Canada’s Head Coach, Paul Bundy said before the Commonwealth Games began that it was imperative that the team start well. After a back-and-forth first half against New Zealand on Friday morning, where the teams traded chances, it would have appeared that the fans were in for a tight battle.
Keegan Pereira, Floris Van Son and James Kirkpatrick all had great chances in the opening frame. Antoni Kindler was standing tall between the pipes turning away a plethora of Black Stick chances including two penalty corners. A penalty corner goal from New Zealand late in the first half was the only marker of the first 30 minutes but it was a dangerous sign of what was to come.
New Zealand came flying out of half and tallied four goals in the third quarter, all but putting it out of reach for the Red Caribou. Canada had a bounce-back fourth quarter potting two goals of their own but it wasn’t enough to close the gap.
Canada’s two goals came on penalty corners. The first was a slick finish by James Kirkpatrick as he deflected a creative penalty corner set piece past the New Zealand keeper. The second goal was Gordon Johnston and this one was pure power. Johnston fired the classic drag flick right under the bar on the right side of the net pulling Canada within three goals.
It was too little, too late for Team Canada as the New Zealand Black Sticks cruised to a 6-2 victory to kick off their Commonwealth Games campaign. In the end, Canada made good on two of their four penalty corner opportunities where as New Zealand punched in three and added three from the field.
Team Canada’s path to podium contention just got a little bit tougher but Canada will have an opportunity to bounce back against Scotland tomorrow. Start time is 11:30am on Saturday April 7th (For viewing in Canada that will be April 6th at 6:30pm PDT).
Canada takes on New Zealand in opening round action at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Photo/Yan Huckendubler