Offsides

Offsides YA hockey novel
Part of the Hockey Rivals series:

Face-Off’s McKendrick brothers return in the explosive sequel, Offsides, an action-packed sports book for teens and tweens.

Twin hockey stars T.J. and Brad have finally resolved their differences and forged a friendship on and off the ice. Now high school seniors, they focus on landing a commitment to a D1 school.

What should have been the best year ever takes a nasty hit when the boys’ parents announce their divorce, and Brad makes a mistake that could impact his game eligibility. Meanwhile, T.J. faces off against their father, who opposes his decision to delay college and pursue junior hockey.

Adding to the tension are a rebellious kid brother, girlfriend trouble, and recruiting pressure. The turmoil threatens to drive the twins apart just when they need to work together the most. With a championship title and their futures at stake, T.J. and Brad must fight to keep from going offsides.

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Below, are snippets of fan letters from young readers who have asked for a companion book to the sports novel Face-Off.

"I loved it because I love hockey. The story kind of relates to my family because I have a twin and two younger brothers...can you please make a sequel?"
- Matthew from Vermont

"Face-Off was a great book. The reason I picked it out was because it was about hockey. I think that there should be a sequel to it. It was a very good book."
- Wesley from Maine

"I would really enjoy another one of your books. The book you wrote was the first book I ever sat down and read the whole thing. I don't read much, but this time I did."
- Richard, age 13, from Missouri

"This is, by far, one of the best books I have ever read. Face-Off has an excellent climax and a superb plot...This is one book I think every hockey fan should read. Your book shows how in hockey, it's not a one-man show and it takes a whole team to win. I know a sequel to Face-Off would be great. I couldn't change any part of this story to make it better if I tried."
- Adam from Ohio

"I really loved your book. I liked the part where all the brothers went to the caves, and T.J. and Brad got into a fight over Sherry. I learned a lot of stuff from this book. Like if your brother is on the same team, don't mess it up for the whole team. You should not underestimate your teammates. I would love to know if you are going to write any more books."
- Seth from Virginia

"I have just recently read your book and thought it was awesome. As I was reading this book, I became attached to it and could not put it down. I would recommend this book to tons and tons of people...I believe your style of writing is terrific and hope to locate more of your outstanding books."
- Nick, age 14, from Michigan

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Excerpt:

“Over!” T.J. McKendrick shouted, telling his brother he was open across from him.

Brad sent the puck to him and they tore down the ice on a breakaway. T.J. rocketed a shot to the low corner on the goalie’s stick side. The goaltender blocked it with his pads and directed the puck toward a defenseman. Brad swooped in first, catching it on his stick. He flipped it to T.J., yelling, “Around!”

Pulse thundering, T.J. wrapped the puck around the boards. Brad raced there in time to retrieve it. T.J. zoomed in front of the goaltender, ready for the return pass. When his brother snapped the disk back to him, T.J. thrust it into the right side of the cord. Score!

With fifty seconds left in the third period, they now had a four-goal lead. The brothers exchanged fist bumps, each wearing the captain “C” on the left front shoulder of their jerseys.

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After an uneventful final minute of play, their teammates mobbed them, spraying up ice chips as they celebrated the season opener shutout.

T.J. and Brad’s fourteen-year-old brother Chris skated off the bench. He resembled a slighter version of the team’s starters in his helmet with chin straps fastened to his head, dark blue travel jersey with large white numbers on the back and smaller numbers on the sleeves, gloves, padded hockey pants, and blue hockey socks. Unlike the others, no sweat glistened behind his face mask. “Good game. Wish I could’ve played.”

“You’re only a freshman,” Brad reminded him. “And it’s just the first game.”

“Give it time,” T.J. agreed, turning to congratulate their goalie, Trey Arenson.

Coach Reynolds stood before them in the locker room, short and stocky with a bald head and drooping walrus mustache. No matter how much he skated with the team, he never lost his pouch of a stomach. “You deserved that win tonight. You boys gave a great effort. We can make it all the way this year, and this team just took the first step. I want to see that same intensity and focus at practice next week.”

