By Staff Sgt. J. Aaron Breeden
21st Space Wing Public Affairs Office
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Team USA battled Team Canada in a best-of-three ball hockey tournament at Peterson’s outdoor hockey rink Feb 21.
As at the Olympics, Team Canada proved a tough opponent, bringing home the gold and complementing their Sochi counterparts, who also won the gold medal in this year’s winter Olympic Games.
Each of the three matches consisted of two 20-minute periods totaling 120 minutes of nail-biting action for the tournament.
The wind howled as the ball dropped starting the first match of the day, featuring the junior enlisted personnel; Team Canada jumped out to a commanding 4-0 lead in the first half. Although Team USA fought hard, the Canadians proved to be a formidable opponent and cleaned up nicely, shutting out the U.S. team 6-0.
The junior leadership match immediately followed and a visibly frustrated Team USA worked tirelessly to hold their own throughout the first half. After the half, the Canucks pulled away and sealed the top spot on the podium with a 7-4 victory.
The final match of the day was played by U.S. and Canadian senior leaders, including Col. John Shaw, 21st Space Wing commander, and leaders from the Canadian contingent. As the ball dropped, it was evident this match was about pride. The U.S. team drew first blood scoring in the first few minutes of the match. Although both teams shared the lead, it was Team USA who walked away victorious with a final score of 6-2.
Maj. Nelson Lewis, Canadian Forces Operations Group signals officer, was on leave from his home in Canada cheering on his friend, Joe Kemps.
Lewis said to see his friend’s dedication to the game was inspirational.
“In light of the Olympics it was very motivating to see the camaraderie between the two teams,” said Lewis.
1st Lt. Ben Soltisz, 21st Comptroller Squadron deputy flight commander and member of the junior leadership team said he truly enjoyed the experience and was excited to have been part of something so special.
“It was an amazing time,” said Soltisz. “I enjoyed getting out and bonding with our allied partners in a friendly game of hockey.”
The events of the day also drew some of the base’s most senior leaders, including Lt. Gen. John Hyten, Air Force Space Command vice commander.
“We’re really from one team, but it’s fun to play against each other,” said Hyten. “We’re two of the closest allies you can find.”
At the closing ceremony, fans cheered as Team Canada was honored with the gold and newfound bragging rights.
While this year’s victory was claimed by Team Canada, the friendly competition was a chance for these two allies and their fans to come together and enjoy the camaraderie of the event.