(Image credit: FIH/Getty Images)
Canada closed out the Hockey World League Final with an 8-3 loss to Germany in the seventh place match Saturday in Raipur, India.
With the loss, the Canadians – ranked fourteenth in the world – finish eighth in the tournament in which they were ranked eighth and went up against the top seven teams in the world.
Coming off an impressive performance in the quarterfinal, which resulted in a 2-0 loss to the second ranked Netherlands, the Canadians had high hopes for the final match against the Germans.
But Germany, which had won the last four meetings between the two – most recently a 9-0 win at World League Round 3 in Argentina in June – began the game on the offensive, with two goals from Christopher Rühr in the third and fourth minutes.
World-class dragflicker Moritz Fürste converted on a penalty corner shortly after and by the eighth minute Canada was down 3-0.
The Canadians struggled to create any offensive opportunities in the first quarter. While they were able to hold possession and gain circles entries, they could not get the ball towards the German goal.
In the second quarter, Germany added goals in the eighteenth and twenty-fourth minutes to go up 5-0 and the game looked out of reach. But Canada, as they showed earlier in the tournament in games against Great Britain, Belgium, and Australia, were not going to go down without swinging.
Late in the first half, Canada won a penalty corner after a video referral showed a German defender not giving Canada five yards on a free hit. That corner started a string of four straight corner attempts in the final minute of play.
It was the last attempt that paid dividend, as Gordon Johnston fired a low dragflick under German goalkeeper Andreas Späck for Canada’s first goal.
The goal sparked the Canadians and in the second half they were able to notch the quarter’s only goal when Ricahrd Hildreth made a hard cross to the face of the goal where Matthew Guest stood alone and deflected the ball past Späck in the forty-first minute.
Canada was suddenly only down by three at the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Canada – much like it did against the Netherlands in the quarterfinal – began to press even further up the field. And while they strategy produced some chances against, it also resulted in another goal for.
— FIH (@FIH_Hockey) December 5, 2015
In the forty-ninth minute, defender Adam Froese – all the way up the field – found himself all alone behind the German defense. Froese was tackled from behind and earned a penalty stroke.
It was captain Scott Tupper who stepped up to the spot and put it by Späck to bring Canada to within two.
Germany quickly added another but at 6-3, Canada had a glorious chance to cut the lead again to two goals when Germany pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker to try and seal the victory. They ended up surrendering a penalty corner and Tupper’s flick was stopped on the line by a German defender.
It would be Canada’s last chance as with the Canadians still pressing the Germans were able to score two more goals on the counter attack in the final ten minutes to go on to the 8-3 win.
Canada, as expected, finishes eighth in the tournament and ends a busy and successful 2015. Having qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games, the Hockey World League Final was the first of several tune-up tournaments aimed at closing the gap between the Canadians and the top teams in the world.
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