Depending on where you live, there’s hockey, and “that other hockey”. Enthusiasts of ice hockey are fans of breakneck speed and action on the ice, where things can get awfully physical if players crash into the boards. Supports of field hockey are just as passionate as well, devouring the skill it takes to bend down and strike the ball while running up and down the field.
Like with most sports and their followers, there’s no reason to suggest that one is superior to the other. In fact, for fans of games in general, the more sports there are to watch and play, the better. After all, different flavors of the same baseline thing can be a great thing in life.
With these options in mind, the 2024 Summer Olympics and 2026 Winter Olympics are going to be an exciting showcase regardless of which type of hockey a person follows. We’ll take a look at five hockey players(some field, some ice) to keep an eye on during those contests.
While it might be fun to weigh NHL Stanley Cup odds this spring and wonder if the Colorado Avalanche can win their second title in a row, it can also be worthwhile to dream about how Cale Makar might take over the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy. He’s already dominating the ice hockey world against the best competition, and the scary thing is, he’s still just 24 years old. By the time the 2026 Games roll around, there’s a great chance he might be the best player in his sport.
Of course, Canada is no stranger to producing some of ice hockey’s most accomplished players. People are very wary of throwing around legendary players’ names when it comes to comparing young athletes under the age of 25, but Makar deserves every bit of praise he receives. He brings a physical component as a defenseman, with the skill to set up teammates for great chance at the net.
It’s going to be interesting to see whether the NHL allows their players to participate in the 2026 Winter Olympics. They prohibited them from going in 2022, citing COVID cases as the main reason why. Historically they have been permitted to participate, so at this time, we can expect Makar to be donning Canada’s jersey in four year’s time.
Arthur Van Doren
Even though he’s still just 28 years old, Belgian field hockey defender Arthur Van Doren feels like one of the most accomplished veterans in the sport. He’s already participated in two Olympics in 2016 and 2020, and his career has been advancing by leaps and bounds each year. He is a two-time winner of the International Field Hockey Men’s Player of The Year Award, and there’s no reason to think he can’t secure additional individual honors over the next couple of years.
According to Van Doren, he’s obsessed with his craft, as he tries to find new ways to improve day in and day out. Most of the top field hockey players in the world need to put in the effort to stay ahead of the competition, but Van Doren was born into a family that fell in love with the game. His uncle introduced him to the sport when he was a young child.
Van Doren’s brother Loic Philippe is a goaltender who also plays for the Belgian national team.
Belgium won the gold medal in field hockey during the 2020 Olympics, and they’ll have a target on their backs when the 2024 Games roll around. They’ll have a lot of competition from the likes of Australia, India and Germany, but Van Doren’s leadership should help them keep their edge.
Switching back over to ice hockey, another player who could bring in a lot of attention during the 2026 Winter Olympics is Jason Robertson. He currently plays for the Dallas Stars, who feel like they have struck gold with the second round pick. He was named to the NHL’s All-Rookie Team in 2020-2021.
He’s just 23 years-old, and should be an asset to the United States hockey team in a few years. Robertson is somewhat of a groundbreaking player in the sense that he’s from California originally, but is Filipino-American, so he’s attracting a market of fans who aren’t normally associated with ice hockey. Every step of the way, Robertson has had to chart his own unique path to follow his dream.
Before he gets to the world stage, Robertson will have a chance to show what he can do during the NHL playoffs. The Stars have had a resurgent season in the Western Conference, and Robertson is a big reason why. If he can lead the stars deep into the postseason, Robertson’s name will become a hot one when rosters are being finalized.
Speaking of stellar field hockey goaltenders, Australian Andrew Charter will be a key figure during the country’s next run in 2024. He was a part of the Australia team that came up just short against Belgium in 2020. Like Hinch, Charter is also in his mid 30’s and will be looking to cap off his international career with a gold medal.
It’s funny, because Charter never really intended to play field hockey as a child. He got into the sport because his sister’s team needed an extra player, and he was present and willing to lend a helping hand. The rest, as they say, is history.
Whenever Charter decides to call it a career, he has some options outside of the athletic world. He graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, with a major in oil and gas.