Ana used to want to be a hockey player, but she got into too many fights, so her dad taught her to shoot and hunt instead. Ana felt ashamed of the fact that she was so different and couldn’t fit in. As a Beartown girl, she’s supposed to be interested in hockey players, not hockey.
Beartown hockey culture doesn’t have many outlets for girls—they’re mainly supposed to be fans, meaning admirers of the male hockey players. This would obviously serve to reinforce some players’ sense of entitlement, rather than lessen it.
Ana blames herself for abandoning Maya at the party, but Maya assures her that it isn’t their fault. Ana and Maya argue about telling what Kevin did. Ana knows it isn’t fair to ask Maya to do that. Maya explains that she can’t tell—if she does, then Kevin will not only hurt her, but everyone she loves.
Again, Maya shows empathy for others, at her own expense. Unfortunately, her understandable reluctance to hurt others allows the toxic elements of hockey culture to remain entrenched.
Benji goes to visit his dad’s grave and finds the puck David left there. David started this tradition when the players were young boys, writing important advice or even jokes on pucks to encourage his players or make them laugh. He did other things, too—when the club had a “fathers against sons” game, David picked up Kevin and Benji and took them to the lake to play with him.
Though David’s obsession with winning makes him seem like a one-dimensional character at times, he does show empathy and kindness to his players that goes beyond the locker room and ice rink. He knows how much Benji misses his dad, and he tries to fill the hole in Benji’s and Kevin’s lives left by their absent fathers.
Benji remembers certain crude jokes that Lars told on the team bus, when David laughed along. One of them was a homophobic joke. Benji has never feared being targeted if everyone finds out about him. Rather, he’s scared of the jokes his teammates and coaches will no longer tell around him—shutting him out of the “us and them” created by laughter.
As more than one pre-game scene has shown, locker room jokes serve a defining, uniting function among the players. If his teammates knew Benji was gay, one frequent source of locker room jokes would be off the table, and Benji would stand out as no longer being one of the crowd. He fears the loss of that sense of belonging more than anything.
The puck David has left for Benji only has one word written on it: “Win.” The next day, he returns to practice.
David’s hockey puck message reminds Benji of David’s core philosophy. Since Benji looks up to David as a father figure as much as a coach, he responds to that message. To win, and so please David, he has to remain loyal to the team, no matter the cost.
Saturday arrives—the day of the final. Early that morning, Maya watches three little girls playing in the street, throwing snowballs and fencing with sticks. Though she’d made up her mind not to tell what happened to her, the sight of the girls changes her mind. Even as she makes that decision, she already knows that the town will turn against her.
The little girls in the street remind Maya of herself and Ana when they were little girls. She’s also reminded that telling the truth is ultimately not just about her, or even about the likelihood of hurting her parents; it’s about others in the community who are vulnerable, too. As a result, she knows she has to tell, even though doing so will be costly.