Sartoris pays tribute to his fallen friend
Ramblers’ defenceman wearing minor hockey teammate’s number
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.”
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.