It is interesting to think about the fact that sports movies can easily be divided into two parts: one involving a single player game, for which movies like ‘Pawn Sacrifice‘ (2006) are made, and the other for multi-player games, like the ones we are about to discuss here. These two different kinds of sports also give birth to movies of various types. In a multi-player sport, the conflicts become more external. There are teammates to deal with, there are members of the opposite side, the coach and other exterior factors which can be used to build a conflict around the central character.
However, in single-player games, the conflict is more internal. There are personal demons that haunt our protagonist, and that seems to be the drive of the movie. That being said, let us concentrate on ice hockey for a moment here. It is the national winter sport of Canada and is extremely popular in countries where they get snow all around the year. The Czech Republic, USA, Canada, Sweden, Finland, and Russia are nations which have ruled this sport. The huge popularity of the sport has made it an important part of North American culture, and thus many great movies have been made using ice hockey as the main theme. With all that said now, here’s the list of really good ice hockey movies on Netflix that are available to stream right now.
6. Goon (2011)
Directed by Michael Dowse, ‘Goon‘ is a Canadian movie starring Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel and Liev Schreiber. The central character of the movie is an aspiring player called Doug who gets recruited by a team when their coach sees him beating up an opponent player. Doug joins the team in the role of an ‘enforcer’. Enforcers are players who see to it that the star players of the teams are not injured by getting into fights with opposition players who cause trouble. Doug becomes pretty successful at his job, but there is one enforcer, Ross “The Boss” Rhea, who stands in the way of Doug’s team qualifying for the playoffs. The movie is sweet, funny, and there are some good performances. It has a strong 82% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. This movie is available for streaming on Netflix.
5. Goon: Last Of The Enforcers (2017)
This movie is a direct sequel to ‘Goon’ (2011) and was made after the initial movie performed well with the critics and the audience. In the film, we see Doug as a successful enforcer, but he realizes his best days will soon be over and retires. But the new job he takes is boring and Doug decides that he needs to get back to hockey. He goes on and trains with his earlier competitor, Ross “The Boss” Rhea, and thus begins his journey back into the game. Meanwhile, the Highlanders have signed their owner’s son, Anders, as their new enforcer. But Anders is too aggressive and gets suspended most of the time. Seeing this, Doug is brought back into the team. Meanwhile, his wife is about to have a baby and she does not want her husband to get into fights again. This movie did not do too well with the critics as some were of the opinion that it used the same formula as the last film. You can check it out on Netflix.
4. Slap Shot (1977)
This is probably the only sports movie that has found an amazing cult following years after it was released. Paul Newman stars in this movie directed by George Roy Hill. Before this film, Hill had delivered major successes like ‘Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid’ (1969) and ‘The Sting’ (1973). This film again found him teaming up with Newman, who here plays the role of the coach of a small-town hockey team who are fearing their existence as the owner wants to sell off the team.
In order to increase the team’s popularity, the coach, Reg, decides that his team will act violently on the field so that everyone takes notice. The team keeps doing this and rises up the popularity charts. But when you get violent, there is always someone tougher. When this movie came out, it was not a major hit and was mainly a subject of criticism. However, as years have gone by, the popularity of ‘Slap Shot’ has kept on increasing and now it is a cult hit. The film later spawned two sequels, ‘Slap Shot 2: Breaking the Ice’ (2002) and ‘Slap Shot 3: The Junior League’ (2008). You can watch this movie on Amazon Prime.
3. Miracle (2004)
‘Miracle’ is based on one of the most iconic moments of the sport. In the 1980 Winter Olympics, the United States team were pitted against the erstwhile Soviet Union in the medal rounds. This match proved to be a vital meeting point between the two countries who were embroiled in the Cold War. It reminds one of the time Bobby Fischer faced Boris Spassky for the World Chess Championship. The film follows the United States team under their brilliant coach Herb Brooks (played by Kurt Russell) as they prepare for and participate in the 1980 Olympics. Meanwhile, the Russian ice hockey team was then widely considered the best in the world. They had successfully defended their gold medal thrice. But the American team managed to defeat them and proceed to the final. Critics have called this film cliched but praised the intense performance by Russell. This movie is available for streaming on Netflix.
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2. Mystery, Alaska (1999)
Mystery is a small town in the state of Alaska. The only public activity they have is a hockey match on the local frozen lake. Players of all ages participate in the match, which becomes the subject of an article on the famous magazine, Sports Illustrated. This brings the whole country’s attention to the team and suddenly, an exhibition match is declared between the local team and the NHL heavyweights, the New York Ranger. Though the Rangers manage to win narrowly, some members of the local team have special announcements. The movie never got critical acclaim or commercial success. It can be live-streamed on Hulu.
1. The Mighty Ducks (1992)
Directed by Stephen Herek, ‘The Mighty Ducks’ is one of the most influential ice hockey movies of all time. It tells the story of a former player who has been asked to do community service by coaching a small local team. The lead character of the coach is called Gordon Bombay. Bombay is a defense lawyer, and when he goes to coach the team, he sees that they have no professional equipment or training facility. He still coaches them, but they end up losing anyway. Troubled, Bombay goes to a former coach for inspiration and is advised to rekindle his love for the game.
Gordon Bombay’s law firm ends up sponsoring the team, after which they see a huge change. The name is changed to Ducks because the sponsor’s name is Ducksworth. They have better equipment and now go on to win matches. But troubles are not far behind as Bombay tries to reconcile his work with his love for the game. Despite not being well-received, the movie was a major commercial hit, and later spawned two sequels and an animated series. It was nominated by AFI to make the list of the 10 best American sports list, but could not make the final cut. You can watch this movie on Amazon or Hulu.
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