When it comes to the scoreboard, the Canadian Men’s National Field Hockey Team hasn’t come out on the winning end through the first two matches at the 2015 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. But what hasn’t come through in goals and wins has certainly been evident in the way the team is playing on the field.
“Our work rate and our ethic around working hard in the match is fantastic,” says Canadians Men’s National Team head coach Anthony Farry. “And that’s all we can ask at this stage.”
Canada’s men are in tough at the tournament, which boats four of the top ten teams in the world. But despite that – and other obstacles – Canada, ranked fifteenth, is seeing progress and consistency in its play. And that is a big positive as it works toward its shot at 2016 Olympic qualification this summer.
With up to seven regulars out of the lineup for various reasons, including injury and club duty, this edition of the Azlan Shah Cup is a way for others to experience a high level of play and push for selection for the World League Semi-Finals in June.
Canada’s first game this past weekend was against the world’s top team, Australia. Despite the 7-0 loss, there were encouraging signs.
“For 52 minutes we were much better than we were last year,” Farry says. “It was a tough start but a necessary one for a lot of these guys who haven’t played much or any international hockey, especially against a side like Australia.”
“It was good to see what it’s like to play that sort of side, but also good to get it out of the way.”
The second match was another step in the right direction for Canada. In facing Korea, Canada took on a team they lost to in the final of the 2014 Champions Challenge in Kuantan, Malaysia.
Canada started the match on the right foot when veteran Richard Hildreth scored the first goal of the match in the eleventh minute.
“We had a good start; a good fifteen minutes,” Farry adds. “It was a relatively even match. Korea had some opportunities but so did we. On another day, we could have got some points out of it. We gave ourselves an opportunity to do that.”
While Korea came back to defeat the Canadians 3-1, the Canadians believe progess is being made and hope to continue to improve on a day-to-day and game-to-game basis throughout the tournament.
“We’ve got some really good sides to play. It’s going to be about building on this performance now so we’re able to build some consistency with what we do.”
Canada faces New Zealand, the world’s seventh ranked team, Wednesday at 1:10am PT/4:10am ET. They finish the round robin against India on Thursday and the host Malaysians on Saturday.