Last updated on October 3rd, 2022
Hockey is one of the United States’ “Big Four” sports, alongside baseball, football and basketball. For Canada, hockey’s their number one sport, period. As such, hockey gets the occasional mention in animation and comics, especially in Canadian-made productions. Below is a look at some noteworthy depictions of hockey in cartoons.
6teen, an animated series that aired on Teletoon from 2004 to 2010, featured some hockey references. The biggest reference is Jen working at the shopping mall’s sporting goods store, “The Penalty Box.” Said store has a fully working penalty box inside; the store manager (who acts like a stereotypical sports coach) sometimes puts Jen and the rest of the cast in it as a “time out” punishment.
“Check, Please!” is a webcomic by Ngozi Ukazu, and ran from 2013 to 2020. The strip is about Eric “Bitty” Bittle, a gay Southern baking vlogger and figure skater who goes to college in New England on a hockey scholarship. There, he deals with learning to play the sport, as well as coming out as a gay man and falling in love with a teammate.
The strip won several awards, and has had a few successful Kickstarter campaigns.
Thanks to DC Comics’ fictional cities, multiple fictional hockey teams have appeared over the years.
Gotham City has had several teams:
- The Gotham City Giants, from “Detective Comics” #368 (October 1967).
- The Gotham Goliaths, from “Batman” #338 (August 1981). They’re likely named after Batman’s nickname from Golden and early Silver Age stories, “the Gotham Goliath.” Amusingly, the Goliath name’s also been used for basketball, football, and baseball teams in Batman stories over the decades.
- The Gotham City Knights, mentioned only in a “Teen Titans Go” comic story (based on the 2000s “Teen Titans” TV series).
- The Gotham Blades, first mentioned in 1990’s “Atlas of the DC Universe.” The Blades seem to be the main/canonical hockey team for Gotham; unlike the others above, the Blades have appeared in multiple stories.
Metropolis has had two hockey teams mentioned over the years:
- The Metropolis Marauders, from “Nightwing” (vol. 2) #102 (March 2005).
- The Metropolis Mammoths, first mentioned in 1990’s “Atlas of the DC Universe.” The Mammoths seem to be the main/canonical Metropolis hockey team, as the Mammoths have appeared in several stories. The Mammoths’ main rivals are the Blades; Gotham and Metropolis are major sports rivals in the DCU.
Other DCU hockey teams mentioned over the years:
- The Hub City Slashers, from Atlas of the DC Universe. Hub City is the home of the Question.
- The Midway Wolves, from Atlas of the DC Universe. Midway in this case is “Midway City,” home of Hawkman and Hawkwoman.
- The Keystone City Combines, from a 2001 “Flash” story. The “Combine” name’s also been used as Central City’s hockey team in spinoff media.
- The Opal City Corsairs, from a 1995 issue of “Starman.”
- The Platinum Flats Hard Drives, from a 2008 issue of “Birds of Prey.” Platinum Flats is a Silicon Valley/San Jose, California stand-in; the Hard Drives are likely an analog of the San Jose Sharks?
- The Star City Stars, from 1981’s “Batman” #338.
Disney made two prominent shorts during the Golden Age of animation that focused on hockey.
The Hockey Champ
“The Hockey Champ” is a 1939 Donald Duck short that sees the short-tempered duck face off in a pond hockey game against his nephews.
“Hockey Homicide” is probably the most prominent (and best) hockey-themed cartoon from animation’s Golden Age. This hilarious 1945 Goofy cartoon presents a hotly contested hockey game between the “Loose Leafs” and the “Ant Eaters.”
The cartoon’s title and some of the gags suggest by the mid-1940s, hockey had already gained its reputation for fighting.
“The Hockey Champ” is on Disney+, but not “Hockey Homicide.” The latter was released on a long-out-of-print DVD set of Goofy shorts.
There’s probably been various one-off references to the New York Rangers or Islanders, since most of Marvel’s comics are set in the Big Apple.
The only specific hockey example I could find, however, is from “Wolverine: First Class” #6 (October 2008). In the story, we learn that Wolverine’s a hockey fan… and his favorite team’s the Calgary Flames. Which makes sense, since Logan was born in Alberta… albeit late 19th century Alberta, around a century before the Flames were founded (in 1972).
The Mighty Ducks
“Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series” aired from 1996 to 1997 on ABC and the Disney Afternoon syndicated weekday afternoon lineup. The cartoon featured a team of hockey-playing ducks from a planet in another dimension, where hockey was a way of life. The show bore no ties to the movies of the same name.
One of the characters from the series is now used as a mascot for the Anaheim Ducks NHL team. Otherwise, it’s mostly noted as the final cartoon made for the Disney Afternoon lineup.
The entire series is available on Disney+.
Peter Puck is an animated talking hockey puck. Produced by Hanna-Barbera, Peter appeared in several-minute-long interstitial segments during 1970s hockey broadcasts on NBC and Canada’s CBC. The segments explained the basic rules of hockey to new fans. Starting in 2007, the shorts started airing locally in Toronto during Maple Leaf games, though edited to remove any outdated rules or references.
A new series of Peter Puck shorts were made around 2009-2010. Along with explaining the sport’s rules, Peter also discussed noteworthy hockey figures past and then-present.
A DVD set was released of the 1970s Peter Puck cartoons. Otherwise, there’s no official source for either series of shorts, though some people have uploaded episodes to YouTube.
In the sixth season episode “Lisa on Ice,” Lisa joins a hockey team as a goalie to get a passing grade in gym class. Unfortunately for Bart, who’s playing on an opposing hockey team, Lisa starts getting more attention from everyone for her hockey skills.
The episode’s hilarious, but is probably better remembered for its joke about the Apple Newton device’s handwriting recognition flaws (“Eat Up Martha”).
“Lisa on Ice” is available on the Season 6 DVD set, as well as on Disney+.
The (Hockey) Sweater
The book and short focus on a young boy who, like everyone else in his Quebec community, worships the Montreal Canadiens. When his mother orders a new hockey sweater, the boy’s horrified to see the store sent a sweater of the Canadiens’ rival team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. The book and short have gone on to become classics in Canada; from 2006 to 2013, an excerpt from the book appeared on Canada’s $5 bill.
“The Sweater” is available on the NFB’s YouTube channel.
Photo by Tony Schnagl (Pexels)