Capt. William Foard, Commander for Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment, from Joint Base Lewis McChord, Wash. began playing hockey at age five and joined the local team this year through the Hockey Saves program-a locally run program that encourages local Soldiers and Veterans to play hockey by providing them free ice time.
"It's a special bond between Soldiers as a unit together and guys in the locker room," said Foard. "Growing up, you have the Brotherhood of hockey and the team in the locker room. Everyone's a brother and family-playing with the same people for years. In the Army, you have your unit that's real close-you deploy and get comfortable living with the same group of guys for nine months to a year."
Staff Sgt. Evan Fowler, operations sergeant from Metro, Detroit, Mich., also with 1-94 FAR, began playing hockey at age three and joined the Army hockey team eight years ago. The players gather locally for one or two practices a month and play two games per year.
"It's a way life in Michigan-my whole family plays-so it's just kind of natural for us to start playing hockey before we can walk," said Fowler. "It gets us away from our job a little bit-to decompress and play together as a team," said Fowler. "It lifts us up out of the norm of everyday Army."
Soldiers-tied with 51 seconds remaining-managed to put two points away for a shootout win.
"The physicality of the game is what pushed us over the edge," said Fowler. "It felt good. It's bragging rights over the Navy because they always beat us in college football, so we've got to take something from them."
For most hockey players, once Junior or College hockey is done, there is just Men's League with no checking/contact which is less competitive-this is the first full-contact game many of the players have experienced since.
"It feels good to represent the Army-it feels better to get the win," said Foard. "I'm just grateful that I was able to play; it was a good game-I wish we could do it more often. Next year I'll be back out here."
The Army hockey team celebrated a second consecutive win over the Navy team from Bremerton, Wash.