SMITHS FALLS - Dennis Durant had cold feet about asking his girlfriend, Karen Gariepy, to marry him.
That may have been because he was standing on ice when he popped the question.
Durant asked Gariepy, his flame of seven months, to be his bride between the first and second periods of the Smiths Falls Bears game at the Memorial Centre arena on Friday, March 1.
But though he was bursting to tell her, he somehow managed to keep it a secret from her.
"You can tell," he said as the seconds wound down on the first period, as he nervously looked out onto the ice where, in a manner of moments, his single life would be coming to an end. "You just seem to know, aye?"
He met Gariepy at the ice rink, where she works in the canteen, and he decided that it would be appropriate to propose to her at the same place where they met.
"They think it is pretty cool," he said of the reaction of his family and hers. Ever the gentleman, since her father has passed on, he asked her two sons, Tyler, 16, and Jared, 14, for their mom's hand. "A lot of the guys here at the rink think that I am the first to do it here at the (Smiths Falls) rink," though proposals are not uncommon at National Hockey League games too.
"You've gotta start a tradition," he joked nervously, as he held the ring box in his coat pocket, which held the 1.09 karat gold ring.
"(I'm feeling) nervous, excited, scared," he said, as the Bears struggled down on the ice against the Nepean Raiders.
Both families were well represented off the ice. Not only were her sons in attendance, so too was his daughter, Deanna Durant, her fiancee, Koby Twigge, and their children, Emily Twigg, 4, and Cole Twigge, 1, as well as his son Danny Durant, his girlfriend Christine, and their children, Christopher, 3, and little Leah, who was just born at Christmastime.
"I wanted them here," he said with fatherly pride.
The tears of joy started flowing on the ice, as soon as Gariepy saw Durant come around the corner. She had been called away from her duties at the canteen under the pretense of receiving some manner of end-of-season employee recognition. She began to get suspicious when she was handed some flowers, but it all began to click when Durant, the "special guest," stepped out onto the ice and, microphone in hand, began to profess his love for her, how much she meant to him, before getting down on one knee.
"(I am) overwhelmed, happy, so much in love," said Gariepy. She said she loved that Durrant asked her sons permission.
While they have only been together, so far, for seven months, "it feels like forever," she said, before laughing and correcting herself, "in a good way!"
While any couple starting off into married life together needs a solid foundation, Dennis and Karen should do all right, since their proposal was founded on love - and several feet of hard, concrete-like ice.