Sports movies are a popular subgenre, and while there is a plethora of great baseball and football movies, ice hockey has often been relegated to secondary status. With its fast-paced action and high-speed thrills, hockey is high drama on the ice, and that often translates to the screen when done right.
Whether its comedy classics like Slap Shot or family favorites like The Mighty Ducks, hockey can make for thrilling cinema. While there are a ton of great hockey movies, users on Ranker took to the site to upvote some of their absolute favorites.
10 Ice Guardians (2016)
The role of the enforcer has been the subject of many hockey comedies, but Ice Guardians is a fascinating sports documentary exploring the niche within the sport. The film explores the history of hockey, and particularly players known as “enforcers” who are tasked with using their muscle to protect their team’s star players.
What makes the documentary doubly interesting is that it frames itself through the lens of younger enforcers who find that their role is diminishing in modern hockey. As the sport moves away from its violent past, many players find that their skill set is less desirable than it was before.
9 Red Army (2014)
The history of hockey is often told through a North American lens, and Red Army attempted to tell its story from a traditionally underrepresented perspective. At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet national hockey team was one of the most feared forces in the sport. Red Army explores their history with first person testimony from many of the players.
Coming as one of the best documentaries about the Olympics, Red Army finally allows one side of the story to be told in its own words. While generally portrayed as the villains in many hockey histories, the Soviet players are given an opportunity to tell their personal stories. The final result is a fascinating and enlightening look at a complicated part of history.
8 D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994)
Children’s sports movies were all the rage in the 1990s and The Mighty Ducks series was one of the kings of the sub-genre. D2: The Mighty Ducks picks up right after the first film, and sees the Ducks participate in a goodwill competition in Southern California.
By amping up the stakes, D2 proved to be a worthy successor to the first film. On and off the ice, the characters are given a chance to grow and change, and it has a lot more emotional depth than the first. Like the original, the film is anchored by a strong performance from Emilio Estevez, and the entire cast of child actors.
7 The Mighty Ducks (1992)
Generally considered one of the best kid’s sports movies of all time, The Mighty Ducks raised the bar for the entire sub-genre. When a lawyer is given a sentence to community service, he decides to coach a ragtag ice hockey team in hopes of capturing a championship that he missed out on in his youth.
The Mighty Ducks soars because its premise is fun, and the personalities of the child stars all shine through. With a somewhat realistic scope of winning the local championship, the movie feels very relatable and certainly helped get an entire generation of youngsters into the game of hockey.
6 Youngblood (1986)
With a cast including iconic 1980s actors Patrick Swayze and Rob Lowe, Youngblood combined the thrilling sport of hockey with a charming romance story. A young farm hand is given a professional hockey tryout in Canada. When he gets accepted, he has to fight for his position on the team as well as for the coach’s daughter’s affection.
Though the film isn’t as well remembered in the sports movie realm, it was still a fun addition to the sub-genre, and showed hockey in a positive light. With a great cast and fun on-ice action, Youngblood lived up to the sport that it was paying homage to. Even if the plot is rather standard, it was anchored by strong performances from its leads.
5 Maurice Richard (2005)
Hockey history is crammed with interesting stories that are just waiting to be told, and Maurice Richard captured one of the legends of the sport in a thrilling drama about his life. Maurice “the Rocket” Richard is a French Canadian hockey player who attempts to make his way in an NHL that is dominated by Anglophones.
Exploring the complicated history between French Canada and English Canada, the film presents its drama both on and off the ice. Capturing the spirit of one of the sport’s most important people was a difficult task, but the film lives up to the icon’s legacy. Interestingly, many of the on-ice characters were played by current NHL players.
4 Mystery, Alaska (1999)
Just as important as the game itself, hockey culture is an integral part of the experience for the sport. Mystery, Alaska is a comedy film that follows the lives of the residents of a small Alaskan town who get overexcited when their city is picked to host an important hockey event.
Showing just how important the sport is to its many fans, Mystery, Alaska gently prods them with humorous jokes. Ultimately well-meaning, the film is a funny romp about small town life, and how sport can transcend mere entertainment, and mean so much more to those who live for it.
3 Goon (2011)
One of the most recent films to attempt to tackle the beloved sport, Goon continued the long tradition of hockey comedies. Outcast from his successful family, a part-time bouncer takes a shot at glory by trying to lead his amateur hockey team to a championship through their own unique brand of on-ice violence.
Seann William Scott shakes off the typecasting from his earlier work and delivers a stellar comedic performance with a lot of layers. Showing hockey from all sides, Goon is both a parody of the sport as well as a loving tribute to how seriously its many fans take it. Ultimately, the film is about one person’s journey for success, and how it can be different for everyone.
2 Miracle (2004)
For many American hockey fans, the US ‘Olympic hockey victory in 1980 is a shining moment for the sport. Miracle is a film that brings to life the complicated rise of the team, and how they were lead to victory by their charismatic coach, against all odds.
“The Miracle On Ice” was an important piece of sports history, and it was a unique challenge to bring the story to life on screen. By casting Kurt Russell in the lead, the film is anchored by a veteran actor who carries the story on his back. With a story as well known as Miracleit was important for the filmmakers to give the viewers more than what they already knew.
1 Slap Shot (1977)
Generally considered one of the greatest sports films of all time, Slap Shot put hockey on the map for moviegoers. In a minor hockey league, an aging veteran attempts to save his team by leading a rag-tag group of players to victory, by any means necessary.
Slap Shot‘s unique appeal goes beyond the sport, and is even beloved by non-hockey fans. Paul Newman’s charismatic performance is backed up by a roster of strange characters that all give the story spice. At its heart though, the film has a dramatic core that revolves around the crumbling of the American factory town in the 1970s.
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