Everyday Activist - Ice Guardians (CIFF 2016)

Posted on Saturday, October 08, 2016 at 10:30 PM

Ice Guardians

Movie Review by Everyday Activist X CalgaryMovies.com

Before each Calgary International Film Festival starts, I get asked what movies I would like to watch. Given that Ice Guardians is about hockey, I passed it up in favor of documentaries with a more social justice flavor. Nevertheless, while attending a question and answer event at Café Blanca, I asked Adam Scorgie if his enforcer friends encouraged him to make the film. I was surprised when he said yes. I assumed they wouldn’t want to publicly talk about “warrior culture” or at least they would need SOME convincing. I also talked to people who had seen the film and loved it. At this point I knew the film would win a CIFF Audience Award, which is where I ended up watching it.

My experience with enforcers dates back twenty years ago. I remember reading about John Kordic’s tragic death and talking about the role of fighting and enforcers in school. Ironically, I tutored Wes Rypien, Rick Rypien’s older brother. While Rick, who is briefly mentioned in the film, made it to the NHL, his brother also racked up penalty minutes in the WHL. Much like Adam Scorgie, I knew Wes and Rick as people first. Adam worked hard with director Brett Harvey to present a story about enforcers as people doing their job rather than jerks on the ice which is how the media often portrays them.

While hockey players had a starring role, Brett Harvey included interviews with a number of different professionals in other disciplines, some of whom specialized in head trauma. A surprising fact was that the very equipment made to protect players, ended up hurting others. Also, fighting and hits to the face doesn’t cause as many concussions as hits to the stomach. Because of the speed of the hit, it causes a whiplash effect. They had a brief discussion about enforcers and deaths, chalking it up to these players had other personal issues; however, one would expect to see deaths or even issues with alcohol and drug abuse evenly distributed among all the hockey positions rather than three deaths of enforcers in 2011 alone. This topic is for another documentary I guess.

To keep the discussion balanced, the players admitted “blood lust” which is generally frowned upon in polite society, but frankly something we all have to some degree; hence the popularity of fighting. Yet, the players also attested to having an unwritten code of conduct. The recent NHL rule changes have largely phased out the role of enforcers. The players made a good case for demonstrating that fighting actually kept their teammates safe as they compared Wayne Gretzky’s injury statistics to Sidney Crosby’s. Even I knew the latter had been hurt way more often, but I never made the connection that fighting might have been the reason Wayne Gretzky was allowed to play unhampered.

I tried my best to get this review out before the SuperChannel premiere on October 8, 2016, but you can catch it in October and November. The dates and times are available here SuperChannel >. Starting on October 9th, 2016, it’ll be available on demand.

Calgary Showtimes: 17th Calgary International Film Festival 2016 > | Ice Guardians >


NOTE: The showtimes listed on CalgaryMovies.com come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to CalgaryMovies.com.