PHOTO: Matthew Guest and Gordon Johnston compete in Canada’s final game in a four-game against Ireland in June 2016 (Courtesy of The Hook Hockey Blog)
Canada’s men’s field hockey team wrapped up the Irish leg of its pre-Olympic European tour with a 2-2 draw Tuesday in Dublin.
With the draw, Canada leaves Ireland with one point in the four-game series. But despite the lack of results in the win column, the Canadian men remain confident about where they stand in their preparation for Rio.
“Today we certainly wanted to get a victory. We thought that was important,” says team captain Scott Tupper, who was one of two Canadian goal scorers in the final match against Ireland. “And then we spoke a bit about it after and your goals change as the game plays out.”
Tupper and the Canadians found themselves behind 2-0 by the 12th minute as the home side came out strong in the final match of the series. Ireland – like Canada – is headed to the 2016 Olympic Games and is in the thick of its preparation for the Games.
But Canada was able to fight back in the second half, scoring twice to tie the game.
Tupper scored in the 37th minute on a penalty stroke to cut the deficit in half before Mark Pearson evened the scored in the 55th minute on a Canadian penalty corner.
“It was really important for us to dig our heels in and fight back and earn points,” Tupper adds. “I think that showed a bit of resiliency.”
The Canadians now head to Spain for three matches against the Olympic-bound Spanish.
While Canada couldn’t pick up a victory in Ireland, what played out on the field was encouraging to the man in charge.
“The first game we were really unlucky not to get something out of that, the second as well,” says head coach Anthony Farry. “And the third game was our best game. We created plenty of chances and just couldn’t get it in the net.”
“It has been a really good block for us.”
Good performance mean tough decisions for Farry, who took twenty men to Europe with the hopes that the games would flesh out any final decisions needed ahead of Olympic selection.
Sixteen players and two reserves will be named to Canada’ Olympic field hockey team shortly after the Canadians return home to Vancouver in a week.
“There are some guys who we know are probably going to be (at the Olympics),” Farry adds. “But the ones that are on the border are proving it to be really hard. And that’s what we wanted to see and we’ve seen that so far.”
“These next three games against Spain are going to be crucial to decide the make up of our team.”
Not only will the games be important in determining the Olympic sixteen, but they are also key in the team’s preparation on the field ahead of Rio.
“We need to put together some good performances against Spain,” Tupper says. “I think we’re pretty close to where we want to be.”
“I’m pretty confident that we’ll be rounding into form and able to put our best foot forward in August.”
Before the Olympics, the Olympic team will host the United States in four matches in West Vancouver and Surrey, British Columbia in the first week of July.