Field Hockey Canada > 7 Test Super Series Wrap Up Report

7 Test Super Series Wrap Up Report

October 29, 2009 | Field Hockey Canada |

7 Test Super Series has Canada Headed in Right Direction

Report by Omar Rawji

Although they came out of the 7 Test Super Series with a record of 0-6-1, the Canadian Men’s Field Hockey Team improved in a number of areas as the matches progressed. One major reason for the losing record was the absence of several key players due to club team obligations and injuries – captain Ken Pereira, Rob Short, Mark Pearson, and Scott Tupper were all away for more than half of the series. The one match that featured a full roster was game 3, the first in Surrey, and it was the one match that Canada didn’t lose outright, pulling out a 4-4 tie in the final minute. Even this was played without injured defensive stalwart Paul Wettlaufer – a player with 222 caps to his name – who did not play at all in the series.

Not one to make excuses, Head Coach Alan Brahmst was not pleased with the losing record, “I’m an old school guy,” he said, reflecting on the series a few days after its completion. “I believe in winning at all costs.”

Still, he was happy with the overall opportunity that a seven game series afforded his coaching staff and players as a stepping stone towards the upcoming World Cup in March 2010: “I thought the length of the series allowed us to zero in on a number of things. There was a lot of value in it for us and for our players.”

Among the aspects that were focused on was the structural defense – a key to Canada’s success.  Playing against an Indian side that absorbs and counters so well, the defense was tested and required to fend off an explosive attack time and time again.

After the fifth game of the series, Brahmst praised the team’s efforts, “We have done well defensively in most statistics; in minimizing their penalty corner opportunities and in giving away very few quality opportunities.”

Team veteran Pete Short felt the defense got better as the tournament went on, “Structurally we were moving around the back a lot quicker and a lot better than we have in the past, so we definitely improved.” He also felt that Canada would have performed better without the absences, “I believe if we had our full team, it would’ve been a lot closer over the series.”

One positive of missing some of the usual leaders was the opportunity for others to step into larger roles. Both Scott Tupper and Connor Grimes wore the captain’s band in Pereira’s stead, and a number of others took on more responsibility as well. Wayne Fernandes, Ranjeev Deol, Pete Short, and Scott Sandison adeptly took over the reigns of the team and performed well.

Several young players gained invaluable experience on the international stage as well: Adam Froese quickly earned the respect of his teammates in his first seven games for Canada as a strong, steady defenseman, and both Connor Meakin and Mark Erickson improved throughout the series, showing promise for the future.

The injured Wettlaufer was in attendance for the matches, and he agreed with the benefit to younger players, “Over the last few years we’ve had a lot of youth involvement in the program. In order for Canada to be successful going forward, our young guys have to play and they need to learn, so this was a great experience.”

Brahmst was sure to point out that Canada still has a lot of improving to do in certain areas. For one, he was disappointed in his forwards’ inability to capitalize on scoring opportunities, and he felt the team as a whole lacked finishing on field goal chances. He was also underwhelmed with the team’s conversion of penalty corners, which over the seven games scored on 5 of 28 chances. They did, however, improve markedly by the end of the series as the team scored on 2 out of 3 chances in game 7.

“It’s funny, we were down in Australia about 4 months ago and our penalty corner percentage was much higher,” said Pete Short. “But for some reason in this series we didn’t come out as sharp, and it’s a big part of our game.”

Short stressed that the results in October are not the main focus right now: “The main thing is that we’ve got the World Cup (five) months from now, so we’re just trying to learn as much as we can. We’re looking to peak then, and that’s the most important thing to us.”

Going towards the World Cup in March, the India series has been a stepping stone in the right direction. This evening, the team begins a four match series against the US Field Hockey Team and they hope to continue their growth.

In the words of Paul Wettlaufer: “There’s a long way to go, but we’ll go back, and watch the videos, and see what we learned from this. And we will continue to learn.”