The 2018 Inter & Tri-Service Ice Hockey Championships have attracted the biggest ever turnout of players from across the three services.

More than 250 men and women are competing in over 60 games this week at 'Ice Sheffield'.

It's a sport that ticks so many boxes in the military. It's fast, requires super fitness, is high-octane, high-contact and above all, is a great team game. 

That's why over the past 10 years since these tri-service and Inter-Services championships started coming here to Ice Sheffield, they've got better and better.          

One of the RAF's players, Senior Aircraftsman (Technician) Vinnie Daniels, told Forces Network:

"It's like Christmas. It's the one time of the year when we all come together [and] remember friendly rivalries... from last year and all the previous years before. It's good."

Many of the players here were introduced to the sport while on training packages or on postings at the British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) in Canada.

Lance Corporal Josh Hall, who plays for the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) team, says once you're hooked, you can't get enough:

"I took it up when I first got posted to BATUS... [And] as soon as I had the opportunity to come back here I took it up [again]."

This week more than 60 tri-service matches will be played between units across the Navy, Army and RAF in two pools, as well as three Inter-Services games.

This year, for the first time, all-female team the 'RAF Pumas' met local Sheffield side the Shadows, only losing 4-2, showing how the sport continues to develop in the forces.

Major Rob Warrington, the chairman of UK Armed Forces Ice Hockey, said:

"The best bit about it is - because it's a team sport - you have the areas of controlled aggression, speed fitness.

"I think when you look at the forces it probably offers everything that they're looking for."

"For us, it's almost an easy sell; for those soldiers, sailors and airmen to come and play this."

On Tuesday night, the Navy 'Kings' produced their best-ever Inter-Services result to thrash the RAF 'Aces' 5-1.

They'd been denied a goal thanks to some brilliant net-minding from Daz Williamson but deservedly took the lead in the first period through Will Stennett.

Almost straight from the start of period two, the Air Force levelled it through Jay Guscott, however.

But after that, it was virtually one-way traffic for the Navy Kings. 

They notched two quick goals through Ollie Anderson and captain Gary Parker, which gave them some breathing space and allowed them to control the game, playing some of their best-ever ice hockey.

2018 Inter & Tri-Service Ice Hockey Championships

And that story continued in the third period, with the Navy putting the gloss on their victory with two further goals.

There was a terrific finish from Brandon Hubbs - which he really enjoyed - and Stu Rowlands added the fifth to cap a brilliant win.

The skipper, ATME Parker, was delighted. He said:

"It was good... [I] just told the boys... 100% effort. Just go out there and do our best. That's all I can ask of them.

"But they delivered tonight and it was sensational, to be honest. I'm a wee bit lost for words."

The Army will be looking for a sixth successive Inter-Services title when they meet later in the week - but on the evidence of this match, the Navy will be pushing them all the way.

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