EDMONTON - On a recent day at Rexall Place, Ryan Smyth and a handful of his teammates finished practice, showered and made their way from the Edmonton Oilers’ dressing room to the Gold Club located under the building’s lower bowl. A noisy meeting place on game day, it’s where the Oilers’ faithful gather between periods to share the hockey gospel over sweating glasses of ice-cold beer and to lament the team’s fortunes in a shortened — and fast-disappearing — season.

On this day, absent of hockey fans, it became a house of worship, its altar a long wooden bar surrounded by a jumble of tables and chairs. For Smyth and the other men seated around one of the tables, the silence gave them a chance to pray with team chaplain Wayne Land and reflect on their shared love of their saviour Jesus Christ.