13 Best Hockey Movies of All Time

Best Hockey Movies of All Time

Many people like watching National Hockey League games as a hobby.

However, receiving their fair amount of ice hockey content might be challenging when their favorite teams aren’t competing, or the league is in summer.

Thankfully, there are many best hockey movies of all time to watch, and many of them are presently streaming. 

If you’re a hockey lover, there’s a great movie for you whether you like goals or fights, the Olympics or pee-wees, old school or modern, and, according to IMDb, these are the best. 

This means that the best hockey movies of all time aren’t simply enjoyable to watch; they also serve as a doorway into the resilient spirit of a compelling, worthy game.

Below is a list of the best hockey movies of all time.

1. Slap Shot (1977)

  • Director: George Roy Hill
  • Cast: Paul Newman, Michael Ontkean, Strother Martin, Jennifer Warren, Lindsay Crouse, Jerry Houser, and Andrew Duncan
  • IMDb rating: 7.3/10

“Slap Shot” is one of the best hockey movies of all time. Paul Newman, a true Hollywood legend, is in it.

When it was released in 1977, the Hanson Brothers (David Hanson, Steve Carlson, and Jeff Carlson) became cult celebrities. 

The centerpiece of the whole movie, “Slap Shot’s comedic violence is what makes it appealing (and essential).

In his role as Reggie Dunlop, Newman portrays a coach who draws audiences and wins games by thrashing opponents with the help of his brutal recruits, the Hanson Brothers. 

“Slap Shot” gained national attention for its hilarious beatings and ironic punchlines.

The movie’s directing and comedic timing is flawless, and even decades later, Nancy Dowd’s writing is memorable for its profanity.

Regrettably, it mostly relies on shock value for comedy. The surprise is seeing Paul Newman and the Hanson Brothers use profanity at levels unfamiliar to viewers. 

When you consider that the hockey scenes fall short of “The Rocket,” “Miracle,” or even “Goon” in aesthetics, you realize how important this movie is to the genre of sports comedy cinema as a whole. 

2. Sudden Death (1995)

  • Director: Peter Hyams
  • Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Powers Boothe, Raymond J. Barry, Whittni Wright, Ross Malinger, Dorian Harewood, and Kate McNeil
  • IMDb rating: 5.8/10

For those who don’t know, Jean Claude Van Damme kills a mascot who is a henchman in the movie “Sudden Death.” 

In the PPG Paints Arena kitchen, Van Damme wrestles with Iceburgh, the Pittsburgh Penguin, and, at one point, puts red pepper flakes down its neck before kicking it through a drying rack. 

Unbelievably, this isn’t “Sudden Death’s” most bizarre event. To be clear, hockey is only marginally related in this 1995 thriller directed by Peter Hyams. “Death” is a part of the canon of “Die Hard”-inspired movies, along with “Speed” and “Under Siege.” 

The way “Sudden Death” embraces hockey’s vicious side is what makes it so great. Powers Boothe’s Joshua Foss plays the movie’s Hans Gruber clone. 

He nonchalantly murders defenseless civilians without provocation, and it has charming, sarcastic bad men who are murdered with chicken bones to the neck.

Hyams made a smart choice by creating the movie version of a fight in the middle of the ice, resulting in penalties for both sides. 

Since playing the tourist in its surroundings isn’t satisfactory, “Sudden Death” is one of the best hockey movies of all time.

It is in line with the essence of the sport and is a roaring, frosty good time.

3. Mystery, Alaska (1999)

  • Director: Jay Roach
  • Cast: Russell Crowe, Burt Reynolds, Hank Azaria, Mary McCormack, Colm Meaney, Lolita Davidovich, and Maury Chaykin
  • IMDb rating: 6.7/10

If you’ve ever seen Friday Night Lights, you know how a local sports team can take over a small community.

The athletes on such teams also enjoy all the benefits of becoming local celebrities. 

Mystery, Alaska is about a talented local hockey club that goes undetected by the outside world until reporter Charles Danner writes an article on Mystery’s regular Saturday game in Sports. 

Danner arranges an exhibition game against the New York Rangers as a Public ploy after the hockey world takes notice.

The drama and hilarity accompanying a tiny town staging the most anticipated hockey game in Alaskan history are then displayed for everyone. 

Not only does Mystery Alaska become the site for a genuinely original game, but it also serves as the backdrop for this fantastic movie. 

It’s exciting to witness a group of gifted athletes compete in their rawest form since they haven’t yet been exposed to the money engine that powers all professional sports in today’s market.

This is undoubtedly one of the best hockey movies of all time.

4. Legend No. 17 (2013)

  • Director: Nikolay Lebedev
  • Cast: Danila Kozlovskiy, Oleg Menshikov, Svetlana Ivanova, Vladimir Menshov, Aleksandr Lobanov, Sergey Genkin, and Roman Madyanov
  • IMDb rating: 7.4/10

Most readers have probably never heard of or watched Legend No. 17, a Russian movie that was never widely distributed in North America.

The plot centers on Valeri Kharlamov (Danila Kozlovsky), one of the best hockey players in Soviet history. 

It has won several top Russian cinema awards. Kharlamov was small for a professional player but compensated for it with remarkable speed, brains, imagination, and stick skills.

As a result, he won two championships with CSKA Moscow and two MVP awards in the Soviet League. 

Kharlamov also competed for his country in the 1980 Olympic squad and won gold medals in the 1972 and 1976 Olympics.

5. Red Army (2014)

  • Director: Gabe Polsky
  • Cast: Viacheslav Fetisov, Vladislav Tretiak, Scotty Bowman, Vladimir Pozner, Herb Brooks, Don Cherry, and Mark Deakins
  • IMDb rating: 7.6/10

Although other best hockey movies of all time capture the essence of a certain culture, “Red Army” goes far further. It also highlights the heart of a whole nation. 

It tells the history of Soviet hockey in all its forms, from its emergence as a force through its players’ quick rise to success in the National Hockey League. 

The movie beautifully captures the accuracy and razor-sharp formation play that elevated Soviet hockey to the level of an art form rather than a sport.

That alone should make it a must-see movie for hockey fans. A story of rebellion is also found in “Red Army.”

The story focuses on Slava Fetisov, the first player to challenge the Soviet team’s egomaniacal coach Viktor Tikhonov, and how that act of disobedience allowed Russian athletes to succeed in the United States. 

“Red Army” is the compassionate flip side that humanizes the Soviet players who honored and then defined their nation, if the former is the story of contemporary American hockey mythology. 

It increases the wonder and the melancholy of the “Miracle on Ice.” This is one of the best hockey movies of all time.

6. Les Boys (1997)

  • Director: Louis Saia
  • Cast: Marc Messier, Rémy Girard, Patrick Huard, Serge Thériault, Michel Barrette, Paul Houde, and Luc Guérin
  • IMDb rating: 6.6/10

Les Boys and its two sequels have become one of the most popular Canadian movie franchises in the country’s history while being as hard to locate and obscure as they are excellent. 

The narrative follows an amateur hockey team of enough eccentric characters to challenge the Village People. It is set in Quebec and features French-speaking characters. 

The bar owner in the movie, whose son wants to play hockey, discovers that he owes a local organized crime family money.

The criminal leader suggests a wager between his amateur squad and the bar-sponsored “Les Boys” as a different means to earn money. 

If Les Boys wins, the debt will be paid, but the crime lord will get the bar if they lose.

The movie features excellent side stories that are fun to watch and full of interesting people. This is undoubtedly one of the best hockey movies of all time.

7. Miracle (2004)

  • Director: Gavin O’Connor
  • Cast: Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Nathan West, Noah Emmerich, Sean McCann, Kenneth Welsh, and Eddie Cahill
  • IMDb rating: 7.4/10

“Miracle” is one of the best hockey movies of all time, addressing themes like perseverance, hunger, and the difference between magic and madness.

It also sheds light on less-known aspects. The coach comes first and foremost. 

Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell), the star of Gavin O’Conner’s 1980 Olympics epic, is the focus of the director’s offbeat sports movie career. Brooks is a difficult and arrogant guy. 

O’Connor and Russell never urge the audience to feel bad for Brooks, even when he purposefully puts his players’ minds to the test.

He is never shown in the movie as a revolutionary or myth. He is a regular guy who ran a remarkable Olympic campaign. 

It defies the norm for sports movies, but it enhances hockey mythology. In the movie “Miracle,” regular men do the exceptional because they choose to be remarkable.

It’s important to keep in mind that “Miracle” also depicts a period when hockey was popular in America. 

“The Miracle on Ice” served as a feature-length justification for why people should watch hockey in the first place by completely recognizing its created environment.

8. Canadian Bacon (1995)

  • Director: Michael Moore
  • Cast: John Candy, Alan Alda, Rhea Perlman, Kevin Pollak, Rip Torn, Kevin J. O’Connor, and Bill Nunn
  • IMDb rating: 5.9/10

Canadian Bacon is one of the best hockey movies of all time. Oscar-winning director Michael Moore only produced one non-documentary movie, which happens to be the comedy Canadian Bacon from 1995. 

In this movie, John Candy’s character Bud Boomer starts a fight between Canadian and American hockey fans after making fun of Canadian beer during a match between the two countries. This leads to a fictional war between the two countries. 

The disagreement may also have something to do with Alan Alda’s character, the president of the United States, attempting to increase his popularity rating by inciting conflict. 

Although there isn’t much hockey in Canadian Bacon, the story revolves around the sport, and when the Americans and Canadians have a huge brawl, you get to see one of the best hockey fights ever. 

9. The Mighty Ducks (1992)

  • Director: Stephen Herek
  • Cast: Emilio Estevez, Joss Ackland, Lane Smith, Heidi Kling, Josef Sommer, Joshua Jackson, and Elden Henson
  • IMDb rating: 6.5/10

Hockey fans in 1993 couldn’t believe that the NHL was naming a new team after this well-known Disney movie.

