Field Hockey Canada > Young core of players to make big impact at Indoor World Cup

Rising stars on display in Pretoria as World Cup gets started

The Indoor National Team has gone through several transitions over the past few years, and today, on the eve of the Indoor World Cup, their roster looks quite different than the one that won the bid at the 2021 Indoor Pan American Championships.

According to head coach, Shankar Premakanthan, this transition over the past few years, was intentional to some degree. Many players retired and the team needed to build its core with youth and energy. Premakanthan said the current roster has that balance of veteran leadership, and youthful energy.

“We know the younger players will form the core of the next cycle,” he said. “But they are awesome. They’ve been learning every step of the way and have become true international hockey players. They also bring that fun, that levity and lightness to our team.”

Katie Lynes and Deepi Gill are two players that form this younger nucleus of the team, both of whom have yet to officially record an official indoor international cap. Gill, from Brampton, Ontario, was taught field hockey by her father, who immigrated to Canada from India. She said she was ‘voluntold’ to play goalkeeper, but once she made the switch, she started to love the position.

“I didn’t think I would like it. Everyone wants to score goals and thinks goalkeeping is boring,” she said. “But I’m so happy I did play goalie. I feel like I’m involved in the play and always engaged.”

She added that in indoor hockey, the goalkeeper is like a sixth member of the team and is always engaged in the play, noting that the speed of the game can bring the ball back to her at any point. She said this team is one of the most inclusive and fun teams she’s been a part of.

“This group is fantastic. We have good chemistry, and we play so well together,” she said. “The veteran players don’t dismiss our younger players. They bring in seniority and support us. And the young group, we bring that energy and optimism. A lot of us have never been there, so we have that excitement and energy.”

Lynes, McCrory and Gill at the Rohrmax Cup in Vienna, Austria. Photos/Johannes Girgis.

Lynes, a native to Oakville, Ontario, has had an accomplished outdoor career, playing on Team Ontario, the National Junior Team, as well as collegiately for UMass Lowell and University of Toronto. She said her first ever field hockey practice was an indoor training session with her club A&C. Many of the Ontario athletes have close ties to the indoor game, as the weather forces their hands during the winter months.

Lynes remembers going on a U19 indoor tour to USA in 2015 and getting her first international experiences. She said that marrying the indoor and outdoor game is good for a player’s overall development.

“The two games complement each other well,” she said. “A lot of the skills transfer. For me, it’s the stickhandling, and the speed. In indoor, the possession changes so quickly, it helps with decision making and being calm under pressure. I think everyone should play both.”

Lynes is looking forward to getting her first official international indoor cap this week at the Indoor World Cup. Coming off the Rohrmax Cup last month in Vienna, Lynes said the team is ready for the challenge.

“We have a mix of experience, so playing [at Rohrmax] was a huge learning opportunity for the team. It was this group’s first change to play at that truly elite international level,” she said. “We are on the same page now, we have the style of play we want, and we’re used to the speed of the game.”

Lynes said winning the gold medal at the Junior Pan American Championships in 2021 is her current crowning achievement in her hockey career. But she said she wouldn’t be surprised if the Indoor World Cup winds up surpassing that moment for her.

“We’re ranked last in the event. We have a good opportunity to go out and show the world what Canada is made of,” Lynes said.

Sam McCrory was teammates with Lynes on that junior national team that won JPAC gold in 2021. The Kitchener, Ontario native has 14 senior outdoor caps and has played for Royal Victory Hockey Club in Belgium. Despite being a part of this young core, McCrory brings a lot of experience in her own right to the team.

McCrory also played ice hockey for 10 years growing up, only stopping when she committed full-time to field hockey in university. She notes the indoor playing style is more similar to ice hockey, which is a good fit for her.

“The speed and the back-and-forth elements. Everything happens so fast, and coming from an ice hockey background, the indoor game appeals to me,” McCrory said. “The indoor and outdoor games complement each other. They develop skills in a different way.”

McCrory played on the National Junior Team at the 2022 Indoor World Cup in South Africa. Although the team didn’t get the results they wanted, she said that the experience has prepared her for large-scale international competitions.

“For me, the biggest learning is in how to adapt and respond to the ups and downs of any game,” McCrory said. “We have to be resilient. The Junior World Cup helped prepare me and helped me appreciate what it means to be at a big event like this one.”

She continued to add to the common thread; that this team is a tight-knit group with great on- and off-field chemistry and a camaraderie that strengthens the group.

“It’s been really great to meet and play with some of the girls I usually play against in the OUA. We’re used to being opposition, but we’ve come together and made connections,” McCrory said. “As the younger athletes on the team, I think we bring a level of energy to the team. We’re positive and we boost each other up and work to keep team morale high.”

Team Canada kicks off their competition with a matchup against Ukraine.  Watch Gill, Lynes, McCrory and the rest of the Indoor National Team take on the World this week at the Indoor World Cup in South Africa.