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Last Man Standing

By Chris Middlebrook, 07/08/19, 12:45PM CDT


In early January 1981 twenty two year old Jeff Arundel steps onto the natural ice at Lewis Park bandy rink in Edina to play his first ever bandy game. His Bandolier teammates that day include his brothers Steve and Dave, cousin Tom Lee, brother in law Steve Hickory and high school hockey teammates Dave Ario, Brent Brodhag and me.

In mid November 2018  sixty year old Jeff Arundel again steps onto the ice, this time the artificially refrigerated Guidant John Rose Oval in Roseville, to begin his 38th season playing Bandy in the highest US league. He is now skating for the Dukes. All his teammates and opponents from that first season have long ago put their skates away. His teammates on this November day include his son Steele and his nephews John and Scott. Not a single Dukes teammate was even born at the dawn of Jeff Arundel's Bandy career. A career that has included playing for multiple US national teams including the 1987 World Championships. A 7 time US Champion and a multiple winner of North American Cups, North America Rink Bandy Cups and US Rink Bandy Championships. At 60 years old he can still play and still contribute. The Dukes win the game this day when Arundel makes a perfect pass to nephew John.

By any individual athletic measure 38 years is a very long time. Even the great Gordie Howe played only 37 years of professional hockey. By any athletic measure continuing to compete at a high level at age 60 in any sport is very rare. Even the great Satchel Paige's baseball career ended when he was 59 years and 350 days old. Had Arundel been playing Bandy in the Middle Ages, when the life expectancy was 33 years old, it is improbable that he would have achieved his extraordinary Bandy longevity. Even more improbable had he skated for Rome two thousand years ago when the life expectancy was 25 years old. In sum, Jeff Arundel's excellent Bandy career can be described as having lasted longer than a lifetime. Yet he is not a relic from the past but instead a living and skating direct connection to Bandy history and the very origins of US Bandy. As of November 2018 the last Man standing. The last Man skating.