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Avalanche fandom around the world comes on tour to Denver

The Eurolanche group took on the US on an amazing recent journey.

2022 NHL Global Series - Finland - Columbus Blue Jackets v Colorado Avalanche Photo by André Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

Hockey may not have the same fanbase or reach as perhaps soccer may have. Nor will it ever draw in billions of eyeballs just for one game. But for the Colorado Avalanche and their fanbase, they’ve gone international.

Eurolanche is the official fan club of the Avalanche based across various countries in Europe. The group was founded in 2007 under President and founder David Puchovsky based in Slovakia. He fell in love with the Avs and recently watched from across the sea as they completed their trek up the mountain in June 2022 to win the Stanley Cup.

“I was nervous during the whole playoffs,” Puchovsky said. “Those two months were extremely stressful to me, to be honest. At the end, we organized two watch parties … there were dozens of people, it was an abnormal experience. I couldn’t believe what I was watching at the end of the third period in Game 6.”

While Puchovsky started the group with just himself and a few others, it gathered so many Avs fans across the pond and had them all come together as one. Who knew it would become what it is today over 15 years ago?

“To be honest, back then it was just a dream,” Puchovsky said. “At the beginning, we didn’t believe it might even be possible. We went to Denver for the first time in 2008 thanks to Peter Budaj’s help, and that was it. The dream had just come true.”

The group started small but soon turned into a place for so many to get connected and follow a passion they all had for one another. While it started with just a few people, Eurolanche is the largest Avs fan club in Europe with over 1,000 members and counting.

The following and backing they’ve received have helped them expand and do more great things to only build their fandom higher. This has included several get-togethers for watch parties and trips across the Atlantic almost annually to watch Colorado play and explore the US.

“I’m really happy about everything I’ve seen so far,” Patrik from Sweden said. “Coming to Denver was quite a hit for me, it was a perfect choice. The planning David has made for us is amazing. You see things you never imagined seeing.”

The 13th “Eurolanche on Tour” trip consisted of various US trips such as visiting New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, and of course Colorado. They all flew in from London as their meeting point in an almost 10-hour journey on Saturday, Jan. 25. Starting their morning early, they still attended the Colorado Avalanche versus Calgary Flames game at 8:00 p.m. in Colorado, or 4:00 a.m. in Vienna the next morning to wrap up their day.

Despite the travel, it didn’t beat down their spirits. It was just the start of what would be an epic two-week journey. For several participants as well, it would be their first visit to the United States which in turn, would be the first Avs games they would attend as well.

“It’s unbelievable, I’ve been dreaming about this all my life and now here I am,” Jiri from the Czech Republic said. “You just want to enjoy it, explore as much as you can, it will be a memory for your whole life.”

With the fandom of the NHL across the globe as a whole, the league has taken notice and taken advantage of it. The still somewhat-new NHL Global Series features teams traveling outside of the United States and Canada to host games in other countries.

The Avs have participated in several of these events in the last six years. Their four games overseas came in Sweden in 2017 against the Ottawa Senators, and most recently in 2022 in Finland against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

With the opportunity of a lifetime of having an NHL game in Europe, the Eurolanche group couldn’t miss the opportunity. The group was in attendance for both series of the Global Series, including their biggest meet-up ever in Tampere, Finland.

It’s safe to say it went swimmingly well.

“We got around 70 people there for our event, and it was wonderful,” Puchovsky said. “We were celebrating two wins after the game, and there were dozens of members and most of these people had never met before. But thanks to Eurolanche, they’re now talking, started friendships. I really feel proud.”

Eurolanche’s status as the only European Avalanche fan group has also given them tons of opportunities. These include various media appearances elsewhere, including an interview with at-the-time NBC’s Jeremey Roenick at the Avs’ Stadium Series game in 2016 against the Detroit Red Wings.

Furthermore, they’ve created connections with players who call Europe home. They met some players at the hotel during the Global Series games. Also, goaltender Pavel Francouz from Czechia spent part of his “Day with the Stanley Cup” with a couple of members after winning it over the summer.

“I made my vacation a little longer to see the Cup,” Puchovsky said. “It was worth it to spend it with Pavel. He was smiling and we had a lot of time taking pictures with the Stanley Cup, bodyguards, and Cup keepers, it was the cherry on the cake.”

With so many adventures and keeping a very busy itinerary, Puchovsky has done it all for the group, especially on this recent trip. But he couldn't do it all alone, nor could he - it’s quite an insane task to take a large group of people to a new country.

Therefore, the help he received from so many Avs fans who call Colorado home could not go unnoticed. It really is a demonstration of faith, belief, support, and love all Avs fans have for one another.

“We are thankful to our Colorado friends and the season ticket holders who try to help us with free tickets and souvenirs,” Puchovsky said. “They got some for us but also for those in the group who couldn’t travel. Without them, it’d be much harder to get here. They are our pillar.”

The memories created by the group, connections through the group, and everything in between have built into something so large and special over the years. Hopefully, Colorado keeps it up for all of Avs faithful and especially for Eurolanche.

While their memorable trip ends today and they head back to Europe, only one word can describe it all for them: Priceless.