By Justin Skelnik
At the start of every hockey season, the Chicago Wolves roster is a group of individual players. Throughout the season, the individuals come together as a team, forming bonds that unify them almost like a family.
For Wolves defensemen Paul Postma and Noah Welch, last season’s team bonding brought them a step further: the two are about to become actual family members, as Welch is engaged to wed Postma’s sister, Alissa, this summer.
Postma played a big role in setting his older sister up with his defensive partner, even though he’d only known Welch a few weeks at the time.
“You meet a lot of friends playing hockey,” Postma said. “But the guys you are going to introduce your sister to are few and far between.”
“When I met Noah and got to know him after he came to the Wolves in December, I called up Alissa, who was coming into Chicago right before Christmas, and I told her that I have a guy for you to meet. If anything, you guys can just be friends, but I think you are going to like him.”
With the Wolves on the road when Alissa was scheduled to arrive in Chicago, and Welch not traveling with the team due to an injury, he offered to pick her up at the airport. The two hung out that first day in Chicago and continued talking throughout the week.
“After Alissa got to Chicago, I asked Paul if I could take her on a date,” Welch said. “If he said no, I would have respected his wishes, but he said yes. Even with his blessing, the date started off awkward because I still felt kind of weird about going on a date with Paul’s sister.
“Alissa sensed that the date was going awkwardly and she came out and told me what Paul had said about me to her, so that took some pressure off. It was really nice and such a great compliment given to me by Paul.”
As it turned out, Postma’s matchmaking instincts were spot on. After a few months of dating, Welch proposed – but not before he got the blessing of his defensive partner.
“When I was thinking about proposing to Alissa, I called his dad first, then Paul, to ask permission,” Welch said. “Paul had hands down the best reaction out of anyone. I wish I had a tape recorder because it was pretty funny. He was like a little kid. He couldn’t stop laughing, then he was yelling with excitement, then kept laughing.”
“I think my dad is more excited than I am, but I am pretty excited,” Postma said. “Growing up is always a little different with just sisters. I mean I love them to death and I wouldn’t change it for the world, but it will be nice to get another guy in the family.”
Even though Alissa doesn’t live in Chicago during the season, Welch is still getting a first-hand experience of living with a member of the Postma family. Welch and Postma share an apartment in the suburbs and both say they enjoy living together. Like any roommates, they still have quirks that get on each other’s nerves from time to time.
“Paul likes to sleep a lot,” Welch joked. “He is getting better this year, but if we have to leave our place at 8:45 a.m. to get to the rink at 9:15 a.m., he is up at the last possible moment - like 8:38 a.m. I like to get up and follow a routine. I have lived by myself the past few years, so it took some getting used to having someone else around. You can’t just do want you want all the time when you have a roommate.”
“My biggest pet peeve is that when I pick where we are going to go out to eat, he will shoot it down and make me feel embarrassed at the same time,” Postma said. “I don’t need to really watch my diet as much as he does. I can eat pretty much whatever I want and could lose weight while I am at it, so I don’t think about my diet like he does. Also, when we are buying groceries, I will grab something and he will just look at me in disgust, which gets on my nerves, but I still buy it anyway.”
The two share cleaning duties in the kitchen and common areas of their apartment, and Welch claims they spilt the cooking duties, but Postma is quick to quash that theory.
“Noah claims to be the better cook, but I don’t know if he has cooked once this year,” Postma said. “I have made supper quite a bit, but he does help out. Salad is usually his go to dish. We work well together at home.”
The duo works well together on the ice, too. Since they were paired together as defensive partners last December, the two have yet to be broken up when both are in the lineup. Postma and Welch believe that they complement each other’s playing styles.
“When Noah got into the lineup last year, we pretty much played together right from the start,” Postma recalled. “I think our pair works because I am more of an offensive defenseman and he is more defensive. Every time I play with him, I learn more about being better in our own end.”
On-ice skills aren’t the only thing that Welch, 28, is helping Postma, 21, with on a daily basis. Welch, who is the youngest of four children, has always wanted to be a big brother to someone, and says he is enjoying mentoring his future brother-in-law.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better situation to be in with Paul,” Welch said. “I always wanted a little brother growing up - not that Paul is little by any means - but a younger brother that I can help out in life. I got two little sisters out of this deal too. I know I am blessed and I probably don’t thank Paul enough for setting all this up.”
“It is nice that I finally get to have that brother I never had,” Postma added. “It is almost like we are family already. It will be official next summer, but it might as well be right now. Noah is always there for me when I need something and it is nice to have.”
There is one thing in particular Postma is hoping his new older brother can help him out with:
“Paul constantly jokes with me that I have to return the favor,” Welch said. “Every time we go out, I try my best to be a good wingman for him.”
“I don’t think it is too much to ask to return the favor,” Postma laughed. “Hopefully, one day he can help me find the right girl.”