Players from Russia, Sweden and Finland are all in the Twin Cities this week for the first-ever international bandy youth championships played in the United States.
"Bandy?" you ask – honestly, so did we. Think of it as hockey's cousin, sort of.
It's played on ice with skaters using sticks to direct a ball into the opposing team's goal. Normally there are 11 players on each team and the field is roughly the same size as a football field. It's growing in popularity, especially in Europe.
The World Championships run Wednesday to Friday of this week at the Guidant John Rose Oval in Roseville. It's the only full-size outdoor bandy rink in the country.
Organizers say the event came together after two youth hockey leaders, Steve Jecha and Paul Larson, made a bid to the Federation of International Bandy to host the international event following a Minneapolis Hockey-led cultural/sports exchange trip to Sweden in the fall of 2012.
It was at that event where organizers say the girls competed well setting the stage for this year's event.
There will be two days of qualifying games, on Wednesday night and Thursday. The semifinals and final will take place on Friday. Here is a full rundown of the schedule.
- Feb. 25, 5:00 p.m. Sweden vs. Russia
- Feb. 25, 7:00 p.m. USA vs. Finland
- Feb. 26, 10:00 a.m. USA vs. Russia
- Feb. 26, 12:00 p.m. Finland vs. Sweden
- Feb. 26, 5:00 p.m. Russia vs. Finland
- Feb. 26, 7:00 p.m. USA vs. Sweden
- Feb. 27, 9:00 a.m. Seed 1 vs. Seed 4
- Feb. 27, 11 a.m. Seed 2 vs. Seed 3
- Feb. 27, 3 p.m. Loser of Semi 1 vs. Loser of Semi 2 – 3rd place
- Feb. 27, 5 p.m. Winner of Semi 1 vs. Winner of Semi 2 – Championship
According to the Star Tribune, the U.S. team was assembled in late January and has had fewer than 10 practices. It's made up of 14-to-16-year-olds from schools in the metro area, including including Holy Angels, Minnetonka, Richfield and Blake.