Retiring Raiders goalie Gray will never forget final guard of honour from teammates
PUBLISHED: 09:22 26 March 2020 | UPDATED: 09:22 26 March 2020
Everyone Active Raiders goalie Michael Gray says he will never forget the guard of honour his team-mates gave him as he left the ice for the last time after his final appearance for the club.
The 30-year-old has called time on his career after 10 seasons with the Raiders and played his final game in their 7-3 defeat to Telford Tigers before the National League season was cut short due to the coronavirus outbreak.
As the Tigers celebrated being crowned regular season champions, the Raiders gave Gray a guard of honour to leave the ice, as they marked his time at the club.
“The guard of honour was amazing and I will never forget that as it meant so much to me,” Gray said.
“It was also one of the most difficult things that has happened to me whilst playing hockey because how emotional it made me, but seeing my team-mates do that shows how much we are like a family.
“It was very emotional and took me a little while to relax and get settled in, which doesn’t normally happen to me.
“Every team-mate that was coming up to me giving me a hug and saying enjoy it, that made it even harder, but it was a really nice thing to do.”
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The shot-stopper did admit it will not truly sink in until the new season starts up as he has been used to playing for so many years.
“I think August, September and October will be a very strange time for me and that’s when it will hit home,” he added.
“I will miss it, 100 per cent, and be thinking why did I retire when these months come around. But I have to remind myself of the commitment I have to give to hockey when playing, so that will help me get over it.
“I will also be around and won’t be a stranger at the Sapphire as I love the team.”
Raiders had to wear Telford’s white jerseys due to forgetting their own for the final clash of the season and Gray chuckled: “Playing in a Telford shirt was very strange which I wouldn’t like to do again.
“It was not the best way to finish, but I’m so grateful to all the players who went and let me have that game because it was a very difficult time that no one has ever been involved in. I also want to say thank you to all the fans that travelled to be a part of it as well.”
*Michael Gray made a total of 336 appearances for Raiders, joint seventh all-time with Tari Suwari, including 272 league matches, 35 cup, 18 play-off and 11 other.
He played more minutes, faced and saved more shots in league and all competiions than any other goalie in club history, was credited with a total of six assists, picked up 214 minutes in penalties and recorded a club record eight shutouts.