Kyle Stang and Sarai Robles-Stang are proof that no distance is too far when two people are meant to be together.
Kyle was living in Saskatchewan and Sarai in Vancouver, when the two were connected through a mutual friend, who happened to be dating Kyle’s cousin. The friend described Kyle as a great guy who would be perfect for Sarai. They weren’t wrong — when Kyle reached out, he and Sarai hit it off immediately.
One thing the two had in common was that they were hockey fans (even if, Kyle jokes, Sarai was a Vancouver Canucks fan back then). After chatting long distance for months, on Valentine’s Day, 2015, the pair decided to meet halfway in Calgary and watch a Calgary Flames game at the Scotiabank Saddledome. As they watched the game, Sarai knew they were going to be more than just friends.
The couple maintained their long-distance relationship until 2016, when they bought a home together in Saskatchewan so Sarai could relocate there. Sarai thought the hunt for a new home was just that, but Kyle had other plans in mind. “Once we finally got the keys to the place we bought, I waited until we were walking into the house together for the first time as owners. That’s when I got down on one knee and proposed,” he says.
The proposal caught Sarai by surprise and she happily accepted. “I knew he was right for me in many ways, even before he proposed,” she says.
The wedding itself wouldn’t happen until 2023.
In planning the wedding, they decided to revisit the location and date where it all began: Valentine’s Day at the Saddledome. Fortunately, there was a game happening that day: the Calgary Wranglers, the Flames’ affiliate AHL team, were playing against the Vancouver Canucks’ AHL affiliate, the Abbotsford Canucks.
The intention was for the wedding to happen in a suite right before puck drop, so Kyle reached out to the Saddledome staff for permission. Rather than a simple “yes,” Kyle got a response from Jamie Cochrane, the Wranglers’ business operations manager at that time, proposing an even grander plan.
“He writes, ‘Well, what would you guys think about [getting married] on centre ice during an intermission of the game?’”
Although hesitant initially, as Kyle and Sarai put it, how could they say no?
Between the Wranglers staff and Cochrane, all Sarai and Kyle had to do was choose their witnesses. It turned out that the Calgary Flames then-assistant general manager (now general manager) Craig Conroy and former head coach Darryl Sutter were watching the game in a neighbouring suite. They agreed to be witnesses and sign the wedding licence. “It was pretty special,” says Sarai, “an extra little token for an already unique wedding.”
Stepping out onto the ice along with their son, Dario, and daughter, Blaize, was another special moment. “We watch every single game with our kids, and walking through the place that our favourite players walk through was a surreal experience,” Sarai says.
While both had feelings of nervousness and anticipation before the ceremony, once they locked eyes, they felt nothing but calm. (Kyle jokes that it helped that Sarai had since become a Flames fan. “I’ve become more invested in the games and scream at the TV more than Kyle,” Sarai says, laughing.)
At the end of the ceremony, the Wranglers staff sent the newlyweds off with a gift card to Ben Moss jewellers, custom jerseys, a case of Great Western Brewing Original 16 (official beer of the Calgary Flames) and many more well wishes. For a pair of hockey fans, the experience of getting married at centre ice came together as a perfect day.
“We’ll remember it forever,” Kyle says.