A Taste of Susan Scott Shelley’s Fighting For More

A Taste of Susan Scott Shelley’s Fighting For More

Hey guys, hockey season is in full swing, so today I’m giving you a taste of one of my newest hockey romances. Fighting For More is book 2 in my Buffalo Bedlam series, and I had a blast writing this story.

Hockey enforcer Leo Brennan knocked out the Buffalo Bedlam’s star player. Now, he’s been traded to their team. Life can’t get worse… until he falls for his injured teammate’s sister.

The Buffalo Bedlam arena was the most unfriendly rink in the league. The ice wasn’t giving or forgiving. The fans were loyal and loudly voiced taunts for the opposing team. And, the Bedlam players were getting under Leo Brennan’s skin. Knocking them into the boards and onto their asses throughout the game had been a pleasure.
Leo hopped over the boards and onto the ice. Clutching his stick, he joined the rush. The Sea Lions were down by four goals with ten minutes remaining in the game. His team needed a fire lit under them, and his job was to provide the spark.

Skate hard, hit harder, and, no matter what, make sure he was the last one standing.

They needed a win to close out the abysmal mid-February road trip. Then they could leave cold, snowy Buffalo and get back to warm, sunny Los Angeles and the Sea Lions fans, who loved the team through highs and lows and everything in between.

Cold air rushed over his face as he flew up the ice. Two Bedlam players chased the puck into the corner with two Sea Lions at their backs. The glass rattled as the players collided into the boards.

The puck shot out to center ice, and right onto Dylan Fraser’s stick. The Bedlam’s talented captain was responsible for three of his team’s goals. No way in hell would Leo allow him another one. He adjusted course, gunning for Dylan, the blue jersey a target on a field of white. They were nearly matched in height, but he outweighed Dylan by a good thirty pounds.

Focused on the goalie, Dylan raised his stick for a slap shot.

Leo lowered his shoulder, braced his body, and slammed into Dylan’s side. The captain fell like a domino.

Target eliminated.

Securing the puck, Leo skated in the opposite direction and fired the puck at the Bedlam goalie. The goalie skated forward, knocking the puck aside and then kept coming.

What the…

The whistle blew, and Leo turned to see why the play had been blown dead and why the crowd had grown silent.
Dylan lay unmoving at center ice, and the ref and linesmen were breaking up fights all around him. Bedlam players on the bench climbed onto the ice, as the trainer and doctor rushed to Dylan’s side.

Mouth dropped open, Leo stared and skated closer. A blunt force slammed into his back, knocking him forward. The ice rushed up to meet him. Cursing, he turned his head. The goalie, Rod Fraser, loomed over him. Eyes heated, Rod ripped off his mask and dropped his gloves, and then his hands formed fists. “What the hell? You knocked out my brother.”

Oh, shi–. Leo pushed to standing.

Glaring, Rod charged, his fist flying forward. It caught Leo’s jaw. Pain exploded, radiating as his teeth knocked together and his head snapped back.

Rod’s fist came at him again. The right hook was as precise as one Leo would have thrown. Leo blocked him, countering with his own. Anger didn’t flare, it couldn’t, not with the concern for Dylan tightening his chest. He’d react the same as Rod if someone had hurt one of his brothers. Hell, he’d gotten into more fights than he could remember trying to protect Ryan.

Another jab caught his cheek.

Enough.

Leo barreled forward. “I gave you that first one. No more.”

“You think so?” Rod came at him again.

Players flew in from every angle, a blur of Bedlam blue and Sea Lions white. A wall of white jerseys formed around Leo as his teammates pulled him away from the irate goalie and toward the Sea Lions bench.

Worried about Dylan, he searched through the throng of players scattered across the ice. Dylan still lay motionless. Was the man conscious? Could he move his limbs? Rod knelt beside his brother, face creased in concern. Emergency personnel crossed the rink, carrying a backboard.

Not a good sign. Not at all.

