PETERBOROUGH, England --
Despite their best effort, a brotherhood of American and British men suffered defeat in the heart of Europe earlier this year.
According to Airman 1st Class Anthony Poissant, U.K. Warbirds and 48th Equipment Maintenance Squadron member, the U.K. Warbirds, the U.S. Air Force hockey team in the U.K., did what they could in the face of tough opposition and a weakened position due to injuries and deployments.
"We held our own with what we had," said the Windsor Locks, Conn., native.
Though the Warbirds went 2-3 in this year's tournament, they are hopeful as they set their sights on the 2014 United States Air Forces in Europe Hockey Tournament.
"With all the new talent that we have, we are going to do very well," said Poissant. Even with the new players, the team is still working harder than ever and "gives 100 percent every time we hit the ice."
The Warbirds are primarily comprised of Americans, but use Royal Air Force players to fill their ranks as needed just as the Royal Air Force Eastern Crusade hockey team is mainly RAF players, but utilizes USAF players.
Though he recognizes the community relations aspect of it, a player's country of origin doesn't matter on the ice, Poissant said.
"It's not about their nationality. It's about every ones' different skill sets," he said. "We are all here for the same thing."
According to Airman 1st Class Brendan McCormick, Warbirds player and member of the 48th EMS, hockey requires a lot of skill and "doesn't get the credit that it's due."
"It's a very skillful game," said the 16-year hockey veteran from White Lake, Mich. "You got to be strong. You got to be smart. You have to have good hand eye coordination.
"You are on blades. You are on ice. You are getting hit. You are shooting the puck at upwards of 80, 90 miles an hour."
"It is a very difficult sport to play," he concluded.
While Warbirds players agree that hockey isn't easy, they also agree it's where they belong.
"This is my church," said Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Dwyer, U.K. Warbirds goalie and member of the 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, as he looked across the ice. "Everyone has their place where they feel at peace, where they feel at home."
"I grew up on the ice. It's in my blood," he added stating that a hockey tournament in his hometown of Massena, N.Y., is named after his grandfather.
McCormick echoed Dwyer's sentiment, saying hockey is "the only sport I would ever want to play."
According to Poissant, their love of hockey is what defines the U.K. Warbirds.
"It's just like the Air Force," he said. "It's a brotherhood."
For more information about the U.K. Warbirds call 07867 397 174 or visit their Facebook page