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Our series "5 Reasons I Love Hockey" features puckheads from all walks of life revealing five things that either made them a fan or that keep them watching hockey. It will run every weekday through August. Enjoy.

Carrie Milbank is the face of "The Hockey Show" on NHL.com and the NHL Network, which nearly makes us forgive Bettman for the lockout. The California-born, Texas-bred former cheerleading captain for the Houston Texans has done wide-ranging work in sports television and has worked with some impressive professionals. And also with Barry Melrose.

As her goofy, playful interviews with BMR and Gunaxin confirm, she can hang. (Her favorite beer: "Wells Banana Bread ... it's like dessert only you actually get better looking the more you consume, or at least the more others consume around you.") So we were eager to find out her reasons for loving hockey, and they begin where a generation of fans' began: with a video game controllers in her hand.

Here are Five Reasons Carrie Milbank Loves Hockey. Were you as surprised by No. 3 as we were?

1. Blades of Steel

As a product of the 80's I was hooked on Nintendo and Blades of Steel was pretty "rad" for its time ... plus the computer was easy to beat. For me it was love at first "FIGHT!" and that's how I learned the basics of the game and who the teams were. (I always wanted to be Montreal.)

2. Tradition

I can't think of a sport more full of tradition than Hockey. Just look at the Stanley Cup -- the most recognizable symbol of a champion in all of pro sports ... not to mention the dozen or so other trophies recognizing the best of the best in the NHL. Hockey is the only sport that blatantly praises its most outstanding players, and yet those athletes who play hockey remain the most humble and team-oriented guys in the business of pro sports.

My favorite tradition, however, is the fighting. With all the aggression and intensity demanded of pro athletes from every sport, it's no surprise that the guys need to open up a can of whoop ass every now and then, defend their teams honor, and show the other guy who's boss. But hockey players are the only ones who get away with it, usually with just a slap on the wrist...those lucky sons of guns.

3. Ice Girls

Enough about the guys, let's talk about the girls ... Ice Girls.

Hey what can I say? I've been there, and as a fellow Pro Cheerleader (NFL Houston Texans '01-'05) I just gotta give a shout out. Their photos speak for themselves but the next time you find yourself at a not-so-nail-biter-of-a-hockey-game, you'll see what I mean.

4. Canada

Canada gets a bad wrap for lots of things eh, but what it lacks in originality it makes up for in Hockey. Being from Texas I understand what being a die-hard sports fan is all about (I'm sure I still have a "Football Is Life" T-shirt somewhere).

This year I got to spend a week in Montreal covering the All-Star Game and when a local waitress told me the story of how the streets are quiet on Saturday nights because everyone stays home to watch Hockey Night In Canada, I discovered a new level of passion for the game.

A few more reasons? Gretzky, Howe, Orr, Richard, Lemieux

5. "The Hockey Show"

Not only is hosting "The Hockey Show" on NHL.com (NHL.tv portal here) the greatest "job" ever, it's opened the doors to a world hockey fans have never experienced before. We take fans behind the scenes and give them an inside look at their favorite players and teams. Only we have access to the up close and personal side of the NHL.

Is the off-season over yet!?!

Milbank photo by Katie Ambrose.

Read all of our "5 Reasons I Love Hockey" posts here.

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