By Ryan McCracken on October 11, 2018.
Dalton Gally’s time as a Medicine Hat Tiger has reached an end.
The 20-year-old Texan defenceman was traded to the Kelowna Rockets Wednesday in exchange for an undisclosed conditional bantam draft pick after a 135-game career in orange and black, giving him an opportunity to continue his Western Hockey League career as an overager with a storied franchise.
“I’m excited for everything,” said Gally. “Meeting a new group of guys and a new coaching staff, a new style of play. It’s going to be a lot to soak in at once but I’m ready for another challenge and I’m accepting it with open arms.”
Gally joined the Tigers to start the 2016-17 season and quickly became an important part of Medicine Hat’s Central Division championship roster. He chipped in with a goal and eight assists while providing a calm presence on Medicine Hat’s back end, adding two goals and 10 assists while helping the Tigers to another Central banner last year.
“The thing I’m going to miss the most about it, not only the fans showing up every night to get the Canalta bumping, but it’s just the logo itself. It has a lot of history behind it, and to be a part of that history and raise up those two divisional banners in back-to-back years, it puts a smile on my face,” said Gally. “Kelowna might be my new home here in the WHL but I’ll always remember the Medicine Hat Tigers for giving me a chance in the WHL, helping me to develop into the player I am today and even the person I am today.”
Gally entered the pre-season as one of four remaining overage players on Medicine Hat’s roster — a number that had to be trimmed to three. While he got into the first five games of the season with Dylan MacPherson and Linus Nassen attending camp with the American Hockey League’s Springfield Thunderbirds, the pair of fellow blueliners returned to Medicine Hat on Oct. 2 — leaving Gally scratched from the lineup over the next four games leading up to Wednesday’s trade.
“It was a tough situation after they chose their three overagers to sit out and kind of be on that trade block for a while but I’m just glad that I have a team and I can finally play out my overage hockey year in Kelowna,” said Gally. “(Kelowna’s) coach already gave me a call and they seem like a good group of guys. They said they were looking for a 6-foot-5, 227-pound physical defenceman on the back end to help play some defence and help find pucks a way from the point to the net.”
Tigers head coach and general manager Shaun Clouston says it was great to be able to give Gally a place to play in the WHL this season, as filling a coveted overage spot with any team is no easy feat.
“At the end of the day as a 20-year-old you want an opportunity to play and with Nassen and Mac both coming back, it was great to find Dalton a spot,” said Clouston. “He came a long way. He had a little bit of a late start —he didn’t enter the league until 18 years old, but I think he learned a lot in his first year, played behind some pretty darn good players.”
Clouston added Gally truly evolved his game over his two-season tenure with the Tigers, from a dedicated approach to in-season improvement to serious gains over the summers.
“The thing that most impressed me was his improvement,” said Clouston. “He really embraced getting better every day. He did a great job in the off-season, both years. He’s really turned himself into a solid player.”
Gally will return to the Canalta Centre to face his former Tigers as a member of the Rockets on Dec. 15. While he plans on treating it like any other game in terms of intensity, there’s no denying the emotions that will be flowing through him upon his return to the Gas City.
“It’s going to be nice to return to Medicine Hat and see the fans and they guys one more time this season. It’s definitely going to be an emotional night,” he said. “I’m going to look forward to it and I’ll for sure be circling it on my calendar.”
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