The capacity crowd at the national hockey stadium was treated to an early home-team goal that set the stage for a wild evening of hockey in Kuala Lumpur as the FIH Series Finals came to a close. Canada and Malaysia, the two top teams in the tournament met in the finals after failing to win their groups. Malaysia advanced through Austria in the semifinal and Canada defeated Italy, setting up a one-two matchup in the final.
Since 2011, Canada has only defeated Malaysia in regular time once and in a shootout a pair of times. Most recently, Malaysia defeated Canada twice at the 2019 Azlan Shah Cup. The home-team took the lead and handled much of the possession in the first quarter. Canada pushed back in the second quarter earning four penalty corners and capitalized on two of the them. Canadian captain, Scott Tupper scored the first PC goal on a classic drag-flick and Brenden Bissett scored the second on a beautiful set piece deflection. The two goals came within two minutes of each other. Late in the half, Malaysia earned a penalty stroke but failed to hit the target. Canada took a 2-1 lead into the second half.
As expected, Malaysia came out firing in the third, using a yellow card man-advantage and applying heavy pressure. The Canadian defense, back-stopped by goalkeeper Antoni Kindler stood tall and weathered the storm. Late in the third quarter, back at full strength, Canada countered and earned a penalty corner. They didn’t score on the PC but on the ensuing play, Adam Froese swept a ball into the circle and Canadian attacker Jimmy Kirkpatrick deflected the ball into the back of the Malaysian net, giving Canada a 3-1 advantage.
It was an all-out assault from the Malaysian side in the fourth quarter. Canadian goalkeeper Antoni Kindler made an incredible diving save on a penalty stroke with less than 10 minutes remaining. Malaysia added a goal with seven minutes left and then proceeded to pull their goalkeeper for an added attacker. Canada, with all their players back, withstood the pressure and defeated the home country 3-2 for a tournament victory and all-important ranking points heading towards Olympic qualification.
Canada’s next major competition is the Pan American Games in July in Lima Peru.