Marc-Andre Cardinal and Benoit Marleau lived a hockey fan's dream for the past week.
The two friends took in seven games in seven different cities from Nov. 25-Dec. 2, racked up a ton of miles on the ground and in the air, and as an added bonus got a puck from each game they attended.
"We lived in a car for practically a week," Cardinal told NHL.com. "Eating on the way, and getting to hotels late, we didn't do much besides drive, fly and watch some great hockey games."
Cardinal is a project officer for Canada Revenue Agency, and Marleau is an advisor for Caisse Desjardins and both are from Gatineau, Quebec. They are huge fans who also love to take sports excursions together -- Cardinal is an Ottawa Senators fan, and Marleau is a Montreal Canadiens supporter who likes to collect hockey memorabilia.
The goal for this trip was to attend games in cities they hadn't already been, which made finalizing a map more difficult. Cardinal and his wife are hoping to have their first child in the next year, and he convinced Marleau to go on one, final, big trip together.
"She was really excited for me," Cardinal said of his wife's reaction to the trips. "I couldn't ask for more out of my wife; she clearly is the best woman on Earth."
They started in Toronto on Saturday for the Maple Leafs vs. Washington Capitals game, then they drove to Pittsburgh for the Penguins game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday. They saw Sidney Crosby score the game-winning goal in overtime.
From there they drove to Detroit for the Red Wings home game against the Kings, then flew for a game in Boston before flying back to Detroit and driving to Chicago on Thursday. Along the way, they started to make friends and get noticed by fellow fans, and also maintained their streak of collecting a puck at each game.
They closed the excursion with games in St. Louis and the finale at Bridgestone Arena between the Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators. After receiving four pucks at the Kings-Blues game Friday, the pressure was on to get a biscuit in Nashville, but fortunately Predators defenseman Anthony Bitetto recognized the guys and flipped them one in warmups.
"We had high expectations for Nashville, and it did not disappoint," Cardinal said. "We saw a little bit of everything; great fans, great atmosphere.
"Overall, we liked Nashville the best."
In all, they drove 1,596 miles and flew 1,719 miles in eight days and had several more memories that will last for years to come.
"The best thing about going place to place every day [was] seeing new rinks, new cities and new chants from the fans," Cardinal said. "All good things must come to an end."