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There's No Crying in Hockey

Chapter 1

Her stomach was in knots as she packed her duffle bag for her first practice. Never in her life had she been so nervous. It just wasn’t in her nature. Calm, cool, collected. That was Cam. Her composed demeanor didn’t come easily. Nothing will toughen you up quite like three goons as older brothers.

She tied her dark hair into a messy bun and tossed her stocked duffle over her shoulder before heading downstairs. The house was full of men, but none of them were anywhere to be found.

“C’mon guys! Move it!” She yelled to no one in particular as she plopped down on the couch. Goaltending practice was at 3:00 sharp and she did not want to be the asshole that’s late on the first day of training camp. As if she needed any more scrutiny. Once it was announced she’d be joining the Philadelphia Flyers as their backup goalie, it was a media explosion. Though she expected some attention, she had completely underestimated what a big deal it was. Sure, Hayley Wickenheiser and Manon Rheaume were pioneers, but their NHL careers were short lived to non-existent.

It was a firestorm to say the least. It had gotten to the point that she couldn’t even watch SportsCenter or ESPN without seeing her roster photo from the ECHL. And the internet? She ignored its existence completely. It was bad enough professional correspondents publically treated her like she was a joke, but the World Wide Web was unforgiving. Any yahoo with an internet connection could cut her up mercilessly. And they did. Cam made the major error of Googling herself once. A lot of people were supportive, but for every positive comment, there were 10 negative ones, littered with swear words and typos. That day was the closest she had come to crying since her mother passed away. She had quickly shut her lap top and never made the mistake again.

She looked around. The men in her life still hadn’t made an appearance.

“Seriously?!?” She hollered again.

“Keep your panties on, Camille!” Came her older brother’s response as he barreled down the stairs. Chris was 2 years older than Cam, but no one would have guessed it.

“Blow me.” She muttered back as she stared at her raggedy nails. She was anxious and her nail biting reflected it.

Soon she was joined by her father. His weathered face showed his excitement. Carmen was the epitome of a proud poppa. Any chance he could, he told people his kid was in the NHL. CJ and Caleb graced everyone with their presence and they were out the door.

In true Italian family fashion, the car ride was a loud one. Chris and the patriarch were locked in an intense convo about tall Pronger was. CJ, the oldest son and the namesake of Carmen Senior, chirped back and forth with Caleb, the middle boy. They were excited about meeting Carts and asking how much trim he scores. Cam rolled her eyes, but remained quiet. She was a ball of nerves and didn’t feel like making conversation. After 19 years of experience, the boys knew when to leave her be.

Once they arrived and parked, they headed inside. Cam’s stomach continued to churn as she stood outside of the locker room.

“We’ll be rooting for ya.” She nodded at her father before giving him a hug. “Give ‘em hell, kid.” He kissed the top of her head before heading off to the stands with her brothers in tow.

Her chest rose and fell with a deep sigh before heading in.

She arrived early as instructed by Laviolette, which made her nervous. He wanted to “have a word” with her before the first practice. Immediately, she thought the worst. Her fear was being told she was a publicity stunt and hell would sooner freeze over before she saw any ice time. The last thing she wanted was to ride the pine pony all season long.

The female shook the thought away and headed to his office. The door was closed but she could see through the window that he was talking with another man. Her shaky hand knocked firmly on the door. Cam waited for the muffled “come in” before she did so. The Coach was sitting at his desk sans a suit and tie like she expected. He sat comfortably in a Flyers pull over and sweats.

“Romero, welcome.” Laviolette grinned at her. “This is Jeff Reese. He’ll be working with the goaltenders exclusively this season.” An older man dressed in a similar fashion stood to shake her hand. The skin around his light eyes crinkled as he smiled.

“It’s a pleasure. Congratulations on joining the club. This is a very big deal.” She nodded and thanked him. “Suit up and meet me out on the ice, alright?” Coach Reese congratulated her again before leaving the office.

“Have a seat, Miss Romero. I wanted to talk to you before practice.” The girl placed her duffle bag on the floor and took a seat across from the dark haired instructor. “Like Reese said, this is a very big deal. Historic, even. You should be very proud of yourself.” Cam nodded once more, folding her hands over her lap.

“I hope you understand that you will be under a microscope. Everything you do will be judged. Harshly. Everything you don’t do, same thing. You will be watched like a hawk, not just by the media or fans, but by your opponents and your own teammates. Lots of people are waiting for you to fail. That’s a lot of pressure.”

Cam swallowed deeply and continued to nod. Of course it was a lot of pressure. And the season hadn’t even started yet.

“If you need anything, you can always come to me. I always have my players’ best interest at heart. That’s a given. What is not a given, is respect. You gotta earn that. You earn it on the ice.” His dark, stern eyes never left hers. “Now, a lot of guys don’t think you belong here. And they will make no bones about it. Me? I love a good underdog story. I’d love to see you cram that 1950’s bullshit attitude down everyone’s throat.” A slight grin played on her lips. At least she had one ally.

“I’ve seen you play in juniors. I know what you’re made of. These guys are gonna come down hard on you. And I’m talking about your own team. If you can survive these guys, the other teams will be no problem.” Cam sighed. She loved hockey and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. She was not going to let a bunch of testosterone-soaked cavemen kill her dream.

“Now, this situation is new to all of us. We’ve never had a woman around, so this is gonna be a lot of trial and error. There’s no locker room accommodations for you during away games, so you’re gonna have to come in early and change before the guys get there. Around here, I had an old storage room cleared out so you can have some privacy. We don’t want you to feel uncomfortable and we certainly don’t want,” He paused, as if he was searching for the proper word. “Fraternization. Is that clear?”

She placed her hand over her mouth to stop from laughing. The last thing on her mind was the hookup.

“I know, I know, but I have to say it. Holmgren’s orders.”

“Understood.” Cam finally spoke up. “I’m just so thankful for the opportunity. I won’t let you down.” He nodded and waved his hand at her, dismissing her from his office. She grabbed her duffle and headed for the door.

“Oh, and Romero?” Cam paused and turned to face the aging coach. “You’re a Flyer now. No excuses and no exceptions. Have a good practice.”


The alarm screamed from the nightstand, rousing the male from his drunken slumber. He slammed his hand down on the offending clock until the noise stopped. He lay in his bed for a while, eyes closed, wishing his head didn’t throb. Every time he went out with Carter and Carcillo, he always regretted it the next morning. And every time they invited him out again, it was like he had hangover amnesia, and went along with them despite the inevitable repercussions.

This morning was especially worse. His stomach was queasy and his head felt like a balloon ready to pop. On top of that, it was the first practice of the year. Coming off of last year’s disappointing end to an injury ridden season, he was eager to get back on the ice. His wrist was healed and felt great. But he was still unsettled. Critics could be cruel. After the Boston sweep, fans and foes alike wanted his head. They questioned his ability to lead; they thought he had no business being captain anymore. On top of the everyday pressures, a brand new strain was added to the mix: Camille Romero, the newest addition to the Philadelphia family. And Mike Richard’s newest headache.

He was all for women’s rights; voting, equal pay, running for president, or whatever the hell else they wanted to do. But play hockey? None of the guys were too keen on the idea, but Richards took it the worst. His neck was on the line and he didn’t need some chick distracting the team and drawing the media’s attention. Every question he fielded lately was about Romero joining the team, female equality, blah blah blah. He was sick of this girl already.

Richards finally rolled out of bed and lumbered off to the bathroom. After throwing up last night’s liquor, he brushed his teeth and washed his face before popping an Advil or two. Or three. He knew he should probably wash the boozy film from his body, but he didn’t see the point. He’d just sweat it out through his pores during practice. He looked up at his pale reflection and frowned at his disheveled hair sticking up awkwardly.

Bags under the eyes: Check.

Stubble on the chin: Check.

Alcohol induced migraine: Check, check.

“No more drinking.” He muttered to himself.

By the time he pulled up to the Virtua Skate Zone, he felt a little better. It didn’t feel like his brain was going to leak out of his ears anymore, so that was a plus. With his duffle bag of equipment, he trudged to the locker room, meeting Leino along the way. They made idle chit chat, chuckling about their summer off. Soon, the conversation turned to Romero.

“What do you think about this Romero girl?”

“Dunno, haven’t met her yet.” Richards smiled at his teammate’s thick accent, indicating he must have gone back home for a visit. Though it thinned out over the season, the accent always came back with a vengeance after returning to his native Finland.

“Yeah, but what do you think about the whole…situation? I mean…a chick. In hockey. On our team.” Leino just shrugged his broad shoulders and adjusted his hat.

“If she can, uh, keep the puck out the net, who cares?” Richards frowned at Ville’s indifference and gave him a friendly shove. Leino was always the neutral guy.

