Memorable Ice Hockey Movies

Ice hockey is a sport that translates very well to movies, thanks to the action it contains out on the ice and the human stories behind the games. 

What are some of the best films that have been based on this sport?

Les Boys (1997) and Les Boys II (1998) 

These movies from the late 1990s form one of the most successful Canadian series of all time. The action follows a group of amateur ice hockey players and the games they play. These are essentially comedies but the action sequences are well done and it feels pretty exciting.

The series covers a total of four films, with the first couple of them most warmly-received by audiences. Given the relative lack of hockey movies from Quebec, it’s easy to see why this series has become a cult classic among sports fans there. The second movie sees them travel to France for a tournament and is arguably the best of the four.

The Mighty Ducks (1992)

This ice hockey movie from the early 90s was the first time that many mainstream movie-goers had seen the sport played on the big screen. It’s the first of three live-action films based on the Mighty Ducks, and it starts with Emilio Estevez’s character being sentenced to community service that involves coaching a hapless youth team.

The remarkable success of the Mighty Ducks movies makes it one of the best examples of any type of sports movie. 

Plus, after the success of the movie, the Ducks actually became a real NHL team. In 1993, the Anaheim Ducks established themselves in California and now compete among the best teams in NHL odds by Bovada. The Ducks actually won the Stanley Cup in 2007. 

Slap Shot (1977) 

There’s something about ice hockey that makes it perfect for sports movies that combine comedy with action. Paul Newman stars in this 1977 film about the team from the fictional town of Charlestown in New England, and the actor was a good skater in real life who did a lot of his own stunts. Faced with the prospect of losing their team, they resort to a violent style of play that the fans love.  

This movie wasn’t particularly well-received at the time of its release, but Slap Shot has earned a reputation as something of a cult classic over the years since then. Expect some wild fighting scenes and a lot of jokes that have managed to withstand the passage of time pretty well.

Miracle (2004)

This hockey movie is based on a true story, as it tells us the amazing story of the US v Russia game the 1980s Winter Olympics hockey medal round. Kurt Russell plays coach Herb Brooks, who is in charge of the US team as they aim for gold against the heavily-fancied Russian team.

The film was inspired by the game that has become known as the Miracle on Ice. This was arguably the most important and inspiring ice hockey game in American history, with the US team beating the Russians 4-3 before going on to secure the coveted gold medal. The game it’s based on is also commonly listed among the top sporting moments of the 20th century, such was its impact. 

The Rocket (2005)

Another ice hockey movie based on a true story, The Rocket is about Maurice “The Rocket” Richard. Roy Dupuis plays the leading role as one of the stars of the Montreal Canadiens team from the mid-20th century. However, he isn’t happy with the fact that he believes that French-speaking players receive poorer treatment than English speakers.

The action comes to a head when Richard gets angry during a game and he ends up getting suspended by the league’s president.  This leads to the team’s fan rioting and Richard becomes a hugely controversial figure as the subject of racism in the sport is finally discussed.

Youngblood (1986)

This movie starring Rob Lowe certainly isn’t as authentic as some others in terms of how it shows the action carried out on the ice. However, it’s an entertaining film that also gave Keanu Reeves his first movie role.

Youngblood is a youthful farmhand who wants to get the chance to star in the NHL but whose father doesn’t want him to play hockey. He eventually moves to Canada to try and live his dream, which puts him into some difficult situations as he faces up to a rival player who wants to show him up. 

Red Army (2014)

This documentary looks at how the Russian ice hockey team became so good and how its players were then integrated into the top NHL teams. The film is from 2014 and it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Among the stars featured is Slava Fetisov, who played for the New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings, and was a Stanley Cup winner.

We can see how unexpected the Miracle of Ice mentioned earlier really was, as experts explain how the Soviet ice hockey team had become an incredible machine that no one expected to see lose the gold medal.

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