Sar­toris pays trib­ute to his fallen friend

Ramblers’ de­fence­man wear­ing mi­nor hockey team­mate’s num­ber

The Amherst News - - SPORTS - By Dar­rell Cole Amherst News dar­rell.cole@amher­st­ Twit­ter: @ADN­dar­rell

AMHERST – Kale Ma­son was more than a mi­nor hockey team­mate to Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers de­fence­man Matt Sar­toris.

And when Ma­son died sud­denly May 19 while swim­ming at Park Falls in Pic­tou County, Sar­toris knew he had to do some­thing to honour one of clos­est friends through mi­nor hockey and base­ball.

“I reached out to coach (Jeff Le­Blanc) dur­ing the sum­mer and asked if I could change my num­ber and I ex­plained why. He was OK with it,” Sar­toris said. “It’s some­thing I felt I had to do for him. He was my de­fence part­ner in ban­tam and we played a lot of base­ball to­gether grow­ing. Our fam­i­lies are pretty close.”

Last year, his first with the Ramblers af­ter play­ing in the Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League with Gatineau and Sherbrooke, Sar­toris wore the Num­ber 5 jersey. This year, he’s wear­ing Num­ber 27 – the num­ber Ma­son wore when the pair played to­gether with the Pic­tou County Ban­tam AAA club.

Le­Blanc said it wasn’t a hard de­ci­sion.

“That’s the kind of kid he is,” Le­Blanc said. “He’s some­one oth­ers on the team look up to and this is the type of thing he would do to honour a friend.”

Sar­toris was home in the New Glas­gow area when he heard Kale had drowned. At first he wouldn’t be­lieve it was true, but man­aged to steel him­self to the vis­it­ing hours and funeral in which he said good­bye to one of his clos­est friends.

“He was the nicest guy I knew. He al­ways wanted ev­ery­one to be happy and he al­ways had a smile on his face,” Sar­toris said. “I like to be­lieve there’s a heaven and that he’s there for sure. And if he is I know he’s look­ing down and he’d be proud that I’m wear­ing his num­ber.”

Ma­son, who served as a fire­fighter with the Lit­tle River Fire Depart­ment and dreamed of join­ing the RCMP, was hon­oured last Sun­day when the Pic­tou County Sco­tians raised his jersey and that of the late Noah Russell. Also hon­oured was board mem­ber Bill Rod­dick, who passed away dur­ing the sum­mer af­ter fight­ing can­cer.

Sar­toris was in Tren­ton for the cer­e­mony and spent some time when Ma­son’s par­ents af­ter­wards.

“They were pretty happy that I made it down for the cer­e­mony. They were quite hon­oured that I changed my num­ber in Kale’s mem­ory. His fa­ther said it al­most brought a tear to his eye,” Sar­toris said. “They’re great peo­ple and this has been so hard on them. It was nice to see them and give them all a hug. Life is so short, you just never know what’s go­ing to hap­pen.”

Gary Boudreau pho­tog­ra­phy

Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers de­fence­man Matt Sar­toris is wear­ing Num­ber 27 this sea­son in honour of his friend Kale Ma­son, who drowned in May while swim­ming at Park Falls in Pic­tou County.

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