The deafening silence of the arena, the fans’ harsh glares and anxious faces, magnified Leo’s guilt. He stood by the bench and forced himself to watch the replay on the Jumbotron. His skates hadn’t left the ice when he’d lunged at Dylan, and he hadn’t struck Dylan in the head. The hit was legal. Clean. He didn’t play dirty. Never had, and never would.

But seeing Dylan’s helmet fly off his head mid-fall, and then Dylan’s head hitting the ice, sickened his stomach. The helplessness and fear on Rod’s face as he watched his brother clawed at Leo’s heart. Again, Ryan came into his thoughts. That helplessness echoed what Leo had felt after finding his baby brother beaten up in a park after the previous year’s Pride parade in Philly.

He shook his head to clear the memory. His teammates’ words of comfort and the taps on his back in support seemed far away. He wouldn’t be welcomed if he skated to Dylan’s side to offer an apology. Words were weak anyway, they couldn’t make up for what had happened. He knew that better than anyone. Still, he’d have to find Dylan’s number somehow after the game, and try to express his regret.

Gaze glued to Dylan being wheeled off the ice, he struggled to shift his focus back to the game. Coach Brown ordered his line back to the bench. Leo sat beside his line mates, trying to ignore the fans behind the glass and their screamed insults. Of course, they were worried about their captain. And of course, they were angry at him. Accidents happened. Injuries happened. But maybe by some miracle, Dylan would be completely fine by the next day.

Cold liquid splashed the back of his neck. Startled, he jumped and twisted around. An empty cup clattered to rest beside his skate. The yeasty scent of beer surrounded him.

Behind the glass, two fans smirked at him. One raised his cup in mock-toast. The other flipped Leo off.
Beside him, McSorley stood, and his line mate glared at the fans. “What the hell? They’re throwing sh*t at you?”

Coach Brown hurried from his position at the center of the bench. Shaking his head, he placed his hand on Leo’s shoulder. “Let it go. Leo, head to the locker room.”

“But…” There were still eight minutes left. Not that he’d be able to concentrate on playing.

“Now.”

He grabbed his stick and ambled away from the bench. As he headed into the tunnel, more trash rained down from the fans. Beer, sodas, and an entire container of chicken wings accompanied a chorus of boos. Fighting the urge to rush into the stands and go after the jerks, he wiped splatters of red and brown from his visor and lumbered through the hallway.

The game couldn’t end fast enough.

The sooner he got away from Buffalo, the better.

***

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Show Your Support

Show Your Support

I received my first Phillies hat when I was six years old. And my first Flyers jersey when I was fourteen. As I write this post, I’m wearing an Eagles T-shirt (having just finished watching them beat the Redskins. A week 1 win, baby — we’re off to a great start!). And, I’ve just purchased a new Flyers hat, in prep for the NHL season which opens on October 4th.

On any given Sunday, any football team can potentially win the game. And on any given Sunday, countless people across the country don hats, shirts, jerseys, and jackets in support of their favorite teams.
There’s nothing like being in a football, baseball, or soccer stadium or a hockey or basketball arena, wearing the same logo as twenty-thousand other people as you all root for the same side. Or pulling on your jersey as you settle in to watch the game at home.
There’s nothing like being on vacation in another city (I once saw someone wearing a Phillies T-shirt in Buffalo, NY) or country (my friend saw someone wearing a Baltimore Ravens jersey in Greece) and seeing someone else wearing a shirt or hat in support of your hometown team. In those moments, it’s completely acceptable to call out a greeting (“Yo, [insert team name]!” works), or give them a high-five. It’s a slice of home, a touch of the familiar that can serve to remind you that you aren’t alone.
But what to do if someone pokes fun at you in your team gear? Like a “They’re not paying you to advertise their logo.” and “You do realize you aren’t ON the team, right?”
To that I say, Oh, Please. And, get over yourself.  And *Insert eye-roll here.* 🙂
Sports bring us together. Sometimes they can be a distraction when other parts of your life are falling apart. (That was true for me.) They’re fun. When you have an appreciation of the game and an affinity for a particular player, wearing the gear is an extension of your support. All of the players (from every sport) say that they love seeing (and hearing) the fans in the stands. They feed off of our energy.
So be loud and wear your gear proudly.
Because it’s the Cup

