Prove It (Do or Die Book 1) by Stephanie Hoyt

Alex doesn't want to compete with Noah, he wants to have him in his life as a friend. But Noah knows being friends with Alex will be hard while denying his attraction, and even once they become friends he can never hope for more. Hockey always comes first, and hockey will never accept two players in a relationship.

From the Prove It blurb:

Despite being unanimously projected to go first overall in the upcoming NHL Draft, Noah Anderson wants nothing more than to get the Draft over with so he can escape his dad’s unrelenting criticism and establish himself outside the rivalry he’s never tried to fuel.

Alex Valencia can handle getting picked second after a guy touted as the next Gretzky—but he can’t wrap his head around the fact that Noah is the one friend he can’t make.

When the draft lottery all but guarantees they’ll play for rival teams, Alex accidentally walks them right into a loser-buys dinner competition, ensuring their relationship remains a point of interest long after the season begins.

Opposites in so many ways, neither Alex nor Noah expect a relationship built on the begrudging acceptance of a challenge made on live television to become so deeply important to them. But as the line between chirping and flirting blurs, they both must decide how much they’re willing to sacrifice to play in the NHL.

SNik's review:

First in series (Do or Die). Rivals to friends to lovers. Opposites attract. Very slow burn. Dual POV. 

The media has pitched them as rival hockey players, and even though Noah feels the pressure and tries to ignore Alex, Alex wants nothing more than to be Noah’s friend. When they get drafted to nearby cities, Alex does not let up the pressure, and soon becomes a permanent fixture in Noah’s life. This friendship that sparks from competitiveness and banter builds slowly to something meaningful and Alex and Noah eventually have to decide if wanting something even deeper is worth risking their friendship and hockey for. 

I really enjoyed that Alex is committed yet oblivious to his need to have Noah like him, and there was no easy path but only grudging acceptance from Noah as he attempts to keep his attraction a secret from Alex. The romance in this story comes from the absolute sweetness, support, comfort and happiness that Alex and Noah feel as friends and it is a strong bond that carries them to agree to reach for what they want together. The main secondary cast were funny and super supportive, and the time spent on having Alex and Noah become close friends first made this story swoony and an entertaining read.

Prove It is currently available as an e-book and paperback