“Old Time Hockey”
Updated: Dec 4, 2020
By Max Toth
A couple of months ago, my parents bought me "NHL 21" for my birthday. While I think the newest edition in EA Sports hockey video game empire is great, (especially with the revamped “Be a Pro” career mode), it still doesn’t hold a candle to my all-time favourite hockey video game, the 1970's-esque "Old Time Hockey", which was released in 2017 by V7 Entertainment.
You might not have heard of "Old Time Hockey", so let me fill you in. The main gist of the game is that it’s set in the 1978-79 season of the BHL - the Bush Hockey League. The Bush League is basically a caricature of the wild, rough and tumble era of hockey that’s beloved by fans and it takes some serious inspiration from the classic hockey movie "Slap Shot". It even pays tribute to the stick fencing scenes from the famous film. (That's right. If players are aggravated enough, they go at each other with their sticks. In other words, this game is absolutely crazy). But the biggest attraction "Old Time Hockey" has to offer is the incredible story mode. The Schuylkill Hinto Brews (and yes, I spell-checked this tongue-twister) are the worst team in the BHL and are on the verge of folding.
How bad are they?
Well, the Brews sport a -59 goal differential and their starting goalie has posted a less-than-ideal 0.326 save percentage.
It’s your job to guide this spirited yet misguided group of grinders through a season of antics that include a brawl with a mall Santa on Christmas Day and a hijacking of the team bus to (hopefully) the BHL Championship.
There probably aren’t any eras of hockey that are more different than the 1970's and the current edition of the NHL. For instance, if today's Toronto Maple Leafs are down by three goals late in the third period, their three-headed monster of Tavares, Marner and Matthews can easily stage a magical rally.
The Schuylkill Hinto Brews?
They’d rather injure so many of the other team's players that they’re forced to forfeit.
I can even tie in the differences between the two eras with my dad’s blog about money in sports, which you can read on our website after you're finished with this one. Today's hockey stars are raking in millions of dollars, despite the economic pressures of the pandemic being felt by many fans. The 70’s, meanwhile, were a time of huge financial stress in North America and the almost inevitable folding of the Hinto Brews, due to massive losses from their sponsors, looms over the team throughout the season. Luckily, however, the winner of the Pennsylvania lottery swoops in just in the nick of time to save the Brews from going extinct.
There are also economic differences between the makers of "NHL 21" and "Old Time Hockey". While I do think "NHL 21" is a good game, EA Sports has been known to cut corners with their NHL, NFL and FIFA games to preserve their 23 billion-dollar bank account and keep investors (who likely don’t even care about the game or the sports) happy. In comparison, V7 Entertainment is a small company based in British Columbia who clearly love hockey and wanted to pay homage to a special era of the game by putting a lot of heart into their project, even though they had a clearly limited budget.
But the best part of "Old Time Hockey"?
Whether or not you watched or played hockey in the 70’s, the game is bound to bring back some great puck memories. My highlights include hearing Stompin’ Tom belt out “The Hockey Song” and when the Hinto Brews hit the ice at Longhouse Arena, which looks just like the St Michaels Arena in Toronto where I’ve watched countless games with my family.
If this blog sparks your interest, you’re in luck because "Old Time Hockey" is available for just $15.99 on PS4 and $14.99 on XBox One. Also, if the good people at V7 Entertainment are reading this, I think a basketball version of "Old Time Hockey" would be great, as the 1970s were a pretty wild time in the NBA, too.