The game of hockey is arguably one of the most physically demanding sports. Over the years, filmmakers have taken the game and turned hockey-centered stories into feature-length films. Some movies are based on true stories like the 1980 Olympic USA Men’s Hockey team in which Kurt Russell played Coach Herb Brooks. At the same time, other hockey films have turned into beloved franchises, like The Mighty Ducks or Slap Shot, Slap Shot tried to revive its successful first film 25 years later with a second and third film, but neither film could compare to the beloved first.
Comedic interpretations of hockey films like Goon have also been successful as some of the best hockey films. The 2011 film joined American Pieco-stars Eugene Levy and Seann William Scott in this group of semi-pro misfits. Other films have taken on a more feel-good vibe such as the 1999 film, Mystery, Alaska which stars a younger Russell Crowe. Regardless of which type of hockey film you prefer, here are some of the best hockey movies of all time, ranked.
6 Mystery, Alaska
Mystery, Alaska is certainly an underrated hockey film. The 1999 film stars a young Russell Crowe as John Bieber, the sheriff and captain of Mystery, Alaska’s amateur hockey team. He finds his team facing off against the New York Rangers after a reporter, Charles Danner (Hank Azaria), meets with mayor Scott Pitcher (Colm Meaney) and proposes a challenge between the two teams. Oh, and it would be broadcasted live. With the town’s reputation on the line, they accept the challenge and face off against their toughest opponent to date.
As one of the oldest films on this list, youngblood has stood the test of time in remaining a great hockey film. This 1986 film stars Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Cynthia Gibb, Ed Lauter, and even Keanu Reeves. Lowe plays 17-year-old Dean Youngblood, who is offered an ice hockey tryout for a Canadian minor hockey league. The farm boy turned hockey player is not a fighter, though, and his spot is challenged by Swayze’s character, Derek Sutton. To make things more complicated, Dean ends up falling for the coach’s daughter.
The 2011 hockey film Goon is as much comedy as it is a hockey film. Seann William Scott played Doug Glatt, an outcast bouncer who wants more from his life. He dreams of success like the town’s minor-league hockey goon Ross Rhea has. When he finds himself in a fistfight with Ross and wins, a hockey coach for another team reaches out and offers Doug a chance to join a team. Despite not having any hockey ability, he agrees and prepares to face off with Ross on the ice — team versus team.
3 The Mighty Ducks
The Mighty Ducks is arguably the most successful hockey film as it has gone on to spawn an entire franchise that has since been rebooted. The original film came out in 1992 and centered around a Minnesota lawyer who was sentenced to community service via coaching a rag-tag hockey team. Gordon Bombay, played by Emilio Estevez, is no stranger to hockey. The young Gordon was a champion hockey player as a kid who ended up losing out in a final shootout, ultimately losing the game and the respect of his coach. It’s years later and his team ends up facing Gordon’s old coach in the finals.
In 2004, Miracle was released and followed the true story of Herb Brooks, played by Kurt Russell, and his college-aged US Olympic men’s hockey team. The film covers the moments between the tryouts for the team up and the iconic 1980s US Olympic match against the number one-ranked Soviet team. The movie made sure to stay true to the players, coaches, and moments as they happened in real life.
1 Slap Shot
When you think of iconic hockey films, Slap Shot should be at the top of that list. This comedy-drama takes the game of hockey and turns it into an outrageously violent game. The Chiefs of Charlestown are a failing hockey team who will most likely play its last season as the town’s mill is closing. Player and coach Reggie Dunlop, played by Paul Newman, shares a rumor that the owner of the team is selling them to a Florida owner. He also decides that “goon” hockey will help restore the team’s popularity. All seems to be aboard except for the star player Ned Braden, played by Michael Ontkean, who loves the game, and not the childlike fights. It’s down to the championship game to determine the fate of the team.