Strike Up The Bandy
Mullets Coach Dane Erickson to Represent Team USA at Bandy World Championships
By: Dan Bradley
FOREST LAKE—The Minnesota Mullets bench was one person shorter than usual for Friday night’s tilt against the Blue Ox, but for a very unique reason. Mullets Assistant Coach Dean Erickson was on a flight to Khabarovsk, Russia to represent Team USA at the 2018 Bandy World Championships!
Coach Erickson, along with his 16 teammates, are already looking to win it all in the 8-team tournament. Other nations represented are Russia, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Germany, Kazakhstan, and Hungary. The teams will be divided up into two pools of four teams. They will then compete in a “round-robin” format, with the top two teams from each pool competing in semifinals and finals.
“It’s such an honor to represent my country and put on the US uniform,” Erickson said. “It’s funny that I had to learn an entirely new sport to be given the chance to do so but I’m really grateful for the opportunity. It’s also such a cool experience to travel with the team and play in front of the international fans.”
“It’s something that you always dream about."
Bandy is kind of a combination of hockey, field hockey and soccer. It is played on skates, with a stick and a ball on a soccer field sized sheet of ice, with 11 players on the ice for each team. The Oval in Roseville is Team USA’s home training facility. The aim of Bandy is to score goals by hitting an orange or pink ball the approximate size of a tennis ball into the opposing team's net with a curved stick four feet in length. Depending on how the player strikes the ball with the stick, he or she can put a spin on the ball, making it curve, knuckle or dive.
Erickson has been playing bandy for three years, and is in his second year of playing for Team USA.
“A good friend of mine had started playing bandy in college so when I finished up my hockey career, I decided to give bandy a try,” said Erickson. “It was a nice transition and a good way to stay competitive after hockey. Hockey skills translate well into bandy; everyone who plays bandy [on Team USA] started out as a hockey player, so I was fortunate to get to play with the National Team right away.”
While the road to the Championship will be tough, Erickson admits that despite being viewed as underdogs coming into the tournament, he still has high hopes for the team.
“The United States are always a big underdog so every game we play will be a good test for us. We do have 4 or 5 guys on our team who play bandy professionally in Norway and Sweden, but for the most part, it’s a bunch of average guys going against the best professional bandy players in the world. We train hard at home here but there’s no way to replicate a World Championship caliber match without actually playing in one, and we’re truly excited for the opportunity.”
The games will be televised in Europe, and are also available to stream here: http://www.bandy-vm2018.ru/node/460.
For more information on the World Championships, or to learn more about Team USA, visit http://www.usabandy.com