A shootout performance of a lifetime from goaltender David Carter led the Canadian Men’s Field Hockey Team to an upset victory over the seventh ranked New Zealand Black Sticks 0-0 (8-7 in a sudden death shootout) in the Quarterfinals of the World League Semifinals Thursday in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
With the win, Canada will have two chances to earn 2016 Olympic qualification on the weekend and also qualifies for the World League Final tournament taking place in India in November.
Coming off a 9-0 loss against Germany, Canada had its work cut out for them heading into Thursday’s Quarterfinal match against the Black Sticks. The 15th ranked Canadian side knew they had to completely turn the tables to land themselves a spot in the Semifinals of the tournament.
Within minutes of the match it appeared that Canada meant business and proved why they earned a spot in the Quarterfinals. In what seemed like a completely different team in the red and white, Canada was calm and confident throughout the duration of the match.
It was a high intensity throughout and it appeared that the team which scored first would win the match and move on. After a back and forth pace match in regulation time, it was up to the classic shootout to determine the fate of Canada and their road to the Olympic Games in Rio.
The pressure started to build for the Canadians after finding themselves down 3-1 in the shootout, with the Kiwis having an two opportunities to come out victorious. New Zealand’s Ryan Archibald believed to have scored a goal winning the game. However, upon video review, the ball did not cross the line in time to count as a fair goal.
The no-goal was followed by a confident goal from Canada’s Sukhi Panesar and then a shot missing wide of the net for New Zealand’s Simon Child.
With his the weight of the team on his back, needing to score, Gordie Johnston ties the shootout up keeping Canada’s hope alive.
It was then up to Carter, who, in sudden death, continued his all-star form making four consecutive shootout saves to keep Canada alive and give them an eventual shot to win.
After dramatic events of goals from both countries, video reviews, and mind boggling saves by both goaltenders, it was Canada who came out on top. Adam Froese, a shootout hero from last year’s Champions Challenge in Malaysia, claimed the title of hero as he netted the shootout winner sending his country into the Semifinals!
The big storyline coming out the huge Quarterfinal win for Canada is without a doubt their goaltender, David Carter. Wearing his emotions on his sleeves during the post-match interview, Captain Scott Tupper had a lot to say about the man in goal.
“I think he’s underappreciated worldwide,” said the Canadian captain. “Hopefully people after this tournament will get a bit more respect for some of the things he’s done in the pipes.”
True to his nature, Carter credits his teammates for also bailing him out when he did help.
“More or less I was just trying to stay composed,” said the 33 year-old from Vancouver following the exhilarating shootout. “The guys work so hard and you just want to make every save for them. And If I let one in they pick me up.”
“It’s a great team effort and I’m happy for all eighteen guys”
Inching themselves closer to Rio 2016 qualification, the Canadians have earned themselves a day off and will face off against the winner of the Argentina-Japan Quarterfinal in one of two semifinals on Saturday in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
If Canada wins its semifinal on Saturday it automatically qualifies for the 2016 Olympic Summer Games. If it loses, it will have a second shot at qualifying by winning the third place match.