Photo & Article Courtesy: Ryan McCracken – Medicine Hat News
The dust has yet to settle, but Medicine Hat Tigers captain Ty Stanton knows his final WHL game will be fondly remembered.
The 20-year-old Tigers defenceman left it all on the line in Tuesday’s 6-4 playoff tiebreaker loss to the Edmonton Oil Kings, and while it was a heartbreaking way to finish his junior career, it was a lot of fun getting there.
“I was definitely pretty emotional (Tuesday) night,” said Stanton, who closed out his final WHL season with five goals and 32 assists. “Just thinking back on all the memories I’ve had here with the Tigers, it’s been unbelievable, best four years of my life for sure.”
Stanton spent 257 combined regular season and playoff games with the Medicine Hat Tigers, a team he says helped forge him as a leader. While his overage season didn’t start as planned —as the Tabbies slipped down the standings and struggled to find steam — Stanton refused to set his sights elsewhere.
“I wanted to end my junior career where I started,” said Stanton. “The organization has done so much for me. My billets, the fans are great here and I just felt I owed it to them and to everyone in the organization to stick it out and make a push for the playoffs.
“I’m happy with the decision I made and I’m going to miss the city of Medicine Hat.”
Tigers head coach and general manager Shaun Clouston says Stanton’s decision to stay in the Gas City speaks volumes about his dedication and loyalty, and he’s a player who will be sorely missed on the Tabbies’ back end.
“He was a great example to the players. He logged a lot of ice time each night, he battled and competed and contributed in every way possible,” said Clouston. “He came to us when the season wasn’t looking like we were going to be anywhere near the playoffs and asked that he not be traded. He wanted to end his career as a Tiger.”
Erasing a 12-point deficit in the standings only to fall from playoff contention in a sudden death tiebreaker was a tough pill to swallow, but the St. Albert native has a bright horizon in front of him with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. Stanton put pen to paper earlier this week, silencing any apprehensions entering the off-season, and he says he can’t wait to start the next chapter.
“I’m going to head down there on Friday,” said Stanton. “Who knows if I’ll get any games in, I’m just happy to have a place to play next year. It’s a great organization with Toronto so I’m really happy about that.”
Tigers centre Mason Shaw, who closed out the regular season with 17 goals and 43 assists, added Stanton will leave a lasting impression on Medicine Hat’s strong core of young players.
“Ty’s probably the best captain I’ve ever had. He leads in every single way,” said Shaw. “That’s somebody we’ll never forget and I wish him the best of luck in the future.”
The Tigers will hold an awards banquet Thursday before going their separate ways.