PHOTO: Keegan Pereira of Canada celebrates scoring his sides fifth goal with Taylor Curran of Canada during the 5th-8th place match between Canada and China on day eight of the Hero Hockey World League Semi-Final at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on June 24, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)
Canada scored three goals in four minutes to start the second half and never looked back in a 7-3 win over China Saturday at the 2017 Hockey World League Semi-Final in London.
Captain Scott Tupper scored three times, while Matthew Sarmento, Mark Pearson, Floris van Son, and Keegan Pereira also got on the scoresheet in the win.
Canada moves on to play for a spot at the 2018 World Cup in the 5th place match against India (3:45am PT/6:45am ET; CBC Sports) on Sunday. The Canadians have faced India once so far in London, dropping a 3-0 decision in pool play.
On Saturday, the teams went back and forth in a see-saw first half.
China put Canada under pressure early and ended up scoring the game’s first goal in the 4th minute on a penalty corner, when a drag flick came in slow on Canadian keeper David Carter which left a rebound in front for E Wenhui to put in for the 1-0 lead.
China had a chance to double the lead just moments later but Carter made a sliding save to keep the deficit at just one.
The Canadians tied the game in the 14th minute when Sarmento, who missed a chance to score just moments earlier, was setup by Gabriel Ho-Garcia for Canada’s first goal of the game.
China was able to once again take the lead early in the second quarter, when Meng Dihao capitalized on a Canadian turnover in the circle and hammered a ball by Carter in the 19th minute.
After having a drag flick attempt blocked on a corner in the 21st minute, Canada equalized in the 22nd minute when Tupper made good on another attempt. The goal was Tupper’s first of three in the match, all of which came on the penalty corner, on which Canada went three-for-six on the day.
The second half was all Canada, particularly early in the 3rd quarter went the Canadians went on a scoring frenzy and put the game out of reach.
Pereira found Pearson behind the Chinese defenders and Pearson put the ball through the Chinese goalkeeper Ming Cheng’s legs to give Canada its first lead in the 33rd minute.
Then, after Sukhi Panesar forced a turnover in the midfield, van Son beat a Chinese defender at the top of the circle before hitting home Canada’s 4th goal of the game in the 35th minute.
In the 37th, Pereira scored what is undoubtedly a contender for goal of the tournament when he was found up field, behind the China defence, by a Tupper aerial from his own 16. Pereira knocked the ball down, took one more touch in the air, before popping it up and over the Chinese keeper for Canada’s 5th goal.
The Chinese got one back on a Wo Wei drag flick in the 39th minute, but after Carter made a save on a backhand from Ao Yan in the 45th minute, Canada was awarded a corner with only 20 seconds left in the third quarter, and that’s when Tupper picked up his second goal of the game.
China kept pushing but Carter was on top of his game, making two saves on a scramble in front of his goal in the 51st minute. Tupper helped by making a strong defensive play sweeping the ball of his goal line before scoring his third goal of the game in the 52nd minute to complete the hat-trick and Canada’s 7-3 win.
While their final placing has yet to be determined, the top four finishers in London have already been decided, meaning Canada will play for the fifth and final 2018 World Cup spot when it takes to the field in the 5th place match on Sunday.