Field Hockey Canada > Canadian men drop intense first match to New Zealand

The Canadian men’s field hockey team lost their opening match of the 2014 Commonwealth games competition after an intense match against their perennial rivals New Zealand (3-1).

New Zealand, known as the “Black Sticks”, are ranked sixth in the world, ten spots ahead of Canada, and had good results at the World Cup just a few weeks ago. They started the match at full speed, shaking the Canadian defence and forcing a penalty-corner after 3 minutes of play. It was upgraded to a penalty-stroke and the Canadian were down one goal before even settling in the match.

It was a beautiful evening in Glasgow and the capacity crowd was kept well entertained by the fast paced game. There was more fluidity on the New Zealand side, but Canada were pressing hard and finally managed to balance possession and play. Phil Wright had the crowd screaming with a swift behind the back deflection that missed the goal by a whisker.

Canada had now found their groove and Gabriel Ho-Garcia lit a fire in the Black Sticks’ defence with Iain Smythe close to conclude. The Canadian fans did not need to wait too long; in the 20th minute, a combination between Matt Guest and Mark Pearson on the right wing found Richard Hildreth on the back line, then Sukhpal Panesar with space in the circle. Panesar did not miss the opportunity and sent a shot high in goal to level the score.

It was the turn of the New Zealanders to be on their heels, and Matt Guest nearly doubled the Canadian tally, but the break was reach on a level score (1-1).

Play remained intense in second period. Both teams have similar aggressive play and managed to neutralize each other in midfield with little room to manoeuver and no real danger for goal-keeper. Carter was called into action in the 55th minute, rushing out of his goal to meet a lone attacker at the top of the circle.

The deadlock was finally broken in the 58th minute after a confuse sequence in the Canadian circle, that Canada unsuccessfully appealed to the video-umpire. Canada had a series of penalty-corners in the final minutes, but could not generate much danger. New Zealand was more realistic at the other end and added a penalty-corner to build a more comfortable 2-goal cushion. 

Canada now plays on Saturday (11:00am) against Malaysia, a team that they have met many times this year with split results.

For complete match statistics click here.

Click here for the Canada’s men’s full Commonwealth Games schedule and results.

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