In the eyes of one massive Scottish hockey fan, there was no better place to spend his honeymoon than inside a hockey arena.
Imagine you’ve just tied the knot with your better half and you’re considering multiple locations for your much-needed honeymoon getaway.
Maybe you’re contemplating somewhere tropical like Hawaii or Costa Rica.
But one couple from Scotland, who had just gotten married decided to travel to a place they’d never been to before, Alberta.
Richard Gray and his wife Lindsay, who call Edinburgh home, flew into Calgary on Christmas Day to celebrate their love.
Richard, who is a big hockey enthusiast, had an agreement with Lindsay that if they could go to some hockey games she could go to as many yarn shops as her heart desired.
The couple’s first stop was the Red Deer Rebels game Tuesday evening where Central Alberta’s team laid a 7-1 beatdown on the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Those in attendance may have seen them sporting hockey jerseys that said Mr. and Mrs. Gray on their backs. It also happened to be their first hockey game in Alberta.
“The atmosphere was really good,” Gray said. “I liked all the different songs and stuff they played when it was time to raise some hell when they had a powerplay.”
“It was really so different from the way they do it in the U.K. It’s much more fancy and much more atmosphere in the game.”
When they first decided to go to Edmonton when planning the trip they knew Red Deer would be on the way. Gray remembered from some chatter on the famous hockey podcast Spittin’ Chiclets that Red Deer had a great hockey community.
Following the game at the Peavey Mart Centrium Gray said they couldn’t have chosen a friendlier place to experience their first hockey game in Alberta.
“Everyone here whether it was in a restaurant or anything like that has been super welcoming and friendly to us,” he said. “I’d recommend it to anyone to come to watch hockey here because it was a really cool experience in Red Deer.”
Hockey is a big part of Gray’s life back home. While in university in the early 2000s he played for and coached latterly for the Edinburgh Eagles University co-ed hockey team.
He later got involved with the British University Ice Hockey Association (BUIHA) and when the league started to add women’s hockey clubs he wanted to do the same.
Gray, who is also known as Rambo in the Scottish hockey world, led the way to get Scotland their first university women’s hockey team called the Caledonia Steel Queens officially formed in 2018. His main motive was to make hockey more accessible for women in the country.
The program so far has been successful in developing players, making three BUIHA finals appearances, and most recently in January, they’ll send five of their players to play for Great Britain at the 2023 FISU World University Games in Lake Placid.
“It’s been quite rewarding in a way because there’s been a bit of an uptake and it’s been really good,” he added.
His hockey journey began when he was five years old when he first played organized hockey. He was inspired by his grandfather and uncle who were both passionate about the sport and his mother was a figure skater.
It was in his family’s blood.
“I just fell in love with it because it’s physical and exciting,” Gray said.
”No two games are ever the same I think that is what I love most about it.”
Gray attended his first Canadian hockey game back in 2010 in Vancouver where he saw the Giants take on the Chilliwack Bruins.
The next game they’re headed to will be in Spruce Grove to see the Saints take on the Sherwood Park Crusaders Friday night before they watch the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets face off on New Year’s Eve.
The next day they’ll head back to Rogers Arena to watch the Edmonton Oil Kings play the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
They’ll then drive to Jasper and Banff for a few days before going to a University of Calgary Dinos game on Jan. 7 and a Calgary Wranglers game on Jan. 10.