PHOTO: Gordon Johnston and Gabriel Ho-Garcia celebrate a goal at the 2017 World League Round 2 in Trinidad and Tobago (Courtesy of Pan American Hockey Federation)
Canada’s men’s field hockey team is off to the World League 2 quarterfinal after a 10-0 win over Barbados in its final pool stage match in Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday.
The win means Canada finishes first in Pool A, with three wins and nine points, and will face 4th place Switzerland, which finished winless in Pool B in Thursday’s quarterfinal match (10:15am PT/1:15pm ET).
Gabriel Ho-Garcia and Gordon Johnston scored three goals a piece in Canada’s win. Johnston is now tied for the tournament lead in goals with five, while Ho-Garcia sits in second with four. Mark Pearson, who scored twice against Barbados, also has four goals through the first three games of the competition.
“We knew if we stuck to the game plan and played as well as we know we can, we’d come out on top,” says Ho-Garcia, who opened the scoring for Canada. “It’s just one of those games that we knew anything could happen, so we had to come out hard and get the win.”
All has gone according to plan at World League Round 2 for Canada’s men, who are ranked 11th in the world, entered the tournament the top-ranked team, and the lone team to have competed at the 2016 Olympic Games.
The Canadians should match-up well against the 30th ranked Swiss. But the Swiss are somewhat of an unknown entity, and the Canadians know anything can happen in a quarterfinal and plan to be ready.
“We don’t know much about the Swiss, but any game you have to respect your opponent,” adds Ho-Garcia. “So going into the game we have to watch some video and get to know how they play and hope to get the win and move on to the semis.”
Canada went ahead early in Tuesday’s win as Ho-Garcia scored twice in the third minute of play to put the Canadians up 2-0.
Johnston scored his first of three goals in the 13th minute, before Taylor Curran scored in the 15th and Ho-Garcia netted the hat-trick in the 20th.
Both Perason’s goals came in the second half, during which Canada had a total of four goals en route to the 10-0 victory.
Tuesday’s match against Barbados and Thursday’s quarterfinal both extend a theme that will be present as long as Canada is playing in this tournament: it will be the favourite in every game it plays.
“It’s definitely a different challenge,” says Johnston. “It’s one where we have to focus on the process and play like one of the best teams in the world. We need to make sure that we’re focused that we’re going into these next two games, especially against teams that aren’t ranked as high.”