“Fucking Switzerland.” The captain muttered before receiving a kick in the ass from the winger.

“That’s Finland, asshole.” Richards couldn’t help but grin at this teammate.

The locker room was buzzing with excitement when Richards and Leino showed up. It was nice to see all the guys together again. Mike swiftly suited up and the team made their way to the ice. Coach Reese was already out on the other end of the rink, working with who appeared to be Boosh in the net with a smaller version of a goalie off to the side. She was on the ground in the splits position. Richards assumed it was Romero stretching while Reese worked with the starting keeper.

Carter skated up next to the captain, giving him a nudge with his shoulder.

“That’s her? She’s so…tiny.” Richards breathed out, not believing how Boucher dwarfed her.

“I know, right? I’m not OK with this. We’re gonna be fucking laughed at.” The blond scoffed at her. “I give her three months before she’s begging to go home.” Richards cocked an eyebrow at his friend.

“You think she’ll last that long? I doubt it.” Carter smiled.

“Does Richie wanna make a friendly wager?” Richards returned the wicked smirk.

“How friendly?”

“Hundred bucks says she lasts three months.” Richards fielded a puck and maneuvered it with his stick a few times before shooting it at the empty net. It went wide.

“Fucker.” He cussed at the shot before turning his attention back to Carter. “You’re on. I can guarantee she’ll be outta here before the end of November.” With their boxy gloves, they shook on it.

“Hey Richards, Carter stop gawking and get in line.” Laviolette barked at the two men who didn’t seem to notice the other players were getting ready to run drills. Richards sighed.

“I have no idea what we’re doing.” He whispered as he got in line behind Giroux.

“5 on 2’s, Richie. Pay attention, dude.” The captain gave Claude a shot to the helmet with his stick. The younger player just gave the center a light shove and laughed him off. After rotating through the lines a bit, it was time to add a goalie to the mix. The team skated down to the other end of the rink with the keepers. Boucher was up first while Romero continued to stay to the side. She chatted with Reese while the other players ran shooting drills on Boosh. The veteran goaltender let up several goals, which wasn’t unusual for anyone. It was just practice.

“Romero, in the net.” Lav shouted. Reese patted her helmet before she switched with Boucher.

“Watch this.” Richards muttered to Carcillo as Lav passed the center a puck. The captain circled around to collect some speed before charging down toward his new teammate. He deked a few times, thinking he beat the net minder. She sealed up the net and pounced on the puck, knocking the male out of the play. Richards could hear his team snickering, making his face burn red. Romero stood silently and tossed the puck aside.

One after another, the players whizzed down the ice, trying their best moves on the newbie. She was like a brick wall, stopping every shot that came her way. Her face was calm and expressionless as she lifted her mask and squirted water from her bottle into her mouth.

He didn’t know why, but this bothered Richards. Who did this chick think she was, coming into their world, playing their game, and being better at it? If she wanted to play with the big boys, she was gonna get treated like one.

The drill cycled through and Richards was up once more. He was about to be one hundred dollars richer. Again, he collected speed and rocketed down the ice. No fancy tricks, just dirty hockey. He fired the puck as hard as he could before barreling into her, taking her out at the knees. They were both stuffed against the twine. Romero wriggled around as Richards looked around for the puck, but it was nowhere to be seen. Laviolette appeared and dragged the center out of the net.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing, Richards?!” He screamed with his face red and veins bulging.

“I’m just playing hockey.”

“Hockey my ass. 50 laps. Now!” Richards’ blood boiled as Romero crawled out of the net, un-phased. From her glove hand, the puck appeared. It dropped to the ice after she flung it at number 18. A brick-fucking-wall.

“You wouldn’t be acting this way if she wasn’t a girl.” The younger male countered lamely as he skated off to start his laps around the rink.

“And you wouldn’t pull that shit on Boosh. Grow up!” The coach yelled after him.

Sheepishly, the captain slowly advanced around the ice, his pride hurt and ego shattered. He could only imagine what his team was thinking. Maybe he wasn’t captain material, but at that moment, he didn’t care. He didn’t care about that or reaping the rewards of his three month wager with Carts. His sights were set on Romero’s departure, no matter how long it took. Intimidation didn’t work, so it was time to pull out all the stops.


Alrighty, I posted this on Mibba and now I'm posting here. Hope you like it.


Its really good. Is there more?

Psquared91 Psquared91