An NHL message board may not seem like the right place to meet Mr. or Ms. Right, but a shared love for the game of hockey has developed into digital (and real-world) romance on more than one occasion. A couple of flirty tweets and mutually shared opinions on your favourite team can actually lead to modern-day love.
Still a skeptic? I was too, until I met Monja Janikowski and Sebastian Koess, a couple of hardcore Toronto Maple Leafs fans from Germany who traveled to Toronto City Hall in 2011 to tie the knot. I witnessed their sincere ceremony, without all the frills of a big wedding party and banquet reception, and became a believer in the powerful role that social media (and hockey) can play in stirring up romance.
They met more than 10 years ago in school, but when she started studying abroad in Atlanta, their friendship turned into a long-distance romance and the internet was integral in keeping their love afloat. As Koess and Janikowski spent nights apart, they would meet online to watch hockey games and chat about the action.
"I always told Monja what a great city Toronto is, and because of our passion for the Leafs we made our first trip to Toronto in 2006. From this time on we spend nearly all of our money for our trips to Toronto and we try to come back once a year," said Koess.
Hockey bridged the distance between them and became such a central part of their love story that they felt compelled to travel from Germany to their favourite team's hometown to seal it with a kiss on March 28, 2011.Put a (Stanley Cup) ring on it
Mike Carstensen and Elicia Todd, another married couple with an affinity for blue and white, met in a chat room. Todd wasn't a big hockey fan until she virtually met Carstensen, whose passion for the Leafs was contagious enough to spread through the internet.
"Social media tools like MSN and Facebook played a large role in our love due to the distance between us. It helped us communicate on a daily basis," said Carstensen.
Their first official date happened one year after they started chatting and, no surprise here, they watched the Leafs play the Canadiens at the ACC.
Everything from that point forward involved some kind of hockey connection, from their jersey-themed engagement to the blue and white wedding.
"I'm most proud of my wedding band. It's modeled after a Leafs Stanley Cup ring, and Elicia's ring has a Maple Leafs-blue stone."Seeing Stars
Another couple met in a Dallas Stars' chat forum back in September 2006. Mandy Rivet was somehow lured into the Stars fan site despite her faithful allegiance to the Leafs. As digital fate would have it, this is where she came across Matthew Cowley, a hockey fan from Stevenage, England.
"It seems today that a lot of relationships are based online, and ours just happened to be on a forum and not a dating site. This meant that we already had the biggest thing in common, hockey," said Rivet.
Cowley made his first trip over the pond in 2011 and they traveled together to Buffalo to watch the Sabres face the Hurricanes. That's the moment their shared love for the game became more than just virtual and he has traveled back since to see Rivet and take in some NHL action.
How will they be spending Valentine's Day?
"Because we have a long-distance relationship at the moment, we won't be having a candle-light dinner and a movie. We'll simply chat online about the Leafs beating the 'Canes."
Spoken like a true hockey fan -- trading in rose petals for sticks and pucks.
Has the game of hockey played a role in your love story? Let us know in the comments below.
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