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Hockey fan's trip here scores a feather-in-her-hat trick

The loudest National Hockey League fans? They're in Philadelphia and at New York Islanders games.

Detroit and the New York Rangers provide the most authentic old-time hockey feeling in their arenas.

And Danielle Granquist knows where she'd never wear an opposing team's jersey -- in Philadelphia or Detroit.

Granquist should know.

After Thursday night's Sabres-Montreal game inside HSBC Arena, she's been to all 30 National Hockey League arenas.

That means she saved Buffalo for last.

The 30-year-old Golden, Colo., resident picked Buffalo for the same reason that might scare off other mid-winter visitors: our weather.

"Actually, I like Montreal [the team], and I figured February would be a good time to be here," she said before Thursday's game. "I knew it would be cold, and, strangely, I like the cold. I just love Canada, and it makes me feel like I'm in Canada."

Someone should tell the local Chamber of Commerce types about this woman.

Granquist got quite the local welcome on the last stop of her six-year tour.

She was interviewed on the Jumbotron, she rode on the Zamboni, and she was interviewed on the MSG Network during the second intermission.

"I'm never going to forget this, with ev
erything they did for me, and the game was really exciting," she said after the game. "I'll definitely come back."

Granquist came to town Wednesday. Naturally, she and her folks -- her mother, Gaylene Preston, and stepfather, David Preston -- stayed on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, where they immediately walked down to see the cataracts.

"It's pretty spectacular, especially with the noise, the sound of the water," she said. "I don't see how it doesn't run out of water. It's pretty amazing, and I love how they light it up at night."

Granquist, who was an usher at Colorado Avalanche games in 2000-01, never dreamed she'd visit every NHL arena. She and some friends went to Vancouver, to see the Canucks and Bruins in February 2000. That turned out to be an infamous game, the one in which Marty McSorley of the Bruins struck Donald Brashear in the head with his stick.

From there, Granquist decided that whenever she traveled, she wanted to find an NHL game at the other end of the trip. After her first solo venture, to Boston in February 2003, she realized she could get to every arena.

She had nine remaining arenas to visit this season. For her 30th birthday, her parents agreed to treat her to a trip, and she picked Buffalo.

Granquist has her own Web site, www.hockeepuck.com. She has her own blog, which contains all her "favorites" and a short commentary on each trip.

Her "best of" list, compiled through her first 29 arenas, lists everything from her favorite arena, New York City's Madison Square Garden, to the one with the worst parking, Ottawa. Her favorite team: her beloved Colorado, which she's seen in more than half the league's arenas.

Unlike such a baseball tour, which would include the obligatory rating of hot dogs, Granquist makes little mention of food. She avoids eating meals in the arenas, she said with a laugh.

Her blog does mention that she paid a whopping $17 for nachos and a beer at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Through her postings from each arena, her passion for hockey comes through. She loves hockey's new rules, especially the shootout and the speed of the game, minus all the clutching and grabbing.

Granquist has seen much of North America in the last six years.

According to her blog, she's kissed a French Canadian in Quebec City; gone in-line skating on both coasts, on California and Florida boardwalks; walked the Freedom Trail in Boston and seen most of the sites in D.C.; eaten everything from chicken wings in Fort Lauderdale to sushi and Thai food in San Jose; attended minor-league and college hockey games in several spots; and skated on outdoor rinks wherever she could.

It's been quite a ride.

"It's a pretty big deal to me," she said of having seen every arena. "I guess I never really thought it would actually happen."

e-mail: gwarner@buffnews.com

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