Cheers, everyone, and welcome to the Coach’s Challenge blog tour with none other than the author herself, Avon Gale.
Avon’s Top 5 Hockey Movies
- Ice Guardians
This is a fairly recent documentary about the role of enforcers in hockey, and I highly, highly recommend it. Not only does it offer a fascinating glimpse into the lives of those players who embrace this role, but it puts to rest a lot of misconceptions about fighting and what it does to the players. For instance, it discusses how concussions are rarely the results of fights, but the sort of hits that lead to fights – that, and shoulder pads. Seriously, the discussion of how the changes in equipment designed to protect players have potentially made things more dangerous is so interesting. This movie doesn’t glorify fighting, and doesn’t shy away from the stark and sometimes harsh realities of what it means to be an enforcer. But it humanizes it, and puts it in a larger context in a way that I think is necessary and important. Plus, every time I think of the last line of this movie I get choked up – it’s so awesome that Piper Vaughn and I are getting it as a tattoo.
- Sudden Death
Jean Claude Van Damme is a security officer who is trying to stop a group of terrorists from blowing up the stadium during the Stanley Cup Final, between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh. It’s absurd, okay, but it’s a lot of fun. At one point, JCVD dons a goalie mask and goes on the ice, no lie, because the Penguins’ goalie is sick (there’s like 30 jokes here that I’m not making, so shhh, Pens fans). The game is supposedly a game seven and is played in the middle of the afternoon, and if you’re a hockey fan you will watch this movie and think, “No way, it’s not tense enough to be a game seven for the Cup. Even if there is a bomb.” It also features one of the villains wearing the actual Penguins’ mascot costume and holding someone at gun point. Like I said, it’s absurd in a million ways but if you’re in the mood for ridiculous action movies, over the top plots, hockey and Jean Claude Van Damme…give it a shot. (See what I did there?)
This little movie is so adorable, I can’t even. It’s about a big guy who can’t play hockey to save his life, but sure as hell can throw his fists around. He might be a goon on the ice, but off it he’s a clueless sweetheart who just wants to do something good for his team and romance the girl of his dreams. I like this movie because it’s set in minor league hockey, and as someone who writes about the minors, I enjoy that as a setting for a sports movie. Be aware this movie isn’t without some brutal scenes of on-ice violence (more than I’ve ever seen in an actual hockey game), but something about it charmed the socks off me the first time I saw it. There are a ton of cameos in the movie, and it’s actually based on a true story. I mostly just adored the characters in this movie, who were imperfect but somehow still loveable.
Okay, look, inspirational sports movies are impossible for me to resist. Especially ones set in the 80’s. This is about the “Miracle on Ice” in the 1980 Olympics, when the US Men’s hockey team did the impossible and defeated the Russians in the semi-finals, and then went on to win the gold medal. What I like about this movie is the team-building that happens when all these different players show up to play for a team that basically doesn’t have much of a chance against a stronger, better opponent. (I do love a good underdog story). That scene where the exhausted, tired players are finishing up a bag skate and start saying, “I play for the USA!” is one that gets me every damn time, because it shows they’ve become a team and by now if you’ve read any of my books, you know how I am about that. Also I’m pretty sure Kurt Russel is my favorite actor and should be in every movie. My other favorite thing about this movie is that my parents, who are southerners and who were never hockey fans, were in an airport when this game was on in 1980 (future hockey romance author Avon was ensconced with her grandparents, LOL). My mom said she had no idea what was going on, but she and my dad watched and celebrated with a bunch of people they didn’t know in a Detroit airport bar – even though they had no idea what was going on. That’s sort of the power of sports, and that’s why I love this movie.
- Mystery, Alaska
This little gem of a movie is about a small town hockey team held together by their love of pond hockey. An article about the team’s scrimmages and unique way of selecting team members catches the attention of the NHL, and they schedule a match for the Mystery team to play against the New York Rangers. Amidst all of this there’s a lot of quirky, small town drama, and the Rangers are not exactly thrilled that they’re heading out to a small Alaskan town to play pond hockey so they file a grievance with the player’s union to avoid it. But it’s a happy movie, so of course everything turns out for the best for everyone involved – both for the hockey game, the town/townspeople, and the players for both teams. It’s probably completely implausible but I don’t care, when the Rangers do the stick-tap thing at the end I AM UNDONE. Ugh. It makes me want to go watch this right now.
