‘If Carlsberg did ice hockey tournaments…’

The first week in June brings the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ – the UK Armed Forces Ice Hockey Tournament! 2019 marks my sixth time as tournament photographer; I consider it a real privilege to be a part of this prestigious military competition, which just gets 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 Championships where the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and the British Army battle it out for the highly coveted Inter Service Championship Cup.

Photographing ice hockey is one of my great passions; the days are long and very cold, but it’s worth every second to capture the highs and lows of such a great competition. Over the course of the week, I photograph around 48 games!

So as the teams descended upon Sheffield, the stage was set and puck dropped on the 2019 tournament with a 4 – 2 win for the reigning Tri-Service Champions, the Royal Navy Kings, against the Royal Signals A.

Tuesday evening, a confident Royal Navy Destroyers team took to the ice , determined to capitalise on their success at last year’s tournament. Although the RAF found the back of the net three times, they just couldn’t compete with the strength of the Royal Navy Destroyers, who punished them with an 11-3 defeat. Great excitement in the Navy camp, as they secured themselves a place in the Inter-Service Final for the second year running.

Day two of the tournament saw the Royal Navy Kings emerging as favourites for the Tri-Service final.

As the RAFIHA photographer, I am lucky enough to be invited into the RAF Aces locker room to document the preparations and anticipation ahead of the Inter-Service game.

Wednesday evening and the RAF Aces faced the British Army Blades in the Inter-Service Cup. Battered from the night before, it was always going to be a mountain to climb. The British Army Blades were ruthless in their assault, as it rained goals at Ice Sheffield. The final score British Army Blades 18 – RAF Aces 1.

And so, Thursday evening, with excitement and tension running at fever pitch, we waited, breathless with anticipation, for the Inter-Service Cup Final between the British Army Blades and the Royal Navy Destroyers. Would the Army be in seventh heaven with a record number of wins or would it be a fairytale ending for the Royal Navy team, who had come from obscurity only a few years before to challenging the most successful Inter-Service team there has been in recent years?

No-one could have predicted the thriller we were treated to; the Destroyers opened the scoring, the game finishing 2 – 2 at the end of the final period. A 3 on 3 shootout decided the game, the Royal Navy coming out on top, with the winning penalty scored by Will Stennett; the Inter-Service cup had a new home, the new kings of the ice – the Royal Navy Destroyers!

I was thrilled to be invited into the Royal Navy locker room to capture the post game celebrations; these boys certainly know how to decorate a changing room with beer!

‘So this is how it feels to be a CHAMPION!!!!’ 11 long years of waiting…

Final day of the tournament and the teams played for the Tri-Service Cup, Plate, Bowl and Quaiche. Still wearing their huge smiles from the night before, the Royal Navy Kings met the Sappers in the Tri-Service Final, beating them convincingly 7 – 0 to be crowned Tri-Service Champions for the second consecutive year.

The Royal Navy Kings – Tri-Service Champions 2019

Tournament final placings

Tri-Service Champions – Royal Navy Kings
Tri-Service Plate winners – RLC Chiefs A
Tri-Service Bowl winners – RAF Bluewings
Tri-Service Quaiche winners – REME Stallion B

All images from the tournament can be viewed here https://galleries.everybodysmile.co.uk/trishthompsonphotography/clien/

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