BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Inside David Puchovsky’s in-home hockey shrine is an avalanche of Avalanche memorabilia.
“As you can see around, I’m a little bit obsessed by the Avalanche,” Puchovsky, 29, told FOX31.
There’s barely any bare space on his walls. Curio cabinets are covered in all things Colorado. And his television? It plays old Avalanche highlights practically on a loop.
“It’s my favorite game all time, ever. It’s the Avalanche seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals in ’01, and everyone knows how this ends,” Puchovsky said, pointing to his TV.
His fixation belies his location. David’s not from Denver. He’s not from Colorado. He’s not even from the United States. FOX31’s Jeremy Hubbard visited him at his home in central Europe. He lives in the Balkans, where Slovakia, Hungary and Austria all come together on the banks of the Danube River, some 5,403 miles from Pepsi Center. But nobody said you have to be local to love the Avalanche.
“The Avalanche have many fans over here,” said Puchovsky, who is president and founder of Eurolanche, the Colorado Avalanche fan club in Europe.
“There are almost 1,000 registered members in our fan club. But we have maybe 9,000 followers on social media,” Puchovsky said.
He even wrote a book on what it’s like to be an overseas fan. His Avs obsession started in childhood.
“When I was young, like 10 years old, we used to play street hockey with friends outside, and my friend introduced me to the Avalanche team because it was the only team he knew,” Puchovsky said.
Twenty years ago – in Slovakia – it wasn’t exactly easy to even see an Avalanche game, much less support his team. The only Avalanche merchandise he could get his hands on was a fake Joe Sakic jersey sold at a local market.
Even now, catching the Avs in action is tough.
“It’s hard, for example, to be in a sports bar and catch the game at 3 a.m., so we have to be there like all night until early morning when everyone is gone, but it’s of course fun to share this passion with other fans,” Puchovsky said.
It is a passion that made a pilgrimage to Pepsi Center paramount. So a few years ago, Eurolanche came to Denver to experience the excitement of the Avs first hand. Now, David has visited Colorado 10 times. He’s even made friends with Avs legends.
“There is selfie with Joe Sakic with a personalization to me,” he said, pointing to an autographed Sakic photo on his wall.
Even Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper wrote him letters two years ago, marking the 10th anniversary of the fan club and thanking him and the other European fans for their support.
“There is no NHL team with such long term and so active group like the Avalanche has,” Puchovsky said.
Come February, David and the other Eurolanche members will make their Colorado return. They plan to see eight Avs games in 17 days, including the outdoor game at Air Force Academy.
His friends back in Slovakia are jealous.
“They would like to join us someday, but I am telling them, ‘You have to follow the Avalanche and then I will take you with our group,’” he said, laughing.