| When Albin and Melanie Ulle won a 14-week trip around the world, they chose to see all sorts of famous places, including the Arc de Triomphe, the Amazon Rainforest, and the Great Barrier Reef.|
But even among the likes of those, the Colorado couple thought that there was one sight they just couldn't leave out of their trip: the Vancouver Canucks.
The Ulles were the lucky couple selected by the Travel Channel to be the stars of the show "1000 Places to See Before You Die." The four-month trip limited them to about 100 places in 13 countries, but hockey in Canada still made the cut.
The Ulles were treated to a Canucks practice, a Canucks game, a behind-the-scenes tour of GM Place, and lunch with Trevor Linden.
"The entire Canucks organization made our stop in Vancouver one of the most memorable around the world," said Albin.
First on the Ulles' itinerary was watching a Canucks practice, after which the couple went down to the dressing room to see some of the players. Albin, a hockey player himself, was pleased to know that his locker room in Denver wasn't the only one with that distinct "hockey smell."
The Ulles felt fortunate that they were able to follow the Canucks around, but there was one thing that made Albin a little uneasy. "I don't know how I feel about my wife being in the locker room," he said. "She may have been into it a little more than I was."
When the time came to meet Trevor Linden, they weren't sure what to expect. They thought he might be dreading the fact that he had to take time out of his day to meet them, but he was just as happy as they were.
"The first words out of his mouth were, Hi, I'm Trevor, how great to meet you guys. You must have a lot of amazing stories to tell! I can't wait to hear them!'" says Albin. "He is a real class act, and that's always refreshing to find in the world of professional sports."
The three of them hit it off, and went out for lunch at Tojo's on Broadway for some sushi.
"Albin and Melanie are two really cool people," said Linden. "They told me about some of their awesome experiences when we were at Tojo's and I was just blown away."
After hearing about their travels, Linden shared the sad news that he was in a bit of a slump and hadn't scored in 12 games. But the Ulles told him not to worry because they had a good feeling about Linden's next game.
At nearly every stop on their trip, the Ulles had a stroke of good luck. When they visited Alaska, for example, it had been raining for 29 days - until they arrived. Then they went whale watching, and the captain of the boat warned them not to be disappointed because he didn't expect them to see any whales. They saw a pod of over 50 orcas.
Albin explained this to Linden, and assured him not to worry about the slump. "I told him sincerely that his luck would change, that we were on such a streak of good luck, that he would probably score in that next game."
Sure enough, the next game against the Wild on Dec. 17th, 2006, Linden scored the first goal of the game.
The Ulles didn't have trouble cheering for their favourite player after they got decked out in their hardcore fan gear. "We didn't just go to the game," said Albin. "We wore our Canucks jerseys, I wore my new Canucks hat, and we even had the big foam #1."
It would have been hard to pick a game much better than the one they saw. Vancouver snuffed out the Wild in a 2-1 victory, and the next best thing to seeing the Canucks win is seeing them win back-to-back games over bitter division rivals.
After being away from their home in Colorado for nearly four months, the Ulles were happy to join the Canuck family. "The fans of Vancouver really made us feel at home and a part of the home team," said Albin.
Is it a coincidence that the lucky charmed Ulles attended just before Christmas? The Canucks turned the season around and went on a tear that propelled them to their second division title in three years.
"I'd like to think that Melanie and I had something to do with it," says Albin.
When the Ulles left Vancouver, they made sure to take their Canuck fanaticism with them. To this day, Albin can often be spotted in Denver supporting the Canucks and accomplishing a most important task. "I continue to piss-off many Avalanche fans by wearing my Canucks hat."
"1000 Places to See Before You Die" is on Thursdays at 9:00 on the Travel Channel.Visit the show's homepage at http://travel.discovery.com/tv/1000-places/1000-places.html