The Atlanta Warriors host the Royal Navy Ice Hockey Team

Photo Credit: Karen Zehner for Inside the Rink

Even though Memorial Day is dedicated to honoring our fallen military members, it was a special experience to see the Atlanta Warriors face off against the Royal Navy Ice Hockey Team. The game marked the debut game of the Atlanta Warriors Hockey Team and was the second leg of the Royal Navy Ice Hockey Team‘s US tour, following their match in Florida at the Lakeland Ice Arena over the weekend.

What is Warrior Hockey? It offers veterans a secure and encouraging community, whether disabled or not, and a space where veterans can support each other while enjoying the sport of hockey. Some participants have had prior hockey experience, while others are trying it out for the first time. Engaging in hockey allows individuals to focus their energy and attention on the game while offering them a chance to take part in organized competition. The therapeutic advantages of hockey go well beyond the ice rink as it not only provides physical activity but also a chance to positively influence and support the mental and emotional health of those taking part.

The Atlanta Warriors Hockey Association (AWHA) is linked with USA Hockey’s Warrior Hockey Discipline program, aimed at uniting injured and disabled US Military Veterans with their passion for hockey. After starting just a few short years ago, membership in the Atlanta Warriors has grown significantly, showing not only interest in the sport itself in the Atlanta area but also the need for programs that assist veterans with connecting with others who share an interest in the sport. Additionally, the Royal Navy team, comprising Regular and Reserve Sailors and Marines, competes in exhibition matches of varying skill levels against military and civilian teams. Once again, the goal for both organizations is to promote health, fitness, and well-being for all those involved, including their families, while also cultivating a love for the sport of ice hockey.

After listening to the national anthems of both Britain and the United States, the teams proceeded to center ice for the puck drop. The game unfolded over three complete periods with short intermissions between them. Ultimately, the Royal Navy Ice Hockey team would claim the victory with a final score of 9-1. Post-game, players from both sides convened to share a meal, some laughter, and delve into hockey-related discussions. Observing the teams’ coordinated efforts and the active involvement of the Royal Navy during the event, it is hopeful that this event signifies the initiation of a series of future collaborations between the Atlanta Warriors and the Royal Navy.

After Atlanta, the Royal Navy Ice Hockey team will travel next to Nashville, TN where they will compete against two US Military Ice Hockey teams as they continue their training on their American tour. The Atlanta Warriors will head to Nashville themselves from June 21-23 to take part in their first tournament, the Honkey Tonk Showdown, which is being hosted by the Nashville Predators at the Bellevue Ford Ice Center in Nashville, TN. The tournament will feature, among other highlights, several Warrior Hockey teams, a first responders division, and a women’s division. Much of the funding for the Atlanta Warriors for this tournament is self-funded, however, those interested in helping the team prepare for Nashville can do so via donations made via their GoFundMe page.

Without a doubt, every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, or Coast Guardsman is both a hero and a champion. Those who assist in organizing and coaching these hockey teams do so on a voluntary basis and support the teams through their time but also by garnering sponsorships and supplemental funding. To them, the real heroes are those who contribute to the team’s success by providing training opportunities, donating new or pre-owned equipment, funding team jerseys, and/or financially supporting the teams in games and tournaments which often involve fees and travel expenses. If you are a hockey fan and want a way to give back in a meaningful way, please consider supporting your local Warrior Hockey team. Warrior Hockey is expanding its reach across the nation and could benefit from further support whether it be financially or just by showing up to cheer for the team as a spectator.

We express our appreciation to the Atlanta Warriors and the Royal Navy Ice Hockey team for their collaboration, and for allowing Inside the Rink to provide coverage of this event.

Photos:

Photo Credit: Karen Zehner for Inside the Rink
Photo Credit: Karen Zehner for Inside the Rink
Photo Credit: Karen Zehner for Inside the Rink
Photo Credit: Karen Zehner for Inside the Rink
Photo Credit: Karen Zehner for Inside the Rink

Karen Zehner

Credentialed Beat Writer covering the ECHL Atlanta Gladiators. Diving into the world of slap shots, penalty kills, and the game we love. [@RunwithK] on socials.

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