The British Army currently has seven recognised ice hockey teams; RE Sappers, RLC Chiefs, AGC Lions, AAC Hawks, REME Stallions, Infantry Ice Hockey and the Army All Stars. The Army All Stars is the team for players that don’t have their own corps/regimental team and the Army Blades are pooled from the best of these teams.
June 8th saw the Army ice hockey team ‘the Blades’ being crowned the Inter-Services winners for the fifth successive year. This year’s event was hard fought with the Army playing the RN on 7th June and the RAF on 8th June.
Army Vs RN
The RN took an early 2-0 lead and held this winning position for the majority of the 60 minute game. After clawing a goal back, the Army then scored the equaliser in the last two minutes which pushed the game into a fourth period of sudden death. The Army scored to win 3-2. The RAF had beaten the RN 7-0 the previous night.
Army vs RAF
Against the RAF the Army took an early lead and the first 20 minute period finished 4-1 to the Army. Over the next two periods the RAF came back and once again the game came down to the final minute in which the RAF was holding a 5-4 lead. The Army equalised 5-5 in the dying minute to take the game to sudden death overtime. During the five minute overtime the RAF hit the crossbar and had other near misses until the Army scored the winning goal to beat the RAF 6-5. This secured the win for the Army.
The Inter-Service games were played under the English Ice Hockey Association (EIHA) full contact rules and were officiated by EIHA referees. Many of the RN, RAF and Army players are signed to English Divisional 1 ice hockey teams (or equivalent teams, Scottish league 1 etc).
As part of the competition last week, the Army’s Corps teams (AAC, AGC, Inf, RE, REME, RLC, All-Stars) competed against the RAF stations and RN command teams. With the quality of players in the Inter-Service teams this was a competitive event which ran from Tuesday through to Friday morning with games played throughout the day (with 15 teams competing). After losing to the Infantry 3-2 in the recent Army Cup final, the REME beat the Infantry 3-2 to gain a place in the tri-Service semi-finals. However, REME lost to the RAF Blue Wings 1-0 in the semi-finals (the Blue Wings went onto win the tri-Service event). The REME went onto beat RAF Lossimouth 8-1 to come third overall. REME were the highest placed Army team; of note the REME team won the tri-Service event last year.