Dominant possession and two all-important goals in the third quarter vaulted Great Britain to a 3-1 victory over Canada this morning at Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo.
After a rout at the hands of Germany, Canada knew they had to come out sounder if they were going to have a shot against Great Britain. Right from the first buzzer, it was a scrappier Team Canada, a fiery bunch and a team looking to push team Great Britain to the brink. After 30 minutes of play, the Red Caribou had held the British off the scoresheet. Some fantastic saves by Antoni Kindler, a clutch penalty corner block by Scott Tupper and some friendly iron-hits had Canada entering the half break knotted up at nil-nil.
The third quarter was tough for Canadian hockey fans. Canada surrendered multiple chances, took a green card and a yellow card, and allowed two British goals. The first was a field goal off the stick of Liam Ansell, his second of the tournament. The second was a penalty corner rocket from Sam Ward.
Desperate for some offense in the fourth quarter, veteran Mark Pearson, Floris van Son and Keegan Pereira drove the attacking pace. Canada finally cracked the British defense as Gordon Johnston thumped a ball into the circle. Van Son grabbed the ball off the deflection and smashed a backhand into the bottom corner. According to van Son, getting that goal was a special feeling, especially because it breathed life back into the team when they needed it most. But at the end of the day, the sting of the loss looms.
“We said to each other, ‘first we have to score one, then we can think about a second,’” van Son said. “I was in the right spot at the right time. It feels special to score one [on the Olympic stage], but I would trade that for three points and a win.”
Team Canada battles Great Britain in Pool-B action at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Photos/Yan Huckendubler
The ensuing minutes were steeped in drama as Canada earned three consecutive penalty corners, none of which were successful. Great Britain capitalized on their strong PC defending and countered with a field goal by Liam Ansell, his second of the night.
The late Ansell goal was all the insurance Team GB needed. Knowing the importance of this game, Canada pulled their goalie in an attempt to get back in it. But it was too little, too late for the Red Caribou. Three-time Olympian, Pearson, knows what it’s like to play against these stingy, disciplined European sides. And although Canada brought a much better product to this morning’s game, Pearson said they still have higher to reach for.
“[Great Britain] doesn’t give you any mistakes. You have to work super hard to break them down,” Pearson said. “We knew it was going to be a fight. I think we put in a much better performance than we did the other night. We can be happy with some of the things we did out there, but ultimately disappointed with the result.”
Canada has another tight turnaround as they take on the Netherlands tomorrow night. The Dutch lost their first match against Belgium and surrendered three goals to South Africa before storming back to win in a tightly contested match. Captain Tupper said they know every game has the potential to yield valuable points, and they are targeting tomorrow as a chance to take three points off a top-tier team.
“They didn’t seem to be on their top form yesterday. But I would expect them to be extremely sharp, it’s going to be difficult one,” Tupper said. “You never know, if you put in a good performance, we might be able to get a result.”
All Team Canada field hockey action will be streamed/televised live by CBC. Click below for streaming details. In addition, Field Hockey Canada will be hosting an online chat-thread for every game, and special watch parties for our Great Britain and Belgium games. See below for more details.