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NHL Stadium Series

Eurolanche descends on Stadium Series

12 members of Europe-based Avalanche fan club set to attend outdoor game against Kings

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Bostjan Cernensek's allegiance to the Colorado Avalanche is unwavering despite what seems like an obvious challenge in front of him Saturday.

Cernensek, a 31-year-old from Slovenia, will be wearing his Avalanche jersey and cheering from his seat in section U2 at Falcon Stadium, where his favorite team will play against the Los Angeles Kings, captained by his country's greatest player, Anze Kopitar, in the 2020 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series game at the United States Air Force Academy (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN360, TVAS, AFN|sports2).

"I'm not torn at all," Cernensek said while watching the Avalanche practice Friday. "I wish Anze all the best, but not in this game."

 

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Cernensek is one of 12 members of the Eurolanche Fan Club, the Avalanche's largest fan club, who will be at the Stadium Series game Saturday.

Eurolanche was created in 2007 by founding member David Puchovsky, who lives outside Bratislava, Slovakia. He initially created it as a website where Avalanche fans in Europe could write about the team in a discussion board.

The club started with 20 members; it's now up to 1,047 from 44 countries on every continent except Antarctica. Fans sign up for free membership on Eurolanche.com, where details of the club, its history, events and trips to Denver are documented.

 

[AUCTION: Game-worn Stadium Series jerseys]

 

Puchovsky has organized a two-week trip to Denver, which the club calls its Eurolanche Invasion, every season since 2008-09. He looks for a time when the Avalanche have several consecutive home games and perhaps an easy-to-make road trip.

The Avalanche are 41-23-6 when the Eurolanche are in attendance.

Three members -- Puchovsky, Jozef Illes from Slovakia and Ben Robinson from the United Kingdom -- who were in Denver for the Stadium Series game against the Detroit Red Wings at Coors Field on Feb. 27, 2016, a 5-3 Avalanche loss, are here for the game at Falcon Stadium.

They stay in Lakewood, Colorado, about a 20-minute drive from Pepsi Center and an hour from Falcon Stadium.

"When the rumors of this game got leaked two years ago, we were here," Puchovsky said. "We were driving to Colorado Springs and we read some tweets about it, so we decided to take a look at the stadium. We made a decision then that we would come back here for the game."

Cernensek decided this would be the best time for his first trip to North America. He called it a birthday gift to himself.

"I'm loving every minute of it," Cernensek said. "I fell in love with Denver as soon as I started following hockey, and it's great being here."

Added Puchovsky, "It was his lifetime dream. He's been a longtime Avalanche fan, and I'm really happy that I and the project and other people who help me contributed to make his dream a reality."

Video: 2020 Stadium Series at Falcon Stadium time-lapse

The Eurolanche members arrived Tuesday, approximately two hours prior to the Avalanche's game against the Ottawa Senators at Pepsi Center. They attended that game and the one against the Washington Capitals on Thursday.

They'll be at Air Force on Saturday and back at Pepsi Center for games against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday and the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

The Eurolanche Invasion will go west to California next weekend for Avalanche games at the Anaheim Ducks on Friday and in Los Angeles on Saturday. They will close their trip with a home game against the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 26 before leaving Denver the following day.

They've become recognizable here too.

"I've been used to being recognized by some fans, but this year I have to say there are more," Puchovsky said. "Dozens of fans have already greeted us at the Pepsi Center or outside the arena. When we came here to the Falcon Stadium for practice the guy at the parking lot recognized us."

They were even interviewed by a local TV affiliate when they arrived at the airport Tuesday.

"We felt like celebrities, VIPs," Puchovsky said, laughing. "The same guy went to Europe several months ago and did an interview with me in my home, which was just another level of incredible."

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