In a rematch between Pool B’s top two teams, the Canadian Men’s National Field Hockey Team defeated Russia 4-1 to take 3rd place at World League Round 2 on Sunday at World League Round 2 in Chula Vista, California.
With the win, Canada finishes also earns a spot in World League Round 3 in June, where the top six teams can qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Two teams met last Sunday in pool play with Russia edging the Canadians 2-1 after Canada led for the majority of the match and arguably was the better team.
The game began with tight defense from both sides, neither wanting to give up the all important first goal.
The first big chance of the game came on a Russian penalty corner when Canadian keeper David Carter was forced to make a great save to keep the game scoreless.
The first card of the game was issued to Canadian Mark Pearson in the ninth minute. It didn’t cost Canada, in fact Pearson’s exuberance was rewarded minutes later when he netted the game’s first goal in the twelvth minute to give Canada the 1-0 after the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Canada was given a penalty corner and added to their lead.
The first attempt was thwarted by Russian keeper Evgeny Mokrousov, but persistence from the Canadians resulted in Gabriel Ho-Garcia finding the back of the net for the first time in the tournament to give Canada a two-goal lead after seventeen minutes.
Before halftime, Canada had a great chance to add to its lead when two Russians were given cards in the 20th minute.
With the advantage, Canada managed to earn a penalty corner but Mokrousov was able to close the door and keep the Russians only two behind at half.
Canada defended well in the third quarter and was rewarded with another goal in the forteith minute.
Iain Smythe, who has been a steady offensive contributor throughout the tournament, added his third of the competition on a field goal to give Canada a seemingly insurmountable lead with twenty minutes to play.
Russia had opportunities to get on the scoreboard in the fourth and final quarter. A penalty corner with ten minutes to play was rung off the post behind Carter and the score remained 3-0.
Taylor Curran scored Canada’s final goal of the match in the fifty-fifth minute, while Russia’s lone goal was scored by Igor Siniagin in th the fifty-eighth.
Also of note, Canadian defender Adam Froese played in his 100th international match for Canada.
Canada’s victory gives them a spot in World League Round 3 in Argentina in June. They will now have two chances to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. The first is to place in the top six at World League Round 3 and the second is by winning gold at the upcoming Pan American Games in Toronto this summer.