Canada Men’s last pool match of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup was played on Thursday night at 6:00pm against China. Canada had an opportunity to play for 3rd place if they were able to beat China by 3 or more goals. There had been thunder, lighting and rain showers all afternoon but only rain showers by game time.
Canada started strong and in the first 30 seconds there was a mad scramble in front of the Chinese net with all forwards batting at the ball. Matt Guest was the last to put his stick on it before it went in the goal. The score was 1-0 before the first minute was over.
China replied with a goal of their own 2 minutes later. The score line was 1-1 and the game wasn’t even 3 minutes old.
Canada was on the offensive and showed a lot of speed and control on the forward line. In the 5th minute a cross-circle hard hit by Jag Gill was just barely missed by a sprawling Matt Guest. The game was proving to be an exciting offensive game with a lot of very close calls by the boys in red.
In the 7th minute Canada’s Phil Wright had a fine opportunity in the circle. His clean hard shot from the top of the circle looked like a sure goal but the goalie got a piece of it and it was deflected wide.
Canada was awarded a penalty corner in the 8th minute and Scott Tupper’s drag flight was deflected wide. No goal. Another short corner for the Canadians a minute later was broken up by the Chinese defenders and a fast break by the speedy Chinese forwards was looking dangerous but was deftly closed down by Ben Martin at the top of the circle.
China had a penalty corner in the 12th minute that was easily stopped by Dave Carter who started in net for Canada today.
Matt Guest’s second goal of the game was a beauty of a shot from the top of the circle sent to him by Phil Wright from the base line. Score was 2-1 for the Canadians.
Play slowed down in the next part of the game with most of the play between the two 23 metre lines. Near the end of the half Matt Guest earned a penalty corner. Gordie Johnston scored with a nicely executed reverse hit off a deflection from the goalie. The score was 3-1 at the end of the half.
The second half started with the Canadians showing confidence. Of note, at the 38th minute, was a great build-up by Gordie Johnston on the right, which led to yet another very close call with a shot by Phil Wright just wide. China hemmed Canada in its own end for several minutes and was rewarded with a goal on a scramble in the 46th minute.
The Canadians were able to keep possession for long periods of time but there were no good scoring opportunities. Antoni Kindler, who came in at half time, made several great saves to keep the Canadians in the lead. In the 59th minute China scored on a penalty corner with a hard right had drag flick. The score was 3-3 and Canada had let the lead slip away.
Play continued and the Canadians were able to create scoring chances by bringing structure back into their game. On a fantastic play, Iain Smythe scored the game winner with 6 minutes to go. His second effort led to him scoring the goal while airborne digging for the ball. It was a spectacular goal and the stadium was buzzing. The boys were pushing for another goal and had several more circle penetrations and scoring opportunities. China was awarded a corner with 30 seconds to go and it was played out after the horn. The shot was wide and the boys in red won their first game of the tournament.
Matt Guest was deservedly named the “Man of the Match” and had this to say on the win; “It was a positive game for our group and important that we were able to come away with the three points. We gave ourselves a chance to pick up the three goal difference required to qualify for the 3v4 but unfortunately came up short. I am confident that we can continue to build on today’s performance and get a win in our final match of the tournament. Finally I want to thank everyone at home who has been following our daily blogs here in Malaysia, it means so much to our group to have the continued support of family, friends and fans.”
At the end of pool play Canada Coach, Anthony Farry had this to say about the team’s performance “It was a positive result for us today in a game that we controlled for long periods, China are a very good side, as shown by their results here. We now await the results of Saturday night’s games to see who we play on Sunday.”
Next game, also the last game of the tournament will be on Sunday. Canada needs to wait to see the results from tomorrow’s game to see game time and opposition for Sunday.
Canadian Men’s National Roster in Malaysia:
Adam Froese (Abbotsford, BC)
Antoni Kindler (Vancouver, BC)
Benjamin Martin (Vancouver, BC)
David Carter (Vancouver, BC)
Gabriel Ho-Garcia (Burnaby, BC)
Gordon Johnston (Vancouver, BC)
Hudson Stewart (Vancouver, BC)
Jagdish Gill (Toronto, ON)
James Kirkpatrick (Victoria, BC)
Iain Smythe (Vancouver, BC)
Keegan Pereira (Ajax, ON)
Mark Pearson (Tsawwassen, BC)
Matt Guest (Calgary, AB)
Paul Wharton (Vancouver, BC)
Philip Wright (Vancouver, BC)
Scott Tupper (Vancouver, BC)
Sukhi Panesar (Surrey, BC)
Taylor Curran (North Vancouver, BC)
For a fan-friendly in-depth look at Field Hockey Canada Men’s National Team in Malaysia follow: