Field Hockey Canada > Junior National Teams play for World Cup berth in Chile

Canada’s next generation of stars on display at 2021 Junior Pan American Championships

Canada’s Junior National Teams arrive in Chile with one thing on their mind: play well enough to punch their ticket to the Junior World Cup.


Two loaded Canadian rosters descend on the Prince of Wales Country Club in Santiago, Chile for the Junior Pan American Games taking place August 21-28. The women’s team is looking for their first World Cup berth since 2013, while the Men’s side will try to make their third consecutive trip to the big stage.

Women’s National Team – going for gold in a small field

Due to COVID-19 concerns and travel complications, both the men’s and women’s tournaments have less teams participating this year. The women’s tournament features six teams competing for three berths to the World Cup. This means every game is extremely important; there are no ‘warm up’ games. Canada will open the tournament against Uruguay and then follow up with perennial Pan Am powerhouse, Argentina. The tournament then goes directly into semifinals, meaning likely crossover games with either USA or Chile.


Team Canada’s roster is peppered with experienced junior national team names such as UBC Thunderbirds, Sara Goodman, Thora Rae, Jordyn Faiczak and UVic Vike, Anna Mollenhauer, all of whom have senior international caps under their belt. They will look to bring that leadership and experience to this event, where even a few well-timed performances can vault the team into the World Cup. UBC TBird Ishaval Sekhon and Lucy Wheeler of West Van will be sharing duties in the Canadian net.

The original U21 Pan Am Cup was scheduled for 2020 but will now take place in August 2021. The age restrictions shifted to recognize the postponement of the tournament. Anyone born in 1999 or later will be eligible to compete in the Junior Pan American Cup but only those born in 2000 or later are eligible to compete in the Junior World Cup.

There is a strong NCAA contingent on this Canadian team as well. Madison Workman of Miami, Julia Ross from Maine, Dani Husar of Virgina, Bronwyn Bird from Dartmouth and Jenna Berger of UMass Lowell will all look to bring their college experience into the fold in Chile. Both the Canadian and American University system have a history of shepherding players from the junior level into the senior national team, and both are on full display this week.

Patrick Tshutshani took over the role as Nextgen Director and Junior Head Coach in 2019. Since then, he’s been working with this next generation cohort. They have been to camps and tournaments and played with and against each other for several years. This type of established chemistry will be a benefit as the tournament progresses. Tshutshani is joined on the bench by assistant coach and long-time FHBC coach, Jenn Beagan.

Junior Men’s National Team look to build on past success

The Nextgen men’s pipeline has been moving players from junior to senior successfully over the past decade. No examples clearer than Jamie Wallace, Brendan Guraliuk and Fin Boothroyd. All three eligible for the Junior Pan Ams, but were selected for the Olympic Games roster instead. Their vacancies make room for the next generation of superstars to carve their path.


The Men’s tournament features two pools with the top two finishers from each pool advancing to semifinals. Canada opens their tournament against Mexico, followed by facing the hosts, Chile and finishing the round-robin with a tilt against Brazil. If they are successful in advancing, they will likely play against tournament favourite, Argentina, or USA in the semis.

Only the top two finishers of the tournament will advance to the Junior World Cup, scheduled for December in Guwahati, India. Canada is looking to sweep their pool, givig themselves the best possible chance to the finals. Should they qualify, Canada will look to avenge back-to-back 16th place finishes at the JWC.

As with the women’s tournament, anyone born in 1999 or later will be eligible to compete in the Junior Pan American Cup but only those born in 2000 or later are eligible to compete in the Junior World Cup. Canada’s roster is stacked with junior vets that have long been teammates in the Nextgen development system.

The most notable shake-up from last quad’s junior national team is the emergence of the Quebec junior pipeline. Alex Bird, Nic Syrros, Chris Tardif, Flynn McCulloch and GK Zach Coombs are all heading to Chile as a part of the Junior National Team. They are joined by 2018 Youth Olympians, Rowan Childs and Roopkanwar Dhillon with junior national team vets, Kyle Bishop, Jagpreet Singh and Sam Cabral adding leadership and experience to this team.

The coaching staff of head coach, Indy Sehmbi with assistants, Geoff Matthews and Richard Hildreth is ready for the challenge. Sehmbi is returning from his successful 2016 qualification and is looking to repeat. For both teams, it’s all about putting it together at the right time.


Tyler Klenk and Joanne Wudrich are on the ground in Santiago and representing Canada on the third team as umpires for the Men’s and Women’s competition respectively. For Klenk, working the Junior Pan American Championships is a return to his roots, as the 2016 JPAC was his first international appointment. Since that initial appointment, he has worked the Asia Cup, Commonwealth Games, Pan American Games and is already appointed to work at the 2021 Junior World Cup. Klenk, originally from Saskatchewan, has worked as a national/provincial umpire in BC since 2011, including numerous appointments at Canadian Nationals. He said he’s excited to get back on the pitch after a lengthy hiatus from international competition.

“Given the time away due to COVID-19, it’s very exciting to be back at an international event. I am working towards the Jr. World Cup in December 2021, and this will be a great step in the right direction,” he said. “This same event in 2016 was where I got my international badge, so it is great to be back where it all started.”

Wudrich, on the other hand, is making her first international umpiring appearance. The Calgary native was originally slated to work the Indoor Pan American Games in 2020, but the postponement changed her plans. She was selected to work the Junior Pan American Games later in the year. Wudrich started umpiring in 2016 and has worked as a regional and national umpire in Calgary and at Canadian Nationals across the country.

Tyler Klenk (left, right) and Joanne Wudrich (centre) will represent Canada on the third team at the 2021 JPAC in Santiago, Chile.