Everyone has had \that\ conversation with friends, about the ideal trip to follow a sports team across the continent. Odds are, it never happens. But two dedicated Penguins fans from Ottawa have executed their plans, over and over.

Marie Pier Bouchard and Julianne Morgan are longtime friends, having met in dance class when they were younger, and are currently roommates. During the COVID-19 lockdown, they began following the NHL, mostly out of boredom. Despite having no previous allegiance to the club, they fell in love with the Penguins. Of course, having Sidney Crosby helped too. “Sid’s our golden boy back home,” Bouchard said.

Soon after, the pair began to plan an ultimate hockey experience. First, they booked tickets to go to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, but those plans fell through due to the pandemic. Instead, they shifted their focus to the Penguins.

“We still had these days off,” Bouchard said. “So we said, let’s just make a trip. We’d never been to the West Coast.”

They flew out to Vancouver and Seattle to see the Penguins play. That began a tradition for the duo, to fly around and see the Penguins play in as many places as possible.

Last season, they stayed with Bouchard’s uncle in Florida and watched the Penguins take on the Lightning and Panthers. They’ve also been to Buffalo and Detroit, and have been able to make a lot happen in just a couple of years. This week, they followed the team down the California coast for their games in San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles. 

Bouchard said they’ve been to 12 of the 32 NHL arenas, but they’ve also gotten to venture into some non-traditional venues. This January, they caught the Winter Classic at Fenway Park in Boston, and in September, they made the trip to Halifax for Crosby’s homecoming game.

It’s become an obsession, and making arrangements is now the first thing on their minds when tickets become available.

“We wait until the schedule comes out, and then we’re like, ‘what’s possible?’” Bouchard said. 

The keys to their game plan? A whole lot of ambition, plus their trusty spreadsheet.

“We’re lucky enough with work that we get about 15 days of paid leave each fiscal year, and we try to use those as much as possible,” Bouchard said. “That’s mostly why we make a spreadsheet when the schedule comes out, to keep track of how many days we'll need to book off work and when they might be. We could work remotely if we were traveling within Canada, though.

“When we went to Halifax earlier last month, I chose to go into work on one of our days there to be able to meet one of my coworkers who works in our Nova Scotia regional office in person for the first time! So, that was a nice add-on.”

In fact, their passion for the Penguins and travel is infectious. Bouchard’s parents wanted in on the fun, so they joined the duo for their California trip.

They plan on seeing upcoming games against Buffalo, Montreal, and Ottawa, and that’s good news for the team – as the Penguins went 3-0 with them in attendance this week.