Keanu Reeves had hockey experience upon being cast, having been MVP and nicknamed "The Wall" for his goal-tending capabilities at De La Salle's college team in Toronto. Patrick Swayze had been trained as a figure skater but never played hockey, and Rob Lowe had to be taught to ice skate before filming began.
The Thunder Bay Bombers, the rival team featured in the film is a fictional depiction of the Philadelphia Flyers NHL team, whose nickname was "The Broad Street Bullies". The 1976 Stanley cup final was the inspiration for the movie.
Peter Zezel and Steve Thomas at the time of filming were in fact actual professional NHL players. In the film, they play for the Hamilton Mustangs and in real life they both played for the Philadelphia Flyers and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Hamilton Mustangs are a fictional hockey team loosely based on a real life hockey team that did exist in Hamiltion, Ontario and played in the OHL (Ontario Hockey League). That franchise left Hamilton in 1988, and is still playing in the OHL, but is now based in Erie, PA.
The goalie for Thunder Bay was the only American born hockey player who appeared in the film, with the exception of the main characters. His name was Michael Gorey who was from Philadelphia Pennsylvania. The home of the Philadelphia Flyers, who the Thunder Bay Bombers were modeled after.
In the scene where Ed Lauter is talking to his assistant coach while the players warm up, he mutters "Three Blind Mice" as the referee and linesmen appear on the ice. That term was actually used by players and coaches to describe how badly referees officiate games.
Heaver (Keanu Reeves) wears a mask with a scar design, based on a similar mask worn by Boston Bruins Goalie Gerry Cheevers. Thunder Bay's Goalie wears a mask with a skull design identical to the one worn by Chicago Blackhawks Goalie Warren Skorodenski.