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The Icemen Cometh

Who’s more qualified to face off over hockey sim NHL 2003 than Canadian rockers Default?

If you believe the stereotypes, Canadians are polite simpletons who enjoy bottled beer and love ice hockey. “All the clichés are true,” sighs Dallas Smith, lead singer for Vancouver-based nü-metalers Default, as he and guitarist Jeremy Hora sit down with NHL 2003 (available for PS2, GameCube, Xbox). While the band’s Great White North heritage makes them a natural fit for electronic puck action, the latest version of Electronic Arts’ best-seller brings Default’s involvement to new heights–enter the right code (see Period 3) and they literally become a part of the game. Cool, eh?

Thirty seconds after the game starts, both Hora and Smith have chosen teams (the frontman calls the hometown Vancouver Canucks, whileHora snaps up the Los Angeles Kings), mastered puck control, and started scoring. Apparently, it really is in their blood.
Hora: We’ve played all the previous versions, but not this one. The moves are better; the goaltending looks better.
Smith: There was a while on tour when we weren’t judging distance between cities by hours, but by the number of hockey games wecould play on the bus.
Hora: We’re big hockey fans. But every kid in Canada dreams of being big in hockey.
Default manager Brian Coleman: What about curling?
Hora: [Angrily] Curling is not a Canadian sport. It’s for people who can’t skate.

It was Rodney Dangerfield who noted, “I went to a fight the other night, and a hockey game broke out.” Fortunately, NHL 2003 doesn’tdisappoint here. After each player scores a few goals, some fisticuffs break out (on-screen, that is)–much to the delight of thestaid band members.
Smith: The fights aren’t planned; they just seem to happen.
Hora: It’s cool. You get to move around, press buttons to do uppercuts, things like that. The losing player goes limp-wristed.
Smith: It questions my masculinity.
Hora: Fights are important. Bragging rights, you know.

Default not only appear on the game’s bone-crunching soundtrack, but they get in on the action, too. Type a band member’s name into the”Create Player” mode and–surprise!–the guys are hidden characters. And who couldn’t win the Stanley Cup with a moody alt-rocker asgoalie?
Hora: I’m pretty damn impressed. Let me just make him more like me [adjusts his on-screen alter ego’s attributes to WayneGretzky-like levels].
Smith: Hey, why is your player wearing jeans?
Hora: You know, they used the Barenaked Ladies in a game a few years back, I think.
Smith: We could kick their asses, though.

Smith soundly whips Hora, 6-3, in the first game. But after adding the Default members to the lineup for Round 2, a technicalglitch (someone must have spilled his Molson on the PS2) prevents us from properly keeping score. But this doesn’t dampen theplayers’ enthusiasm.
Hora: It was pretty damn cool. I like being goalie–you could either be the biggest hero or the biggest loser.
Smith: Hopefully hard-core hockey fans who buy this game are fans of ours, as well. We’re telling everyone we know about this.
Hora: It’s a better game–
Smith:–now that we’re in it.