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Minnehaha Maulers Champions of Rink Bandy

By USA Bandy, 08/20/14, 1:30PM CDT


Maulers win Cannon Cup playoffs to accompany regular season title

The excitement could be felt throughout the Plymouth Ice Center on Tuesday night as Chris Halden and his Minnehaha Maulers took on Chris Middlebrook and John Magnuson’s Washburn Dynamo. A near capacity crowd, easily the largest of this rink bandy season, was on hand to witness the crowning of the 2014 Cannon Cup Champions. ABA members, US National team coaches and scouts, Russian and Swedish bandy big shots, and of course family and friends of the competitors were treated to an excellent finale of the 2014 summer bandy season.

The pace was incredibly quick from the start, with both teams exchanging early chances, including the Maulers rattling a post two minutes in. It was the Maulers drawing first blood, as Joe Rehkamp absolutely rocketed a forehand shot from the blue line into the upper corner at the five-minute mark. There was no question this goal set the tone for the Maulers the rest of the evening; they weren’t going to be denied.

Six minutes later defenseman Andrew Prochno put the Maulers up 2-0 with a tally of his own. Again the teams went back and forth, and for the next ten minutes the top goalies in rink bandy put on an impressive display of speed, talent and athleticism. Anders Jecha stacked the pads to foil a Mauler breakaway attempt, while Joe Howe was equally as good at the other end. Andrew Knutson of Dynamo finally got the ball behind Howe with a strong show of ball control and stick handling that ended with Washburn cutting the deficit to 1-2.

The match would go to the break 2-1 in favor of the Maulers.  A fairly choppy first several minutes began the second half. Both teams were desperate for the next goal, with physical play and aggressive sticks causing some whistles that slowed the rampant pace.

With the next goal looming extremely critical, the Maulers continued to pressure the net. After a period of sustained attack the ball found it’s way around to defenseman Jake Rossman, who stepped into an ice level seeing eye shot that just snuck inside the far post tanking the score to 3-1  for the Maulers with twelve minutes left in the season.

The straw the broke the camels back was delivered only a minute later, by none other than Steve Jecha; the Preying Mantis, #99, the ageless one. Jex craftily fought his way to the front of the net, firing home a rebound that seemed to let the air out of the Dynamo sails. This goal was the first time in USA Bandy history that a father (Steve Jecha, Maulers) had scored a goal against a son (Anders Jecha, Washburn).  Score 4-1.

Washburn forward Jeff Pauluk fired home a rebound that tightened the deficit back down to two, capitalizing on a penalty by Mauler forward Mikael Lickteig with eight minutes remaining. That would be as close as things got. Team defense and a rock solid steady performance from goaltender Joe Howe slammed the door shut on Dynamo, putting the game out of reach and the Cannon Cup firmly in the Maulers grasp. Final score 4-2.

When it was all over the Maulers raised the Cup above the ice and celebrated together as a team. Chris Halden and Steve Jecha in the twilight of their hall of fame bandy careers, right alongside a group of young guns proving to be as good as any from this generation of USA bandy.

Dynamo Washburn’s impressive run to the final came up just a few goals short of a title, but you can bet this club will be in the hunt for years to come. Defeating the number three and two seeds on their way to the final, Dynamo proved they are a serious contender in U.S. Rink Bandy. With one of the youngest rosters in the league, this team will only be getting better.

Mauler goaltender Joe Howe was deservedly named the Bill Wood Playoff Most Valuable Player. Howe backstopped his team all season, allowing the highly skilled group of Mauler skaters to play aggressive and take chances at both ends of the ice. The playoff MVP title seemed a fitting reward, as Howe was excellent every time he strapped on the pads this summer.

Thanks to everyone for a terrific 2014 Rink Bandy season. Things simply wouldn’t be possible without the time and effort of Mr. Tim Roth, Kevin Bowen, Eric Hemmesch and all of the officials, our dedicated Team Managers, and of course the guys behind the scenes; especially, John Hedenstrom, Team USA Technical Director for his expertise in preparing the players skates. The USRBL will be back in 2015, knowing that Chris Halden, and the Minnehaha Maulers will be more than ready to defend their title.