First game of the new WNHL season. The Fury were up against a team out of Boston, the Liberty. While she loved the name, she had no love for teams out of Boston. They were notorious for dirty players and cheap shots. She was hoping the Liberty would not follow in the footsteps of their counterparts. Looking up into the VIP boxes, she caught sight of her boyfriend. The Sounders were not going to miss the first game and they had rented three of the luxurious rooms in support. Apollo had wanted to sit in the stands but Max convinced him it would be safer for Tess and for himself to watch from the box. Tess needed no distractions and the last thing Apollo wanted was to be the reason she lost her concentration.
The Fury won the toss and the puck hit the ice. There was a flurry of sticks and skates as the players vied for the prize. Courtney was able to muscle the puck past the Liberty’s intimidating defense line and into the hands of Sam. Like lightening, Sam raced down toward the goal but was unable to score. At the last minute, the Liberty’s center stopped the shot and took off with the puck in possession. It went on like this for most of the first period, each team stealing the puck and attempting to score. Right before the buzzer, Lucy was able to sneak the puck past the Liberty’s goalie and score the first goal of the game.
The Liberty were proving to be a very tough team but the Fury rose to the challenge. Apollo stood glued to the window, not wanting to miss a second. Tess was on fire as usual, blocking shot after shot. Her strength and grace could be seen in every move she made and he felt his chest swell with pride. That was his woman kicking ass out there. Sam scored two more goals for the Fury with an assist from Lucy.
“Damn these women can play some fucking hockey!” Brandon stood beside Apollo, his mouth open in his signature gape. Apollo chuckled at the goofy goalie, never taking his eyes off the game. “OH SHIT! Did you see that? That’s a hat trick right there! Sam is a fucking beast!” The box was going crazy. Sam just scored her third goal of the game halfway through the second period. The crowd was on their feet, screaming and chanting at the top of their collective lungs. Sam’s face never let on her excitement. She stayed in her zone but Apollo could see the slight twitch at the corners of her mouth as she tried to smother a grin.
The Liberty were lining up and you could feel the tension rolling off them like thunderclouds. Shit was about to get serious. Apollo sucked in a breath as he watched a big Liberty defensewoman barrel toward Lucy. Lucy took a hard check against the boards, which only served to piss her off. She rounded on the Liberty player and pushed the woman before she began cursing in both English and Italian. Both players received a minor penalty and were separated. By the end of the second period, no more goals had been scored but the animosity had picked up between the teams.
Halftime saw the teams split for their respective locker rooms. Tess threw her mask and gloves down and marched toward Lucy. “DeCapo what the fuck was that out there? You were checked fair and square, girl and you know it. This is HOCKEY, baby not football.” Lucy’s face went red with anger. Her fists clenched beside her into tight white knuckled balls.
“She did that shit on purpose, Cap and you know it. Why you busting my balls? I did what any one of us would have done. I got in her face and made it clear she’s picking on the wrong girl.”
“Damn it, Luce, if you can’t take the fucking heat then maybe you need to sit out the rest of the game. Don’t think for one minute that just because you’re a strong player that I won’t suspend your ass right here and now. I don’t give a flying fuck if it is the middle of a game. This is juvenile bullshit and you ain’t in the minors anymore. Grow the fuck up, suck it up and play like the professional you are. Got it?” Lucy was vibrating she was so angry. When she heard she might get benched for unsportsmanlike conduct, she fought hard to calm her Italian temper. Before she could speak, Karina gathered them together.
“You girls are on fire tonight!” she cheered. “I’m very proud of each of you. Most of you are handling yourselves like serious players.” She shot an angry glare at Lucy. “The Liberty has proven to be a worthy opponent. Those women are just as fierce as you are and they want this win just as badly. You gonna let them get the better of you and take your first win on your own fucking home court?”
“Hell no!” came the collective answer.
“That’s what I thought! Now hydrate and get your heads straight. When we go back out there, I want no mercy! ACCEPT NO DEFEAT!” The locker room was soon in an uproar, the players’ energy quickly replenishing itself as they replenished their electrolytes. Lucy shot a guilty look at Tess.
“You’re right, Cap, you’re right. I’m sorry I let my temper get the best of me. It won’t happen again. I’ve played against Cheryl Bettencourt before. She might be just a little bit pissed off that I slept with her sister’s boyfriend.” Tess’s jaw dropped as she snorted a laugh.
“Just…shit I don’t even know what to say to that, Luce. Go hydrate, you crazy woman.” Lucy laughed as she walked off to do as her captain commanded. Tess threw in her earbuds and leaned her head back against the lockers. She slowed down her breathing, bringing it deep and even as she let the smooth notes of Norah Jones infiltrate. This was one of her rituals. Meditation. It was something she shared with her father and it was a way of having him close while she played. No one knew the big, bulky all star goalie was a Norah Jones fan.
At the sound of the buzzer, the players took to the ice again. Tess was sitting this first part out in order to let their second string have a chance at some real ice time. Trina was good and Tess knew she would play well. She had been working with Trina as had the Sounders goalie coach, Bard Clements. The young woman had come a long way since draft day. Tess could tell she was nervous. The puck dropped and the action began again. The Liberty center, a woman by the name of Abbie Pinkerton, grabbed possession and took off like her ass was on fire. Before Trina could even blink, Abbie shot the puck into the net.
Score goal for the Liberty. Tess closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Come on, Trina. Pull your head out and concentrate,” she said to herself. Trina’s head hung low and her shoulders slumped. Tess knew what she was feeling and she wasn’t about to let that depressive thinking sink into Trina’s head and mess with her game. “ACCEPT NO DEFEAT!” she shouted from the players box. Soon, the rest of the team joined her in the chant. It slowly spread across the fans behind them. Trina’s head popped up. Her eyes zeroed in on Tess. Tess dipped her chin and continued to chant. Trina pulled her mask up and gave Tess a chin nod back. Slamming the mask back down, she took her position. It worked.
That was the only goal the Liberty scored. Trina did not let another puck get by her. She played her ass off and Tess couldn’t be more proud of her. The Sounders spilled into the stands, cheering on the Fury, knowing this game was in the bag. With less than twenty seconds on the clock, it would take a Hail Mary for the Liberty to pull off a win. The clock counted down…Three…Two…One. Game over. Score three to one, Fury for the win. As the players lined up to shake hands, Cheryl grabbed Tess’s in a vice grip.
“Damn fine playing, girl,” she said with a husky chuckle. “And sorry about DeCapo there. She’s deserved that for a long time. Guess I took my shot while I had it.” Tess grinned and moved on down the line.
The locker rooms were infused with news reporters, all wanting a piece of the Fury or the Liberty. Both teams played a hell of a game and proved to the world they were the ones to watch. It was exhilarating and nerve wracking all at the same time but there was no other place Tess would rather be than right here, in this moment, soaking in a hard fought win with her teammates.