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05 Feb

Breakaway Magazine Vol. 3 Issue 8 - Tough Love

The Chicago Wolves are fierce on the ice, but hockey players need love, too. Meet four of the Wolves' future wives.

By Elizabeth Casey & Rachel Acevedo | Photos by Ross Dettman | Illustrations by Imran Javed & Christina Moritz

LOVE IS IN THE AIR at the Chicago Wolves, and not just because Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Not one, not two, not three, but four members of the Wolves roster took time out from their tough-guy day jobs and got down on one knee to propose to their sweethearts this summer.

Though you might know them best for slamming opponents into the boards and firing slapshots at opposing goaltenders, these Wolves stars have a softer side too. Below, the newly engaged players and their fiancées share the tales of how Cupid’s arrow managed to penetrate those hockey pads.

Darren Haydar & Sara

Haydar-Inside

 

How did you meet?

DARREN: Sara and I met through friends at the start of the playoffs during my last season in Milwaukee.

What is your favorite thing about him/her?

DARREN: She’s a very loving and strong person. She’s very strong willed and it shows in what she has been through (fighting cancer). I definitely commend her on how strong she has been throughout everything.

SARA: He is so loving, patient, and very easy going. I love how laid back he is. He makes me laugh...I could go on and on.

Tell us about the proposal:

DARREN: I proposed to her in the Bahamas while we were staying at the Atlantis last summer. After we went out to dinner one night, we walked by the pool that was alongside the beach and I asked her there.

SARA: I was completely surprised! I was so happy, excited and blushing – it felt like fireworks. I thought maybe we would be looking around at rings last summer, I had no idea he had one in his pocket! I didn’t cry, but my cheeks were burning from smiling so hard. I kept asking, “Are you serious?” “You’re going to keep me?!?”

How is the wedding planning going? Is Darren hands on?

DARREN: The wedding will be in downtown Chicago next July. She and her family are from around here and my family is only an eight-hour drive away. So, since we’re having the wedding in Illinois, we thought what better place to have it than downtown. I’m definitely hands on in the wedding planning. I want to know what we’re paying and what we’re getting out of it.

SARA: Darren is maybe one hand on...LOL. He likes to hear about the different appointments and the details, but not have to go to all the appointments. Darren is in charge of budget. He’s all over that department!

What is the best part of being engaged to a Wolves player? What is the worst part?

SARA: Free tickets! Haha, no honestly, this is the best team/organization in the AHL. Chicago is the best city EVER! Plus, I’m from here, so it’s “home.” The worst part of hockey life is MOVING! Moving two times per season: once to start the year and once at the end of the year. It’s exhausting.

Do you like watching his games, or does it make you nervous?

SARA: LOVE IT! I bounce around in my seat for all the shots on goal, fights, hits, yell at the refs, do the chicken dance...I’m not going to lie though, I’m glad Darren doesn’t fight. When a guy fights, I always think how the wife/girlfriend must be having a heart attack!

Mannino-InsidePeter Mannino & Alyta

How did you meet?

PETER: I met Alyta when we went to the University of Denver together. She was a Division I volleyball player and she caught my eye, so I threw the fishing pole out there and brought her in. She had heard that hockey players had bad reputations and I had to convince her that I was a good guy, so I texted her saying hi and telling her who I was and asked if she’d like to get sushi with a bunch of us. It turned out she hates seafood, so I struck out quickly, but I rebounded and we eventually hung out.

What is your favorite thing about him/her?

PETER: I love her confidence and personality. She’s a very assertive lady and I just love being around her. She makes the day that much better and we just click; she brings a smile to my face.

ALYTA: He is an extremely devoted person. And of course I fell in love with his sense of humor - that’s how he won me over!

Tell us about the proposal:

PETER: We were in Colorado for two weeks last summer and we went to a local steakhouse in the area and kept talking about going back to campus to take a walk. I planned to go back to a spot on campus where we sat and talked for hours about officially starting to date. So, I took her to that exact spot and said ‘it’s funny how things loop back around five years later right at this exact spot. There have been a lot of decisions I’ve made in my life, but this is the easiest.’ She turned to look at me and I got down on one knee. I’ve never seen her eyes get so big before. Proposing there was pretty special, it had a lot of meaning for both of us.

ALYTA: It was very surreal. It was so nostalgic because he took me back to where we met and it was just how I hoped it would be.

How is the wedding planning going? Is Peter hands on? What has been his biggest contribution so far?

PETER: The wedding will be a small, intimate gathering in downtown Chicago. Alyta is originally from Illinois and my family is from Michigan, so we figured the city of Chicago is a pretty neat place to bring everyone together. I’d like to think that I’m hands on with the wedding planning. I helped find the church recently, but I give her all the credit because she’s working really hard and doing a great job. But, whatever she asks me to do, I try to do it the best I can.

ALYTA: He is as hands on as I need him to be...his biggest contribution was asking me to marry him (haha). But, he did
find and book our church!

What is the best part of being engaged to a Wolves player? What is the worst part?

ALYTA: The best part is going to the games and watching him play. The worst part is that he’s on the road a lot.

Do you like watching his games, or does it make you nervous?

ALYTA: I enjoy watching the games. I always went to Peter’s games in college and he went to mine, so to still be able to watch him play is great. The only thing that really makes me nervous is shootouts. Peter thinks they’re a lot of fun, but I cannot stand watching them!

 

Krog-InsideJason Krog & Kim

How did you meet?

