Imagine being in love in Buffalo, looking for a perfect moment of “Will you marry me? Of course, I will.”
You met through an online dating site, so perhaps via email? No. That doesn’t sound like a good way to start a life together.
You’re both teachers, so how about while grading papers? Yuck. Not romantic at all.
You play hockey. She’s learning to skate. And you’re both Sabres fans. So how about center ice at First Niagara Center?
Now we’re talking.
And that’s where Kevin Fleck, 29, of Depew, asked Megan Paluch, 24, of West Seneca, to marry him Sunday afternoon.
“You make me so happy every day. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?” Fleck asked on bended knee and ice skates, with diamond ring in hand.
“Yes!” Paluch replied. “You are crazy!”
The romantic proposal on ice was weeks in the making.
After dating for a year and a half, Fleck – a special-education teacher at School 19 in Buffalo – knew he wanted to marry Paluch – a Spanish teacher at Mount St. Mary’s Academy in the Town of Tonawanda – and was ready to pop the question.
Perhaps it was fate, then, that he got an email from his insurance company, BlueCross BlueShield, announcing a free skating event Sunday at First Niagara Center.
As part of its “Healthy Changes Everything” campaign, the health insurer was inviting its members to a series of skating sessions on the Buffalo Sabres’ home ice. Reservations needed; spots limited.
Fleck tried the last time BlueCross BlueShield sponsored such an event but was unable to get a ticket. This time, he was able to get two tickets. He also got BlueCross BlueShield to help with his proposal plan.
“We were more than happy to help. We were thrilled,” said Caitlin Zulewski, a corporate relations specialist with the company.
The couple were wearing Sabres jerseys when they arrived for the noontime skating session Sunday, and at about 12:30 p.m., the music changed to “You and Me” by the Dave Matthews Band. That was Fleck’s cue.
Then an announcement was made: “Will Megan Paluch please come to center ice?”
While about 150 others continued skating, Paluch skated toward the blue and gold Sabres logo, with Fleck not far behind.
Paluch said, “Yes.”
A group of young skaters then approached Paluch, each handing her a single red rose that made up a bouquet.
Fleck said a short time later that he was confident Paluch would say yes but was a little nervous about whether he’d be able to propose on the ice without falling.
But he didn’t fall.
Paluch said she was “in shock” over the proposal: “He played it cool all day.”
Fleck said that he has played bar league hockey for the entire time he has known Paluch and that she has come to his games for the entire time they’ve been dating. Recently, he said, she asked him to teach her to skate.
And, yes, they’re both Sabres fans.
That’s why, he said, he thought First Niagara Center would be a perfect place to get engaged.
The newly engaged couple said they’ll be making wedding plans soon but, as of Sunday at least, didn’t know when or where they’d be getting married.
Then, Paluch and Fleck commented on how exciting it was to be skating on the Sabres’ home ice.
As they left center ice, they resumed skating with the other adults and children in the arena.