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Mighty Ducks Lose, but Cupid Wins

A Mission Viejo man who promised to marry his longtime girlfriend if the team won proposes even though it lost.

June 10, 2003|Kimi Yoshino | Times Staff Writer

The Mighty Ducks lost the Stanley Cup Monday night, but they helped Christina SerVoss win an even bigger prize -- a husband.

Steve De Sena had wagered a marriage proposal to longtime girlfriend SerVoss if the Ducks won, though she didn't offer anything in return. But at the end of the seventh game, without having to, De Sena got on one knee. On national TV, while standing next to a Zamboni in the arena in East Rutherford, N.J., the disappointed Ducks fan told a tearful SerVoss, "This is our year" and asked her to marry him.

She said yes.

"I feel like we're living the Cinderella story right now," De Sena, 32, of Mission Viejo, had said earlier. "Only the glass slipper is in the shape of a duck foot."

SerVoss, 30, said Monday night that she was "completely and totally shocked." In fact, she didn't believe that De Sena, a chronic procrastinator, had bought the engagement ring. So they made one more wager Sunday night: $10 that he didn't have the ring.

He played it cool the whole time, joking that he might have to use a Fruit Loop if it came to that. But when the time came, De Sena presented a pear-shaped diamond he had smuggled to New Jersey in his wallet, surprising SerVoss.

"I think I decided this in Game 3," De Sena said. "I just knew it was the time; I knew it was right."

The couple, who have known each other for seven years and dated for five, became instant media darlings as soon as their story hit the newsstands.

Before the Mighty Ducks advanced to the playoffs, De Sena, who suffers from a severe case of cold feet, blurted to SerVoss on a whim: "I'll marry you if they win the Stanley Cup."

SerVoss took him up on it, -- watching as the Ducks rolled over the Detroit Red Wings, then the Dallas Stars, then the Minnesota Wild.

She bemoaned the Ducks' first two losses in the finals to the New Jersey Devils. But things started looking up when the Ducks returned to Anaheim and evened the series.

All the while, television crews, newspaper reporters and radio DJs came calling. Some offered tickets to the games. ESPN and ABC Sports flew them to New Jersey for Game 7. A radio station offered to pay for the entire wedding if De Sena would agree to toss the bet aside and marry SerVoss before the series ended.

He declined because he wanted to stay true to the terms of the bet: "I'm a man of my word."

During Game 4, an ABC network reporter took De Sena aside just before they were set to go live and told him, "You know, if you want to propose right here on national TV, you can."

He thanked her but didn't take that offer either. Even if he wanted to, he said, he didn't have a diamond ring with him -- and that's not any way to propose.

Everybody, it seemed, wanted a piece of them.

"This thing," De Sena said after one particularly frustrating day, "has become a whole beast in itself."

"I think it's reality television at its best," SerVoss said. "There's so many people out there who can relate to this."

Their relatives say they never really doubted the outcome, whether the Ducks won or lost.

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