Canada got the start they wanted but couldn’t keep the momentum going in the second half, eventually falling to Pakistan 3-1, finishing eighth in the 2018 Commonwealth Games hockey competition.
Today’s game was a tale of two halves. With 11 minutes elapsed in the first quarter, Canada’s James Kirkpatrick played a ball across the baseline that wound up deflecting off a Pakistan defender and into the net. A fortunate bounce, no doubt, but a worthy representation of the pressure and attacking zone time that Canada mustered in the first half. The stellar play of the Pakistan keeper, Imran Butt, kept the score margin tight after 30 minutes of play.
It was a different Pakistan side that showed up in the second half. They took control and dominated the play on both sides of the ball. A two-goal third quarter gave Pakistan the lead and the momentum heading into the final frame. Despite the late penalty corner efforts from Canada, they were unable to claw their way back into this match. Pakistan notched a late marker and wrapped up seventh place at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Canada, who came in ranked fifth at the event, the three-rank drop was disappointing. For Canadian team captain, Scott Tupper, today’s incomplete team game was an example of one of the key issues for the Canadian side.
“We actually started today’s game really well, but we couldn’t add more goals in the first half and apply scoreboard pressure,” he said. “…and then we just got sloppy in the second half. It wasn’t a complete performance.”
Despite the disappointing results at this year’s Commonwealth Games, Tupper thinks there were sections of time where the team played high quality hockey. It’s those times that he said the team will draw on moving forward.
“Obviously, the win against Scotland was a highlight,” Tupper said. “But I think the biggest thing for us was consistency. At some moments we played really good hockey. But it only came in patches. Moving forward it will be about putting complete-game performances together.”
When asked where the deficits in the team’s game this week were, Tupper responded emphatically that the team needs to work on attacking and finishing off their goal-scoring opportunities.
“I mean, one field goal in five games. It’s just not good enough at this level,” he said. “We have to be able to score if we want to compete at the highest level. We have to work on developing that killer instinct in the circle.”
Tupper and his teammates will decompress and evaluate their performance over the next few weeks as the team recovers from competition and then it will be straight back to work preparing for the World Cup in December. Canada, currently ranked 11th in the world will face 15 top-ranked teams at the World Cup. Be sure to follow along as the team makes the seven-month march to Bhubaneswar.
Photo highlights from Canada’s final match at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Photos/Yan Huckendubler