Brynne Peña has been an Anaheim Ducks fan virtually from Day 1 - or at least win No. 1.
Her ties to the city of Anaheim run deep. After all, her grandfather, Bob Simpson, was a former Chief for the Anaheim Fire Department, as well as Mayor Pro Tem when the originally named Anaheim Arena was constructed in 1993.
Brynne was inside that building for her first hockey game as a young girl on October 13, 1993, the night the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim secured their first victory as a new franchise, defeating the Edmonton Oilers 4-3.
"I was mesmerized from the first player that stepped on the ice," Brynne says. "I was interested in the sport like I had never been interested in sports before. It was instantaneous."
That defining moment cemented Brynne as a hockey fan for life, and not just a casual fan. "When I like something," Brynne admits, I like it all the way."
As her love for the Ducks grew over the years, she always felt it would be great to find someone who was as passionate about hockey as she was. Little did she know that it would in fact be Ducks hockey that would lead her to that someone, someone who crossed her path in a most unforgettable way.
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Joe Peña was heading out to his car after church one Sunday in March 2014, as he did each week at Rock Harbor Church in Huntington Beach, when he spotted a young lady behind him carrying a bass guitar.
Completely out of his comfort zone, Joe decided to ask her a question about music. After a brief and awkward conversation, he noticed the young lady stop at her car, which looked just like his.
"She had the same car as I did," Joe recalls. "Same model, Mazda3, and the same color, gray. And the most important part, it had a Ducks sticker in the back window, just like mine."
A big fan of Ducks hockey himself, Joe had seen that car in the church parking lot before and was curious as to who the fellow Ducks fan might be. The two went their separate ways that day, but now that Joe knew who the car belonged to, he couldn't get her out of his mind.
So when he saw the bass-playing girl again a few weeks later, Joe knew he had to try and learn more. Too nervous to walk right up to her and say hello, he decided instead to leave Brynne a note on her car. He ripped a page out of his most recent issue of the Ducks Digest game program and scribbled a quick message.
"I wrote, 'Hi,' and asked her if she had seen the previous night's game against the Kings," Joe says. "Then I left her my Instagram handle, hoping she would want to get in touch with me there."
Brynne followed Joe on Instagram soon after, and within a week, the two were on their first date. And while it wasn't at a Ducks game, one of their first photographs together as a couple was with Wild Wing, who had made an appearance at an event at Whole Foods in Tustin.
With a courtship that included attending several Ducks games together and sharing their love for the sport, it didn't take long for these two hockey fans to determine they were a match. After becoming engaged in May of 2015, Brynne and Joe were married three months later. They found ways to incorporate some hockey into their special day, including having guests sign a goalie stick as their "guestbook."
Regulars at Ducks home games, their devotion to the team remains a treasured part of their relationship. Joe's favorite Duck is Ryan Kesler, while Brynne has an undeniable soft spot for former defenseman Francois Beauchemin.
Brynne says Joe's calm demeanor is the perfect complement to her drive and determination, and when it comes to hockey, these two have no trouble seeing eye to eye.
"The fact that we share a passion together like this is so much fun," Brynne says.
Brynne and Joe each still drive their "his and hers" Mazda3s, his with a Ducks "D" logo sticker and hers with a throwback Mighty Ducks decal, a unique reminder of how their love for hockey brought them together. That chance meeting in the parking lot changed their lives, but the pair would each say that being Ducks fans is no accident.
"Hockey is the perfect combination," says Brynne. "It's physical and aggressive, but still has that finesse. It's the best sport on earth."