After a heartbreaking loss on Monday against Great Britain, Team Canada is turning around in 36 hours and clashing with the world-number-3 Netherlands in Pool-B action.
Although today’s game might not be mathematically a ‘must-win,’ three points would be a massive achievement and would go a long way to seeing Canada through the group stage and into the championship bracket. Standing in the Red Caribou’s way is the 2021 Euro-Hockey gold medallists, Netherlands.
Led by Head Coach Max Caldas, this Dutch team qualified by defeating Pakistan in the 2019 FiH Olympic Qualifiers. Recently, they defeated Germany in the finals of the European Hockey Championships They have a strong Olympic pedigree as well, finishing on the podium five times in the last seven Games including back-to-back gold medals in 1996 and 2000.
Netherlands is a team bursting with experience. Captain Billy Bakker is one of three players with over 220 caps on this Dutch team, with seven others in triple digits. Bakker is a creative engine for The Oranje and is supported by goal-scoring prowess of Mirco Pruijser, Thierry Brinkman and 24-year-old Thijs van Dam.
Netherlands lost to Belgium to open their Olympic campaign and then engaged in a high-scoring bloodbath with South Africa, which they held on to win 5-3. Dutch goalkeeper, Pirmin Blaak has allowed eight goals on 12 shots so far this competition. If there’s a weak spot in this Dutch machine, it may be their defense, as South Africa learned early in Sunday’s tilt.
Canadian Captain Scott Tupper said they know every game has the potential to yield valuable points, and they are targeting tomorrow as a chance to take three points off a top-tier team.
“[Netherlands] didn’t seem to be on their top form yesterday. But I would expect them to be extremely sharp, it’s going to be difficult one,” Tupper said in a post-game interview on Monday. “You never know, if you put in a good performance, we might be able to get a result.”
The Canadian attack has largely landed on the shoulders of — Dutch born — Floris van Son, Keegan Pereira and veteran Mark Pearson. Canada will need offensive support from their other forwards, Jamie Wallace, Matt Sarmento and Fin Boothroyd if they want to take down the experienced Oranje.
Canada has improved game-by-game, which bodes well moving forward in the competition. With the number 3 and 2 world ranked teams next in their pool, they’ll have to find some magic if they want to advance.
Canada’s Head Coach, Pasha Gademan was born and raised in Amsterdam. He knows this Dutch team inside and out and is very familiar with the northern European style of play. Gademan coached against many of these European national team players while he was leading Almere in the Dutch Hoofdklasse. He made the jump to the German Bundesliga in 2020. There, he coached alongside Canadian assistant coach, Andre Henning at Rot-Weiss Köln. The two are partners and friends and are now leading Canada at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Perhaps the inside knowledge is the edge Canada needs to take down world powerhouse Netherlands in round three action today.
All Team Canada field hockey action will be streamed/televised live by CBC. Click below for streaming details. In addition, Field Hockey Canada will be hosting an online chat-thread for every game, and special watch parties for our Great Britain and Belgium games. See below for more details.