As the NHL seems to have a work stoppage every few years, it appears that the only way to be sure to have the sport you love in your home all the time is to buy a table hockey game. YOU control when the players play and, best of all, it's hockey season all year long at your place. Like most games of this nature, they come in a variety of sizes and accessories, and can provide hours of fun for die-hard fans or those who are casual observers of the sport.
Buying a table is a little easier than settling on a new CBA, though there are still some items you need to negotiate. How much do you want to spend? Who's the game for, children or adults? Do you want a simple unit that you can prop up on a table, or a free-standing machine that has all the bells and whistles of an arcade-style game? You'll find these options and everything in between on our list of Best Picks below. Soon enough, you'll be dropping the puck at home long before the owners and the players come to an agreement on the real thing.
These tables have all made our list under the careful consideration of certain criteria. For starters these tables offer durable cabinets and playing surfaces to ensure each one holds up to repeated and intense use. These tables also feature playing rods that are made of strong materials like fiberglass or steel, and move with fluid motion which allow players to pass and shoot the puck with ease. While some of these products are table-top versions that rest on any counter or folding table in order to play, the bigger models feature strong, well-constructed legs so the unit won’t wobble to ensure the playing surface stays perfectly level. Lastly, many of these tables also include lights and sounds to make game play more fun and exciting.
Probably the most popular game on our list, this tabletop unit from Stiga is officially licensed by the NHL, with player figurines clad in actual team insignias and color schemes. Every part is removable and replaceable, so your game will always be ready for action no matter how much you use it. You can even change the teams on the ice, as Stiga sells separate sets of players from all thirty teams. Read Full Review
The Stiga table has it all. The three-dimensional player figurines are interchangeable from the rods so you're not stuck with the same old teams for every game. The official NHL insignias give it an authentic game-day feel, with all thirty team logos emblazoned on the boards and uniforms. There are even Plexi-shield protectors at the ends of each the table to keep the puck from flying off the ice on a slap-shot.
Playability on this one is the best you can find for the money, as players can actually move behind the nets and the goalies are fully functional in the crease, just like the real thing! The metal playing rods are effortless to use and move players smoothly all around the game surface with top-notch puck control. For about a hundred bucks, it's the closest thing you're going to get to having a real live NHL hockey recreational game in your home.
Franklin's table-top game is similar in design and gameplay as the Stiga at the top of our list, but while you have three-dimensional figurines in this set there are no NHL logos. Instead you get detailed (yet faceless) humanoid characters that are well-painted to resemble hockey players on ice, complete with opposing colored sweaters and accents on the hockey pants. Gameplay is smooth even if the rods aren't as durable as some of the other picks on the list. Read Full Review
This table-top game from Franklin uses a tabletop design similar to the Stiga, even down to the use of a Plexi-glass enclosure surrounding the "ice" just as you would find at any real-life hockey game. The rods are made of fiberglass and come five to a side, one for each player on the team and use a polished gear system to ensure every movement of your players is as fluid as possible. But let's face it, when the game gets heated we don't always realize the force we're exerting in our frustration and that can lead to some snapped rods. It's not a common occurrence with fiberglass material such as this, but it can happen.
The Ultimate also has electronic scoring to keep track of your goals scored and the bright LED's on the side of the unit keep track with total accuracy. There is one other drawback on this product as it takes forever to assemble. You'll need a lot of patience and a little bit of engineering know-how to put this together exactly as intended. The game comes with two hockey pucks (because you know you're going to lose at least one) and uses 2 AAA batteries to keep the scoreboard running.
Now we turn our attention to the big boy games, starting with the Carrom 435.01 Signature. Although not cheap, this is a step up from simple table hockey as it comes equipped with a sturdy cabinet, battery-operated scoring, and a shatter-resistant dome. Playability is also much different with fiberglass rods that afford maximum control and puck coverage. Read Full Review
The Carrom 435.01 Signature game is the first pick on our list that comes as a table instead of a table-top structure. The cabinet is made of bright blue Melamine, so it can withstand the constant shock and jolts of players banging against it as they move the rods back and forth during gameplay. The rods are made of strong fiberglass; precision injection-molded gears keep the figures on the ice moving smoothly and accurately. Yes, there are even cup-holders included.
Electronic scoring is built into the game system, so every time someone puts the biscuit in the basket, the scoreboard announces it with lights and sound - just like at the arena. It also keeps time with a fully functional game clock. The players are pretty simple, again with one red team and one blue so don't expect NHL insignias on this unit. But after you get the puck on the ice, you likely won't care because of all the fun you're having.
In terms of the playability factor of the 435.01, you get exceptional puck handling capability with a custom-coated styrene playing surface. Passing and shooting doesn't get much better than it does on this Carrom unit. One thing to keep in mind, the price tag is a bit high for a consumer game but you get what you pay for on this pick.
In stark contrast to the Carrom table (and to some extent the Stiga and Franklin picks as well), comes the Sure Shot table-top game from Ideal. This one's strictly for the kiddies with a twenty inch long surface and plastic figurines but sure to be a hit with the smallest fans. Certainly not as smooth as the other picks on the list, this is a game that nails the basics with a few extra bells and whistles thrown in for good measure. Read Full Review
Ideal's table-top unit measures twenty inches in length, making it one of the smallest games on the list. So it's well-suited for younger children to use, with easy grip levers, bright colors, and a playing surface that's been manufactured to look just like the ice at any major arena, complete with red face-off circles, blue lines and two goals at either end for scoring. Speaking of scoring, keeping track of goals is easy with two scoring slides at either end of the unit.
Game play is about what you'd expect from a unit of this size and price range. It's certainly good enough to keep the puck moving from figure to figure and scoring is challenging without becoming a frustration. The size of the game makes it portable, so you can move it from room to room or even take it to Grandma's house for the weekend.
Rounding out the end of the list is a hockey game for the high-rollers only. If you're looking for professional quality in the privacy of your own home, then the ICE Super Chexx is the machine for you. This is the exact unit you'll find in any arcade or gaming hall and you can own it with or without a coin slot. Considering that this game will set you back a few grand, you might want to spring the extra couple hundred bucks to make it coin-operated, so you can defray some of the costs when your buddies come by to play. Read Full Review
The Super Chexx may look a lot like the Carrom with its high dome and pedestal base but there are some major reasons why this machine is almost double the price. This one offers arcade quality gameplay with the durability and functionality of a machine for professional use. The bubble dome is made of heavy duty Lexan to withstand high impact abuse while the resilient, lightweight aluminum cabinet making it the strongest choice on our list. The players on the ice are fully-formed three-dimensional figurines with good detail and easy maneuverability; for an extra few hundred bucks, you can get real NHL logos and color schemes if you'd prefer to have your favorite team at your control.
The Super Chexx is chock full of features to make your game look and sound just like the real thing, including sound effects to imitate a night at the arena along with legendary Buffalo Sabres announcer Rick Jeanneret doing play-by-play. The fully electronic scoreboard at the top of the dome displays goals, shots, period, and a clock to let you know how much time is left in the period. There's even a button you can push to make the fans "boo" when your opponent scores while an automatic puck return and eject system gets the game going again. Best of all, when you buy one of these you're getting free lifetime technical support and a one year warranty on all parts.