Because it’s the Cup

By Susan Scott Shelley
It’s one of my favorite times of year – Hockey Playoffs are here! It’s about two months worth of non-stop action. I don’t watch much television, but the play-offs are Must-See TV. A frenetic energy fills the air. The intensity, battles in the corners for pucks, checking, skating, goaltending – EVERYTHING is elevated to a higher level, and it’s AWESOME.
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“There can be only one.” This is true for Highlander, and also for the eventual Stanley Cup champs. 16 teams battle it out for the honor of hoisting the Cup. And the term “battle” is appropriate. Fresh off of a grueling 82-game season, their quest for the cup is comprised of four playoff rounds, and each round is a “best of seven” series.
The first two games are played at one team’s home arena, then the next two games are played at the opponent’s home arena, and then it goes back and forth for each of the next three games, until one team has won four games. Then they do it all over again in the next round.
That’s a lot of hockey. A lot of skating, a lot of checking, a lot of shots, a lot of sweat, and depending on the match up, a lot of travel time. Also, games can’t end in a tie, so when you tack on extra periods of play…well, let’s just say the players will be downing a lot of Gatorade.
 
Hockey players are some of the toughest athletes in sports. They battle through all sorts of injuries and will play despite broken bones or severe gashes from sticks or skates. (Google some pics…it’s not pretty). Some are also superstitious come this time of year. You’ll see playoff beards appear and hear of some interesting pre-game rituals.
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Let’s talk playoff teams.
Canadiens vs. Senators – These teams hate each other, so that makes this series all the more intense. Goaltender match up: Carey Price against Andrew Hammond. I like both players, but think the Habs will win the series. Their up 3-0 as of today.

Predators vs. Blackhawks – Chicago finished first in the league in shots, while Nashville finished third. I think Chicago, with Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane, will take the series.
 
Capitals vs. Islanders – Two words: Alex Ovechkin. LOVE him. The sniper carried the Capitals, and had a league-leading 53 goals this season. I’d love to see his team win.washington-capitals-forward-alexander-ovechkin
Blues vs. Wild – The Blues may have won the Central Division, but I wouldn’t count out the Wild. I like Zach Parise, and goalie Devan Dubnyk and hope their team wins.
 
Lightning vs. Red Wings – Interesting tidbit: Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman played for the Red Wings for his entire NHL career. I’m thinking the Lightning, with their captain (my fave) Steven Stamkos, will win the series.
Rangers vs. Penguins – The Pens may have Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby but the Rangers have Rick Nash (42 goals in the regular season), Martin St. Louis, Dan Boyle, Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan McDonagh, and more. I’m betting on my Rangers.
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Ducks vs. Jets  – The Ducks have Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlaf. The Jets have Dustin Byfuglien on defense. I’m thinking the Ducks will take it.
 
Canucks vs. Flames – I have a soft spot for the Sedin twins and goaltender Eddie Lack (Want some fun entertainment? Check out his Twitter feed). I’d love to see the Canucks win. Three games in, it’s obvious these teams do NOT like each other…
 
What about the final round?
For the Cup finals, I’d like a repeat of 1994: Rangers v. Canucks, with the Rangers winning it all. (Back then, the Rangers won the series, 4-3, and Captain Mark Messier scored the winning goal. Talk about a perfect ending.) But I think the more likely match up this year will be the Rangers v. Blackhawks. I still think my Rangers will win it all.
 
I’m going to mix sports here, and leave you with a Vince Lombardi quote that I believe describes the Stanley Cup winning team perfectly: 
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Who are you rooting for? Share! Bonus points and virtual confetti will be awarded to any Ranger fans. 🙂
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