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Dukes Beat Mojo to Win 2017 Elite Championship in Epic Final Series

By Staff, 03/13/17, 12:15PM CDT



After finishing the regular season on top of the standings and winning handily 8-3 in Game #1 of the Elite Playoff Finals, it looked like the Dinkytown Dukes bandy club were in the driver’s seat to clinch the Championship in Game #2 and secure the Gunnar Cup. But Mother Nature has a way of being the great equalizer, and the soaring temperatures created slow ice for Saturday’s final matches which appeared to open the door for the Mississippi Mojo squad to get back in the series. Unable to maximize their speed on the slow ice, the Dukes had to resort to bandy down in the trenches, and the Mojo were able to take advantage and grind out a 5-1 win in Game #2. This stunning victory suddenly put the series into a 30 minute deciding game #3 where it was anyone’s match under the circumstances.

The first half of the deciding game #3 remained scoreless, with Dukes goalkeeper Erik Kraska and Mojo keeper Derek Melander both making fantastic saves to keep the game scoreless. As the clock would down, the Dukes’ Jesse Perron managed to work himself into the front of the net and slide one past Melander with about 7 minutes left to put the Dukes up 1-0. The last seven minutes were wild as the Mojo pressed hard and were rewarded with a penalty shot which gave them the opportunity to tie the score. But Kraska came up big once again, stopping Mike Hosfield’s penalty shot. Dodging a bullet, the Dukes smartly ran out the clock, giving them the win, the series, the Gunnar Cup and 2017 USA Bandy Championship.

For leading his team to the Gunnar Cup in the playoffs with many acrobatic saves, Erik Kraska of the Dukes was named Playoff MVP. 

2016 - 17 League Individual Awards

Elite Playoff MVP

 Erik Kraska, Dinkytown Dukes

Player of the Year

 John Arundel, Dinkytown Dukes

Top Rookie

Masa Miyakawa, Achieve Sports - Golden Dragons (Elite) & Phoenix BC (D-1)

Leading Goal Scorers

Elite Division: Jon Keseley, Dinkytown Dukes (42)

Division 1: Andy Shoup, Tsunami Ice (13)

Best Goalkeeper

Erik Kraska, Dinkytown Dukes

Referee of the Year

Shane Lines

Managers of the Year

Chris Halden, Mikael Sandberg, Achieve Sports - Golden Dragons

Bill Wood Award (Sportsmanship, Dedication and Contributions to USA Bandy)

Jeff Arundel, Dinkytown Dukes

(America’s last original bandy player from the inaugural 1981-82 season; still going strong in the league; most recent accomplishments include creating, funding and hosting the USA Bandy HOF at his Aster Café; long- time supporter of USA Bandy in multiple behind the scenes capacities; member of 2017 Gunnar Cup champion Dukes; living legend)

Pat Fronek, MN Blades

(Playing on the Minnesota Blades since he was a teenager, Pat has always unselfishly stepped in where needed as a player, manager and referee and his positive attitude and integrity has benefited the entire league; his value to the USA Bandy organization has not gone unnoticed and is much appreciated.)