Although the real team is no longer close to the “Happiest Place on Earth,” parents and children may still see The Mighty Ducks movies. 

Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez), a former kid hockey hero turned jerk lawyer, is forced by the court to coach the poorest pee-wee team in the same league where he once thrived. This was a pretty typical occurrence in the 1990s. 

Given the pressures and eventual failure he faced at the end of his hockey career, Gordon is reluctant to take the lead of these ‘Bad News Bears of hockey.’ 

Yet because this is Disney, the teenagers persuade Gordon to alter his perspective to influence how they play the game.

The Mighty Ducks are one of the best hockey movies of all time that you or your children can watch with ease and a grin.

This one was an immediate hit that produced several sequels and a current TV series. It is both humorous and inspirational.

10. Goon (2011)

  • Director: Michael Dowse
  • Cast: Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Alison Pill, Eugene Levy, Marc-André Grondin, and Kim Coates
  • IMDb rating: 6.8/10

In this captivating movie, Sean William Scott plays the role of Doug Glatt.

He is a bouncer who is embarrassed about his life and constantly compares his achievements to those of his father (Eugene Levy) and brother (David Paetkau), both doctors. 

Doug protects his brother from the enforcer of the other side while watching a minor league hockey game, and he then mercilessly beats the man.

Now, in this particular hockey league, that kind of performance is sufficient for Doug to get a call from the same club interested in signing his fists to a contract. 

From then, this amusing movie takes off as Doug lives out his fantasy of playing his favorite sport, even though he’s shooting haymakers rather than pucks. 

This results in the squad receiving the greatest media attention ever, and Doug even gets to compete against Ross “The Boss” Rhea, his idol and professional Goon (Liv Schreiber).

The greatest shock in Goon is that it’s a heartwarming and amusing movie behind all the terrible violence.

11. Indian Horse (2017)

  • Director: Stephen S. Campanelli
  • Cast: Ajuawak Kapashesit, Wayne Baker, Sladen Peltier, Edna Manitowabi, Melanie McLaren, and Oracle Arrand
  • IMDb rating: 7.3/10

The theme of “Indian Horse” is survival. It focuses more on how sports, the desire to play them, the enjoyment of watching them, and how they linger in the hearts and minds of those who love them help people endure heartache and tragedy. 

The tragic aspect of Stephen Campanelli’s movie is that its hero cannot be shielded by hockey skills or passion. Saul (Peltier) starts making it through the Canadian Indigenous residential school system at age 6. 

By the time he is 15 years old, Saul (Goodluck) is a rising hockey player whose all-First Nations team receives criticism.

By the time he is in his mid-twenties, nothing has changed. The song “Indian Horse” sometimes seems as heavy as it sounds. 

While rarely subtle, Campanelli’s directing is profoundly sympathetic. The movie sometimes comes across as dramatic, but it has an essential narrative and is well aware of it. 

Yet it also deftly conveys the most fascinating aspects of hockey, from the physically challenging play to the exhilarating rush of slicing across the ice. 

Despite its flaws, “Indian Horse” soars high when it needs to while highlighting an underrepresented group. It’s one of the best hockey movies of all time.

12. The Rookies (1989)

The Rookies (1989)
  • Director: Paul Shapiro
  • Cast: Yannick Bisson, Peter MacNeill, Dean McDermott, Jason Blicker, Marc Strange, Andrea Roth, and Christianne Hirt
  • IMDb rating: 7.4/10

There are several fairly well-known hockey movies, but there are also ones like the 1989 television drama The Rookies.

It follows Cory Dyson (Yannick Bisson), a talented hockey player who leaves his tiny village searching for a spot on the Canada National Team. 

This movie features a talented teenager who discovers that the world is broader than his little town, a rivalry with a former foe who becomes a friend and is fighting for a spot in the NHL, and a love story. This is one of the best hockey movies of all time.

13. Youngblood (1986)

  • Director: Paul Shapiro
  • Cast: Yannick Bisson, Peter MacNeill, Dean McDermott, Jason Blicker, Marc Strange, Andrea Roth, and Christianne Hirt
  • IMDb rating: 7.4/10

Hockey is naturally extreme in its brazen and violent way. Moreover, the 1980s were a decade of excess.

Now comes “Youngblood,” a movie that uses both to be incredibly entertaining and deceptively powerful. 

Even just having Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, and Keanu Reeves there would be intriguing.

Lowe is at the height of his Brat Pack powers as the punch-happy speedster Dean Youngblood, who shakes up the Hamilton Mustangs locker room from the minute he enters. 

Reeves succeeds in a supporting part, but Swayze steals the show as Dean’s teacher Derek Sutton, who simultaneously foreshadows Johnny Castle and Bodhi. 

“Youngblood” is unquestionable evidence that movies about hockey can also turn sportsmen into stars if the sport can do so. It’s the ’80s nostalgia that makes “Youngblood” so watchable over and over again. 

If the compulsory shirtless training montage weren’t so self-aware, it would make the ideal post-modern comedy.

The sheer audacity makes this movie remarkable even if someone tried it, and it is worth at least one watch.

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