The Men’s National Team returned from Malaysia finishing fourth at the 2019 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. The tournament served as a preparation event for the MNT’s FIH Hockey Series Final that is taking place in three weeks right back in Malaysia. The team got some quality competition and was able to prepare themselves to play in similar conditions. Canada lost to Korea, India and Malaysia and defeated Poland and Japan en route to a fourth place finish. Below are brief recaps of each game from during the tournament. Stay tuned for more information
India jumped on Canada early, notching four goals in the first half including a natural hat-trick off the stick of Mandeep Singh. The pressure and possession, especially in the early going, belonged to India. Canada fought back in the second half scoring three goals, two off penalty corner sets. One bright spot in this game was the Canadian youth getting on the board. Both Jamie Wallace and Fin Boothroyd scored late in the game. Boothroyd’s goal was a nifty finish after Gordon Johnston walked the baseline and fed the ball out front. Wallace’s tally was a straight shot off a PC.
Going into this competition, coach Paul Bundy’s goal was to make sure the young players got some good quality competition. Obviously the team wants results out of every game but having the youth movement make waves against one of the best teams in the world, is a good sign moving forward.
Today’s game was a tale of two halves. The scoring parade began in the first quarter as Malaysia took the lead after Canadian GK David Carter made two phenomenal saves but couldn’t keep the third effort out. Gordon Johnston answered back in the 15th minute with a penalty corner rocket to close out the first quarter. After Malaysia took their second lead of the game, Johnston stepped back to the PC line in the 22nd minute and fired his second of the night into the back of the net. Malaysia scored once more before the half was over on a penalty stroke.
The second half was a defensive battle. Both teams trading chances but neither able to capitalize. Both teams had great chances in the dying seconds of the game but the score remained 3-2 in favour of Malaysia. The two teams will clash again in 16 hours to decide who takes home the bronze medal as India and Korea will battle for gold. Johnston, who potted the two Canadian goals today said there are bright spots in the Canadian’s game, they just need to be more consistent.
“I thought we started to put together some great periods of possession and attack, now we just have to get some rest and recovery to get ready for the rematch tomorrow,” he said. “We want to build on some of the things we did well and push for a result.”
Canada faced off against hosts Malaysia for the second time in less than 24 hours. Canada had a faster start as Jamie Wallace penetrated the circle in the first quarter and fed the ball down low to Mark Pearson, who smashed a backhand past the Malaysian keeper. The lead was short-lived as Malaysia fought back in the second quarter with three unanswered goals. Down 4-1 late in the game, the youngster Jamie Wallace scored a beautiful goal off an individual effort, dribbling the ball through an array of Malaysian defenders and slipping it past the goalkeeper. It was too little too late for the Canadians as they settle for fourth place and a 2-4 record at the 2019 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. They will return to Malaysia in three weeks for the first leg of their Olympic qualification journey at the FIH Series Final where they will get another crack at a Malaysian side that bested them twice this week.
Action shots from the 2019 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia. – Photos submitted by PMF Sport Images.