Living in Minnesota, I'm surrounded by hockey fans young and old. The passion for the game runs deep here, so much so that the state boys hockey tournament has an "All Hair" team (You can check it out here.)
When it comes to hockey books, there are some gems out there. From inspirational biographies to classics like Ken Dryden's The Game, it was tough to choose just nine.
Similar to some of our other lists, we looked for some diversity in the titles we chose (fiction and non fiction). We also only picked books that we really enjoyed. If we didn't think highly of a book ourselves, we're not going to recommend it. Finally, a book like The Game is probably more appropriate for olden teens, while Iceman could skew younger to the middle grades.
Here are our favorite hockey books for teens.
1. The Game by Ken Dryden
We previously listed The Game as one our Top 10 Sports Books ever. Dryden's life revolved around hockey, as a goalie for the NHL's Montreal Canadiens and then former president of the Toronto Maple Leafs. If you have a passion for the game, you'll certainly relate to Dryden's experiences. The YouTube clip below profiles a young Dryden in 1972.
2. Iceman by Chris Lynch
Unlike The Game (nonfiction), Iceman is a novel about a young hockey player named Eric (nicknamed Iceman). Eric's determination on the ice goes much deeper, as he deals with family issues at home and struggles to make sense of the world. Iceman is about overcoming, seeking focus, and finding the peace that can come from being out on the ice.
3. Against All Odds by P.J. Naworynski
Despite Canada being the birthplace of hockey, the country had decided not to send a team to the 1948 Winter Olympics in Switzerland. A man named Sandy Watson, an Air Force leader, assembles a team of Air Force hockey players, many fresh from fighting in World War 2. This is a powerful story of grit, determination, and patriotism.
4. Boy on Ice by John Branch
Derek Boogaard was an absolute force on the ice, suiting up for the NHL's Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers. In 2011, his shocking death at only 28 years of age left a lot of unanswered questions about the mental state of Boogaard given the number of concussions and injuries he'd suffered as a player. Branch dives deep in this one, interviewing hundreds of people to the core of who Derek Boogaard was. Branch talks about the book in more detail below.
5. 99: Stories of the Game by Wayne Gretzky
Wayne Gretzky is arguably the greatest off all time. He talks about the mentors he had as a kid, the moments that stand out in his mind during his remarkable career, and the rivals that pushed him to be the best. A powerful, honest memoir for fans of the Great One.
6. Thin Ice by Ryan Minkoff
I'm biased towards this one, given Ryan's upbringing in Minnesota and underdog mentality. From the land of ten thousand lakes to the University of Washington to Finland, Ryan's journey is unpredictability, fun, and incredibly unique.
7. Beauties by James Duthie
This book is different from the others, in that Duthie writes 57 short stories to make up this book. Some are more worthy than others (such as when Steve Stamkos’s dad accidentally stole Steve Yzerman’s car), but all in all, a fun read for teens looking for some variety.
8. Then Wayne Said to Mario
Allen goes behind the scenes, in the locker room, and out on the practice ice to record some great stories from the Stanley Cup.
Born and raised in a small town in Slovakia, the chances of Marian Hossa ever playing the NHL were slim. Not only did he make it, but he won 3 championships with the Chicago Blackhawks. Seemingly on top of the world, Hossa was then diagnosed with a skin condition that forced him to retire early. This is a fascinating memoir of a true "gamer" that continues to battle, no matter the obstacle.
I've always said that the power of reading is often that it simply opens your mind up to somebody else's perspective. Whether you're reading about a superstar like Wayne Gretzky or a guy trying to make it like Ryan Minkoff, you're undoubtably going to read things that are new to you. Maybe it's something about the way that you train; maybe it's something about how you handle yourself off the ice. Regardless, learning about how others live (both good and bad) helps us all be better versions of ourselves.
I hope you enjoyed this list. If you have a hockey book that we should check out, let us know in the comments below.
If you're looking for hockey books for younger kids (ages 1-12), check out this post.
John Willkom is the author of Amazon best-selling basketball books: Walk-On Warrior and No Fear In The Arena. John is an avid reader, sports fan, and father to two incredible little girls.
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