Avalanche European fan club ready for action
'Eurolanche' set to cheer on favorite team in Stadium Seriesby Bill Price @BillPriceNHL / NHL.com Editor-in-Chief
DENVER -- Fans will come from miles around for the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game Saturday between the Colorado Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings (8 p.m., ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports 2) at Coors Field.
But 12 fans of the Avalanche have gone the extra mile, actually an extra 5,378 of them, to get here.
Eurolanche, which bills itself as the first European Fan Club of the Colorado Avalanche, is on its eighth trek to see its favorite team in person. The name of this journey? Eurolanche Invasion VIII, of course.
The group flew to Denver on Wednesday from Vienna and were at Pepsi Center a few hours later to see the Avalanche defeat the San Jose Sharks 4-3 in a shootout.
The online fan club, which claims to have 591 members in 31 countries, was started by David Puchovsky, 25, of Slovakia. In 2000, when Puchovsky was 10 years old, a friend told him about the Avalanche and he immediately became hooked. Seven years later he started the club because "It was the only team I knew," he said at Pepsi Center on Wednesday.
Eurolanche made its first trip with a handful of members in 2008 and the numbers have grown each year. There are 12 members from five different countries -- each a Eurolanche record -- on this latest trip. Many of them met for the first time at a November orientation in Prague. Wednesday, the 12 embarked on their 16-day trip, which includes a two-day side trip to Las Vegas.
The members estimate the trip will cost each of them 2,000 Euros, about $2,200 in American dollars. Only one of the 12 is married -- his wife agreed to watch the kids -- and another, Norbert Gruber from Vienna, is getting married in July.
"I'm treating this like my bachelor party," he said.
It's some party.
Eurolanche trekked to Rocky Mountain National Park on Thursday, and will attend the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series Alumni Game on Friday, the Stadium Series game on Saturday and then pile into a rented van covered in Eurolanche magnets and head to Sin City.
After Las Vegas, Eurolanche plans to attend five more Avalanche games and visit the Grand Canyon, as well as other national monuments and tourist spots.
But this is not a case of what happens in Vegas and Denver stays there. Eurolanche is broadcasting its every move on Persicope, Twitter and its website, www.eurolanche.com.
When asked what his group will do for an encore next season, Puchovsky didn't know, but said 20-30 members have expressed interest in going, wherever it is.
Get ready for Eurolanche Invasion IX.