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Hockeyland: Movie Review

By Tony Scott , 09/22/22, 9:45PM CDT

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Tony checks out new film about Eveleth and Hermantown

Hockeyland - Tony's Take

About

Title: Hockeyland
Director: Tommy Haines
Written: J.T. Haines, Tommy Haines and Andrew Sherburn
Director of Photography: Benjamin Handler
Music: Brooke Blair and Will Blair
Overall Ranking: 10/10

Hockeyland is a split focus documentary detailing two section 7A rivals Eveleth-Gilbert and Hermantown as they face the challenges of hockey and life during and after. Director Tommy Haines writes, directs and edits a visual masterpiece for fans of hockey to sink their teeth into for nearly two hours. 

Hockeyland follows the two teams in their quest for the state tournament during their four month grind in the winter of 2019-20. 

The film has main characters Blake Biondi and coach Pat Andrews (Hermantown) and Will Troutwine, Elliot Van Orsdel and coach Jeff Torrel (Eveleth-Gilbert). But, likely the most heartfelt sequence was the story of Hermantown's Dowd family. Mother Lori and her struggles with MS and cancer matched by son Indio and his prevailing back issues.  

If you have ever wanted to be a fly on the wall of hockey team in the locker room, on the bench and off the ice, Hockeyland tells the story well with a larger emphasis on stitching together game footage and dialogue and less on direct interviews. 


SR Indio Dowd - Hermantown

I LIKEd it

Photography - Credit to DP Benjamin Handler for a great mix of aerial, rink, home and cityscapes to give the viewers a great sense of what the people in these towns see everyday.

Character Development - In a short amount of time, Haines and crew did a nice job of featuring several characters and quickly telling their story. As expected, Pat Andrews was the star. The hockey world got to see his famous game winning goal, postgame celebration when he starred for the Hawks as the program was starting to build. 

Stories - Hockeyland did a nice job of balancing the Eveleth and Hermantown teams. It could have spent a lot of time on Mr. Hockey winner Blake Biondi, but instead they gave us more time with less heralded families like the Dowds and Van Orsdels. 

Highlights
 
  • Video footage of younger Blake Biondi and Drew Sams while at the state tournament asking them how bad they want to make it to state.
  • Van Orsdel breaking down to tears when reflecting on his final days of high school hockey.
  • Biondi meeting a young Hermantown skater named Blake.
  • Jeff Torrel calling historic Hodgins-Berardo Arena a "piss palace". 
  • Countless inspirational locker room speeches from Andrews and Torrel.
  • Will Troutwine schooling his teammates in Trivial Pursuit.
  • Quinn Andrews seen in the movie wearing a YHH Squirtacular hoodie.

SR Elliot Van Orsdel - Eveleth/Gilbert

Swing and a Miss
 

We loved the movie. It gets a 10 out of 10. But, here are a couple things we thought the creators missed or left out.

Bruce and Dave - Bruce Plante and longtime rink manager Dave Huttel helped build the Hermantown program from the ground up. Bruce was coach Andrews' coach and mentor.  Huttel still runs the rink and manages the successful outdoor ice today. Both were never mentioned.

No Mayasich - John Mayasich is arguably the greatest player of all-time in Minnesota. The Eveleth native and resident did not make the film.

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