It takes sacrifice to get anywhere in hockey. Just in case Ty Rattie needed a reminder as he prepared for his first American Hockey League All-Star Game, along came the logistics necessary to get him there.
The Chicago Wolves wrapped up the first half of their season on Saturday night in Austin, Texas – the AHL’s second-farthest point from the All-Star Classic festivities in Utica, N.Y.
Rattie and Wolves head coach John Anderson needed to get to Utica in time for Sunday’s skills competition. But after finding some postgame dinner and winding down from the adrenalin that built up during Saturday’s 5-4 loss, Rattie didn’t get to bed Saturday night until 2 a.m.
“I had a quick little nap,” he said.
Rattie enjoyed two hours of shuteye before catching the 4:15 a.m. shuttle bus to the airport for a 6 a.m. flight. Of course, you can’t just travel directly from Austin to Utica. Rattie and Anderson flew to New York City, enjoyed a two-and-a-half-hour layover and hopped a plane to Syracuse. That’s where they boarded a bus to Utica. They arrived at the All-Star mecca in mid-afternoon.
“I met some buddies, had a bit of lunch, unpacked my gear and I was off to the arena for the skills competition,” Rattie said.
The AHL pre-determined the skills competition rosters and Rattie teamed up with former Wolves defenseman Brad Hunt and Hamilton’s Charles Hudon in the Puck Control Relay before joining Grand Rapids’ Teemu Pulkkinen and Iowa’s Matt Dumba in the Pass and Score and participating in the Breakaway Relay.
Rattie enjoyed the camaraderie as much as the competition. He has been long-time friends with other AHL All-Stars such as Dumba, Milwaukee’s Brendan Leipsic, Rockford’s Mark McNeill, Wilkes-Barre’s Derrick Pouliot and Charlotte’s Ryan Murphy.
“You hang out with friends and friends of friends, so you make new friends,” Rattie said. “That’s probably the most fun part, how many new friends you make. Those kind of friends last your whole hockey career.”
Rattie got to operate on much more rest for the All-Star Game on Monday night. He was among the stars who shined brightest as he produced 1 goal and 3 assists to help the Western Conference deliver a 14-12 win (we should also note that Anderson improved his record to 4-0 as an all-star coach).
“I was nervous to see what it would be like,” Rattie said. “I was just feeling out the tempo when I got in the game. It actually got a lot better toward the end of the game. Guys started getting competitive and guys wanted to win. It was a lot of fun. I take away a lot of positives from the weekend.”
The list of positives includes an infusion of confidence heading into the Wolves’ second half, which begins with Friday’s trip to Rockford and the IceHogs’ return visit to Allstate Arena on Saturday night.
Rattie shares fourth in the AHL with 17 goals, but he has posted just four goals since Nov. 29. On the other hand, he has handed out nine assists in the last two months after managing just two through Nov. 29.
“He’s cooled down a little bit, but our team has cooled down,” Anderson said. “He has played with three or four different centers. He’s still scoring. I’ve got to tell you: I think his passing is getting better. On Saturday night, he had a great 2-on-1 with Philip McRae. He’s growing as a player. He’s not just a shooter. He’s making plays now, too.”