News

Team USA wins bandy world championship

 

The 2013 Bandy World Championship B-group was held last week in Vetlanda, Sweden. Participating teams were Estonia, Holland, Japan, Ukraine, Latvia, Hungary, Canada and the United States. In the end, the United States came out on top beating Canada 4-2 in the gold medal game.

The team from the U.S. was relegated to the B-pool after placing sixth in the A-pool last year in Kazakhstan. The Americans’ main goal was to not only win, but prove to the bandy community that they belong in the A-pool. Over the last week, they put on a very convincing show.

 

The team arrived in Vetlanda on Sunday and quickly were on the ice, playing the U20 Nassjo team. Even with a tired and jet lagged squad, the Americans came out on top 14-2. The next day the Americans played Jonkoping, one of the top All-Svenskan teams in Sweden. The All-Svenskan league is the second highest division in Sweden and acts much like teams in the AHL as feeder programs to the top professional teams. In front of an enthusiastic crowd of  over 500 people, Jonkoping bested the Americans 5-4 with a goal in the last five minutes to take the lead.

The next day the Americans played Nassjo’s All-Svenskan team. After a thrilling 90 minutes, the Americans beat Nassjo 5-2. This was the first time any national team from America had beaten an All-Svenskan team and it was largely considered an upset in the Swedish bandy community. These three games were great warm-up games for the Americans as they entered the tournament.

The tournament began on Wednesday night at Sapa Arena. Bandy is normally played outdoors on a soccer size field of ice, but Sapa Arena is one of the approximately 20 indoor rinks in the world. The rink is sponsored by Sapa Group, which is one of the largest producers of aluminum in the world.

The opening ceremonies were held at the arena in front of a full house. The arena was filled end to end, drawing in fans from all over the world. The ceremonies featured local youth teams walking around the arena, a mini scrimmage featuring a player from every level of bandy, figure skating, singing, a speech from a member of the Federation of International Bandy and a performance by two players on the Vetlanda professional team, one of which was Daren Richardson who plays on the U.S. national team as well. Daren is the first American-born player to play for a professional Swedish bandy team in the last 20 years.

The ceremony concluded and the opening match between the U.S. and Canada commenced. The Americans were all over the Canadians from start to finish as they won 10-1.
The Americans continued to play top-notch bandy as they beat Hungary 11-0 in the second match and Latvia 14-0 in the final game of pool play. Canada finished second in the same pool. In the other pool, Estonia and Holland took first and second respectively. Japan won its first game in B-pool history over newcomer Ukraine.

In the semis, the U.S. again faced Latvia. In similar fashion, the Americans dominated and came out on top 8-1. The Canadians also beat Hungary 8-1, setting the stage for a thrilling all-North American battle in the championship.

In the final game, the Americans jumped out to an early 3-0 lead. It looked like it was going to be another big win for the Americans until the Canadians scored on a corner stroke just as the first half expired. The Canadians again snuck a shot in on a corner halfway through the second half to bring the game within one. The Americans missed several scoring chances throughout the second half, but with one minute left, Jon Keseley was able to put one in and secure a gold medal for the Americans.

After the tournament concluded, coach Chris Halden said, “This was a huge win for our bandy program as there was a lot of media spotlight on the tournament, and therefore a good opportunity to show the other countries what we can do. The Canadian team put up a tough fight in the championship game, but we were able to stay cool and finish the job.

The exhibition games we played before the tournament against two top Swedish teams were also a highlight. We lost a nailbiter to Jonkoping, a team just below the elite division by the score of 5-4 on a late goal, and beat Nassjo, another top All-Svenskan team 5-2. I think this clearly sent a message that the USA bandy team has come a long way.”

Coach Mikael Sandberg, who played professional bandy in Sweden and Russia, was also pleased with the turnout. “We did what we needed to do to get back in the A pool. We played solid bandy against some really good teams and I am looking forward to competing in Irkutsk next year.”

