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Hockey fanatic attempting 30 arenas in 30 nights visits Devils’ home

by Gordy Stillman / New Jersey Devils

Newark, N.J. — For the past few weeks, an Edmonton magazine publisher has been fulfilling part of his “wish list” as he raises money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Rob Suggitt, a 53-year-old hockey fan who didn’t attend a game until he was 20, is going to every NHL arena over the course of 30 days and watching a game at every stop. With the goal of raising $1,000 in each city, Suggitt visited Prudential Center on the 17th night of his journey, to watch the Devils take on the Anaheim Ducks on March 29.

Wearing a customized 2015 All-Star jersey, featuring patches for Make-A-Wish and his website, 30games-30nights.com, Suggitt shows no sign of fatigue as he nears the home stretch of the journey. Suggitt is set to complete his challenge on April 11th, the last day of the regular season, in Toronto, before he travels nearly 1,700 miles home to Edmonton.

While at Prudential Center, Suggitt received a signed, authentic, Patrik Elias jersey, $3,354 from the Devils’ 50/50 raffle, as well as a ride on a Zamboni during the second intermission. During the jersey presentation, N.J. Devil and Devils Alumnus Colin White stopped by to meet Suggitt as cameras introduced the Edmontonian to the game crowd. It was his second straight game featuring the Devils, having attended the Hurricanes game in Raleigh, N.C. the previous night.

After receiving the jersey, which will be auctioned to raise additional money for Make-A-Wish, Suggitt said Elias is his favorite Devils player. “I respect his style and think he’s a classy player… I admire a guy who’s been able to play the game as long as he has, in a tough league like the NHL.” He said he can easily find players to root for on each team.

Suggitt developed the idea of 30 games in 30 consecutive nights in 2003 and planned to set the wheels in motion during the 2004-05 season, but the cancellation of that season halted the process. Over the next ten years, various reasons pushed the proposed journey to the back burner.

A man with a plan, Suggitt mapped out his entire trip before it kicked off. He built his schedule around the days with the least games on the schedule and tried to plan regional trips, like visiting the three California rinks over three days.

But with daily travel, things can get tricky. On the third day of the challenge, a trip to Pittsburgh, Suggitt had to change flights because the Penguins game was rescheduled from 7:30 at night to 12:30 in the afternoon. Suggitt knocked on wood as he told the story, saying he hopes the rest of the trip goes smoothly.

N.J. Devil and Devils Alum Colin White present Rob Suggitt with a signed Patrik Elias jersey. While Elias is Suggitt's favorite Devils player, he's auctioning the jersey as part of his Make-A-Wish fundraiser. Photo by Courtney Gfroerer

Suggitt says he cheers for the home team at every stop—and will only have to root against his hometown Oilers once, when he stops in Los Angeles on April 2—but a look at his itinerary includes following certain teams on back-to-back games. In addition to seeing the Devils on consecutive nights, he followed the Redwings through Florida and saw the Jets three times in a four-night span.

He had been to six rinks before this adventure and enjoys the differences in ceremonies, fan participation and more. One example he gave was a tradition in Chicago of fans making noise and cheering throughout the singing of the national anthem. Attending a Bruins game in Boston on St. Patrick’s Day had been another highlight.

By the end of the trip, he will have traveled 23,521 miles, and hopefully will reach his $30,000 goal. All the costs of the trip come out of his own pocket, so each donation goes straight towards his ambitious objective. Between his Canadian and United States Make-A-Wish pages, he’s raised about $17,000 so far, on pace to hit his target. “The momentum is really starting to pick up, especially here in the states,” he said.

On his website after the game, Suggitt wrote that Prudential Center was his favorite venue so far, above other top experiences, including Madison Square Garden, United Center and TD Garden. “I’m not an expert when it comes to stadiums, but maybe I’m becoming one,” he said earlier in the night.

Suggitt’s epic adventure, which headed to St. Louis on Monday and Nashville on Tuesday, started as something on his personal wish list. Now he’s turned his personal wish into the chance to fund wishes for kids in both Canada and the United States. Interested fans can follow his journey at www.30games-30nights.com, where he includes a blog, information on the journey and the links to Make-A-Wish and his jersey auction.

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