|First played||1960's in Sweden|
|Team members||5-6 players per side|
|Country or region||Sweden, Russia, Finland, USA|
Rink bandy is the variant of the larger sport of bandy. Unlike bandy which is played on a large bandy field, rink bandy is played on significantly smaller ice rinks. A similar variant is played under the name of Rinkball.
While a bandy field is about the same size as a football pitch, rink bandy and rinkball are both played on ice hockey rinks. The sport of rinkball is sometimes still considered a variant of rink bandy by some due to fact that its formation involved combining elements from rink bandy and ice hockey, but now qualifies as a distinctly separate organized sport after developing its own organizing bodies, codifying its own rules, and having designed its own sport-specific equipment.
Rink bandy originated in Sweden in the 1960s and was originally called hockeybockey. With the arrival of indoor ice hockey arenas, it was a way for bandy players to practice on ice for a longer time of the year by making use of the new indoor facilities. Due to the fact that bandy fields are larger than ice hockey rinks, bandy-ready playing surfaces were still only made outdoors in the wintertime when artificial freezing was unnecessary.
The game of rink bandy uses a bandy ball and bandy sticks. The goalkeeper has no stick. A rink bandy game lasts 60 minutes but is composed of either two 30 minute halves or three 20 minute periods. Similar rules to bandy are used, but they are simplified to increase the pace of the game. Checking is prohibited, making the sport relatively safer than its relatives.
Because of the smaller playing area used in rink bandy compared to its larger parent sport, there are fewer players, normally six a side. In America, the USA Rink Bandy League, uses five players instead of the usual six because of the smaller ice hockey rinks in the USA.
Rinkball or kaukalopallo is a similar game, with the most immediately observable difference being its equipment. Rinkball goaltenders do not use goalsticks of any kind, and unlike bandy, rinkball goaltenders use ice hockey trappers on both hands. Players use sport-specific sticks created for rinkball, which are in closer resemblance to ice hockey sticks than bandy sticks. Like bandy and rink bandy, rinkball uses a ball and not an ice hockey puck. However, in rinkball the ball is a blue color as opposed to the orange or cerise color used in bandy and its rink bandy variant.
Rink bandy is governed by the Federation of International Bandy. In its quest to have bandy accepted into the programme of the Winter Olympics, rink bandy is an important way for the Federation of International Bandy to gain more members, thus also spreading bandy, since many countries, which lack a full-size field and where the game is still new, only play rink bandy at home but still participate in the Bandy World Championship.
As artificially frozen and indoor bandy arenas have become more prevalent, the interest for rink bandy has dwindled in the main bandy-playing nations (Russia, Sweden, Finland, Norway). There are still several rink bandy tournaments in Russia, including the Patriarch Cup (Турнир на призы Святейшего Патриарха Московского и всея Руси) for children at Moscow's Red Square.
A world cup for rink bandy clubs was held every year from 1984-1998 in Hofors, Sweden, and called Hofors World Cup. Rink bandy was included in the programme of the 2012 European Company Sports Games and a European championship existed, though there is currently no top-level international competition. However, in 2017 the Federation of International Bandy decided to hold an international tournament for developing bandy countries in Nymburk, Czech Republic and an international rink bandy club competition called Dniprobandy has been organised by the Ukrainian Bandy and Rink bandy Federation. In Germany, the national bandy championship is played under rink bandy rules.