Canada’s field hockey teams are well represented in the 2015 Pan American Elite Teams as seven players – four men and three women – cracked the all-star squads.
On the men’s side, Canadian captain Scott Tupper, goalkeeper David Carter, defender Adam Froese, and forward Gabriel Ho-Garcia were named to the sixteen-man Elite Team, giving Canada four players on the team, which is tied for the most with World Number six Argentina.
Tupper, the twenty-eight year-old from Vancouver, was named to the Elite Team for a record fourth time in five years since the Pan American Hockey Federation began naming Elite Teams in 2007. In 2015, he captained the Canadian Men’s National Team to qualification for the Olympic Games (2016 in Brazil) for the first time since 2008.
Helping Tupper in that cause were fellow Elite Team nominees, Carter, Froese, and Ho-Garcia.
Carter had a career season highlighted by an outstanding, all-word performance at the World League Semi-Final in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where Canada finished fourth and secured their 2016 Olympic berth. Carter was named Most Valuable Player and Goalkeeper of the Tournament, which is a first for a Canadian player.
Adam Froese’s year was highlighted by two dramatic shootout-winning goals in games that will go down as two of the most important in Canada’s field hockey history.
At the World League Semi-Final in Argentina, a lengthy shootout against seventh ranked New Zealand ended when Froese was able to find the back of the net, sending Canada to the tournament semifinal and all but assuring them an Olympic spot.
Froese followed that up by once again scoring the shootout winner – this time on home soil – when Canada beat Brazil at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Ontario. The goal and win officially landed Canada a spot at the 2016 Olympics.
Gabriel Ho-Garcia is quickly becoming one of Canada’s most feared strikers. The twenty-two year-old from Burnaby, British Columbia, was electric in 2015 scoring in bunches, including a hat-trick against host Malaysia at the 2015 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, a game in which he was named Man of the Match.
Ho-Garcia also had a game to remember at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, when he scored four goals in an 8-1 win over Mexico.
On the women’s side, Canada’s Women’s National Team is also well represented, with three players on the sixteen-woman Elite Team.
Only the Pan American Games gold and silver medalists, the United States and Argentina – ranked eighth and third in the world respectively – have more players named to the team with four.
Kitchener, Ontario’s Brienne Stairs is named to the Elite Team for the second time, after making the cut in 2011. Stairs, along with the two other Canadian Elite Team members, played in all twenty-four matches in 2015, scoring six goals, none more important than the winning goal in the 2015 Pan American Games bronze medal match against Chile.
The goal and win gave the Canadian women their first podium finish at the Pan Am Games since 1999 in Winnipeg, where they also won bronze.
This year saw North Vancouver’s Karli Johansen break out as an offensive force. In addition to her solid and consistent work on the backline, the defender also scored six goals in 2015, many coming from her vaunted drag-flick. Johansen had four goals at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto.
Rounding out the Elite three, Kelowna’s Abigail Raye continued to impress in 2015, playing up and down the lineup and giving the Canadian women a steady, experienced presence in every match.
The Canadian women were also celebrated throughout the year when Hannah Haughn and Kaitlyn Williams were named Junior Player and Goalkeeper of the tournament respectively at World League Round 2 in Dublin, Ireland.
Canada had six athletes – Tupper, Haughn, Mark Pearson, Matthew Guest, Kate Gillis, and Danielle Hennig – named to the Pan American Elite Team in 2013.