Victory on Ice

By Capt.  Elijah Swaim, 95th Training Division Public Affairs Officer

 ost Soldiers enjoy diving into sports. The overlap in prerequisites between military service and athletics makes the crossover obvious. Chasing the physical exertion, competition, and overall rush are what draw many to both endeavors. The 95th, Iron Men of Metz, are no exception.

Capt. Robert Brem, Infantry Officer and Commander of Charlie Battery 2nd Battalion / 354th Regiment, out of Bossier City, LA has excelled in serving in the 95th. He and his drill sergeants are a credit to their battalion mission and proudly support Basic Training Operations at Fort Sill, OK. Like most of his infantry brethren, Brem is never content with simply meeting the standard. In his civilian life, Rob devotes himself with equal vigor. Already a Senior Leader in his profession and a stand-out father of two, he has taken on a new challenge, sports. 

Following the Covid-19 global pandemic lockdowns, Brem was seeking to expand his horizons and much to his pleasure, he discovered hockey.

Soon after immersing himself in the sport, his military-trained leadership took over and he found himself the captain of a new team in a local amateur league. They fashioned themselves the ‘Puppers,’ named for the hit Hulu TV show Letterkenny where Hockey is an everyday part of life. With his team, Brem competes regularly. He has also enrolled his son, Pierce 11 years old, into a Jr League where he has found success as a goalie. 

“I never knew how challenging and fun hockey could be. It’s been amazing to share this experience with my son,” Brem said.

Still looking to take on more, Brem started playing in other leagues. He eventually discovered the United Heroes League.

 The United Heroes League partners with numerous teams across the National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Baseball (MLB), Major League Soccer (MLS), National Basketball Association (NBA), and National Football League (NFL). These teams host military appreciation nights, camo jersey auctions, tickets and suites to home games, and much more. The United Heroes League has provided over $12 million dollars worth of free sports equipment, game tickets, cash grants, skill development camps, and special experiences to military families across the US & Canada.

Brem entered into the United Heroes League NyTex Dallas-Fort Worth Armed Forces Hockey Classic, a three-day Tournament where veterans from across all branches raise money and compete for the ‘2LT Fiske Hanley II Armed Forces Hockey Classic Championship Cup.’  Teams were divided by their branch of service and an upper and lower division. Brem was placed into the Army Lower team and volunteered as Team Captain.

Day 1

The Army team entered their first game against Air Force and, running away with the puck, won 14-3. Coming out with their first victory the team was energized ending their first match and the first day of competition with a win.

Day 2

Bright and early the next morning the team took the ice squaring up against a heavily favored Navy. After three periods, Army lost to the Navy 6-1. A tough break for the scrappy Army Lower team. 

After taking their first loss, the team moved forward and focused on their second match of the day, the devil dogs, the U.S. Marines. After a competitive first two periods, the Army team found their rhythm and rallied in the third period jumping ahead for a victory over the Marines, 8-3. 

With this win over the Marines and an overall standing at 2-1, the Army Lower team advanced to the lower division championship. While the Army sealed their place in the championship match across the complex in the second rink the Navy finished their match against the Air Force and also advanced to the championship. The stage was set for the classic Army vs. Navy grudge match for the cup. 

Day 3

Brem and his team ready themselves in the locker rooms while the consolation match for 3rd place goes on outside. The sounds of competition fill a quiet locker room. Everyone knows what they are about to face. Just the day before they came up short against their natural rival and next opponent. Today they need to rally. Brem gathered his team and they took to the ice with a cheering crowd.

“We were there, prepared, ready to go hard and support a great cause,” Brem said.

The teams lined up for the National Anthem and then took position for the puck drop. The Army team was ready to leave it all out on the ice. Army vs. Navy Round 2. 

Three periods later, the Army team came out with a staggering 10-3 victory winning the lower division championship and the 2LT Fiske Hanley II Armed Forces Hockey Classic Championship Cup. 

“As much fun as it is to get the chance to play against the other services, it’s supporting a great organization, the United Heroes League. We get to help military/ veteran families and their kids play sports,” said Brem.

Overall, the Charity Tournament raised over $25,000 for the United Heroes League. No small feat. Brem continues to captain and play on his Puppers team and looks forward to representing the Army and the 95th Training Division next year in the United Heroes League NyTex Dallas-Fort Worth Armed Forces Hockey Classic.

For more information, to participate, or even volunteer with the United Heroes League you can find them online at https://unitedheroesleague.org/. 

A special thank you to Melissa Purvis Photography for game photos!

 

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