“Pond Hockey,” the seventh episode of The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, starts out promising. The Don’t Bothers are understandably angry at Evan for thinking of rejoining the Ducks. But the episode crams too much into too little time, feels rushed, and isn’t as satisfying as the previous six episodes.
NOTE: This review contains minor spoilers.
Hoping that the kids will sort out their differences, Alex locks Evan and his teammates in the locker room so they could have a players-only meeting. Gordon Bombay tells to Alex that it is a great idea, while also mentioning how rough some of his players-only meetings were when he was a minor leaguer. This makes Alex second-guess her decision.
The Don’t Bothers vent about things that do bother them, and not all of it is about Evan’s perceived disloyalty. Logan is jealous that he wasn’t invited to Nick’s sleepover, even though he lives across the street. Lauren snaps at Maya for ditching her in the past. Sam feels that Evan makes everything about himself. Sofi is upset that Evan didn’t confide in her. Some of the funniest lines are said during this scene. I had actually hoped that the whole episode would solely focus on the players-only meeting and Evan trying to win his teammates back.
But it is not. Alex interrupts the meeting because she believes she made a mistake. Then the Ice Palace has a electrical problems. Gordon suggests that the team move its practices outdoors until the rink’s power is fixed. He takes the Don’t Bothers to the very same pond he learned to skate on.
Gordon leads some fun outdoor practices. He updates his egg-passing drill for 2021, substituting eggs with something most 12-year-olds today care more about. Alex, after getting inspiration from the least-likely of sources, also develops her own drill, called “feel hockey.”
In “Pond Hockey,” Alex learns to trust her own instincts and the Don’t Bothers learn to trust each other, and deals with Evan seeking forgiveness. Really, though, this should have been two separate stories.
“Pond Hockey” is not a terrible episode and it has funny moments, but at 27 minutes before the credits rolled, it feels too short because it covers too much ground. Everything wraps up too quickly and conveniently, including a subplot involving Sam that felt a little forced. And though I am always a fan of hockey action, the game at the end involves a play that — while not quite cringeworthy — would be more appropriate in one of the 1990s Ducks movies instead of Game Changers.
BONUS: Duck Eggs
Each week, I’ll share a few Easter Eggs, callbacks to the Ducks films, and interesting observations about the episode.
Nick has recorded 400 episodes of his hockey podcast. Either that, or Logan is exaggerating. Even if Nick only completed 100 podcasts, that’s still quite a lot.
Gordon tells the Don’t Bothers that he learned to skate on this pond, which we saw happen in flashbacks during the original Ducks movie.
Gordon also mentions the passing drill using eggs that he taught to the original Ducks players.
Alex, expressing her fears about skating on a pond, brings up a movie where kids playing hockey on a pond fall through the ice and drown. She is probably talking about the hockey practice scene in the 1983 film The Dead Zone.
Stephanie — Alex’s boss and a Ducks “hockey mom” — seems legitimately scared that Gordon is now helping coach the Don’t Bothers. “He has some sort of a magic that brings out the best in the under-gifted,” she explains to Alex. Perhaps Stephanie is aware of Gordon’s reputation as the “Minnesota Miracle Man.”
Tibor and Havel Capek — the two brothers from the Czech Republic — wear numbers honoring Czechoslovakian hockey legends. Tibor wears #68, made famous by Czech superstar Jaromir Jagr. Havel wears #26, the number that Peter Stastny wore in the NHL. Stastny was born in what is now Slovakia, but rose to hockey stardom before Czechoslovakia spit into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Still, it was a nice touch to give these two characters relevant jersey numbers.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■