Canada’s men’s field hockey team bounced back after a series opening-loss Thursday with a strong performance resulting in a 0-0 draw with Spain Friday in Madrid.
Canada began the second of three matches on the front foot, earning the game’s first penalty corner in the 2nd minute.
On the short corner, the ball was injected in the direction of Gordon Johnston, but Canada played a variation to captain Scott Tupper who attempted a shot towards goal that was blocked by a Spanish defender.
After Spain failed to convert on a corner of its own in the 7th minute, both teams defended well for the remainder of the first quarter, not allowing many more opportunities.
The Canadians began the second quarter much like they did the first, with plenty of possession and a prime scoring opportunity early.
After midfielder Mark Pearson took a quick free hit and found Sukhi Panesar on the baseline, Panesar showed great skills to get by three Spanish defenders and unleash a diving backhand, but the Surrey, British Columbia native’s attempt just missed and the game remained 0-0.
There was no letup from the Canadians throughout the course of the game and as play resumed after a scoreless first half, Canada went back on the offensive.
In the 34th minute, Gabriel Ho-Garcia exploded through the midfield to the top of the Spanish circle, where he flipped the ball over the sticks of multiple defenders before putting a backhand shot just wide of the far post.
It looked as though it was just a matter of time before Canada broke the deadlock.
In the 40th minute, Richard Hildreth found himself open at the far post. He dove for a ball that was played in his direction but his one-handed deflection went just over the goal.
Despite all the offense, the Canadians needed a spectacular defensive play late in the third quarter to keep the game tied.
On a Jordi Carerra option on a Spanish corner, the Canadian post-man Tupper batted the ball out of the air and wide of the goal.
The final chance to take the lead and win went in the favour of the Canadians in the fourth quarter, when – off the rush – Matthew Sarmento was fed a ball in prime position. He quickly turned and fired a hard hit towards goal but Spanish keeper Mario Fernandez as quick to react and turn it away to preserve the 0-0 tie.
The Canadians will be encouraged by the amount of chances they created on Friday but will likely consider themselves unlucky not to have picked up the win.
Canada and Spain do battle one more time on Sunday at 11:00am local time (3:00am PT/6:00am ET). The game can be watched like here.