The Canadian men’s and women’s teams both started the day with a loss, but reversed the trend in the afternoon with spectacular come-backs to tie their second matches of the day.
(women) Australia vs. Canada: 3-1 (ht: 1-0)
Canada opened their second day against Australia, ranked four spots above them in the world rankings. Australia scored early from a messy situation in front of KJ Williams in Canadian goal. The Canadians continued their patient build-up in midfield but could not bulge the compact Australian defense.
The pace progressively picked-up and players seemed often frustrated by some mysterious umpiring calls. Canada had a chance on late penalty-corner, but the shot was wide and the break was reached with the meagre one-goal lead for the Aussies.
Canada was again unsuccessful on another penalty-corner early in second period. Australia on the other end did not miss their chance to increase their lead on another penalty-corner in the 23rd minute. The Canadians reacted well and Kri Shier netted a penalty-corner to narrow the gap to one goal with still 13 minutes on the clock.
Fortune can change quickly in the indoor and Canada had a couple of good opportunities to tie the score, but Australia weathered the storm calmly, then rebuilt their 2-goal lead in the 36th minute on yet another penalty-corner. Canada kept trying and trying, pulling their goal-keeper with three minutes to go, but there was always an Australian stick to spoil the last pass, plus a little bit of bad luck on some clear chances.
(men) Canada vs. Switzerland: 0-4 (ht: 0-1)
Switzerland is on theory lower than Canada in the world rankings, but have been preparing hard for this competition, managing to tie #2 Poland on opening day. The Swiss immediately put a high pace into their game, with slick combinations. The Canadian defense stayed strong and compact, matching their opponents pace for pace, and well backed by Shankar Premakanthan who was, once again, making his presence felt in front of the Canadian goal.
Canada defended well two penalty-corners and were progressively becoming more entrepreneurial up-field, but the score remained 0-0… until the very last seconds of the period, when Switzerland were awarded a penalty-stroke. They did not waste the opportunity and went into the break with this lone goal to their credit.
The same pattern continued in second period, with Canada very much into the match and having chances to tie the score, including on a penalty-corner. However, they were not rewarded for their tireless efforts. Switzerland increased its lead in the 24th minute and Canada, with their backs to the wall, made the bold move to replace their goal-keeper with an extra attacker with twelve minutes to go. It nearly paid off, but nothing seemed to go the Canadians’ way in this competition and they could not score on yet another penalty-corner, then even on a penalty-stroke awarded after another penalty-corner.
Switzerland, on the other hand, had no trouble scoring their third goal, on penalty-corner, in a goal without goal-keeper. They added a fourth goal for good measure, and the Canadians finished the match stunned, their hope of qualifying for the quarter-finals evaporated in smoke.
(women) Canada vs. Ukraine: 4-4 (ht: 3-3)
The Canadian women arrived to play against Ukraine, ranked 5th in the world, in a completely different spirit than in their morning match against Australia, much to the pleasure and excitement of their numerous fans, who once again warmed the atmosphere of the hall.
The Canadians quickly went down by two goals, first on a cheeky behind the back deflection by a Ukrainian forward, then on a penalty-corner following a severe green card for a hasty substitution. But they reacted promptly with typical Canadian pride and Madison Thompson pulled them back level with two quick goals in less than a minute!
The tone was set and the match became a lively back and forth affair that seemed to suit the Canadian team better than the tactical game chess that they tried to play earlier in the competition.
Ukraine regained the lead on another penalty-corner, but KJ Williams was on fire in the Canadian goal, showing her class with two reflex saves on shots from close range, then with countless decisive actions to protect her goal. Canada leveled the score again before the break by Kaelan Watson on penalty corner, and half-time was reached on a tied score 3-3.
Ukraine scored their fourth goal in the 34th minute on a shot initially saved by KJ Williams but that rolled slowly over the line without any Canadian stick able to repel it. However, Canada replied on the next action by Erin Houle, and the game continued at a frantic pace, with hot situations in front of both goals.
Canada survived a number of penalty-corners then, after another exceptional glove save by KJ Williams with two minutes to go, they clearly signaled that they wanted more than a tie by boldly pulling their keeper! They earned a penalty-corner with hardly any time on the clock but, with the heart rate of everybody on the hall, players and spectators, reaching unchartered territory, the ball hit by Kri Shier and heading for the winning goal was miraculously deflected by a desperate defender.
The Canadian women nevertheless greatly deserved their first point of the competition, before playing their last pool match against Belgium on Friday morning.
(men) Canada vs. South Africa: 5-5 (ht: 2-3)
The Canadian men followed the pattern set by the women’s team: let the opponent take the lead, then engineer an exciting come-back. Against South Africa, our men were down one goal within one minute of play, down by two on the five minute mark and down by three before reaching ten minutes of play. Then they set their wheels in motion. Devohn Noronha Teixeira scored first a stunning lob over the keeper from a difficult angle, then was on hand to pounce on a loose ball in a scrum in the circle to push the ball in goal.
Canada carried this momentum into the second period and promptly forced a penalty-corner. Jonathan Roberts was this time on target, and the large contingent of Canadian fans was breathing easier with the score tied at 3-3.
The Canadian players however seem to like to make things difficult for themselves and were soon down by two more goals after conceding soft penalty-corners dutifully converted by the efficient South African strikers. Canada pushed up their pace another notch (or two) and besieged the South African goals to close the gap again.
However, with time passing quickly (it always does in this situation…) and the South African stubbornly refusing to fold, Canada decided to replace their goal-keeper with an extra attacker with five minutes to play. It immediately worked and captain Kenny Pereira scored in the 37th minute, immediately followed by Devohn Noronha Teixeira, completing his hat-trick in the 38th minute.
The second come-back unfortunately stopped there. Jeewanjot Singh Bath has a last second opportunity, but his shot in a difficult angle was marginally wide. The Canadian men earned their first point of the competition, too late unfortunately to hope qualifying for the quarter-finals.
In this game, Canadian goal-keeper Shankar Premakanthan, playing in his fourth Indoor World Cup, earned his 50th Indoor Cap. Congratulations!
Results of Day 2 (Thursday February 5):
(men) Canada vs. Switzerland: 0-4 (0-1)
(men) Canada vs. South Africa: 5-5 (2-3)
(women) Australia vs. Canada: 3-1 (1-0)
(women) Canada vs. Ukraine: 4-4 (3-3)
Schedule for Day 3 (Friday February 6):
(men) Poland vs. Canada
(women) Canada vs. Belgium
Plus cross-over matches