Usually, a spin-off series will have guest stars in the first episode to draw in viewers and connect the past to the present. In The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, we had to wait until the sixth episode to see what the old Ducks players were up to these days — and it was worth the wait.
Entitled “Spirit of the Ducks,” Game Changers brings back Fulton Reed, Adam Banks, Guy Germaine, Connie Moreau, Les Averman and Ken Wu from the Ducks movies. It’s the episode that we’ve all been waiting for, and while it feels good to reconnect with old friends, there are some hurt feelings, too.
NOTE: This review contains minor spoilers and assumes you’ve seen the previous episode.
After Evan’s five-goal performance against the Hawks in episode five, Coach T. offers him the opportunity to re-join the Mighty Ducks. Evan is hesitant, saying that he does not want to leave his new friends behind. Coach T. emphasizes that the Don’t Bothers probably won’t win another game, that the Ducks will most-likely win the state championship for the 11th time in a row, and that scouts offering college scholarships will be watching. Evan reluctantly practices with the Ducks.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Don’t Bothers are at the Ice Palace, celebrating their victory against the Hawks with a viewing party of their win. (Who IS video recording these games, anyway?) Evan shows up and is incensed that the team is celebrating instead of practicing.
The Don’t Bothers also have two new teammates, Tibor and Havel Capek from the Czech Republic. They don’t speak English, so they don’t say much in the episode, but at least the team now has nine skaters and a goalie.
Gordon Bombay becomes reacquainted with Fulton Reed, one of his original Ducks, who is now a construction worker. He tells Gordon that some of his old Ducks players are in town for the “The 25th Anniversary Spirit of the Ducks Gala.”
Gordon agrees to meet with Fulton and the others for pizza. Here, we find out what Adam Banks, Connie Moreau, Guy Germaine, Les Averman and Ken Wu have been up to since the third Ducks film. However, Gordon can’t find his invitation to the Ducks Gala — because he wasn’t invited; never mind the fact that Gordon started the team years ago.
“Spirit of the Ducks” is all about the choices that the characters make — or do not make — and how those choices can help or hurt others, and is the best episode of Game Changers thus far. Yes, much of that is because of the appearances by the old Ducks’ players. Just like that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you see an old friend after a long time, it feels great to see the former Ducks reconnect and rekindle old bonds with each other and their coach. The episode has a great helping of hockey action and an interesting storyline, as Evan must make the biggest decision in his life.
BONUS: Duck Eggs
Each week, I’ll share a few Easter Eggs, callbacks to the Ducks films, and interesting observations about the episode.
A limousine on the ice? Now, where have we seen that before?
The former Ducks players and Gordon chant “Quack! Quack! Quack!” when they toast their drinks at dinner.
Kenny Wu still has sick moves as a figure skater.
The restaurant has photos of the Ducks players on the wall, including a photo of Connie and Guy from The Mighty Ducks, a photo of Fulton in his Team USA jersey from D2 and an autographed photo of Averman.
A reference is made to the “criminal court order” that initially forced Gordon to coach the District 5 hockey team.
“Ducks fly together!” was said twice in this episode.
Adam Banks — who used to be called “cake eater” by his old Ducks teammates — refers to the current group of Ducks’ parents as cake eaters.
Parker Huddy, the Ducks’ player who is injured, opening up a roster spot for Evan, is most likely the son of Frank Huddy, the lawyer that butted heads with Gordon in the original Ducks movie.
Coach T’s full name is Daryl Tingman. He was a two-time team captain and three time state champion as a player, and has the longest winning streak as a coach in Ducks’ history.
Gordon Bombay is uses an old wooden hockey stick while practicing on the ice.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■