RAF Bluewings Ice Hockey Club
The RAF Bluewings, the regional RAF Ice Hockey team representing the RAF in the south and south east of England, have recently returned from the Tri-Service Championships held in Sheffield as overall victors.
The Bluewings comprise of RAF personnel from Brize Norton, Benson, Odiham, Halton, Northolt and Henlow but outside of Service tournaments the team is also allowed to include foreign Servicemen and civilians within the roster.
Each year regional or regimental teams from the Royal Air Force, British Army and Royal Navy travel to Sheffield to compete in the 4 day Tri- Service Championship. This year’s tournament saw 10 teams from all 3 services compete, including 4 RAF teams: the RAF Bluewings, Cosford Stars, Eastern Crusade and Lossiemouth Jets.
The first day for the Bluewings saw a nervy and close fought first game against a tough Navy Kings team, with the Bluewings claiming a hard fought 1 – 0 win at the final buzzer. Throughout the rest of the first day the Bluewings began to settle, getting into their stride and not looking back, finishing the day with 3 wins from 3 and the only team to do so.
The Bluewings looked to capitalise on this momentum and the second day saw the ‘Wings first game against the RE Sappers. The Bluewings dominated possession and puck control playing a great passing game against the Sappers, however, not managing to put the puck in the net. The Sappers caught a break at the end of the first period and scored an unexpected goal to go 1–0 up, leaving the Bluewings with a tough second period ahead. With great team communication and crisp passing play, it was only a matter of time before the Bluewings would get that goal. With relentless effort and determination throughout the second period and frustrations building it took the Bluewings until the last 2 minutes of the game to get the goal which got them back on level terms, before then going on to score another 2 in quick succession claiming the victory 3–1. This big win for the team gave a huge morale boost and set the Bluewings up for another successful day of hockey, with another 2 wins against a tough REME Stallions team and the Lossiemouth Jets. The winning streak continued for the Bluewings and saw them extend their lead at the top of the standings with 6 wins from 6 and looking stronger and stronger each game.
The third day started the way the second had finished with a commanding victory over the Cosford Stars. However, there may have been evidence of some slightly tired legs as the day also saw the Bluewings first and only defeat of the tournament against the Royal Marine Bootnecks losing 2-1. This was followed by a 1-1 draw against a strong RLC Chiefs team. Even though the winning streak had come to an end, the attitude never dwindled and the Bluewings looked to return the following day to prove that they were still the team to watch. By the end of the third day the Bluewings’ impressive seven wins, one loss and a draw during the round robin stage put them at the top of the standings going into the playoffs.
The final day saw the playoffs commence, with the Bluewings facing the REME Stallions in a hard fought semi-final. With the Bluewings coming out on top it only left the final remaining and saw the ‘Wings face-off against first day foes, the Navy Kings. The Bluewings played a strong and solid team game taking the final in style with a 3-0 win, and claiming the Tri Service Championship – only the third time a RAF team has been victorious in the tournament.