Again. Again. Again. Who could forget Kurt Russell’s words in the role of immortal coach Herb Brooks in Disney’s 2004 hockey classic, Miracle.
“Who do you play for?” Russell asks his team, skating them over and over again in suicide drills.
“Mike Eruzione… Winthrop, Massachusetts… I play for… United States of America,“ was the retort made famous by actor Patrick O’Brien Demsey in his stellar performance as the team captain of the 1980 Men’s U.S. Olympic ice hockey team.
While 13 years have passed since reprising the role as Mike Eruzione in Miracle, Demsey’s love for the game has not wavered and laces up his skates whenever he gets the chance.
“Miracle for me was mind-blowing,” Demsey said. “I wasn’t an actor and knew nothing of Hollywood when I found myself booking the part of Mike Eruzione. We shot for five months in Canada. Since then, I’ve worked on many projects on ice as a stuntman in hockey movies, TV shows and commercials. I was never a tremendously talented hockey player but I was a good locker room guy. I really thrive within the element of a team and that’s why I think I love making movies so much.”
Demsey, who continues to play hockey regularly, has remained in the genre and
is set to make another appearance in the upcoming film Ice.
Check out the official teaser trailer of Ice, due to be released on Amazon in March 2018:
In Ice, Demsey plays the role of Nick Grantham, a single dad adjusting to life after professional hockey who returns home to run the family rink with Gregory Itzin (Fox’s 24). The father of lead actress Bailey Grantham played by Maddison Bullock, the film also stars Mike C. Manning, Tanner Novlan, Lisa Mihelich and Michael Monks in an inspirational sports drama that tracks the journey of two figure skaters in the high-stakes level of elite competition.
“I’m torn between trying to protect my daughter and having to let go of her so she can fulfill her dreams,” Demsey said. “On Ice we were shooting nine or 10 pages of dialogue a day. It’s exhilarating to be under that sort of pressure. I thrive in those situations. Maddison Bullock and I immediately connected as father-daughter through her writing.”
Bullock, an internationally trained figure skater, wrote, produced and also stars in the film. A Colorado native who grew up training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Bullock is an NCAA bronze medalist and a self-professed hockey fan who spent a season as an “ice girl” for the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League.
“We went to great lengths in our set design to appeal to the hockey community, particularly in Colorado and California,” Bullock said. “My director Peter Paul Basler is a huge hockey fan. We were on a quest to include as many gems in the film as we could that true hockey fans could appreciate. We were able to get our hands on a few (ECHL) Denver Cutthroat jerseys and some old Kansas City Scouts and California Seals jerseys.”
In Ice, the story primarily circulates around Nick and his conflict in letting his daughter, Bailey, pursue elite level figure skating and the high-stakes realities that surround this decision. The competition is fierce and unforgiving and Bullock shines in bringing this to light. The narrative follows the struggle to balance the demands of love, hate and skate amidst the competitive backdrop and realities implicit of the pressure packed world that is women’s figure skating.
“This movie has so much magic to offer,” Bullock added. “I truly believe it unites skaters, both figure and hockey.”
Demsey, who played hockey at Fitchburg State University, is thrilled to remain involved in hockey and keeps in touch with the multitude of actors that made Miracle such a success.
“I’m still active playing hockey,” Demsey, who hails from Danvers, Mass., approximately 18 miles from Eruzione’s hometown of Winthrop, said. “When I’m not working, I try to play in a pick-up game here in Hollywood twice a week. It can be pretty hectic with shooting schedules though I do play hockey with several of the guys in the movie. There is a great hockey community here in L.A., lots of guys from the mid-west and back east and also tons of Canadian fellas.
“Christian Lalonde is a writer, actor and cameraman who shot all of the on-ice scenes. Tanner Novlan, who plays the role of Grant, is an actor that we also play with,” Demsey added. “We’ve all worked together on countless commercials and TV shows doing hockey stunts and coordination so it was great to head to Colorado together and team up to work on another film.”
Ice, starring Patrick O’Brien Demsey, Maddison Bullock, Gregory Itzin, Mike C. Manning, Tanner Novlan, Lisa Mihelich and Michael Monks, is set to be released in March of 2018.
Written by John Christian Hageny / @JCCSPORTS
Special to HockeyClan
Main Image: Patrick O’Brien Demsey on the set with a few local youth hockey players during filming of Ice in Colorado. (Maddness Pictures)
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