Season 3 Episode 13

Thin Ice

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Feb 01, 1988 on ABC

Episode Recap

MacGyver’s old hockey coach, Turk Donner, is in the hospital after a heart attack and has asked MacGyver to help his hometown team, the Raiders, win the Minnesota State college championship. The team is playing the first of three games against their arch-rivals, the Hawks. The Raiders’ best player is Derek Kirby, but he’s constantly in the penalty box. As Derek returns to the ice, Brent Thompson, a scout for the NHL Mustangs, watches from the stands along with Derek’s father Walt. Derek picks a fight with a rival player, Henderson, and the two fight. The referees eject Derek and the Hawks make the final goal and win the first game.

Later, Thompson talks to Walt and Derek. Walt is eager to get Derek signed up with a professional team. MacGyver comes over and warns that if Derek doesn’t straighten up, he’ll kick the boy off the team. Once he’s gone, Thompson assures Derek that if he keeps picking fights and playing bloody, the Mustangs will take him on.

MacGyver visits Donner at the hospital and the coach says that MacGyver has to do something about Derek. He admits that Derek is a great player, formerly a Team USA candidate before his temper got him thrown off the Olympic team, but he needs help. He asks MacGyver to help Derek get turned around so the team can win and give the town something to be proud of.

MacGyver goes to see Walt at his auto shop and tries to talk about Derek’s problems. Walt refuses to keep Thompson away and shows off Derek’s trophies. He blames the Team USA committee for kicking Derek off, saying it was the worst moment of Derek’s life. MacGyver insists it’s Derek’s lack of teamwork but Walt wants the best for his son and plans to have him get onto the mustangs no matter what so he can have something better.

During the Raiders’ practice, the other members blame Derek for their lost in the first game and pick a fight. MacGyver breaks them up and puts them to work and they start to come together. Afterward, MacGyver tries to bond with Derek. MacGyver explains that he was inspired when a local player made it to Team USA. He tries to get Derek to realize that he doesn’t need violence to get picked up, but Derek refuses to let his father down and insists that violence is the only way he’ll get recruited. MacGyver wants him to get chosen for the right reasons, but before he can get through, Walt arrives and takes his son away.

The second playoff game begins and Derek scores. In the stands, Walt is watching with Thompson and two Mustang coaches that have flown in to see Derek play. Derek keeps his temper despite the Hawks’ efforts but finally starts showboating to impress the pro coaches. He ignores MacGyver’s orders and tries to take the shot himself but loses it and the Hawks score before the end of the period. In the dressing room, Derek apologizes and they go back in for the last period. Thompson is waiting and tells Derek to rough it up to impress the Mustang coaches and not worry about his own team. MacGyver spots Thompson and tells him to stay away from Derek.

Henderson keeps the pressure on Derek, who refuses to give in and fight back. Walt keeps yelling to Derek to fight back and Derek finally gives lashes out. Henderson fights back, ripping off his helmet. Derek shoves him and Henderson trips, hitting his head on the goal and then collapsing.

The Hawks win the second game. Afterward, MacGyver and a guilty Derek watch over Henderson at the hospital. The doctor tells them that Henderson has a skull fracture and has slipped into a coma, and there’s a good chance he’ll be permanently disabled.

Later, Derek is working at his father’s auto shop and loses his temper. Walt insists that Henderson’s injury wasn’t Derek’s fault but his son doesn’t believe it. Thompson comes in to inform Derek that the Mustangs want him the next day. Derek is worried that he won’t be there for his team, and realizes that his fight with Henderson got him recruited. He snaps at Thompson and tells him to get out. Once the scout is gone, Derek tells his father that he’s quitting hockey forever and destroys his trophy case of awards.

At the rink, MacGyver hears that Derek is quitting and goes to talk to him. Derek wonders who he’s playing for any more and insists that it’s just not fun. MacGyver warns that Derek quitting won’t help Henderson and that he needs to keep playing to show how hockey should be played. Derek figures MacGyver has no idea what he’s talking about, but MacGyver explains that he could have had a career. However, he got injured during a fight he provoked and never had the chance to go pro. He tells Derek not to make the same mistake.

Later, MacGyver is coaching the team when Derek comes in, ready to play. He apologizes to everyone and hopes they’ll let him play. They wonder if he’s doing it just to set up another showboating exhibition but he assures him that he’ll be playing to win. The team thinks it over and then agrees to let him play.

MacGyver goes to see Walt and helps him repair a compressor. He tells Walt that Derek is going to play and needs his father there to watch. Walt talks about all the long nights he spent being there for his son’s hockey career, and that he did it so Derek would have a chance to get out of the small town and make a better life for himself in the future. MacGyver says that Derek needs his father there now.

Before the last game, MacGyver meets with the team and reminds them it was Donner who got them this far. He reads the Olympic Oath and Derek recited it along with him. As the team goes out, Donner arrives and lets MacGyver know that Henderson is going to be okay. Donner has also 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 during the game.

The game comes down to the final minute with the Hawks in the lead, 4-3. Derek has managed to keep his temper despite the Hawks’ best efforts. Derek passes to his fellow player, who makes the tying score just as the clock runs out. As the game goes into overtime, Derek looks to the stands but there’s no sign of his father. Derek takes the puck in to the goal, pauses… and then passes to another Raider, who makes the score and wins the game. As Ellis goes to call Team USA, Walt arrives and congratulates his son as MacGyver looks on.