Every hockey player experiences different turning points throughout their career that helps their development along the way. For some players that can be a coach, others it is a teacher, sometimes it can be a parent. Well for me, it was when my family decided to take a billet player.
I have to admit that I was a pretty soft kid growing up. I was tall and fragile, semi competitive with no real expectations of playing hockey after high school. That summer I got cut from the local midget AAA program and I remember having a talk with my parents in the kitchen saying I'm not sure if I wanted to keep playing. Then things changed.
Tanner and I first met when we were 5 years old. We were in the same (and only) first grade class in Southey, Saskatchewan (population maybe 750 people). Tanner's family moved and mine followed suit a few years later but our families always stayed close. When we found out that Tanner was going to be playing for the Midget AAA program where my family was now living it was a no brainer that he was going to be moving in with us.
Like i said, I was a soft kid. I had grown up to that point being the only boy with 3 sisters. Now don't get me wrong, having sisters is great but now I had a brother. There was wrestling, bloody noses, no black eyes that I can recall but Tanner toughened me up and helped bring out that competitiveness that wasn't there before. It definitely was one of the earliest turning points in my career that motivated me to work my way onto his AAA team and so much more.
Tanner was kind enough to take some time to answer some questions about his experience going to Dartmouth, making the NHL and what it was like living in the Zaba household for 2 years.
MHH: What was it like moving away at such a young age to play hockey?
TG: It was a little daunting at first, but I had a great family to move in with so that really eased the transition. It also helps when your billet mom is a great cook!
MHH: Growing up in Canada, Major Junior hockey is obviously huge. Why did you choose the NCAA route and why Dartmouth?
TG: My dad always encouraged me to get an education so I made it a goal to get a scholarship through hockey. I chose Dartmouth because of the outstanding academics and after visiting, I knew it was the right fit for me.
MHH: When did you first think you would be able to make the NHL?
TG: I have always believed in myself, but it wasn't until my first few games after college in the AHL. I saw guys getting called up around me and I realized how close I really was.
MHH: What is the best part about playing for the New York Rangers?
TG: It is really special to play in Madison Square Garden, one of the most famous arena's in the world. And living in NYC has its perks as well.
MHH: What is your favorite and least favorite part of game day?
TG; My favorite part of game day is nap time. My least favorite part is cutting and taping my sticks.
MHH: Who doesn't love napping. Any advice for our Mountain High Hockey students?
TG: Don't forget your smile.
MHH: Love it!!! Thanks so much TG for doing this.