ITHACA, N.Y., April 9 (UPI) -- Check this: Fans across North America are getting revved up not just for the Stanley Cup but also a crop of romance novels with hockey as a backdrop.
Knights in shining armor set in days of yore are getting forechecked by a new breed of woo pitchers wearing jerseys.
"I wanted a great leader -- good-looking, driven and passionate," said Deirdre Martin, the Ithaca, N.Y., writer who modeled parts of her "Body Check" leading man after Rangers' great Mark Messier.
Sue Grimshaw, a romance buyer for Borders bookstores, said the sub-genre is a hit. "Hockey players are alpha males, and for romance readers, they're good characters for the story," she told the New York Post.
Rachel Gibson, whose "See Jane Score" reached the 2003 Romance Writers of America Top 10, said she knew it would be a hard sell but she went for it anyway.
"The appeal of hockey is it's not politically correct," she said in the newspaper article. "They hit each other. They knock each other out. It's testosterone driven."
And the NHL couldn't be more pleased. NHL spokeswoman Bernadette Mansur told the Post, "We're thrilled. Given the handsome players and their good character, it's not surprising."