David Stearns, 25, a native of Buffalo and to this day a proud Buffalo Sabres’ fan, was not quite prepared for the fate that confronted him last June, at an NHL Awards watch party co-hosted in town by hockey bloggers Greg Wyshynski and Jon Press. It was there that he was introduced by a friend to Wendy Beveridge, 26, a native of Silver Spring, Md., and a lifelong Caps’ fan.
“It was love at first hockey sight,” he said.
One week ago, little more than six months after meeting the love of his life, Stearns, seated next to Beveridge at the Caps’-Sabres game December 23, fell to one knee in section 426 of Verizon Center, outfitted in his Sabres’ sweater, and proposed marriage. (As fortune would have it, there just happened to be an OFB camera one row away.) Stearns wears a Maxim Afinogenov Sabres’ sweater — he simply likes to work fast.
Of course she said yes. (Even outfitted in her Caps’ sweater.) Would we be sharing this story with you on New Years Eve, the most romantic night of the year, if she hadn’t?
Now get this — according to Stearns, the awards watch party was love at first sight for both of them!
“I kind of thought she was out of my league,” he admitted.
He also admitted that he knew he wanted to marry Beveridge two weeks after meeting her. He also knew where he wanted to propose: at a Caps’-Sabres game. Puckhead Love.
He ordered a ring, trying desperately to have it ready in time for the Caps-Sabres game on December 23. No luck. He was told December 26. But then the best of holiday season luck arrived, and he was informed of the ring’s availability by Tuesday, the day before the game. In an act rather redeeming (almost) of a Sabres’ fan, Stearns on that Monday asked permission of Beveridge’s father before embarking on his proposal. (He got it. Enthusiastically.)
Stearns’ plan was to fall to one knee at the first TV timeout of the first period. Good thinking — who wants such a momentous act hanging in prolonged fashion over the important proceedings below? Besides, the thinking suitor envisions his sectionmates buying the happy couple celebration beers the remainder of the game.
Speaking of beer, it had a role in this magical moment — but not the one you probably think. Stearns and Beveridge had settled into their seats before puck-drop with fresh frothies in hand. Then at their feet. One of which Beveridge accidentally kicked over right in the intended kneeling spot! Doh! But hey, the guy’s from Buffalo; you think he was gonna be foiled by a little wet cement?
Incidentally, the Hershey Bears’ Giant Center has become a bit of a Las Vegas chapel on the Strip: according to Bears’ radio voice John Walton, no fewer than two dozen marriage proposals are proffered there every season.
Beveridge had no idea the ask was coming, as you’ll see in the images we captured below. The bride to be is in her first year of law school at CU, and the couple plans on marrying in the fall of 2011. She probably won’t wear red, but there’s time to address that. Is there any hope this love converts Stearns away from the dark side?
“Actually, I’ve become a bit of a Caps’ supporter the past couple of years, going to a lot of games, and as Buffalo has missed the playoffs,” he acknowledged. “But when it comes to the Caps playing the Sabres . . . no, I’m remaining loyal.”
On this particular New Years Eve, we at OFB choose to believe instead that Love will conquer all.