The Courier

Master Warrant Officer Chris Downey and Captain Kathryn Guenther from CFB Cold Lake drop the puck on the Calgary Flames – Arizona Coyotes game on January 16th.  The Calgary Flames won 3-2 in OT against the Arizona Coyotes at Scotiabank Saddledome. (Photo by Jenn Pierce/Calgary Flames)

A pair of Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) members from CFB Cold Lake recently took to centre ice at a National Hockey League game. Master Warrant Officer Chris Downey and Captain Kathryn Guenther were chosen to drop the puck on the Calgary Flames – Arizona Coyotes game on January 16th at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, as part of a celebration of the RCAF’s Centennial.

Capt Guenther is a CF-18 Pilot at 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron, with 9 years of service in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). She says the night made for some lasting memories.

“I brought 2 members from my unit, Major Andrew Eckhardt and Captain Filip Konieczny.  We were all invited to the owner’s dinner before the game, and they let us sit in the owner’s suite for the game itself (unlimited popcorn!).  MWO Downey and I each got to keep a puck from the drop, and after the game, all the military members got to go down on the ice to meet the team and get a photo taken.”

“Overall, I think the hospitality of the folks in the owner’s group and suite was just awesome.  They were so nice to us.  There were a lot of really interesting people there to chat with, and the view from the suite to watch the game was just perfect.”

“The players stayed after the photograph to interact with us all,” says Downey. “Taking photos together, autographs. On a personal note, I must thank two of the Flames staff for gifting me two kids Flames jerseys for my boys, it was not expected, and they had already done so much for us.”

Downey says the opportunity provided him with some memories that will last a lifetime.

“I received a text from my father in Ontario minutes after the puck drop saying: “So cool! I am so proud of you. Love you”. This was followed by messages from across the country from friends, family, mentors, and members I have served with throughout my 23+ years. My father’s words and theirs were humbling and once again reminded me of why I joined, why I continue to serve and that no one succeeds alone. ”

“There was one other special moment that occurred the following day, once I returned home, ” adds Downey. “My Father and Commanding Officer recorded the event and shared it with me, which allowed me to share it with my wife and two boys. As I played the video for them, my wife’s eyes filled with pride, and I watched as my boys lit up with excitement, curiosity, and joy for their “Dada”.

As for which NHL team they cheer on, both say it wasn’t necessarily the ones on the ice that night.

“I’m a Winnipeg Jets fan, but overall I’m not too biased as long as it’s a good game,” explains Guenther.

“I was asked if I was a Flames fan immediately upon arrival at the Saddledome,” says Downey. “I responded with ‘I am not a Flames fan’, to which they replied with: ‘You’re not an Oilers fan are you!?’  Definitely not, I am an Ottawa Senators fan.”

“It seemed their only concern was if I was an Oilers fan or not.”

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