DENVER — Arriving at Denver International Airport Tuesday, a group of men looked like any other Colorado Avalanche hockey fans. Many of them were wearing hoodies with the Avalanche logo.
But when they started talking, you realized the distance they are willing to travel to support their favorite team.
“We are a little bit tired, of course, after 13 hours on board (an airplane), but we are happy to be back in Denver finally after one year,” said David Puchovsky, who speaks with a thick accent. Puchovsky lives in the Balkans, near Bratislava, Slovakia. And he’s president of Eurolanche, the Colorado Avalanche fan club in Europe.
For the last 12 years, he has made an annual trip to Denver with fellow fans in tow.
Europe is home to a surprising number of Avalanche fans. There are about 3,000 members of Eurolanche. This year, fans from Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Great Britain were part of the “Eurolanche Invasion.”
A dozen Eurolanche fans arrived Tuesday for a three-week stay in the US. They hope to see eight Avalanche games, both in Colorado and in California. And they’re most looking forward to Saturday’s NHL Stadium Series game against the LA Kings at the Air Force Academy’s Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs.
Ben Robinson is from Great Britain. This is his first trip with Eurolanche.
“It was all through social media, so Facebook, Twitter, just following the Avs. Especially in Europe, you can’t really miss these guys,” Robinson said, referring to the wide reach of Eurolanche.
Late last year, FOX31’s Jeremy Hubbard traveled to Bratislava, Slovenia, where the fan club began. It’s Puchovsky’s home. His den has been turned into a shrine to his favorite hockey team. He has loved the Avalanche since he was a little kid.
As for this year’s Colorado trip, members of Eurolanche couldn’t be more excited — even if local fans might be perplexed.
“It must be a little bit weird to have a bunch of crazy Europeans support your hometown team and fly 10 or 13 hours transatlantic to spend a few days out here,” Robinson told FOX31.