Once again, the USA National Bandy team will be heading far from home to represent the United States in the World Bandy Championships. Last year they traveled to Irkutsk, Russia and this year they will travel all the way to Khaborovsk, Russia which is a city of about 600,000 located in the Russia Far East on the Amur River and Chinese border.
Last year, the USA team faced sub-zero temperatures playing outdoors in Irkutsk located near the exotic Lake Baikal, but will face no such problem this year as the tourney will be played in the warm indoor confines of the beautiful new Erofei Stadium built specifically for bandy games.
The 2015 World Bandy Championships will be held on March 28 –April 5. The USA team is playing in the “A” Pool with the top bandy countries in the world. The 10 team “B” Pool was held a month ago in the same location with Latvia winning the B Pool and qualifying to move up and play in the powerful A Group. The A Group is split into two groups led by four countries with rosters full of bandy professionals including Russia, Sweden, Finland and Kazakhstan. The second sub-group will include Team USA, Latvia, Belarus and Norway. Russia and Sweden are the clear on favorites. Russia is led by superstars Sergei Lomanov and Evgeny Ivanushkin, and Sweden by defender Andreas Westh and scoring machines Daniel Mossberg and Christofer Edlund.
2015 WORLD BANDY CHAMPIONSHIPS –KHABOROVSK, RUSSIA – MARCH 28-APRIL 5
Russia, Sweden, Finland, Kazakhstan
USA, Norway, Belarus, Latvia
Team USA is dominated by Minnesotans, all former hockey players who have worked long and hard to make the necessary steps to become top bandy players. The USA team rebuilding a bit this year with long time stars Jasper Felder, John Arundel and Mike Hosfield staying home, but Team USA has always been resilient to player turnover and is still laced with several experienced veterans including Jon Keseley, Rick Haney, Scott Arundel, Andrew Knutson, Darin Richardson and Dave Plaunt.
Keseley led the USA Bandy League in scoring for the second straight year by a huge margin and is playing at his peak. Richardson just completed his sixth straight year playing pro bandy in Sweden. The team added Jacob Blucher and Kevin Brown, who also played in the Swedish League this year. Also in the lineup is former Gopher hockey player Mike Carmen, who played the pro hockey in the AHL he last four years. Carman made a swift and successful conversion to outdoor bandy, and making the transition easier was his decision to play in the high octane USA Summer Rink Bandy League for eight years right out of high school. Carman’s first outdoor season was impactful, coming third in scoring and winning Rookie of Year honors as well as making the USA team.
Also on this years’s USA team are young guns Wyatt Wenzel (Mahtomedi, MN) who just played a season with Swedish bandy club Ojaby; Peter Knutson (Minneapolis, MN); Brett Stolpestad (Edina, MN) and Greg Olson (Woodbury, MN). Wenzel and Knutson both played on last year’s team that went to Irkutsk and this experience will be invaluable to the team.
The USA team has been training hard for three months including ice training at the John Rose Oval in Roseville, Minnesota as well as professional level dryland training at First Athlete in Edina, Minnesota led by trainer Mike Lickteig, who also happens to be a top forward on the USA team.
The head coach is Chris Halden, a long time player, coach, and ambassador of USA Bandy. “Our goal as a team is a basically a two-step goal; first win our group pool which is very realistic, and then take it one step further and do our best to pull off a huge upset in the semi-finals against basically a pro bandy team. While it would be a huge upset, it has to be in our mindset so as to drive our team to succeed” said Halden. Last year the team succeed in beating long-time rival Belarus not once but twice and gaining a tie against Norway for the first time. Both countries will be gunning for the USA team and they know it. Latvia just won the B Group and has gained confidence, so the USA team will not be looking past them and vows to be ready.
The Team USA roster can be found on the USA Men's National Team page, click link above.