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2014 USA Bandy Hall of Fame Inductee - Gunnar Fast

By staff, 10/03/14, 12:30PM CDT


"The Bandy Missionary" - Imported from Sweden To Develop USA Bandy

Gunnar Fast, "The Bandy Missionary", was an officer in the Swedish Army and an Elite Swedish Bandy Instructor. He was used to getting his point across and not taking no for an answer. He was the perfect combination needed to convince Minnesota hockey players that they should also play bandy. Fast arrived in Minnesota in December 1980 when Edina's Bob Kojetin confirmed for him that there was a fully functional outdoor rink. Gunnar's job was to recruit players, form teams and a league and then run the league. He was successful, creating a 7 team league that played in the inaugural US league at Lewis Park. Gunnar coached, refereed and played in the league. The league was so successful that Gunnar created a US National Team out of the top players and took them to Sweden in October 1981 for the international debut of USA Bandy.

Gunnar came back to the USA each of the next 4 winters as the league expanded to over 20 teams. He continued to bring USA teams to Sweden each October to face top international competition and was Head Coach of the USA in the team’s debut in the Bandy World Championships, February 1985 in Oslo, Norway, and in Sweden in 1987. Fast was a consummate coach, motivator, and leader-- not only in starting US Bandy but also in leading the rapid improvement of USA players and teams. He led US club team Bagheera Blades to a near upset (1-2) of 7 time defending Swedish Champion Boltic in the World Club Team Championships in 1984 and the equally stunning result (2-3) to defending world champion Broberg in the 1985 tournament. There is no question that USA Bandy would not have evolved and improved as rapidly as it did without Gunnar Fast. The US National Championship trophy, "The Gunnar Cup" is named in his honor.