At the beginning of June, I travelled to Sheffield to photograph the annual UK Armed Forces Ice Hockey Tournament. This was my fifth year as tournament photographer; I consider it a privilege to be a part of this prestigious military competition, which seems to get bigger and better every year. Teams from across the three Services compete against each other over four days in two mini leagues to become Tri-Service Champions. The evenings are reserved for the Inter-Service Championship, where the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and the British Army battle it out for the highly coveted Inter-Service Championship Cup.
As tournament photographer, I average 14 games a day and a 13 hour shift in the freezing cold, you may ask, “WHY?”, well simply because I love it, photographing ice hockey is one of my great passions!
So as the teams descended upon Sheffield the stage was set….
New for this year and as a precursor to the tournament, we were treated to an exhibition game between the RAF Pumas Ladies and the Sheffield Shadows Ladies. The game finished in a 4 – 2 win for the Shadows.
Puck dropped on the 2018 tournament with a 2 – 1 win for the RLC Chiefs against RAF Lossie Jets.
Tuesday evening, the Royal Navy took to the ice in a striking new kit for the first Inter-Service Cup game against the RAF Aces. The game took an unexpected turn when the Navy, long thought the underdogs in the competition, took an early lead. They continued to apply pressure to a shell-shocked RAF Aces team, inflicting a punishing 5 – 1 defeat and securing themselves a place in the Cup Final against the British Army Blades.
The RAF Bluewings and the RAF Vulcans headed into day two of the tournament top of their respective groups and whilst the Bluewings continued to claim yet more scalps, finishing the day unbeaten, the Vulcans faltered, as they encountered tough opposition from the Sappers and the Royal Navy Kings Blue.
Wednesday evening and the RAF Aces faced the British Army Blades in the Inter-Service Cup. Feeling bruised from the night before, the Aces hoped that they could take a good fight to the Blades.
As the RAFIHA photographer, I am lucky enough to be invited into the Aces locker room to document the preparations and anticipation ahead of the game.
The Blades came out hard and fast, putting five goals past the Aces in the first period, however, a brave fight back in the second period saw the Aces score four times, cutting the Blades’ lead down to two goals. Disappointment for the Aces as the Army gathered strength in the third period, the game ended 9 – 5 to the British Army Blades.
And so, Thursday evening, the Inter-Service Cup Final no-one could have predicted – The Royal Navy vs The British Army Blades. Could a shock be on the cards?! With a record 6th win at stake, the Blades were never going to make it easy. The game finished 4 – 2 to the Army – Inter-Service Champions 2018
Final day of the tournament and the teams played for the Cup, Plate, Bowl and Quaiche, The Royal Navy Kings Blue met the Infantry in the Tri-Service Cup Final, beating them convincingly 5 – 2 to be crowned the 2018 Tri-Service Champions.
Tri-Service Champions – The Royal Navy Kings Blue
Winners of the Tri-Service Plate – RLC Chiefs
Winners of the Tri-Service Bowl – RAF Vulcans
Winners of the Tri-Service Quaiche – Royal Navy Kings Yellow
Inter-Service Champions – The British Army Blades
All the images from the tournament can be viewed here http://www.everybodysmile.biz/trishthompsonphotography/clien