Max Ashford suffered a career-ending injury during a Stanley Cup playoff game. Besides his career, he lost his endorsement deals, his new house, and his fiancé. For the last five years, he’s been an assistant coach of a college hockey team. When he gets his chance to move up in his new career to an assistant coach for the worst team in the ECHL league, the Sparanburg Spitfires, he isn’t expecting to be working under the new head coach, Misha Samarin – the player who was responsible for Max’s career going skates up.
Though Misha’s team won the Stanley Cup, he retired shortly after and refuses to wear the championship ring because he doesn’t believe he deserves it. For the last five years, he’s been an assistant coach for an AHL team and sees this opportunity to be a head coach as a step up, even if it is coaching a division down.
Max and Misha weren’t expecting to be the draw for fans at the team’s games, but the team’s owner, Jack Belsey, is hoping that these two can provide some entertainment behind the bench to draw fans to games. Max and Misha aren’t going to give him that satisfaction and are determined to build a team that can draw its own fans without relying on their past history.
This is the third book in the Scoring Chances series and I am in awe that each and every book gets better and better – and I loved the first in the series! However, this can be read as a standalone.
They always say to write what you know, and I will say that Avon Gale knows hockey! While the first two in the series focuses on actual players for ECHL teams, this one focuses on the head and assistant coach. Both former hockey players, both whose careers ended after Max suffered a career ending injury and Misha couldn’t skate because of the guilt he had over the incident. Thrown together as a marketing ploy to draw in fans, the two are determined to build a team together – except what they have to draw from leaves them questioning whether they can.
As a hockey fan, this felt like an adult version of the kid’s movie Mighty Ducks coupled with the 1984 Miracle on Ice Olympic team. These coaches and players will have you on the edge of your seat rooting for the underdog! Win or lose, they quickly worm their way into your heat and you become a diehard fan of the team.
While I love a good hockey story, it was the romance between Max and Misha that made this a story I couldn’t put down. The two are thrown together five years after the incident that left one with career ending injuries and the other with debilitating guilt. Initially I was disappointed that the author didn’t play up the whole enemies to lovers theme that could have been, but as a hurt/comfort storyline it was a whole lot more satisfying.
While we are on the topic of satisfying…the heat index for this story is hot enough to melt glaciers! Max considers himself straight, except for the weekend he spent enjoying what was supposed to be his honeymoon at an all-inclusive resort with an abundance of alcohol and a hot male bartender that didn’t mind giving Max lessons in giving blowjobs. Misha left Russia years ago because he knew he was gay, and being gay is illegal where he lived. Let’s just say that Max is eager to explore his bisexuality with gusto if Misha is willing to come out of that closet he’s been hiding in.
My only complaint about this story is that I wanted more of Drake – the blue haired, lip pierced, foul mouthed goalie who has more penalty minutes than the best defender on the team. While he didn’t steal the show away from Max and Misha, knowing I have to wait until this fall for his story feels like I’ve been locked in the penalty box during the off season.
If you are a fan of this series, this story is by far the best so far! If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading this series, you need to come out of the closet with Misha and take a skate on the wild side. I highly recommend!
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.