The Americans received many of the top honors for the tournament at the concluding banquet. Scott Arundel won best defenseman of the tournament, Jon Keseley won best forward and Daren Richardson won the top scorer with 12 goals in the tournament as well as team MVP.

As a team, the United States took home the “Fair Play” award, given to the team that displays the highest level of sportsmanship at the World Championships. The team played in five games, and ended with a total of only two penalties. There were at least 10 players in the tournament that ended with as many or more penalty minutes than the entire U.S. team.

Throughout the week, every member of the U.S. team excluding the goalies scored at least one goal. The U.S. team was invited to play in the A-pool tournament next year in Irkutsk, Russia after winning the B-pool tournament. Irkutsk has a long history of being a bandy mecca. The only professional team in Irktusk is their bandy team, which draws over 30,000 people to each game and expectations for the world championships are nearly double that. Professionals in Russia and Sweden make over six figures a year on their teams and in some cities bandy is more popular than its counterpart hockey.

“This is the best American team to date,”  said Andrew Knutson “The highlight of trip was obviously winning the gold medal and getting invited back to the A group, but a big step for our program was beating the All-Svenskan Nassjo team. It was the first time we have done that and a message to the rest of the bandy community that we belong in the A-Group. I am looking forward to 2014 in Irkutsk and eventual getting a bid for the Olympics. Without the help of Bob Fallen and Janne Heino from Reebok as well as countless others who donated to USA men’s bandy team throughout the season and during the Annual golf tournament this trip would not have been possible.”

The team was comprised of many familiar faces as well as a few new ones. Headlines in Sweden read, “Out with the old, in with the new.” The team has transitioned to a younger squad featuring several ex-collegiate players. Seven players made their debuts on the national team, including four who have gone through the youth programs and made it onto the team. Today there are over 500 youth players hoping to one day make the team.

Interested in experiencing Bandy? There are three divisions and a youth program for people of all ages and skills. The American Bandy Association runs a yearly international summer bandy camp for kids. It is a great way to experience bandy with kids and coaches from all over the world. Visit www.usabandy.com. This website provides easy access to how to get started, and ABA’s home rink is the John Rose Oval in Roseville, Minnesota (Snelling Avenue & County Road C). There is also an annual golf tournament held to benefit the ABA. For more information please visit our website, Facebook and/or LinkedIn Group: USA Bandy & Friends.

 

2013 U.S. National Bandy Team
Player - College - High School
Erik Kraska - Gustavus Adolphus College - Osseo
David Plaunt - St. Scholastica – Duluth East
Jon Keseley - Gustavus Adolphus College – St. Louis Park
Evan Richardson - University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee – St. Paul Central
Rick Haney - Harvard University – Duluth East
Andrew Knutson - University of St. Thomas - Minnehaha Academy
Peter Knutson - University of St. Thomas - Minnehaha Academy
Scott Arundel - Gustavus Adolphus College - Minnetonka
Tyler Haertzen - University of St. Thomas - Wayzata
Brent Palmer - St. Scholastica - Hermantown
Andrew Hogan - Gustavus Adolphus College - Chaska
John Arundel - Gustavus Adolphus College - Minnetonka
Derek Melander - University of St. Thomas – Park of Cottage Grove
Daren Richardson - St. Scholastica – Cretin-Derham Hall
Mike Hosfield - Gustavus Adolphus College - Robbinsdale Armstrong
Ian Middlebrook - University of St. Thomas - St. Paul Academy
John Haertzen - University of St. Thomas - Wayzata
Wyatt Wenzel - Gustavus Adolphus College - St. Paul Academy

Coaches - College - High School
Chris Middlebrook – Gustavus Adolphus College – Minneapolis Washburn
Chris Halden – Gustavus Adolphus College – St. Louis Park/Hopkins
Mikael Sandberg – Jonkoping International Business School

Managers/Organizers
John Hedenstrom
Magnus Skold