The Penguins and Olympic by PPG are working together on a series of stories to feature the most colorful fans in the game.
Hockey is one sport that is often best watched live. Through the atmosphere generated by the fans in the arena, along with the speed of the game and the size of the players, the experience of a hockey game can't quite be replicated on television.
Alan Kubitz, who goes by Bruce, attended his first Penguins game when he was 9 years old. It was love at first sight, and the Pittsburgh native has rarely missed a game since his first one back in 1967.
"When I was younger, my dad brought home some tickets for me," Kubitz said. "They were front row right behind the visiting glass. My dad got the tickets and I went. I went down and had a blast. I was so excited."
Kubitz's first game was the stepping stone for his love for hockey that has persisted ever since. That first game, the experience and excitement of it, has had a monumental impact on the path of Kubitz's life.
Kubitz enjoyed it so much that he wanted to spend every night he could at the arena. That following summer, when his dad had a friend who had a season ticket available, Kubitz snatched it up. He's been a Penguins season ticket holder since 1968, a total that this season approaches 50 campaigns.
Starting that year, Kubitz would head down to the rink after school whenever it was a hockey night in Pittsburgh. However, times were much different back then they are today.
"When I'd get done with school, I'd go down and sit at the arena," Kubitz said. "There were no cellphones back then, so I used to go to the payphone and call my dad saying, 'well, the game's over,' because some games back then weren't on television or the radio for him to know. Then he'd drive down to get me."
From Civic Arena to PPG Paints Arena, Kubitz has seen his fair share of hockey at both venues. He doesn't have any superstitions, but one thing is for sure - he never leaves a game early.
"Going back to Civic Arena, it was such bliss for me watching hockey there," Kubitz said. "I couldn't wait to get there. The history of the arena itself, the history is there at PPG Paints Arena now too after the Stanley Cup runs. I enjoy the new building too."
Through his time as a fan Kubitz has a plethora of notable memories he can recall, from when the organization drafted Mario Lemieux to the five Stanley Cup championships. Some of his favorites occurred spending the franchise's finest moments surrounded by his fellow season ticket holders.
"One of the best parts of having season tickets is seeing the same people around you each night," Kubitz said. "It almost becomes like a family, getting to see your friends each game night."
Kubitz's fandom isn't restricted to western Pennsylvania either. While he has no desire to watch a game not featuring his hometown Pens, he does travel quite a bit. One season he made nearly half the road games.
"I've been to every arena except for about five of them. I've been to Los Angeles, New York, I've been to western Canada about three times. That was a special trip for me to go up there."
There's one destination that Kubitz always tries to travel to any time the Penguins are on the road. Whether they're facing the Panthers or the Lightning, Kubitz loves the Sunshine state.
"I like going to Florida," Kubitz said. "I went to the draft down there, I enjoy the weather so much. It's great, you walk in and you're watching hockey, then you walk out and it's 75 degrees. My friends know too, they see me in Florida and say 'oh, the Penguins must be in town.'"
Despite Kubitz continuing to further decorate his NHL passport each season, he admits that there's no place he'd rather watch a game than in Pittsburgh, featuring the team that has fostered his love for the sport of hockey.
"The Pens are one of my main priorities," Kubitz said. "I love the sport, I remember playing street hockey growing up. The fact they do it all on skates, I think you really have to appreciate the game. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are the best playoff competition in sport."
Kubitz's love for the game began when he was just 9 years old. Kubitz, now 58, is still as rabid of a fan as when he was younger. While life can throw its fair share of curveballs at you, and many things can change as one becomes an adult and grows older, such as responsibilities, relationships, goals and desires, Kubitz has had a consistent presence in his life through it all in Pittsburgh's hockey team.
It's painted him as one of the more devoted fans of the Penguins' fantastic fan base.
"Penguins' hockey means everything to me," Kubitz said. "I've probably missed six home games in my whole life, over all those years."