Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bandy's dandy, and travelling globe is OK, too

Canadians in Russia for World Championship

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Play bandy and see the world -- Brandon Ellement of Winnipeg gets right in front of that one when you talk to the Team Canada player about the sport that has taken him to five different countries.

Ellement and Canada's national bandy team, based in Winnipeg, opened play Sunday in the 2010 World Bandy Championships in Moscow. The tournament runs through Feb. 6.

Canada, competing in the B pool with Holland, Hungary, Mongolia and Latvia, has its sights set on earning gold. Last year in Sweden, Canada lost in the B-pool final to the U.S.

Canada opened the tournament with a pair of victories, a 15-2 win over Latvia on Sunday and a 17-1 win over Netherlands on Monday.

"The reason I started playing when I was 18 was to see Europe," Ellement said. "One of my friends told me about it and said we could play a fun sport and see Europe for cheap, so I was in."

Ellement, 24, has been playing bandy for seven years. He also played professional bandy in Norway in 2006.

"The first (world championship) one I went to, I went with five of my friends from high school and just loved it and kept playing," he said.

In Canada's two wins so far, Evgeny Opytov is Canada's leading scorer with 13 goals while Ellement is second with five. This is Ellement's sixth world championship appearance, as he also played in Hungary, twice in Sweden, and this is his third visit to Russia.

A major challenge in the team's training this year was the lack of a facility. They had to practise indoors at Sargent Park Arena and did not have access to a regulation ice surface.

Bandy is played on an outdoor ice surface about the size of a soccer field, a setup that doesn't exist in Winnipeg. In past years, the players built and maintained their own ice surface at Sturgeon Creek Community Centre, but didn't have the resources to do that this year.

The only preparation they had on a regulation surface was during competition in a bandy league in Minneapolis when the team travelled there twice for weekend series of four games.

"We've had to work hard on our conditioning," Ellement said, adding the players have been training at Professional Edge. "On an indoor field (rink), you make a pass, it's 10 feet, it's no problem. On the outdoor field, you need to make a pass 50 feet with the same consistency. For our new guys, that's been a big adjustment."

Team veteran Gennaro Macchia, who has played bandy for 16 years, is competing in his eighth world championship. He said the team's goals this year are higher than ever before.

"Our goal is to win the B pool. We've never won it. We've won silver before, and then we would have a chance to play the last team in the A pool. If we won that game, we would advance to the A pool for next year," said Macchia, who has played professionally in Sweden.

Four Canadian players have been playing professionally this season in Sweden; Nick Mazurak, Brett Gavrailoff, Mark Ralph and goalie Mike Lintick. Veteran Costa Cholakis also played professionally in Sweden. Opytov, a new addition to the team, is a native of Russia and now a Canadian citizen who is a former professional player.

"I think we can achieve it this year," Macchia said. "This is the most experienced team we've ever sent and we feel that this is going to be our year."

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

What gives?

 

"ö Played wearing skates on an outdoor ice surface about the size of a soccer field (110 metres x 65 metres)

"ö 10 skaters and one goalkeeper per side

"ö Games are two 45-minute halves

"ö Sticks are curved like large field-hockey sticks

"ö Ball is the size of a tennis ball with a cork core and hard plastic coating

-- Source: www.canadabandy.ca

 

Team Canada's schedule

 

Jan. 24: 15-2 win over Latvia

Jan. 25: 17-1 win over Netherlands

Today: vs. Mongolia

Wednesday: vs. Hungary

Saturday: playoffs begin

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 26, 2010 B7

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