KIM: Jason and I met when I was quite young at Lake Koocanusa, 30 minutes past his hometown of Fernie, British Columbia. My parents had a place there that we would go to every weekend to get away from the city of Calgary. About five years passed before we crossed paths again in Kimberley, British Columbia, at a festival they have every year called July Fest. We hit it off and kept in touch that summer, and continued building a relationship while he was playing for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

What is your favorite thing about him/her?

JASON: I don’t know if I have just one favorite thing about her; there are a lot of things. We complement each other really well. She’s very organized and takes control of a lot of things at home. We both know what to do for each other to make our relationship work.

KIM: He always knows how to make me laugh. Jason is really easy going and positive. He always sees the bright side of any situation and can find a way to make me see it too. I love how he’s always so motivated to stay active and healthy. Even on his days off, we don’t hang out on the couch, we go to the gym and play hoops or something active. He motivates me to keep moving and I love that about him.

Tell us about the proposal:

JASON: I surprised her and woke her up early one day to ask
her to marry to me.

KIM: He proposed to me really early in the morning, so I was woken up to him down on one knee beside the bed while I was still half asleep. So, after he proposed, my first response was, “can I go brush my teeth?”

How is the wedding planning going? Is Jason hands on? What has been his biggest contribution so far?

JASON: Our wedding is going to be in the mountains of Fernie, because it’s home for both of us. We love it back there and that’s where all our family and friends are.

KIM: I would definitely say I am in charge (of the wedding planning.) He’s not exactly the type of guy who wants to pick flowers or center pieces. We were both finding it hard to plan or make decisions on anything being here in Chicago and having the wedding in Fernie, so his biggest contribution to the wedding so far has been agreeing to hire a wedding planner to make my life a little easier and stress free. Happy wife, happy life...haha!

What is the best part of being engaged to a Wolves player?

KIM: We get to live in a great city and get a taste of big city life here in Chicago. We are both foodies and love trying new restaurants around town. After traveling with Jason for the past seven years, I’m glad he is part of the Wolves once again. We love
it here.

Do you like watching his games, or does it make you nervous?

KIM: I do enjoy watching Jason play hockey, it amazes me how skilled he is. It’s unreal to watch him make good passes and score. I love how he sees the ice and has good chemistry with his teammates. The only time I get nervous is when he does the shootout. I’m not a fan of having one person (be it Jason or another teammate) be responsible for winning or losing the game.

Welch-InsideNoah Welch & Alissa

How did you meet?

ALISSA: My brother, Paul Postma, is the one who introduced me to Noah. We were on the phone one night and he had a lot of great things to say about Noah and really wanted me to meet him. Paul (having three sisters), has a tough job and is a pretty protective brother. He wants the best for his sisters and is pretty vocal about approving or not approving of a guy. I had never heard him talk about anyone the way he talked about, respected, and looked up to Noah; I knew he had to be a pretty decent guy! When (my sister) Sharlene and I flew to Chicago last December, Noah (not knowing what Paul had already started) was the one who picked us up, and that is when it all started.

What is your favorite thing about him/her?

NOAH: Alissa is very gentle, caring and genuine and has the best smile. After I met her, I told my family that she reminded me of my nana, who was the nicest, sweetest lady. My aunt told me I better ‘lock her up’ after I told them that.
We have the same spiritual beliefs and that was a big deal for us and brought us together. We get along great and really got to know each other by talking on the phone. We were friends before anything, but it took only a month
or two to really make it official and realize she could be my wife.

ALISSA: His sense of humor. Noah always knows how to make me laugh. I also love how much he values family; that is really important to me, too.

Tell us about the proposal:

NOAH: I got the ring the day of her birthday and wanted to propose that night, but the jeweler had a problem getting the stone into the setting. It turned out that he and I were both going to be at Fenway Park at a Red Sox game, so we planned to meet there so I could pick up the ring when he got it set. I had to figure out how to leave Alissa in the seats without being suspicious, so I called my friend who was at the game also and asked him to come down and meet her and keep her company while I went and “got food.” I met up with the jeweler, got the ring and proposed after the game on the rooftop of my place that overlooks the Boston harbor. It was kind of a circus to get the ring, but everything eventually fell into place.

ALISSA: We had just gotten back from a Red Sox game and were on his rooftop deck when he asked me. As soon as he started telling me about the phone call he had with my dad and brother when he asked them for permission, I started to cry and clued in on what was going on. I was really excited!

How is the wedding planning going? Is Noah hands on?

NOAH: Our wedding will be in Red Deer, Alberta, where she and her family are from. And then after our honeymoon in Maui, Hawaii, we’re going to have a party in Boston. I left the wedding plans to her and she’s done an unbelievable job of setting everything up. It has been a smooth process with no arguments.

ALISSA: I’m known as a procrastinator, and that is not a good mix with wedding planning! Noah is great with asking me questions about what we have booked and completed on our list. He is always asking and willing to call different people if I have a lot going on with school assignments. He has been really great and I can say that without his input and help, half of what we have booked now would not be done.

What is the best part of being engaged to a Wolves player? What is the worst part?

ALISSA: The last person I thought I’d marry would have been a hockey player, but now that I am, I have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people like the Wolves staff, wives, kids, girlfriends, and other fiancées. The tough part right now is distance. With his job, he can’t take a weekend off and fly to see me. It is hard being in Red Deer and so far from Noah.

Do you like watching his games, or does it make you nervous?

ALISSA: My family loves sports. I grew up watching my dad and then Paul play hockey and now I have the opportunity to watch Noah, which I love. I’m not a loud fan but I can get pretty jumpy, especially when I’m nervous.

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