BLEED PURPLE


I'm an unabashed hockey fan. I get it genetically from my dad (who still curses the Flyers every chance he gets) and by association from my husband.

I think it's the only real man's sport. You try to stay upright on a 1/8-inch piece of steel while chasing a 3-inch round, 6-ounce piece of vulcanized rubber on a slick sheet of ice with five guys bearing down on you, one or two of whom will try to knock you into the hard wooden boards.

In my house from October to May, hockey rules. My husband subscribes to a cable TV package that gives him at least two games every night, sometimes five, sometimes 10 or 12 on the weekends. I know the words to the Canadian national anthem. My husband gets a tear in his eye when I recognize the opening music to Hockey Night in Canada. And I love Don Cherry's outrageous getups.

Seven years ago, the ECHL (two steps below the NHL) opened the Reading Royals franchise in Reading, PA, ten minutes from our home. Needless to say, we have season tickets. Tonight, our guys begin a seven-game series at home for the division title. The semi-finals were nail-biting as we battled the Elmira Jackals for every point and we're expecting an even greater challenge against the Cincinnati Cyclones.

So what does this have to do with romance?

Let's start with stats. Most hockey players are six feet tall, weigh a good 200 pounds and are in great physical shape. They have to be. Makes them great hero material. And they're not your typical pretty boys. They let their hair and their beards grow. They're not afraid to fight when they need to and they're not too macho for group hugs. They have to think fast and react even faster. They're pure aggression and innate grace. And they know how to handle their sticks.

My husband and I will be in our seats tonight when the whistle blows, ready to cheer on our team. We never boo our own players (we're not in Philly), though we will boo the ref. I'll gasp when goalie Danny Taylor gives up a rebound and scream when he makes a great save. I'll yell just a little louder for defenseman Steven Later because I have a soft spot for him and I'll cheer on offensive players Joe Zappala and Dany Roussin for the same reason.

Let's Go Royals!!