Now Streaming: ‘The Tournament’ Captures Canada’s Game with Pure Joy
By Pat Mullen
Hockey fans concerned about the future of Canada’s most beloved game need not worry. The Tournament proves that the spirit of the game is alive and well in the next generation of players. This engaging and inspiring short doc from Sam Vint also adds a refreshing perspective to the good old hockey game. The NFB film chronicles a weekend-long tournament for a youth sledgehammer hockey league. Vint follows the enthusiastic players of the Manitoba Sledgehammers as they thrive on the ice, having fun, making friends, and giving the game their all.
The sport adapts ice hockey for young players with physical challenges, and they whiz with finesse and barrel down the ice with the assistance of their sticks. The Tournament observes the drama on the ice as well as the camaraderie in the locker room as the players bond over the game. The film offers an inclusive portrait with its engagingly shot drama on the ice that sees the game from the players’ eye-levels to capture the element of teamwork at play among the Sledgehammers. These young players have each other’s backs and they work collectively to share the highs of the game. Whereas many leagues with young players emphasize the success of the individual over the team, the Sledgehammers ensure that nobody feels like an outsider.
At the heart of the film, though, is Vint’s son Isaac. Easily the most verbose, outgoing, and spirited member of the team—although several others, especially teammate Trish, have an equally natural rapport with the camera—he is a great character. It’s a joy to see the flash of excitement on Isaac’s face as he rushes down the ice on the rink or dances at an after game party. Capturing the love of the game in its purest form, The Tournament is a welcome return to the rink for hockey fans.
Watch The Tournament below from the NFB: