PHOTO: Canada’s Rajan Kahlon (right) is challenged by Mexico’s Miguel Othon May 20 at the 2016 Junior Men’s Pan American Championship in Toronto (Photo: Yan Huckendubler)
On the shoulders of three second half goals, Mexico defeated Canada’s Under-21 men 3-2 in both teams’ first game of the 2016 Junior Men’s Pan American Championship Friday in Toronto.
All five goals in the game were scored in an intense second half, which featured back-and-forth action, including a Mexican scoring chance in the first moments of the half and Canada scoring in the 70th minute.
“We had a couple chances to score and execution wasn’t the best,” says Canada’s Head Coach Inderpal Sehmbi. “We didn’t do a couple things we talked about before the game. You’ve got to do those things to win games.”
The game began with a quick opportunity for the Canadians, who were playing in front of a home crowd at the University of Toronto’s Pan Am Fields.
In the first minute, a ball was hit hard from the corner of the pitch across the face of the Mexican goal and Ottawa’s Rohan Chopra just missed getting a stick on it at the side of the net.
Canada had another chance to open the scoring in the 6th minute on their first penalty corner of the game. Brandon Pereira lined up and took the dragflick but the Mexicans were able to block.
Mexico got their best chance of the first half on a penalty corner of their own in the 19th minute, but Canada’s lead runner Satbir Brar came up with a big block.
Before the end of the half, Mexico was given a green card for a foul in the midfield and Canada was able to earn another corner in the 34th minute. This time, Pereira got his shot through but narrowly missed to the Mexican goalkeeper Jose Hernandez’s right.
After the scoreless first half, both teams came out with more emotion and intensity in the second.
Only moments into the second frame, Mexico sent a long ball behind the Canadian defense, but the breakaway chance was put just wide by Canadian keeper Iqwinder Gill.
Canada pushed back and a nice run the length of the Mexican half and into the circle by Fin Boothroyd resulted in Canada’s third short corner of the match. But Johnny Gill’s attempt was blocked.
Only moments later, Mexico was given their second corner of the match and scored the first goal of the game when Ivan Arballo beat the right post-man for the 1-0 lead in the 44th minute.
The Mexicans continued to pressure but Canada was able to avoid a second goal against and in the 51st minute got their first of the game when Pereira – on his third short corner attempt – put a high, hard flick into the top corner to tie the game.
— PAHF – Pan Am Hockey (@PanAmHockey) May 20, 2016
Minutes later, Chopra had an opportunity at the side of the goal – similar to his chance in the opening moments of the game – but couldn’t connect to give Canada the lead.
It was Mexico – on another corner conversion at the near post – which ended up going ahead in the 59th minute on a flick by Maximiliano Mendez.
With time running out, Canada threw everything at the Mexicans to try and tie the game.
Chopra got behind the defense in the 62nd minute and was knocked down from behind, but the umpires ruled only a long corner.
After two unsuccessful penalty corners, Canada pulled its goalkeeper for the extra attacker and Mexico ended up scoring in the 69th minute (Raymundo Lemus) to go up 3-1.
Canada continued to press, now trying to lessen the goal differential and in the 70th minute were able to do so on a nice solo effort by Amrit Sidhu.
The game ended 3-2 for Mexico, who join Chile at the top of Pool B with 3 points. Canada will face the Chileans in its next match Saturday at 2:30pm PT/5:30pm ET.
The game can be watched live here.
Post-game interview with Canadian coach Inderpal Sehmbi: