I love the holidays. Not so much for the decorations, the shopping or the gift giving. More so for the holiday movies. The Hallmark Channel and Lifetime have made a living off the holiday romance. In recent years, streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and others have jumped into the fold. Since there’s an unending pool of goofy romantic situations people can get tossed into, it’s easy to see how, every now and again, a hockey romance is added to the mix.
As is the case with the newest addition to the list, Hallmark Channel’s “Checkin’ It Twice,” a holiday romp that explores what happens when a real estate executive crosses paths with a minor league hockey player who happens to be renting a home in the backyard of her hockey loving family.
With this latest release, it seemed as good a time as any to take a look at other hockey romances that have come along to the delight of fans over the years. A couple of notes before we dive in. I’m mainly looking at off the beaten path hockey love stories, something you definitely haven’t watched and might not have even heard of.
I’m also staying away from those borderline movies. Please don’t tell me that if I squint hard and tilt my head just right, I’d notice the romantic moments in “Slap Shot.” That’s not what I’m going for. Also, as much as you try to argue otherwise, I do not believe that each individual “love story” in the Mighty Ducks trilogy rises to the occasion. While “Goon” might qualify for this list, if you’re a hockey fan, you’ve probably already seen it. If you’re not, you probably won’t like it.
So, with that in mind, here’s a look at a few you might have missed.
“Merry Kiss Cam”
“Merry Kiss Cam” was last year’s hockey romance installment. While the main characters did not play hockey, the movie was most definitely hockey-centric, allowing sports superstition to leak into a relationship.
“Merry Kiss Cam” follows Jess Wolfe (Katie Lowes of “How to Get Away with Murder” fame) and Danny Carmody (Jesse Bradford) as two people who go to a local college hockey game on a first date. Mid-date, they’re goaded into kissing when they appear on the kiss cam. Suddenly, as if inspired by the kiss, the team scores a goal and goes on to win. The duo are credited with the win and must return to the next game to appear on the kiss cam once again. You can guess what happens next.
As a whole, “Merry Kiss Cam” has a little more depth than your typical rom-com. It’s fun and it taps into the rabidness of a hockey fan base, which I enjoyed. You can stream it on Hulu.
If you want a deeper dive into the story behind the movie, check out ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski’s interview with the film’s writer.
“Frozen in Love”
In “Frozen in Love,” Mary Campbell (Rachael Leigh Cook) desperately wants to save her parents’ bookstore. Hockey “bad boy” Adam Clayborn (Niall Matter) needs to revamp his public image, and he has a nice ten game suspension to get his act together. The two team up through what can only be deemed “romance reasons” to help each other out. “Frozen in Love” is your typical Hallmark Channel love story, so if you’re into those wholesome Hallmark rom-coms, this one’s for you.
“Christmas on Ice”
As with most romances starring hockey players, this one is all about the hockey player-figure skater rivalry. Courtney Bennett (Abigail Klein) is a skating teacher who holds classes on the town’s public outdoor rink. Noah Tremblay (Ryan Cooper) is a former NHL hockey player who now runs the town’s new indoor rink. When the mayor decides it’s time to shutdown the outdoor rink, the pair band together to save it.
This one’s a Lifetime movie, so it will have a little more edge to it than your Hallmark Channel variety. You can stream “Christmas on Ice” for free if you’re part of the Lifetime Movie Club.
“Taking a Shot at Love”
This time, it’s not a figure skater but a former professional dancer who stars in the leading role. NHL star Ryan (Luke Macfarlane) needs to recover from an injury so he turns to Jenna (Alexa PenaVega) for help. The more they work together, the closer they become. But when it’s time for Ryan to return to his hockey life, he has to make a decision.
This is another hockey installment from the Hallmark Channel, which seems to add one new hockey movie to its list every year around the holidays.
“The Cutting Edge”
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention “The Cutting Edge,” the movie that possibly started it all. “The Cutting Edge” was a cult classic, probably because it was the go-to movie for PE teachers of the 90s looking for a PG movie to keep the kids busy on those rainy days. At least, it was in my middle school.
“The Cutting Edge” follows Doug Dorsey (D. B. Sweeney), an Olympic hockey player who has his career cut short by a hit that destroys his peripheral vision. Dorsey is desperate to return to the ice, but no team will have him. Meanwhile, Kate Moseley (Moira Kelly) is a pairs figure skater looking for a new partner. Dorsey and Moseley team up and fall in love along the way.
“The Cutting Edge” was so popular that it spawned a string of other skating movies including “The Cutting Edge: Going for the Gold” which follows Dorsey and Moseley’s daughter paired with an inline skater; “The Cutting Edge: Chasing the Dream” which flipped the script and followed a male pairs figure skater who convices a female hockey player to be his partner and “The Cutting Edge: Fire and Ice.”
The Best of the Rest
Ryan Reynolds movies – This is the moment where I pay tribute to a pair of Ryan Reynolds movies that aren’t hockey-centric but have some great hockey moments. In “National Lampoon’s Van Wilder,” Van Wilder (Reynolds’ character) challenges Gwen Pearson (Tara Reid) to a shootout with Wilder playing goal. Reid destroys him, leading to the line, “My brothers play hockey…for the Rangers.”
Then there’s “Just Friends,” where Reynolds’ character, Chris Brander, tries to impress his high school best friend and crush Jamie Palamino (Amy Smart). Brander takes on a group of kids playing pond hockey and the results are less than impressive.
Whether or not you choose to watch either of those movies, the hockey scenes are worth a YouTube search.
“Happy Gilmore” – Speaking of hockey scenes, the Adam Sandler classic “Happy Gilmore” has a few good ones. Gillmore is a hockey player who can’t skate but can fight.
“The Tooth Fairy” – Dwayne Johnson stars as a minor league hockey player nicknamed the “Tooth Fairy” for the way his hits knock teeth loose. When he hurts the feelings of a young fan, he’s sentenced to a week of working as a real tooth fairy. As with most formulaic rom-coms, the role reforms Johnson’s character, who falls in love with the young fan’s mother.
“The Love Guru” – I saw an article recently about how “The Cat in the Hat” destroyed Mike Meyers career, trust me, “The Love Guru” did not help resurrect it. Meyers plays a guru hired to help the Toronto Maple Leafs “actualize their potential” to win the Stanley Cup. Step one, help the team’s star player win back his wife.
“Touch and Go” – I tried to watch this Michael Keaton flick a few days ago but couldn’t get past some of the stereotypes that you often find in 80s movies. There’s also some language that wouldn’t be acceptable today, so watch at your own risk. Keaton is a star hockey player who plays with an edge. After a game one night, he’s the victim of an attempted mugging. He grabs the youngest of the muggers and hauls him back home to his mom, whom Keaton ultimately falls in love with. It’s an 80s movie, so there’s an interesting combo of players who wear helmets and those who don’t.