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Sports Movie Madness: Hockey Movies – Round 1

***Deadline extended until Sunday at 5 pm!

A face off doesn’t always have to relate to Nicolas Cage people. No, Canada’s favourite pastime is also another segment of Player Affinity's Sports Movie Madness! There is nothing like the sound of a slapping puck and thundering hits along the boards and over the course of the next few weeks you’ll get your shot (pun intended) to vote for your favorite sports movies out of a field of 64. It continues right along with our list of best hockey films.

In the Sports Movie Madness tournament, there are seven sports and one mega-category of miscellaneous sports, so eight regions total. This is the Hockey Region. Below are the eight boxing films we deemed most worthy of our tournament. There are four matchups based on these seedings and your job is to pick which movie you deem worthy of winning each matchup. Simply enter a comment by Saturday at 11:59 pm with the four movies you are picking to move on (once again, not any four movies, but one of the two movie going up against each other, so no voting for The Mighty Ducks and Les Boys, only one or the other) and your votes count! Each region will have three rounds and then the winner of each sport region will face off against the other sports until we have a winner!

The best element of hockey films is their lightning pace; skaters speed across the surface, bodies are tossed and blood is spilled. Of all the genres in our tournament hockey flicks easily have the smallest niche of the sports genre, though it certainly has some of the best hidden gems.

1 The Mighty Ducks
2 Miracle
3 Mystery, Alaska
4 Slap Shot
5 D2: The Mighty Ducks
6 The Rocket
7 Sudden Death
8 Les Boys

mightyduckspic lesboyspic

1 The Mighty Ducks vs. 8 Les Boys

Anyone of a certain age (mine included) seems to have an affinity for this film, as with The Sandlot in our baseball section. The Mighty Ducks features the right youthful age group, a simple but well-told and exciting story and the inspirational ending demanded. Starring Emilio Estevez, the brother of winner Charlie Sheen stars as “coach” Gordon Bombay, the disclaimer comes from the fact that he is not really a coach but a disgraced defence attorney ordered to community service at a lame PeeWee hockey league and with his hot-headed attitude and passion for the sport sends the team to glory. The young cast is talented if not a revelation and the clichés are abounding as they are in any sports flick. The fact that this is our number one seed is a testament to warm nostalgia and the big heart this film possesses.

I’m sure nobody knows what I’m talking about when I refer to Score: A Hockey Musical, but I suppose the title lends a few hints. My intent at mentioning this recent bizarre release comes from Les Boys, an early hockey comedy from Quebec which spawned two sequels. If you have a taste for off-key, French humour (and of course the sport itself) there is a lot to admire in this film, especially its home-grown popularity. Considering the population of Quebec in 1997 when released, the film took in the equivalent of $250 million for a domestic U.S. release. Little seen outside of Canada, Les Boys is a hidden comedic gem that offers a unique twist on the sport and genre at large.



4 Slap Shot vs. 5 D2: The Mighty Ducks

Even before Les Boys, Paul Newman ventured into sparsely visited genre for the thespian with comedy, and even more so with hockey, in this satirical look at the sport. Similar to Bad News Bears, Slap Shot is vulgar, foul-mouthed and consistently hilarious as it lampoons violence while embracing it with arms spread wide and knees arching upward. Slap Shot’s lasting popularity and influence lies within a number of facets: its incredible early release date for the sport (1977), the fact it holds up easily to today’s sports movie standards and a perfect performance by Newman. Quotable, referenced infinitely in games, shows and hockey fandom at large, this is a classic that should always be graced with a fresh pair of blades.

Ahhh back in the day when the real Ducks from Anaheim were still “Mighty.” No less by-the-books than its predecessor, D2: The Mighty Ducks captured at least the same amount of adoration, courtesy of its brand-name Disney heart. When I was young, I actually remember this sequel being the most popular of the (then) two and it’s hard to miss the appeal for the target demographic, though I’m sure a revisit today would find a wildly dopey offering. Instead of an underdog scorer, “D2” instead shifts at least most of its focus to a goaltender who makes the team proud in the end. Emilio Estevez and future Dawson’s Creek star Joshua Jackson both reprise their roles as coach and player respectively, still the long shots and still using the impossible “Flying V” technique against their unsuspecting opponents.



3 Mystery, Alaska vs. 6 The Rocket

Ever wondered how your men’s league team would fair against an NHL team if such a matchup could be organized? In Mystery, Alaska (Mystery being the name of the small town where our tale unfolds) just that happens as after Sports Illustrated runs a story, the NY Rangers hitch a ride out to Alaska for a game of the ages. Directed by then-rising comedic director Jay Roach (The Austin Powers trilogy and the first two “Fockers” films) he was able to assemble a great cast for the type of film it is including Russell Crowe, Hank Azaria, Burt Reynolds and Colm Meaney. This is a nice little dramatic offering that managed to skirt most of the genre clichés with a more sombre and heartfelt approach and gives us more of a Rocky-esque feel though its lack in presenting the actual sport at the forefront left me somewhat cold

All sport movie sub-genres have their fair share of period piece offerings though this is not the only pure example I have seen with regards to hockey in particular, The Rocket is simply one of the best outright and presents a gritty, authentic but nevertheless thrilling presentation of the early days of the NHL and the rise of one of the game's greats: Maurice “The Rocket” Richard. Canadian actor Roy Dupuis gives a superb performance in the lead role as a man struggling against his means and his love for a game that seemed to offer no future. Some segments of this epic drag seemingly with unasked-for exposition and setup but the hockey matches and immersive feel of the film as a whole make this a truly earnest exercise in the genre.


2 Miracle vs. 7 Sudden Death

Dopey title aside (for some reason neutered from “Miracle on Ice”), Miracle is another venture to the sport of hockey by Disney and still remains one of the most popular and well-received of its kind. Miracle finds the United States men's hockey team, led by head coach and former player Herb Brooks (played passionately by Kurt Russell), that won the gold medal in the 1980 Winter Olympics over the then dominant and heavily favored Soviet team. This is still the highest-grossing film of the sub-genre and hopefully gained enough of a following to spur fans to branch out to the more obscure entries. Sentimentality may be laid on a bit thick at times, but I suppose when is it not in sports films and this entry does a good job at sticking to the facts and presenting enough rousing matches to keep the energy level high and the proceedings tense.

Ok, Sudden Death is about as much a hockey movie as Face/Off; you know when Jean-Claude Van Damme shows up there is going to be a lot more blood than your average match-up. A former firefighter, Van Damme stars as Darren McCord who now works at Civic Arena running fire security following a tragic incident years earlier.  Set during Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, McCord discovers a criminal plot unfolding in the arena. A group led by a disgruntled government employee Joshua Foss (Powers Boothe) is holding the VP and other dignitary’s hostage while wired the facility with explosives. But as is usually the case, this is all about money in the end, and always the case with Van Damme it is up to him to bring them down. I guess you could say the puck stops here.


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