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The Best Hockey Movie Ever

The other day the NHL board of governors approved a move that will send the Arizona Coyotes north to Salt Lake City in time for next hockey season to play under a new name. This is doubly good news as far as I am concerned because for one, I never really liked the Coyotes mostly due to their poor uniform choices and secondly because Utah is an underrated hockey state.  

I lived in Utah from 2010 - 2014 smack dab in the middle of my self imposed exile from the game of hockey. But even though I wasn’t playing it was obvious that the game is thriving there. The Utah Grizzlies, the ECHL affiliate for the Colorado Avalanche, always draws fans and many communities in and around the Salt Lake area have youth hockey programs.  

Plus hockey makes more sense wintry in SLC than it does in Phoenix. 

I do genuinely feel for the hardcore Coyote fans, of which there are many, who are losing a part of their town. Any time a team moves, even if it’s the right call, it sucks for a lot of people.  

At the same time I am stoked for the folks in Salt Lake City who are gaining a new professional team to go with the Jazz and Real Salt Lake. For sports fans in the Salt Lake valley this is kind of like an incredible ending of a sports movie.

Can’t you picture it? The franchise with an evil owner that’s about to be shut down unless they can find a new home in a community that already loves the sport but is seen by many to be a second rate city in that weird religious state where everyone thinks you can’t buy alcohol. But it turns out that underdog town was actually the right place to go all along and those who were fighting to bring the club there will love and cherish their new team. 

The movie ends with an opening day game montage climaxing with the team's star player scoring the first goal of the year. Man, sports movies are great. 

And that’s why in celebration of Salt Lake’s new pro hockey team I’m going to rank the top 6 hockey movies of all time. Because if you haven’t noticed, I really like making lists of my favorite movies. And secondly, because this list isn’t as cut and dry as you may think. Spoiler alert: Slap Shot is NOT the best hockey movie of all time.

Honorable mention: Clerks

Look, Clerks is a hockey movie. Go ahead and call me a Kevin Smith homer and someone who tries to find a way to smuggle Clerks into any movie list I make, I don’t care and you’re probably right.  One of the key conceits of the film is that Dante is pissed off that he has to be at work and he’s going to miss his hockey game. Now that game ended up being roller hockey pick up that usually gets played at the park; this was not an ice hockey game that Dante was missing out on. But because of that we get one of the greatest sporting events captured on film: The Quickstop Rooftop Hockey Game. Don’t worry, they’ll re-open after the first period, maybe sooner if they lose the only ball they have.

6. The Mighty Ducks

I attribute much of the popularity of The Mighty Ducks to those who saw the movie as kids and reflect back on it fondly. None of the sequels are any good although I did enjoy the first season of the Disney+ show that came out a few years back. But the hockey in this movie is remarkably good which is hard to pull off (stay tuned to this point for the next entry on this list) and the scene below is iconic. It’s a fun one to revisit and they did name an actual NHL franchise after this movie, so it kind of has to be on the list.

5. Mystery, Alaska

Is Mystery, Alaska a lost movie? Does anyone even remember it? All I remember is watching it roughly 3,287 times on DVD from 2000 - 2004. I’ve probably seen this movie more than any other on this list. So why isn't it higher? Because a lot of the hockey is pretty bad.  There are plenty of real hockey players in the movie doing their best. But you know those stories of actors preparing for a role in a sports movie where they spend six months with a coach learning the basics of the sport they're portraying? Well there is no way Russell Crowe did that before filming started on Mystery, Alaska. He’s our lead! And he looks like a total tripod bender who is hoping to find a low level beer league team to play on. But even still, this is an exceedingly rewatchable flick that has Burt Reynolds in it. Burt Reynolds!

4. Miracle

Miracle is a perfect sports movie. Full stop.

Based on a true story (in this case maybe the greatest true story in the history of sports). True to the sport. Impeccably casted. You know what’s going to happen and yet you’re still on the edge of your seat. If there were some sort of sports movie tournament to compete against other movies from different sports, this is the obvious hockey submission.  It’s only flaw? There’s a level of ‘hockey culture stuff' that is absent here; because it would be super weird if it was included. But make no mistake, Miracle is an all time sports flick.

3. Youngblood

If Mystery, Alaska hasn’t been lost to time, Youngblood certainly has. But honestly it's really hard for me to not list Youngblood at number 1 on this list because this movie started my path to playing hockey and eventually finding outdoor adventure. My college Freshman year roommate was an ex hockey player from Long Island and he played Youngblood in our dorm room. All. The. Time. In three months I went from knowing very little about hockey to desperate to play it myself. It’s only because the next two movies are so good that Youngblood isn’t higher than number 3. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go have tea with Miss McGill.

2. Slap Shot

Listen, I know I’m the only person in the world who doesn’t have Slap Shot in the number one slot of best hockey movies. Even the filmmakers of the movie I do have at number one would probably disagree with my opinion on the matter. And the evidence is hard to ignore.  This is a movie from 1977 and the hockey still looks good. Also this movie is still incredibly funny in spite of the amount of dated references that we would not accept in a film in 2024.  It’s a first ballot hall of fame sports movie entry. It may not be my number one, but this is the movie that most people think of when they hear the words ‘hockey’ and ‘movie’ put together.

1. Goon

Goon is the greatest hockey movie of all time because watching it feels like watching and playing hockey. Everyone can skate competently (except our lead but that’s the point) and the action is filmed in a way that mimics what playing in an actual ice hockey game feels like. The way the players speak to each other in the locker room, on the bench, on the ice for a hockey player? It feels like home. Watching Goon makes me want to go join a team right now because I miss that feeling.  Also, this movie is fucking hilarious. Everything from Jay Baruchel’s incredible Boston accent to Kim Coates playing the quintessential hockey coach lands perfectly.  Goon is not just my favorite hockey movie, it might be my favorite sports movie. 10/10, no notes.

Best of luck to the new SLC hockey team and their fans who should watch all of these movies in September to get fired up for the season.


Drips & Dregs is the weekly column from Rock Fight Founder Colin True.

Sometimes outdoorsy and always outdoor adjacent, check in weekly to see what is on his mind.


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