you’re doing. It’s what we picked to do and now we got to do our best at it.”
Both are working to advance their careers to the next level.
For Taden that involves the hope of an NHL contract and a return to the Memorial Cup in the next three seasons of junior eligibility.
Ty’s future hopes are on a longer-term contract than his current one-year, one-way deal worth $650,000 with the Blues.
“I think short-term goals [are] establish myself as an NHL player and be an everyday player,” he says.