The Mighty Ducks
About the Book
Series: Scoring Chances Book #5
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date (Print & Ebook): June 26, 2017
Length: Ebook: ~70K (181 pages)
Subgenre: Sports romance, LGBTQ+ romance
Buy Links: Dreamspinner || Amazon || Barnes & Noble
Blurb: It’s been decades since blackmail forced Troy Callahan to retire from playing professional hockey, and he’s built a successful career behind the bench. When he’s offered the opportunity to coach the Asheville Ravens—the most hated team in the ECHL—he’s convinced that his no-nonsense attitude is just what the team needs to put their focus back on hockey. But Troy is disheartened when he finds that the Ravens have signed Shane North, a player known for his aggression—especially when Shane’s rough good looks give Troy inappropriate thoughts about a player, even if Shane’s set to retire at the end of the season.
Shane’s career in the majors never quite took off. Wanting to quit on his own terms, Shane agrees to a one-year contract with the Ravens and finds himself playing for a coach who thinks he’s an aging goon and with a team that doesn’t trust him, the coach, or each other. Despite his determination to not get involved, Shane unwillingly becomes part of the team… and is just as unwillingly drawn to the gruff, out-and-proud coach. As the Ravens struggle to build a new identity, Shane and Troy succumb to the passion that might cost them everything.
From Jules’ Review
I adored both main characters in this book. Troy is an abrasive, loud, opinionated man’s man, who is also a fantastic coach—he turned down an assistant coaching position with the Rangers to take this gig in the ECHL—and may or may not have a pretty hefty puzzle habit. Hint: he does. And, Shane is a thirty-six-year-old veteran player, who has come to Asheville to finish out his career with the Ravens. He’s got a reputation as being extremely aggressive on the ice, though that’s not really who he is or how he wants to be known. But, that’s the image he’s fighting against as soon as he arrives in the Ravens’ locker room, and meets Coach Callahan…
“I didn’t think you liked me very much, Shane.”
It was such an unCallahan thing to say, it was almost cute. “I don’t really need to like you to want you to fuck me, do I?”
Troy’s pale eyes flashed. “Goddammit.”
They stared at each other, the music a low throb in the bar, lights dancing merrily on the slick floor. “I could like you just fine,” Shane murmured and then deliberately dropped his gaze to Troy’s belt. “If you just showed a little effort, Coach.”
Shane knew the “coach” thing would piss Troy off—what didn’t?—but he had a hunch that wasn’t all it would do. He stood up very slowly and angled so they faced each other in the small space between the barstools. Troy was taller than Shane by a few inches, though leaner and lanky like a runner. They weren’t quite touching, but it reminded Shane of those games where you lined up across from a guy for the faceoff and just knew you were going to throw the gloves off as soon as the whistle blew.
All they needed was someone to blow the whistle. God.
About the Author
Avon Gale wrote her first story at the age of seven, about a “Space Hat” hanging on a rack and waiting for that special person to come along and purchase it — even if it was a bit weirder than the other, more normal hats. Like all of Avon’s characters, the space hat did get its happily ever after — though she’s pretty sure it was with a unicorn. She likes to think her vocabulary has improved since then, but the theme of quirky people waiting for their perfect match is still one of her favorites.
Avon grew up in the southern United States, and now lives with her very patient husband in a liberal midwestern college town. When she’s not writing, she’s either doing some kind of craft project that makes a huge mess, reading, watching horror movies, listening to music or yelling at her favorite hockey team to get it together, already. Avon is always up for a road trip, adores Kentucky bourbon, thinks nothing is as stress relieving as a good rock concert and will never say no to candy.
At one point, Avon was the mayor of both Jazzercise and Lollicup on Foursquare. This tells you basically all you need to know about her as a person.
Avon is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.