Ryan Tattle’s path to the BCHL may be considered unorthodox. Some might even call him a late bloomer.
At 16-years-old, he was cut from the U18 team he tried out for and ended up playing minor hockey in his hometown of Port Moody, B.C. Fast forward two years later and Tattle was an everyday player as a rookie with the BCHL’s top regular-season team, the Coquitlam Express.
Like most high-level athletes that face adversity, after he was cut from the U18 team, he used it as motivation as well a learning experience in his effort to further his hockey career.
“It’s all about work ethic,” he said. “For me, not making that major midget team, I made the decision to just give it my all. Looking back, in 15 or 20 years, I want to be able to look at my hockey career and know that I did all I could to be the best player I could be. That’s something my dad has instilled in me for however long I’ve been playing hockey. You always put your best foot forward and you always work as hard as you can.”
Despite the disappointment of not making that team, Tattle has nothing but fond memories of growing up playing hockey in Port Moody.
“It’s a small enough community where you get to go to school with all your teammates, then you practice with them before school or after school,” he said. “All these guys you meet from Port Moody hockey, you grow up and they become your life-long friends. I’ve made so many friends and built so many relationships that will last me the rest of my life from playing hockey and growing up here. I think I’m extremely fortunate to have had this opportunity.”
One year after being cut, Tattle made the Vancouver North East Chiefs U18 team and instantly became one of their best players. He led the team in scoring that season with 48 points in 40 games and his 24 goals were also tops on the team.
Naturally, this caught the attention of BCHL teams and Tattle ended up on the roster of the Express for his rookie season in 2019-20.
After getting into his first BCHL camp, he was blown away by the level of preparation and commitment it took to play at that level.
“The work ethic is a total step up from major midget,” he said. “I came into junior thinking I was a hard worker, but I remember my first week of main camp and guys were just working so hard. It really challenged me”
He joined a team last year that was full of veteran leadership and skill. It resulted in the best regular-season record in the league and a first-round playoff sweep over the Langley Rivermen before the playoffs were cancelled due to COVID-19.
“[The veterans] were honest with me and showed me things that work and don’t work and how to go about my business. Those are things that I try to emulate today and try to share with the rookies this year. I really valued all those opinions and voices. Those guys taught me so much about leadership. I’m really grateful for that opportunity. I was a young kid and I was just learning a lot. I got to see first hand what it takes to win and how hard these guys already work.”
With such a veteran group last year, this season’s Express team has naturally seen a lot of turnover, which means that Tattle, now 19-years-old, has quickly shifted roles from young rookie looking to fit in, to veteran leader who is looked to to provide offence for the team.
So far so good in that respect. Tattle has 10 points through his team’s first six games and currently sits tied for sixth in league scoring.
At this point, he is just oozing confidence, which was on full display last weekend when he pulled off the difficult ‘Michigan’ lacrosse-style goal in a game against the Surrey Eagles.
With his strong play so far this season and his highlight-reel goals, it is safe to say he has likely turned some heads in the scouting world. Tattle does not currently have a scholarship in place, but it is definitely a goal of his.
“I think you’ve just got to find a school that wants you,” he said. “You can want to go somewhere as bad as you want, but if that school doesn’t want you, then it might not be the right fit. I’m just waiting for a program and a coach that believes in me, not only as a player, but as a person.”
The hockey aspect of playing in the NCAA is no doubt appealing to him, but the education side of things cannot be discounted either. Academics has always been important to Tattle and his family and combining hockey with education would be a perfect pairing.
“From a young age, my parents always instilled in me how important education is,” he said. “Hockey lasts however long you play for, but your brain, you’ve got that forever. I’m just trying to keep my eye on the ball, get an education and hopefully play some Division I hockey.”
Scholarships aside, Tattle is just enjoying the moment. He is a Port Moody kid playing junior hockey just a few minutes away from home. Last year, he got to enjoy friends and family at all his games and, when fans are allowed back in BCHL buildings again, he will enjoy that again. It is not something that he takes for granted.
“It’s honestly a dream come true,” said Tattle. “You have to take a moment to realize how special it is. Not many people get to play in their hometown. I’m definitely pretty lucky.”