After the boys had showered and were leaving the building, T.J.’s cell signaled an incoming text. His heart rate picked up when he saw the sender’s name. The assistant hockey coach at Boston College. He’d Cc’d a note to Brad and T.J.

I was in the area and came by for the first two periods. Good job. I couldn’t stay for the whole game, but wanted to wish you both luck this season. Stay in touch.

T.J. exchanged a grin with his brother, who was walking a few feet ahead of him. BC was a perennial hockey juggernaut and T.J.’s first choice college. The hockey staff had seemed interested in them junior year, and this showed they were still on the watch list.

On the bus ride home, Brad and T.J. shared a seat in back. Snow flurries dusted the air outside, flakes wetting the dark window. He and Brad were fraternal twins. While no one would mistake them for identical, they looked related with their athletic builds and longish blond hair that spilled out the back of their helmets. T.J. spent more time on his, combing fingers through it when the locks were semi-dry, guiding it to the side, and coaxing a tendril across his forehead. Brad just swept his hair off his face and let it flow in tousled waves. They both worked hard on their physiques, following an ambitious weightlifting regimen.

Since strength and conditioning was part of the NCAA Division I hockey training program, college players often gained at least twenty pounds of lean muscle mass. Most high-level players spent a couple years in a junior league before college, some through age twenty, which meant that many D1 hockey players were twenty-five in their last season. To compete with older, bigger guys, the twins had expanded their training routine.

T.J. glanced at his brother, who was scrolling through text messages. During a rocky period where they’d drifted apart, T.J. was forced to leave his private school last year and join Brad at Bayview High. Once they adjusted to the unwelcome change, they’d pursued their goals—both on the ice and off—together.

He and Brad had emailed Hockey East conference coaches and junior league scouts and were now in semi-regular contact. They’d visited campuses together, touring the facilities, watching practices and games, and meeting players and staff. Although they hadn’t pitched themselves as a package deal, they were talking to the same people.

For a high school star, college hockey coaches sometimes extended a verbal promise to reserve an athletic scholarship, unofficially saving a spot on the future roster. They still expected the player to develop in junior and wouldn’t formalize the offer until down the line. Usually though, scouts approached seasoned junior league standouts. T.J. hoped he defeated the odds and received a commitment out of high school. When he used to watch the Frozen Four—the semifinals and final game of the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship—on TV as a kid, he never imagined how tough it would be to reach that elite level. For some players, the dream never worked out, and they had to set their sights on Division III.

“So . . . what school are you hoping for?” T.J. asked.

Brad slid his phone into the pocket of his letterman jacket. “BC and BU are my top choices, then Providence and Merrimack. I’m hoping for BC the most since I’ve always been an Eagles fan. How about you?”

“Same. They’re all great, but I really liked the staff at BC and the facilities.”

If Boston College didn’t offer them both a commitment though, T.J. would rather go where they could play together. They had great chemistry as linemates with every rush up the ice. Brad was fast, strong on the boards, won battles in the corners, and possessed solid forechecking skills. He had that magical ability to score and create plays for his teammates, making him the type of winger that coaches sought. Their friends called it twin telepathy the way they killed penalties together and always knew where the other would be.

Yet they also had a long history of competition. At practice, the atmosphere occasionally grew heated. That was T.J.’s only concern, whether their sibling rivalry would flare up.

As usual, Brad seemed to read his mind. “Do you think we should try to go to college together? Or play against each other? Either way, there’s bound to be violence.”

T.J. saw the hopeful expression on Brad’s face and grinned. “I wouldn’t mind having some twin telepathy.”

“Might come in handy,” Brad said. “Especially for you.”

“Any chance you can leave your ego behind?”

“Nope. Yours would be too lonely. So are we going for it?”

“Yeah. Let’s do it.”

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About Stacy Juba

Stacy Juba writes mysteries, chick lit and contemporary fiction that is crisp, fresh, and satisfying. She is also an affordable freelance editor known for doing extensive editing on hard copies of her clients' manuscripts. Subscribe to her newsletter and/or follow her blog for freebies, resources and to discover new books.

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