Field Hockey Canada > Canada finishes second at 2014 Champions Challenge after loss to Korea in final

Despite a 4-0 loss to world no.7 Korea, the Canadian Men’s National Team earned its best finish ever at the Champions Challenge and ties its best finish at a major international event, capping off a tournament to remember in Kuantan, Malaysia.

Canada knocked off world no.13 and tournament host Malaysia in the semi final and tied Korea earlier in the tournament to surpass most expectations heading into the 2014 Champions Challenge.

The final game was a rematch of the first pool stage matchup for both teams, when Korea and Canada (ranked no.16) tied 3-3. Heading into the final, however, the Koreans were in top form, having won every other game leading up to the rematch with Canada.

It didn’t take long for Korea to get on the board, as in the tenth minute Jang Jong Hyun converted on a penalty corner to make it 1-0.

Only three minutes later in the thirteenth minute, Kang Moon Kyu also beat Canadian goalkeeper David Carter (Vancouver, B.C.) to make it 2-0.

Being down 2-0 was not unfamiliar to Canada, as they had come back from behind to tie Korea earlier in the tournament and were coming off a thrilling comeback victory over host Malaysia in the semi final.

A combination of great goaltending from Carter, who stopped Jang on a flick in the forty-first minute, and better play from the Canadians kept the score at 2-0 at half time.

In the forty-second minute, Canada had their best opportunity to score as Canadian skipper Scott Tupper (Vancouver, B.C.) received the ball on the penalty corner, but his shot was blocked. 

In five games before the final, Canada’s offense had no trouble converting, scoring an average of nearly three goals a game, for fourteen goals total. On this day, it was not able to convert.

The score remained 2-0 heading into the final quarter of the game. But in the fourth, Lee Seung Il was tackled by Carter and the Koreans were awarded a penalty stroke in the fifty-sixth minute. It was the tournament’s leading scorer, Jang, who took the shot and scored his second of the game to make it 3-0.

Kim Seong Kyu added to the total in the sixty-ninth minute to make it 4-0.

Despite the loss, Canada earned its best finish at a Champions Challenge, finishing second, surpassing its placing of sixth in Argentina in 2012. The result will likely move Canada up from sixteenth in the world rakings.

Twenty year-old Canadian forward Gabriel Ho-Garcia (Burnaby, B.C.), who had two goals in six games, was named Best Junior Player of the tournament.

The second place finish also ties Canada’s best finish at a major international event with its second place finish at the 1996 World Cup Preliminary in Cagliari, Italy, and the 1989 Intercontinental Cup in Madison, USA.

View the match sheet here.