October 10, 2010
The Canadian men’s field hockey team were only caught up by powerhouse New Zealand in the last two minutes of play (1-1), losing on the wire a semi-final berth.
The situation was clear before this last match of pool B: a Canadian win would push them through to the semi-finals on Tuesday; any other result would leave them in 4th place in their pool. Despite what was at stakes, the Canadian boys were not impressed by the reputation of their opponents, known as the “Black Sticks”, and weathered calmly their initial pressure, getting forward with some incisive counter-attacks.
New Zealand earned a penalty-corner in the 10th minute and Andrew Hayward, one of the top strikers in the world, lined up to take it but his flick was saved on the line by a defender. This triggered an immediate reaction by Canada, warmly pushed forward by the local crowd, and they created some hot situations in front of the New Zealand goal. On a penetration by Matt GUEST on the right of the circle, Mark PEARSON managed a dangerous shot despite heavy traffic in front of goal and Gabbar SINGH was on hand to collect the high rebound and bat it in goal for a precious goal opener.
The Canadians were on fire for the end of the period, pushing on their heels a gasping New Zealand team, but they could not capitalize on their domination and the half-time break was reached with the narrow lead for Canada (1-0).
Canada was immediately under pressure in second half. They managed to maintain their defensive structure, always a step ahead of their opponents and supporting each other efficiently. They forced a penalty-corner on one of their forays in New Zealand territory and thought that they had scored, but the goal was denied by the umpire…
In a highly entertaining period of hockey, Canada showed that they could play equal with the top teams, defending efficiently and creating some good attacking chances. The score was still in Canada’s favour with 15 minutes to play… with 10 minutes to play… Antoni KINDLER made a decisive save at the top of the circle one-on-one with ace striker Phil Burrows to keep his team in the lead for a torrid end of match.
With 4 minutes to go in the game, New Zealand took the unusual and bold step to replace their goal-keeper by an additional field player and soon forced a penalty-corner, taken by Hayden Shaw, who did not miss his chance to become the hero for his team.
“We are devastated,” said an exhausted Rob SHORT. “We showed that we can rival the top teams in the world, such as England and New Zealand, so it is hard to lose everything so close to a semi-final spot… It will be hard to come back for the classification match, but we are proud Canadians and will give everything we have to finish on a high note”.
The Canadian men’s team now plays for 7th-8th on Tuesday.
For more information on the Canadian field hockey teams at the 2010 Commonwealth in Delhi, please contact Yan Huckendubler, Press Attaché, at +91 78-3850-3722.
Canada vs. New Zealand: 1-1 (1-0)
CAN 19mn Gabbar SINGH (FG) 1-0
NZL 68mn Hayden SHAW (PC) 1-1
Canada: Philip WRIGHT, Scott TUPPER, Jesse WATSON, Richard HILDRETH, Hudson STEWART, Ken PEREIRA [C], David JAMESON, Rob SHORT, Mark PEARSON, Keegan PEREIRA, Iain SMYTHE, Gabbar SINGH, Matthew GUEST, Adam FROESE, Antoni KINDLER(GK) – DNP: David CARTER (GK)