An ice hockey fanatic from Glenrothes says he will be fulfilling a bucket list ambition when he lines up alongside former NHL superstars in a charity match next weekend.
Paul Lawson is flying to America to compete in the annual Carolina Hurricanes alumni game, an event which allows members of the public to pay to play alongside ex-professionals.
Fife Flyers fan Paul is also a devoted follower of the Hurricanes and admits he cannot wait to skate out at the club’s 19,000-seater PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Sunday, March 22.
“This is something I would certainly describe as a bucket list thing - a dream come true,” said the 38-year-old.
“I’m the first non-US resident to play in it - so they are quite excited that someone from overseas is going over.
“I don’t think the standard I’ve played at comes anywhere near NHL level, but I’ll give it a go!”
Paul has been a regular at Flyers games since the early 1990s, and has also played the sport at recreational level with Edinburgh Stingers and Fife Ice Dogs.
The former Glenrothes High School pupil quit playing a few years ago but has been dusting the skates down with training sessions at Fife Ice Arena in preparation for his big day.
“I haven’t played for around four years so I’ve been coming on for a wee skate over the last month or so just to get the rust out the system,” he said.
Paul will line up alongside no fewer than four Stanley Cup winners, including three-time winner Aaron Ward, and his own idol, Rod Brind’Amour, who captained the Hurricanes to the trophy in 2006.
“When I was playing as a forward I tried to take bits and pieces from Rod’s game,” Paul explained. “I don’t know if I want to play against or with him - it’s one of those things.
“The other guy I’m most looking to playing against is Stu Grimson. He played 13 years in the NHL as an enforcer and was known as the Grim Reaper.
“He’s six foot six, a big guy, but he’s nearly 50-years-old now so hopefully I’m young enough to keep up with him!”
Paul, who works in the maintenance team at Raytheon, revealed that his affinity for the Hurricanes dates back to when the franchise was initially based in Hartford, Connecticut.
“One of my great uncles emigrated to Hartford so I chose to follow the Hartford Whalers, although they weren’t a great team,” Paul explained.
“They upped sticks in the late 90s, moved to Carolina and rebranded, and I stayed loyal to the franchise and have been following them ever since,
“I’m the only person in Scotland that supports them and I was fortunate enough to go and see them four years ago in a home opener.
“I got to meet some of the friends I’d got to know through Facebook and forums, which has worked in my favour, because I’m going to stay with them when I go out.
“It’s still cost me a fair bit of money but it’s for charity so I don’t mind putting my hand in my pocket.
“My wife has been supportive but she’s not coming. She’s taking our wee boy to Alton Towers that weekend but I’ll be having more fun!”