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Member story: Joona from Finland

Member story: Joona from FinlandIn its 10th season, Eurolanche introduces its members thru the regular weekly series "Member stories".

At the beginning of Eurolanche’s 10th anniversary season during the 2016/17 season, more than 600 fans from 40 different countries were registered members of the fan club. But who was the very first registered member when David Puchovsky, the president and founder of Eurolanche, founded the whole thing back in August 2007? It was Joona Leppälä, a 23 year-old fan from Finland. “Has it already been 10 years? Time sure flies! I was always really proud of being part of this special Fan Club and I am really proud to be the first member,” said Joona.

There are not many Avalanche fans who can still remember the early days of the Eurolanche or even the era before. Most of the Eurolanche members can’t imagine the days before Eurolanche came into existence. No trips, no meetings, no original stories and interviews. Since Joona is the first member of the Fan Club, he can share what happened 10 years ago. “I think it was 2006 when I got in touch with some international Avalanche fans, which I met on discussion boards. We spent a lot of time talking about the Avalanche. I think one of those guys was David Puchovsky and I remember that had an idea to create an Avalanche fan club for Europeans. I went crazy about it and wished that it would eventually happen,” recalls Joona. “There were many possible names, but I think Eurolanche was the best one. When Eurolanche started, I think it had like 10 members. I remember the time as one of the greatest I’ve ever experienced. It had such a big impact on me and I think it’s the biggest reason I still feel warm and fuzzy about the Colorado Avalanche,” said Joona.

Finland is a hockey country, where it isn’t easy to support a team which isn’t too popular among local fans. Actually, Joona was the sole Avalanche fan among his peers when he was a kid. Many Finnish fans loved the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim because of Teemu Selänne. “My friends criticized my choice of becoming an Avs fan. I started to follow after playing NHL 98, since it had a picture of Peter Forsberg on the cover. I didn’t really care about the players until I found out those players were actually real. I was 5 at the time, so I was surprised to learn that there really is a hockey league called the NHL, which had all these teams in real life,” said Joona, who only checked Avalanche game results in the mornings and watched highlights at first, but began to watch live games at night later on. “At school, I had photos of Avalanche players and I remember getting really mad when some guys ‘accidentally’ smeared those photos with paint,” said Joona.

Joona competed in a Finnish talent show in 2009, where he performed freestyle floorball performance. After this, his whole life changed and he had started to do performances all around the country. Later, he became a YouTuber. Today, he records and broadcasts his own videos for a living. His channel ZoneVD has more than 115 000 subscribers.

Joona believes he will be able to participate in a Eurolanche Invasion in the future. He has a message for all Eurolanche fans: “You should be really proud to be a member of this wonderful Fan Club. Eurolanche has provided me with many great memories, which I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I remember that back in days, everything about the fan club was so small, but every one of us was super passionate about it. I think that’s what makes us Avalanche fans. Passion,” concluded Joona.


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Discussion

NHL on Nov 11, 2017: "Eurolanche is the world's largest Colorado Avalanche fan club."