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Icelandic Penguins fan's dream comes true with special birthday gift

by Ty Lesko @penguins / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins and Olympic by PPG are working together on a series of stories to feature the most colorful fans in the game.

The Penguins' fan base stretches around the world, but two Icelanders didn't have to deal with the five-hour time difference when watching Pittsburgh defeat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 on Jan. 23.  

"It's like a miracle, it's a dream for almost 10 years coming true," Gudlaug Thorsteinsdottir said of watching the Penguins play for the first time.

Thorsteinsdottir and her friend Hrobjartur Arnfinnsson celebrated her 25th birthday by traveling to Pittsburgh to see their first NHL game. With this being their first time on this side of the world, they fell in love with Pittsburgh immediately.

"It's been awesome and just an awesome experience," Arnfinnsson said of attending his first NHL game.

Throughout their weeklong stay, the two enjoyed various parts of Pittsburgh, but made it clear they saved the best part of their vacation for last.

"I love the city, it's the first time I've been here," Thorsteinsdottir said of Pittsburgh. "This is for sure the best place I've been to that's on the western side of the world from Iceland."

Thorsteinsdottir's background in hockey transcends just fandom. She has been a goaltender for the Icelandic women's national team since 2011. Along with playing for most of her life, she also works as the director for Bjorninn Hockey Club in the Icelandic Hockey League, who, as it happens, sport black, yellow and white jerseys.

Her love of the Penguins began about eight years ago when Thorsteinsdottir's youth hockey coach told her to pick an NHL team to follow. After deciding to look up the Penguins and get acquainted with players both old and new for the franchise, she knew this was the kind of team she could see herself supporting.

"I played hockey in Iceland, and at some point when I was a teenager my coaches told me I needed to pick an NHL team to follow," Gudlaug explained. "I saw the logo and I noticed I already had a couple of things with the Penguins logo on them like notebooks, so I Googled them and saw some players, saw their highlights and thought it'd be really nice to cheer for a team like this."

And now, she's gotten to do it in person.

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