The Penguins and PPG are working together on a series of stories to feature the most colorful fans in the game.
Whether it's across the state of Pennsylvania, across the United States or even from parts of Canada, dedicated fans from all over make the trip to Pittsburgh to see the Pens in person. On occasion, a dedicated fan from overseas will make the lengthy journey.
This season, the Pens welcomed a fan from 4,162 miles away. Marco Kunz traveled to Pittsburgh all the way from Worb, Switzerland, a small village outside of the nation's capital of Bern.
Kunz has been a Pens fan since 2005, when Sidney Crosby was drafted first overall in the NHL Draft. Kunz had always been a lifelong hockey fan, but was drawn to the Pens in particular following the acquisition of Crosby.
"I love his style of playing," Kunz said. "Since that first day, I have been a big fan."
The 26-year old described the surreal experience as a dream come true, as he got to watch the Pens play three games at PPG Paints Arena in person. Kunz planned the trip so he could watch the Pens host Philadelphia on Dec. 1, Colorado on Dec. 4 and the New York Islanders on Dec. 6.
"It was one of the best experiences of my life," Kunz said. "To see the Pens in real life was just an amazing feeling."
Kunz had the opportunity to witness a record-breaking moment. During the Colorado game, Hornqvist scored the fastest natural hat trick in Penguins history. The Swedish forward took just two minutes and 47 seconds to score all three goals.
Two nights later against the Islanders, Crosby buried a highlight-reel worthy goal on a tough angle. Positioned parallel with the goal line, Crosby sniped his shot between the miniscule gap just over the shoulder of Islanders goalie Christopher Gibson and slightly under the cross bar. The goal was the Pens' sixth of the night during their 6-2 victory.
"Those moments stood out," Kunz said. "The hat trick from Hornqvist against the Avalanches and also the beautiful goal from Crosby against the Islanders."
Due to the eight-hour time difference between the U.S. and Switzerland, Kunz typically has to stay up until the early hours of the morning to watch the team play. This was the first time he experienced the Pens in person and at a sensible hour.
"It was really nice to watch games at a 'normal' time," Kunz said. "When I watch the Pens in Switzerland, I have to stay up till 1 a.m. in the morning, but it's always worth it."
While the Pens are Kunz's favorite team in the NHL team, he is prideful of his country and its players that have successfully made it into the NHL.
"It's really nice to see that more and more players from Europe have some success in the NHL," he said. "Even from a little country like Switzerland we got some good players like Roman Josi, Kevin Fiala, Timo Meier and of course, last year's No. 1 Draft pick Nico Hischier. [All] who have had really good success in the NHL. It makes me proud as a Swiss hockey fan."