Bandy, at first, can look a lot like ice hockey and it does have its similarities with ice hockey but there is enough of a different where you can tell the difference between an ice hockey game and a bandy game once you learn how bandy is played. Bandy is played by 11 players including the goalie on a side while ice hockey teams usually have 6 players per side including the goalie. The traditional bandy ice surface is almost twice the size of a standard ice hockey rink and bandy goal is also slightly bigger than an ice hockey goal. The other huge difference between bandy and ice hockey is that ice hockey is famous for using a black hard rubber puck while bandy uses a small red ball instead. The sticks that the bandy players use are much different than hockey sticks in that bandy sticks are more like field hockey sticks with longer blades. But bandy sticks are shorter in every way than an ice hockey stick and they are also heavier than an ice hockey stick. Another fundamental difference between bandy and ice hockey is that the only person on the ice in bandy that is allowed to purposely touch the ball with their hands are the goaltenders. In ice hockey anyone can guide the puck with their arms and they can touch it with their hands but there is a whole list of rules that involve exactly what you can and cannot do with the puck in your hands in ice hockey. In ice hockey if you hit the puck with your head on purpose it is called a great play. In bandy if you hit the ball purposely with your head that is called a 5 minute penalty. They are really strict about not touching the ball in bandy.
In ice hockey the concept of the bodycheck and slamming your opponent to the boards or down to the ice is an important part of the game. Bandy flows so fast and free that contact between players is limited and stops in play are not very frequent. In ice hockey if play is stopped because the puck went over the boards then there is a very organized face off to get play going again. In bandy if the ball goes out of play they just kind of throw the ball back into play and the game resumes. In ice hockey a player's position is very defined and there are three forwards, two defensemen, and one goalie on the ice. In bandy there is one goalie and ten other players on the ice who have no specific job but over the years there has evolved players that specialize in defensive of offensive play depending on their preference.
Bandy is a free flowing game that is played on ice but not confined by boards. If anyone ever asks you what would happen if they took fighting, the boards, and the lines out of hockey you can now answer that they would have bandy. Bandy is extremely popular in Europe especially the Scandinavian countries but has yet to really catch on in the United States. Given the popularity of ice hockey in the United States and Canada there probably isn't any room for another free flowing game played on ice with sticks and a net even though this free flowing game really is free flowing and doesn't rely on fighting and unnecessary violence to gain fan interest.