In a nail-biting matchup, Canada emerged victorious in the Pan American Games men’s bronze medal match, defeating 49th parallel rivals, USA 3-2. In a thrilling back-and-forth battle in Santiago, Canada secured a crucial win to keep their Paris 2024 Olympic dreams alive.
Canada wasted no time in taking the lead, with Brendan Guraliuk seizing the opportunity to bang in a rebound from a penalty corner early in the match. Guraliuk’s relentless pace and multiple goal-scoring chances were rewarded when he notched that goal giving the Canadians the early lead. Guraliuk said it was nice to capitalize, while Canada was pressing.
“We had a good bit of pressure at the start. We played really well and get a good feel of the game. To get that first goal and to capitalize early puts us on that front foot for the game,” Guraliuk said, adding that it’s tough to bounce back and play well after a heartbreaking loss. “We wish we were playing for the other medal. But today, when we were a little low, we were able to fight and dig deep and re-build our tempo.”
USA, however, didn’t back down, driving the pace and then equalizing the score with a goal just before halftime. USA controlled the pace for much of the second quarter, controlling the momentum before the half.
As the match resumed, it was Fin Boothroyd for Canada who unleashed a remarkable backhand rip, putting Canada ahead once again. The excitement escalated when Oliver Scholfield, celebrating his 100th international cap, found himself ‘Ollie-on-the-spot’ for another penalty corner rebound, extending Canada’s lead. For Scholfield, he was proud of the way team came back quickly from the semifinal loss to Chile and stuck to their plan for the match today.
“We came out with a good game plan, we stuck to it, we played well and defended hard” Scholfield said. “Getting a goal is just the bonus on top. It means a lot to get to 100 caps, and there’s no group I’d rather do it with.”
Despite a late surge from USA, Canada’s defense held strong, ensuring their victory and the bronze medal. With this crucial win, Canada also secured a spot in the next stage of Olympic qualification, as they will now compete in an Olympic qualifier tournament in the coming year. In a match filled with heart-pounding moments, Canada rose to the occasion, playing their best hockey, when the game was on the line. The Red Caribou’s huge bronze-medal victory will be a source of pride for Canadian hockey fans, as they look forward to continuing their journey towards the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Canada wins the bronze medal at the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile. Photos/Yan Huckendubler.
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