Thin Ice - Recap

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At the Minnesota State College Hockey Championships, MacGyver is coaching the local team, the Raiders, through the playoffs. His primary problem is Derek Kirby, the team’s best player. He’s in the penalty box again during the first of the best of three games. Once his time is up, he’s back on the ring and makes a score to tie the game. A NHL scout for the Mustangs, Brent Thompson, stops by to check out the players and notes that Derek is one of the best. However, Derek recently got kicked off Team USA due to fighting.

Derek’s father Walt watches from the stands and meets with Thompson while Derek trips a rival player, Henderson. The two players break into a fight while MacGyver keeps his players on the bench. The referees eject Derek, who goes to the locker room. As the opposing team, the Hawks, make their final goal, Derek flies into a rage.

Later, Thompson talks to Derek and Walt when MacGyver comes over. Walt boasts that Derek should be able to make the professionals. However, MacGyver warns that if Derek doesn’t straighten out, he’ll kick Derek off the team personally. Once he’s gone, Walt is angry at the treatment of his son and Brent assures Derek that if he plays that way at the next game, he’s a shoo-in for his pro team, the Mustangs.

MacGyver goes to see the Raiders’ regular coach, Turk Donner, who is in the hospital after a heart attack. Donner is following the games on the radio and insists that MacGyver has to do something with Derek. He insists Derek has what it takes to be a champion but admits he needs MacGyver to clear a path for him. Donner explains that the whole town needs something to be proud of and it starts with Derek getting turned around.

The next day, MacGyver goes to Walt’s body shop to talk about Derek’s temper problems. He asks Walt to keep Thompson away from Derek so the team doesn’t lose the championship. Walt shows off his son’s trophies and insists Derek doesn’t need MacGyver’s help. He blames the Olympic committee for kicking Derek off Team USA, but MacGyver says it’s Derek’s lack of teamwork. Walt says he doesn’t want to see Derek hurt again and professional hockey is the only way he’s going to get a chance for something better. He starts to threaten MacGyver if he gets in the way, but MacGyver warns him off and leaves.

During practice, the other team members blame Kirby for costing them the first game of the playoff by showboating. One of the players, Chester, starts a fight and MacGyver breaks them up. They start skirmishing and the team, including Derek, starts to pull together.

Later, MacGyver is playing table hockey with Derek, who realizes MacGyver loves hockey. They discuss his love of the game and how a local player making Team USA in the Olympics and winning a gold medal inspired him to play. MacGyver insists that Derek has the talent and doesn’t need to bang heads to win. Derek explains how he got picked and how proud his father was of him. He refuses to let his father down again but MacGyver insists he needs to get a team to pick him for the right reasons. He starts to get through to Derek but Walt arrives and takes his son away after telling MacGyver to save his coaching for the ice.

As the second game begins, Derek makes the first goal of the game. At the hospital, Donner listens in. In the stands, Thompson and two Mustang coaches are watching with Walt. A rival player takes down Derek but he holds his temper. Kirby takes the puck in but then refuses to pass and showboats for the Mustang coaches. He ignores MacGyver’s orders and goes in but loses the puck. The Hawks takes it down the rink and score. At the hospital, Donner starts to lose it and the doctor threatens to take away his radio, but then offers to sit with him. Donner figures that MacGyver has Derek in the dressing room.

In the dressing room, MacGyver demands answers from Derek. Derek insists he just lost it and apologizes. The team heads back out with twenty minutes left. As they go out for the third period, Thompson tells Derek to play hard and fast and doesn’t care whether the Raiders win. MacGyver sees them and orders Thompson to stay away.

The Hawks’ player Henderson keeps the pressure on Derek, who refuses to fight back. Walt keeps yelling from the stands and Derek finally trips Henderson. Henderson starts a fight and Derek obliges. He shoves Henderson away and the rival player hits his head on the goal, collapsing to the ice. The referees call in the paramedics.

At the hospital, Derek and MacGyver watch as Henderson comes out of surgery. The doctor informs them that Henderson is in a coma from a skull fracture and could be disabled. As MacGyver goes to check on Donner, Derek mutters an apology to Henderson, admitting no one was supposed to get hurt.

Later, Derek loses his temper at his father’s body shop and Walt tries to reassure him. He insists that Derek didn’t force Henderson to fight and it’s not his fault. Thompson arrives and tells Derek that he’s on the Mustangs and he starts the next day. Derek wonders about the final game in the playoffs but Thompson tells him he shouldn’t push it and risk an injury. Derek realizes that if he hadn’t put Henderson in the hospital, he wouldn’t have gotten chosen. Thompson tells him not to ask questions and Walt tries to smooth things over, but Derek tells him to get out. Once Thompson is gone, Walt rounds on his son. Derek says that he’s quitting hockey entirely and Walt is the one that wanted a hockey player for a son. Derek shoves over his case of hockey trophies and wonders what kind of trophy he gets if Henderson dies. He walks off while Walt looks at the shattered remains.

At the rink, MacGyver is coaching the team when he gets word that Derek is quitting. MacGyver goes to talk to him. Derek admits he doesn’t know who he’s playing for any more and it isn’t fun any more. He figures he’ll finish college and get a job, but MacGyver warns that quitting won’t help Henderson. He suggests that if Derek shows people how the game should be played, he could help others. MacGyver explains that he got himself busted up playing stupid and he convinced himself to quit. Now he wonders if he could have gone pro every time he takes to the ice. He tells Derek not to make the same mistake.

Later, the team practices and Derek comes in, dressed to play. He tells everyone that he forgot was best for the team and he let them all down. Derek apologizes and hopes they’ll let him play. He insists that Walt is out of the picture for good. The team thinks it over and then tosses him the puck.

Later, MacGyver goes to see Walt at his shop. He helps Walt fix a compressor and tells him that Derek is going to play that night. Walt talks about all the long nights he spent helping Derek pursue his goal of becoming a professional so that his son could get out of the small town. Now Walt insists that Derek is throwing it all away. MacGyver insists that the rest of Derek’s life starts with the game that night and he needs his father to be there for him.

That night, MacGyver meets with the team in the dressing room and reminds them that Donner is the one who got them there. MacGyver reads the Olympic oath of sportsmanship that Donner read at the top of each season. Derek recites them along with MacGyver and the team hits the ice. As they go out, Donner arrives and tells MacGyver that Henderson is out of his coma. Donner has brought Tony Ellis, director of player personnel for Team USA. Ellis has agreed to give Derek a second chance if he likes what he sees.

In the final minute of the third period, the Hawks are in the lead, 4-3. The Hawks have been hitting Derek hard but he’s kept his temper. With seconds left, Derek passes to a fellow player who makes the tying shot. The game goes into overtime and Derek gets knocked to the ice. He looks up to the stands but Walt isn’t there. Derek feints and then takes the puck in, passes, and the Raiders make the winning shot. Ellis goes to make a call to Team USA while Derek looks for his father in vain. MacGyver salutes him… and Walt comes in and gives him a thumbs up. He comes down onto the ice and father and son hug.