The Men’s Senior National Team (MNT) is back in action as their three-week long carding camp kicked off in late October. The annual carding camp determines what players are eligible for Sport Canada carding and will also serve as a crucial assessment period for selecting the 2018 MNT and Senior Development Squads (SDS).
For Interim Head Coach, Paul Bundy, the camp is a great opportunity to get everyone back on the same field for a solid block of training and provides a chance for the young prospective players to make a push for the senior team.
“Really, the focus is on those guys that could potentially transition from our SDS or junior team to the MNT,” Bundy said.
According to Bundy, between the strong cast of returning players, the athletes playing in Europe and some talented new players, there is an added level of competition for available spots.
“In the past, there have been only five or six guys who are pushing for those positions,” he said. “Now we have 15 guys really contending for those spots.”
For team captain, Scott Tupper, seeing the future generation battle it out to make the team is inspiring and motivates him and his teammates for the upcoming year.
“It’s really good to see that there are guys knocking at the door and really nipping at our heels,” Tupper said. “The entire group raises their level when you inject new faces.”
Tupper said after a few months of individual training and less centralized work, getting the majority of the team back on the same field this month is a great jumping off point for the team heading into the 2018 competition schedule.
“Getting everyone back together, it really renews the energy,” he said. “…and at the end of the day, this is a tryout, so we have to perform. We have to prove that we deserve to be playing and training with the program for the upcoming year.”
Bundy said that one of the team’s primary goals was to off-shore players to professional leagues in Europe for additional competition experience.
“It gives them another opportunity to grow. It’s important for them to get exposed to different coaches, different players, a different level and different systems,” Bundy said.
Tupper, who played five years in Europe himself, echoes Bundy’s sentiment and said the competition is excellent and it is an opportunity for his national teammates.
“Especially as a Canadian, there’s added pressure for you to step up and prove that you deserve to be over there,” Tupper said. “It’s such good competition and a great way to work on performing under pressure every weekend.”
Canada is currently ranked 11th in the world and will use the competition schedule in 2018, not only to grow as a team, but will also use the year as an opportunity to improve on that ranking leading up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
2017 marked a year full of great competition and accomplishment for the MNT. The biggest moment coming at the World League Semi-Final where Canada upset sixth-ranked India to secure a spot in the 2018 World Cup. Between a Five-Nations Tournament in Spain, the Commonwealth Games in Australia and the World Cup in India, the MNT will have a busy year.
Stay tuned for the MNT and SDS roster announcement in December.