Movie Review: Take the Ice

Take The Ice
Director: Rachel Koteen
Producer: Rachel Koteen, Judah-Lev Dickstein, and Batya Feldman
Editor: Judah-Lev Dickstein
Rated: 4 Stars (8 stars on IMDB)
Review by: Astilbe
Find the movie on IMDB

Take the Ice is a feature documentary that tells the story of world-class female hockey players fighting for recognition and equality in their sport, and in the process, making history.

Ten-year-old Dani Rylan was obsessed with hockey and dreamed of growing up to play in the NHL. As one of the best players on the Florida state junior team, Dani saw no reason not to have the same ambitions as everyone else. But, as the only girl on the team, “at some point, reality sets in.” Seventeen years later, Dani decided to change the history of the sport by founding the first professional women’s hockey league.

Take the Ice goes behind the scenes as Dani creates the National Women’s Hockey League and 88 elite female athletes compete to win its first championship. As Dani struggles to keep the league afloat, the players must come together in the wake of an on-ice accident that leaves their teammate paralyzed. Take the Ice is a moving, intimate story of a group of elite athletes making strides for recognition and equality, and in the process, making history.

What could be better than making history and setting new records?

This documentary worked for dedicated hockey fans and those of us who virtually know nothing about that sport alike. I appreciated how the director was careful to explain certain aspects of this business like the difference in pay scales and marketing techniques between men’s and women’s hockey that many folks might not be aware of. While most of the screen time was dedicated to the games themselves, it was the player’s stories about the sexism they face that originally piqued my interest. Many of them were discouraged from playing hockey, especially as they grew older and were still the only girls on their youth teams. These early life experiences can discourage women and girls from pursuing all sorts of interests in life, and I nodded along as I compared their love of hockey to my interests in other things that girls aren’t encouraged to do. The joy of seeing young girls cheer for these teams and ask for autographs gave me hope that future generations will feel more comfortable pursuing all of their interests without discouragement.

I had some trouble keeping track of who everyone was. As cool as it was to get so many different perspectives on what it was like to be part of the first season of professional women’s hockey, including all of them meant that there wasn’t much time to invest in any one particular storyline. Taking notes along the way about who was part of which team helped, though, and I’d recommend that to anyone who watches this.

Some of the most interesting scenes to me were the ones that explored the private lives of the players. On the weekends, they were professional hockey players, but all of them had weekday jobs as well due to how little they were paid as athletes. This was in stark contrast to the millions of dollars men make in this field. The medical consequences of playing hockey were shown as well, and I was intrigued by how many risks these women were willing to take with their health despite all of the reasons they had to stop playing.

Take the Ice was a thoughtful look at the birth of the National Woman’s Hockey League.

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