Without a doubt, the highlight the last quadrennial – outside of the 2016 Olympic Games – for the Canadian men’s field hockey team was a dramatic fourth place finish at World League Round 3 in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2015.
Canada’s Men’s National Team, which at the time was ranked 15th in the world, defeated the then 7th ranked New Zealand Blacksticks in a 14-round shoot.
The quarterfinal win guaranteed Canada a top four finish at the tournament and is what got Canada into the Olympic Games.
WATCH: Highlights of Canada vs New Zealand in the 2015 World League Semi-Final quarterfinal:
So as Canada gets ready for yet another World League competition – Round 2 in Trinidad and Tobago beginning on March 25 – they do so with recent successes in mind.
“Our success is in the past, but it’s still exciting to get back there (to World League) just because it has treated us so well,” says goalkeeper David Carter, who was one of Canada’s stars in the shootout, won goalkeeper of the tournament, which led to his nomination for the International Hockey Federation’s Goalkeeper of the Year in 2015.
The 2015 World League Semi-Final success came after Canada finished third at World League Round 2 in San Diego, California earlier that year.
That competition also featured dramatics, with Canada having to overcome weather and beat Russia in a grudge match after losing to them earlier in the tournament.
All told, Canada knows that the beginning of another World League cycle means important games, and potentially more drama.
And that’s welcomed – and almost unavoidable. But with qualification on the line, the Canadian men are focused on results.
“We take it really seriously,” says James Kirkjpatrick, who was a part of the Canadian team that beat New Zealand in the quarterfinals at World League Semi-Final in 2015. “This is the first stage for our World Cup qualifier, so we want to go and qualify for Round 3 to give ourselves the best opportunity to make it to that world cup.
And while moving on to the World League Semi-Final later this year by finishing in the top two in Trinidad and Tobago is a priority, it is not the only goal.
Canada is looking for more, as it continues to cement itself as one of the top field hockey nationas worldwide.
“Now that we’re creeping up in the rankings (Canada is currently ranked 11th in the world), ranking points really matter for us,” Kirkpatrick adds. “So this is a tournament that we want to go and not only qualify, but win, so that we can pick up the ranking points and try and crack that top ten.”
And if it takes some drama – and maybe another shootout – then Carter and his teammates are all for it.
“I love a good shootout,” says the 35 year-old keeper, who will team up with Antoni Kindler as Canada’s two backstops at World League Round 2 in Trinidad and Tobago. “But it would great if we could wrap up all the games in regulation time and come away with some hard fought good wins.”
Because that’s what World League is all about – winning. And if there are some theatrics that come along way, Canada is ready.
Canada opens World League Round 2 on March 25 against the United States at 1:15pm (local time) in Tacarigua, Trinidad and Tobago. Click here for Canada’s full schedule, results, and game recaps.