I’ve been a hockey die-hard for 6 years now, a mere rookie compared to many, I realize.

In the beginning, it was all about the rush, the speed, the action, the hitting, and all the other things that put anyone under hockey’s spell.

But something changed one night after a Houston Aeros game when I saw Aaron Voros in nothing but his skin-tight, muscle-revealing Under Armor.

In that moment, my reasonably-paced hockey bandwagon was suddenly running on jet fuel and that brief eyeful of thoroughbred derriere was burned into my memory banks forever.

It was like the glowing briefcase in Pulp Fiction. Or the Holy Grail.

Here I was thinking hockey couldn’t possibly be any more awesome, and there was Voros’ ass proving me wrong. Hockey COULD get more awesome because now I could watch the best sport in the world while staring at hunky men!

I’d found a whole new level of fervor for the game.

And with that, before I even knew there was such a thing as “puck bunnies,” I was flirting with the label myself, because hockey flesh was suddenly an unavoidable, irrefutable component of my experience as a fan.

Fortunately for my dignity, I’ve been married for 11 years, so I’m all bark and no bite, but the mere fact that I (strongly) believe “Relative Foxiness” should be a stat in fantasy hockey puts question marks in some people’s minds as to my seriousness as a fan.

People want to put you in a box: Is she a puck bunny or is she a real fan?

And it’s not just me. I know plenty of gals who are dead serious about the game, but whose breath catches at sights like this:

Sweet flexible mercy, Huet...

On one hand, I sometimes feel guilty for objectifying players, who are delightfully human with more to offer than a great wrist shot and thighs like redwoods. But my impression is that guys are less sensitive about being objectified*, so I carry on freely.

*The only guy I’ve ever gotten any snarl from is a well-toned guy I play hockey with who takes his time between taking off his gear and putting his street clothes on. I call him “Gun Show.”

It goes like this: “Nice shot, Gun Show!” “[ignore]” “Aim for the net next time, Gun Show!” “[crickets]”

He clearly hates me. No clue why.

Then, I feel the guilt from female fans, some of whom believe that those of us who unabashedly admire the goods (and of course, those who have the pleasure of doing more than admire) tarnish the image of all female hockey fans.

“I am not a puck bunny. I am a serious hockey fan.”

But are they really mutually exclusive? Why can’t I, in the same breath, say:

“Oh, for the love of Tretiak! VHS is the wrong save selection on that shot, Roberto! Look how your lateral movement is limited off the post! … Dammit if he doesn’t have some long legs, though… sweet baby Jesus, I would hit that.”

Does my dreamy contemplation that naked Luongo probably looks like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly (after he gets all strong and ripped, but before his skin starts falling off and he has to throw up on his food to digest it) negate the fact that I can talk knowledgably about the technicalities of goaltending?

No, of course it doesn’t.

Still, it’s been a bit of an identity crisis that ties into the culture of hockey fandom. Either you’re in it for the boys or you’re in it for the game.

Well, I’m here to tell ya, on my behalf and that of many other ladies who enjoy a good penalty kill as much as a well-muscled tush, the age of the Serious-Bunny Hybrid is upon us.

So be prepared to get whooped in fantasy hockey by your female hockey friends and their well-managed – and attractive – teams.