Couple's ultimate Winnipeg Jets 'fan cave' a tribute to love not just for team, but for each other
'Hockey's a huge part of our relationship': Manitoba couple looking forward to playoffs and their wedding
Scoring a ticket to a Winnipeg Jets playoff game would be the ultimate fan experience, but getting an invite to Kyle Calder and Stefanie Sobieski's Jets "fan cave" might be a close second.
Calder and Sobieski, who are engaged to be married, have spent countless hours building a tribute to their favourite team in the basement of their home near Beausejour, Man., about 50 kilometres northeast of the Jets' home city.
"As I got older I did want to have something that was more along the lines of a man cave kind of thing, but I wanted my fiancée to be down here as well, so [we] changed it to 'fan-cave,'" said Calder.
"I was all for it,"said Sobieski. "We were always hockey fans and I loved the concept of it — he's a carpenter so he has that vision."
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The couple started dating seven years ago, around the time the Jets made their return to Winnipeg. Calder had been a fan of the original Jets team as a kid. Sobieski was a Team Canada and Edmonton Oilers fan, but that soon changed.
When the pair moved into their home together in 2014, they knew they wanted to create a space devoted to their shared love of hockey.
"The passion that we share for hockey definitely brought us closer together as a couple," said Sobieski.
Now, a 500-square-foot area of their basement serves as a replica of Bell MTS Place, the Jets' home arena.
It took nine coats of paint to turn the concrete floor into a replica of an ice rink, complete with sideboards. Sobieski hand-painted the lines to complete the look.
The centre line leads up to the big screen TV, encased in a handmade frame to make the TV look like a Jumbotron.
"The rafters, the joists are all painted in the same sequence as the armband on the jerseys. They were colour matched right off of my actual Jets jersey," said Calder.
"The boards, I made sure they were regulation height. I was trying to make everything as to scale as possible," he said.
The walls of the fan cave are covered with autographed photos, ticket stubs and hockey sticks.
"I've basically been collecting items slowly since I was old enough to start watching hockey," said Calder.
There's even a corner with a net for practising slapshots, puck lights embedded in the boards and a siren that flashes each time the Jets score.
"When I have the surround sound going, and all of the goal lights on and the lights dimmed, it's very much like a hockey atmosphere down here," said Calder.
Proposal on ice
The couple's tribute to the team is as much a declaration of their love for each other as one for the Jets.
"Right from Day 1, it's kind of always felt as if the team was part of our relationship, and vice versa," said Calder.
"It is our main hangout. We literally come home, we get changed and we go downstairs. We have dinner and we sit in our cave," said Sobieski.
The couple now play hockey together on a coed team and make the game a part of their lives.
Calder faked an injury during a game to get Sobieski's attention and get her out on the ice for the proposal.
"She came out onto the ice and one of my teammates passed me the ring behind the board, and so I kinda got up on one knee and proposed to her on the ice," said Calder.
Sobieski says the stunt had her completely fooled and she rushed out onto the ice in a panic.
"Slowly out of his sleeve he pulls out this ring and he proposes to me in front of his whole team, and I was just shocked. I was not expecting it whatsoever."
Gearing up for Stanley Cup
With a wedding in the works, the couple say they may not be able to make it to a playoff game, but hope to have several gatherings in the fan cave to watch.
"[To win the Stanley Cup] would be something this city has obviously never seen, but it'd just be unbelievable," said Calder.
While the soon-to-be-married couple are hoping their team will take the NHL championship this season, a Stanley Cup is already in their plans either way.
The wedding cake at their nuptials this September is set to be a life-size replica of the trophy.
"Hockey's a huge part of our relationship," said Sobieski.
"It's definitely brought us together and so has building the Jets cave."