Go to a hockey game.
When most people think about hockey, they think about fist fights, not first kisses.
But for recently engaged couple Brian Malek and Christin Hower, the sport got the sparks flying.
The two had their first date at a Silvertips game in 2012.
She liked that she could be herself around him. He liked how she cussed out the goalie.
The mutual infatuation led to a lot more than hockey.
They plan to marry this fall on the ice rink at Comcast Arena at a Silvertips game.
This didn't start out to be a love story, though.
Hower was living in Puyallup when Malek moved from Michigan to work as a Boeing engineer in 2006. Her best friend is married to his best friend, so they were both at the same gatherings.
He liked what he saw.
"She was outgoing and always happy and bubbly and friendly," said Malek, 42. "At barbecues she'd get me food."
Maybe so, but she didn't think he was anything that special.
"The first time I met him he was too quiet," said Hower, 28, a customer service rep at HomeStreet Bank. "He never talked, which was kind of nice because I could do more talking."
Not that any of it mattered, though.
She wasn't available. She had a boyfriend. Then she got married to a different guy.
Over the years, Hower and Malek would cross paths at their best friends' house at picnics and parties. They were the godparents to their friends' baby. You get the picture.
Malek stayed hopeful. "He said to my friend, 'If she's ever single, you have to tell me,'?" Hower said.
Sure enough, after she divorced, he got word. They started to hang out, as friends. The discovery of their common interests made them something more.
"We both loved hockey and going out into the woods and shooting guns and outdoorsy stuff and fast cars," she said.
Still, she was hesitant.
"After he asked me out, I was like, 'I don't know . . . ' I wasn't sure I could like him in that way and think of him as a boyfriend.'?"
But she agreed to a date at a Silvertips game. It seemed safe turf.
She cussed up a storm. He fell madly in love.
"She wasn't afraid of getting in the game and expressing herself," Malek said.
It didn't scare her away that he wore his heart on his sleeve.
"He said, 'I've been in love ever since I met you.' I said, 'Huh, that's pretty weird,'?" Hower admitted.
Weird — but in a good way.
"He was genuinely nice. He wanted nothing more than to make me happy and that is what sealed it for me," she said.
"Yep," he said.
Cupid's arrow struck her during their second Silvertips date.
"When I looked over at him, he was so excited and so happy. He was like a little kid in a candy store. I hadn't had a relationship that was so much fun," she said.
"I was happy every minute I was with her," he said.
Hower moved to Everett to be closer to Malek and their beloved Silvertips.
They'll celebrate Valentine's Day in the stands watching the Silvertips go up against the Vancouver Giants.
If only bleachers could talk.
Comcast Arena marketing director Tammi Bryant Olson said several years ago another couple who met at a Silvertips game got married there. She suspects the arena has spawned many romances. She'd like to hear from couples with a Comcast Arena love connection.
After all, she met the man of her dreams at a Silvertips game.
"He was a bartender," she said. "We have been married seven years. We have a 5-year-old daughter."
Are you looking for love?
Tonight's game starts at 7:35.
Andrea Brown; 425-339-3443; email@example.com.
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