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Leisure Sports & Games

Best Table Hockey Game

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.

Stiga NHL Stanley Cup Hockey Table Game

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 Ultimate Rod Hockey Pro Hockey Table

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.

Carrom 435.01 Signature Stick Hockey Table with Pedestal

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.

IdealSure Shot Hockey Tabletop Game

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.

ICE Super Chexx Non-Coin Deluxe Home Bubble Hockey Table

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.

Marc Gottlieb
I'm a rabid sports-aholic who's been to Super Bowl XXI, the Indy 500 and witnessed Doug Flutie's hail mary pass to Gerard Phelan live in Miami. Sundays are sacred in my household and I'm a two-time back to back champion of my fantasy football league. I played a lot of sports in high school; football, soccer, tennis, lacrosse and I was on the school ski team. I even tried my hand at racquetball in college. I've jumped out of two perfectly good airplanes and bungee jumped off a construction crane. Since then I've worked for one of the top product placement companies in Hollywood, coordinating with most of the major sports apparel labels to get their products featured in films and TV. But it's a life-long obsession with music and film that has given me years of experience with the latest technologies and innovations in electronics. If they've built it, I've tried it and likely bought it. Laserdisc, DVD, Bluray players; I own multiple units that cater to all of these formats and more. A misspent youth immersing myself in pop culture meant I craved the hottest devices through which to enjoy it all, and at the highest possible quality. What I learned over time though, is that the most expensive items aren't always the best.
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