It’s always fun to hear how hockey fans became hooked on the NHL, especially when it is in non-traditional markets. Luckily, we got a chance to chat with a few Australian hockey fans that have become die-hard Colorado Avalanche fans, despite living on the other side of the world.
We want to thank the Aussie Avs Fan Club for sharing their stories with us. We hope you enjoy following their journey to Avs fandom as much as we did.
Matt Olsen, Aussie Avs Fan Club (@AvalancheAU)
Ask any hockey fan in Australia what brought them to love the game and they should give you one of three answers; they watched the Mighty Ducks film trilogy, they played the NHL video games, or they lived near their local rink and it became a part of their lives.
Here in Australia, hockey is growing at a rapid pace. You only need to see Nathan Walker’s rise to the big time to notice, alongside the rise of our local league and junior participation - and we’re also watching the NHL more than ever before, even though access (and certainly tip-off times) aren’t the friendliest. In our east, most games in the American/Canadian west are on right in the middle of the working day, though the east tip-offs can be on at 2 to 5am - which for me just shows how dedicated we really are.
The biggest thing about our fandom, though, is more than obviously our climate. The later games are usually watched in 30-40 degree heat (Celsius) and we all live on sunny coastlines, where regular trips to the beach are expected in the middle of hockey season.
I’m now going to share with you some stories from our Australian Avs fan club members, who really capture what we’re all about down here.
First, we have Luke from Melbourne:
“I chose Colorado as my team I think in about 03-04. Loosely followed the sport until about 5 years ago, when I became much more aware of what was going on and followed it more closely.
I only chose the Colorado Avalanche from playing an old NHL game, whilst my brother chose Detroit. I just passed it to Sakic the entire time and trolled their defense. I really fell in love with the specialist forwards like Hejduk and Vrbata, as well as the stalwart defenders/Goalies like Foote, EJ, Varly, and Roy.”
Will from West Sydney
“I started following the Avs in 2008 when I went to Lakewood, Colorado on student exchange. Living in Australia, our exposure to Ice Hockey is fairly limited, only getting a handful of games a week on TV, mainly Boston, NY and other high profile teams. More recently, I was lucky enough to convince my wife to go to a game with me against Dallas Stars whilst on our honeymoon in 2015. From memory, we won the game in OT, and she was an instant Avs fan. It's not easy following the games down under, as they are on during the middle of the day, and the boss doesn't look too kindly on watching sport whilst at work, although finding a stream when I’m on a bathroom break is very satisfying.”
Luke from Sydney
“I fell in love with hockey at the rink. It wasn’t until I joined a team and started excelling in goals that my coach handed me a VHS of some NHL games. They were the recent classics Avs v Wings, and then the likes of Jersey & Florida; I was watching Patrick Roy and the boys win the cup as my first experience with NHL on TV, [and I’ve been] hooked ever since. I’ve been to Denver twice in my lifetime to watch live. In Australia we love sports; but for me, they are not your team till you’ve watched them live.
I also love the AIHL; it’s a shorter season, different level. It’s great... you’re closer to the action, but you’re also closer to the club and the players & staff. That semi-pro club family passion is strong in the AIHL.”
Matt from Sydney
“With the explosion of cable TV in Australia, I stumbled across hockey. My first game was the Avs v Stars. Since the mid to late 90's, I've been a big fan of the game - and the team - from high and low times, and the controversies as well.
Since then, I've watched players come and go, the league expand, create new rules etc. Coming from Australia, we didn't really have an outlet unless you lived close to a rink. I was fortunate to do so; I was lucky to have an AIHL team, the Sydney Ice Dogs, as my team. Bonus: they had the same colours as the Avs, so I was able to fit right in. I still confess now that every season, be it local or international, I'm always excited by it, and I'll continue to watch the game.”
And so to conclude, we here in Australia, although a world away, live and breathe the game and will continue to do so until our dying days. Go Avs Go!