Field Hockey Canada > Froese drawing on recent success in Malaysia as Canada prepares for Azlan Shah Cup

Although he was born in Subang, Malaysia, being back in his country of birth isn’t exactly a homecoming for Adam Froese. After all, in his own words he’s a “Canadian through and through.” 

But after what transpired at last year’s Champions Challenge in Kuantan, Malaysia, it’s no surprise Froese is feeling a little extra confidence as the Men’s National Field Hockey Team prepares to begin the 2015 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup this weekend in Ipoh.

The 23 year-old Canadian defender, who was raised in Perth, Australia before moving to Canada to join the National Program when he was seventeen, was front and center last May when Canada finished second at the Champions Challenge.

“Honestly, when you go to Malaysia you feel like a professional athlete,” Froese explains. “When you go there, there are cameras, there are fans, and just even in the two tournaments we played there last year, the stadium was packed.”

Canada lost to Korea in the tournament final, but it was the semifinal against the host Malaysians and Froese’s role in the shootout victory that made all the headlines.

After falling behind 2-0 in the first half, the Canadians battled back to tie the game thanks to two goals from captain Scott Tupper. 

The game was tied after seventy minutes and needed a shootout to decide which team would be headed to the tournament final. With the Malaysian fans clamoring for a home win, the environment was hostile to say the least.

“Walking into there it was so loud and you couldn’t even hear your own thoughts,” he remembers. “That was an extremely nervous moment. Shootouts are just a point in the game where it can go either way.”

Just as they were through regulation time, Canada and Malaysia were level through the first five shots of the shootout. The game went into sudden death shots.

Both teams converted on the two first attempts, but the Malaysians missed their third. It was up to Froese, who had taken a shot and missed earlier, to score for the win. And he did.

“I’m very humbled that I got to be in that moment,” he says. “It definitely doesn’t take away from what the team put in because that was a team effort.”

More from Adam Froese on the shootout winner at the 2014 Champions Challenge in Malaysia:

Canada went on to finish second in the tournament: it’s best ever placing at the Champions Challenge. The tournament – the men’s second in Malaysia in 2014 after playing in the twenty-third annual Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in March – was the continuation of a journey of preparation which comes to a head this year. 

Canada is looking to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil later this year. Froese and his teammates know the importance of tournaments like this year’s Azlan Shah Cup to keep them sharp ahead of two shots at qualification. 

“This tournament is going to be huge because we have some of the best countries in the world attending,” he says. “We have some big tournaments coming up with World League 3 and the Pan American Games, both our Olympic qualifiers.” 

“We have to be ready for those tournaments and an invitational tournament like Azlan Shah is good for the squad to get exposure to get some really good games.” 

With National Team captain Scott Tupper away on club duty in Belgium, Froese will serve as Canada’s captain at the Azlan Shah.

“I’m very humbled and extremely grateful for the opportunity,” he says. “It’s a figurehead role and I’m very thankful for the opportunity, but the guys we all push each other.”

But if Froese has performance like he did last year in Malaysia, there’s no question who else the Canadians will be looking to for a push as the chance for Olympic qualification nears.

Follow along with the Men’s National Team as they compete at the 2015 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup at the tournament page. Canada’s first match is against Australia on Sunday, April 5th at 1:00am PT/4:00am ET.