October 28, 2015 6:19 pm

Winnipeg women’s high school hockey team to represent Canada at bandy tournament

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WINNIPEG — The St. Mary’s Academy Flames’ coaches preach communication before face-off.

It’s an important instruction in any hockey game. But even more crucial for the women’s high school team’s next match.

“Since it’s so fast you have so many options to do things and make more plays,” said forward Alexa McFadden.

It is bandy – a sport similar to hockey but played on an ice surface the size of a soccer pitch.

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“Bandy takes a lot of endurance so you have to work that up,” said forward Taylor Bradshaw. “We’ve been training hard for that.”

The Flames are flying out to Sweden for this weekend’s Women’s Under-18 Bandy World Cup. St. Mary’s will be the first ever Canadian team to play in the international tournament.

“It’s a pretty big rush especially supporting Canada and representing Canada,” said defenceman Katie McGlenen.

There’s just one problem. Practices are near impossible with no bandy rinks in Manitoba. To prepare, the Flames played an exhibition game in Minneapolis, the city closest to Winnipeg with a facility.

“You don’t actually realize how big the ice is until you’re actually playing on it,” said Bradshaw. “It looks big but once you’re out there, it’s crazy.”

Bandy is big in Europe, specifically Scandinavian countries. Several NHLers played the sport before discovering hockey.

“(Teemu) Selänne actually played bandy as a kid growing up,” said Morris Glimcher, president of Canada Bandy. “He said it was excellent for his skating skills.”

The team’s goal isn’t to just win but also bring bandy back to Canada.

“It’s great for us because it’s helping to build a base and exposure to the sport,” said Glimcher.

All thanks to a huge trip to a huge rink.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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