Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Why do I have to choose?

As I sit here, watching the Bruins on TV, the Stars on my laptop, and the Hawks/Pens game on my phone, I think about the grief I get for liking more than one team. How dare I cheat on the Bruins by following and rooting for other hockey teams? Why am I not allowed to recognize and support the amazing talent and skill in other hockey players just because they don't wear the spoked B? I want to learn everything I can about this sport, and I truly enjoy watching games every night. Which is definitely a perk when you follow more than one team. Except for tonight. Too much hockey!

Now there is an order of favoritism. The Bruins are always first, but are closely followed by the Stars, then the Hawks, the Pens, and I recently added the Sabres. I wanted an underdog team to root for, so I'm slowly learning about the Sabres. I'm just reading the NHL alerts on that game tonight since my electronic devices are all in use with the other four teams. Who made this schedule? Don't they know that trying to focus on four different games is difficult?!

Back to the grief...who made these ridiculous rules that you can only follow one team? Yes, I understand rivalries, and I will never root for the Habs, but I can acknowledge that their goalie, Carey Price, is one of the best goalies in the league, and with his numbers last year, he's probably one of the best goalies ever. It's amazing to watch him, even though I should hate him as a Bruins fan. *Side note - see post on our visit to Montreal and my shirt of choice*

You can find articles on ESPN and other sports sites stating that true fans are the ones that only support the home team. I think that's ridiculous. I support teams that I want to watch. That I have a vested interest in multiple players from each team. And yes, if more than one of my teams makes the Stanley Cup playoffs, it will be a nail-biter, but I will root in order of my favorites.

So when people tell you it's wrong to support more than one team in each sport, ignore them. As long as you take the time to learn about the players on each team, watch the games, and take a vested interest in their results, you could follow all 30 NHL teams. Not that I'd suggest that. That would be a lot of freaking hockey!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Yes, I'm a woman, and yes, I finally get paid to play professional hockey

Okay, not me personally! See earlier post regarding constant sprained ankles whenever I tried to ice skate. But this year something amazing happened...the NWHL. It's the first professional women's hockey league, and the players actually get paid. Granted it's not a huge salary like most of their male counterparts, but it's a start. And hopefully, as the NWHL's popularity grows with fans, these amazing athletes will make a living wage, instead of having to hold a day job, while training, traveling with their teams, and kicking hockey butt!

Until 2015 the only women's professional hockey league was based in Canada and the players weren't paid. What did these former female Olympians and college players do after the Olympics ended or they graduated from college? Why couldn't they continue their athletic dreams and make careers playing a game they excelled at? Hopefully the NWHL is the answer.

They currently have four teams, the Boston Pride, New York Riveters, Connecticut Whalers, and Buffalo Beauts. This past November, I attended the home opener for the Boston Pride, as they took on the Riveters at Harvard. The rosters are a mix of former Olympians and college stars.
There are no fights in this league, or checking, and the game is faster. And, it's amazing to see a goalie that can't recline back on the top crossbar like Tuukka Rask. There's so much more net to cover when your body doesn't fill the entire net space like so many male goalies in the NHL, which should result in higher scoring games.

The game was fascinating to watch and the arena was decently full of fans. At only $20 per ticket, it's very inexpensive to attend, so if you're in the area of one of these teams, make sure to go catch a game or two. They play through April, so you have plenty of time to get out there and support this new league.

Hockey and Romance...yes please!

As I mentioned before, I started reading hockey romances when I became Samantha Wayland's critique partner. Have you read her books? They're fantastic, and I cannot recommend them highly enough. Her characters jump off the page and demand attention. Even if ménage and male-male aren’t your thing, you should still give her a try. Her books are so well written that you’ll be hooked. I’d never read male-male until her Hat Trick series. In fact, I’d hesitated to read them since I'd only read straight romances and wasn't sure if I'd like them, but boy, was I missing out. As a romance reader, I love seeing the heroes vulnerable as they fall in love. Well, with male-male, you get to see it happen twice. How could I not fall in love with strong heroes falling in love with each other? So if you’re on the fence, I say, give them a try. You can thank me later.

After devouring Sam’s books, I searched for other hockey romance authors to binge read, and there are quite a few out there. I can definitely recommend the following:

Toni Aleo's Assassins series was the first hockey series I read after Sam’s books. Her heroes are awesome. I instantly fell in love with the team. Each book was better than the last, and if Jordie, her hero in the last book, Overtime, doesn’t break your heart, than I don’t know what to tell you. I definitely sobbed at the end of that one. 
Her second hockey series, the Bellevue Bullies features a heroine who's goal is to make and NHL team. She's feisty and strong, and the banter with the hero is fantastic.

Catherine Gayle's Portland Storm series is a must read. Her plots tackle hard issues, including abuse and serious illness. Each book will pull at your heartstrings and after reading the first in the series, Breakaway, I was immediately hooked, and needed a box of tissues. (Currently free on Amazon, so you have no excuse not to download it!). Another thing I love about Catherine's books is that she has a lot of scenes actually on the ice. Some authors spend more time focusing on the players' lives off the ice, but Catherine's books put you right in the game. I've learned quite a few hockey facts from her books. A true combination of romance and hockey in her books.

Helena Hunting's Pucked series will have you laughing your ass off. I dare you not to chuckle at the antics her characters find themselves in. All I will say is watch out for the caped MC and spiders!

I also loved The Deal by Elle Kennedy. Pretty sure I read it in one sitting, smiling for most of it, with a few shed tears along the way. It's a great start to her Off Campus series, and you should definitely try her books.

I'm currently reading Ryker by Sawyer Bennett, the latest in her Carolina Fury series. Another fantastic read.

If you like hockey and great characters falling in love, than you cannot go wrong with any of the above suggestions. Try a few out and let me know your favorites.