The time has finally come. After all the preparation, Team Canada is finally ready to compete in the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. Going in as the second highest ranked team in the tournament, Canada is hoping for a place in the finals, and a chance to fight for a gold medal at this prestigious tournament. A first-place finish will ensure a spot at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
|PLAYER NAME||CLUB TEAM||HOMETOWN||CAPS||POSITION|
|Adam Froese||India Club||Edmonton, AB||179||MID|
|Balraj Panesar||UBC Thunderbirds||Surrey, BC||60||DEF|
|Brandon Pereira||United Brothers||Surrey, BC||50||DEF|
|Brenden Bissett||Vancouver Hawks||New Westminster, BC||120||MID|
|David Carter||United Brothers||Vancouver, BC||182||GK|
|Gordon Johnston||Vancouver Hawks||Vancouver, BC||161||DEF|
|Iain Smythe||Vancouver Hawks||Vancouver, BC||191||FWD|
|James Kirkpatrick||West Vancouver FHC||Vancouver, BC||81||MID|
|James Wallace||UBC Thunderbirds||Vancouver, BC||31||FWD|
|John Smythe||Vancouver Hawks||Vancouver, BC||102||DEF|
|Keegan Pereira||HTC Mullheim||Toronto, ON||163||FWD|
|Mark Pearson||West Vancouver FHC||Delta, BC||264||FWD|
|Oliver Scholfield||Vancouver Hawks||Vancouver, BC||53||FWD|
|Scott Tupper||West Vancouver FHC||Vancouver, BC||296||DEF|
|Sukhpal Panesar||United Brothers||Surrey, BC||133||MID|
|Taylor Curran||West Vancouver FHC||North Vancouver, BC||169||MID|
Scott Tupper, one of Canadas most decorated players, recently hit the 300 Cap milestone during Canada’s test series against the Japanese national team.
“It’s been really great, and I’m just proud to have been able to be a part of this team for so long,” said Tupper. “I truly love playing for Canada and consider myself lucky every time I get to line up with the guys. I wouldn’t have thought I’d ever make it to 300, but it’s been a fantastic ride and I’m hoping I’ve got enough gas in the tank to push on for another couple years or so. Mostly, I’m just lucky the boys haven’t gotten too sick of having me around!”
According to Tupper, the veteran presence and stellar play of Mark Pearson and Sukhi Panesar has added to Canada’s attack and has led to some of their recent success.
“I could see a bunch of guys having good tournaments, but if I have to pick a couple, Mark has been playing well up front over the last little while and I could see him being really dangerous in attack,” said Tupper. “Sukhi has been strong in midfield lately and I think he could be really impactful controlling the game from the middle of the field.”
Field Hockey is a team effort through and through and although there are many players to look out for, Canadian head coach Paul Bundy will look to the whole team to deliver on the big stage in Lima.
“To win an Olympic qualifier, all the players need to play to or above their potential,” said Bundy. “Our more experienced players will be key: David [Carter] will need to be very solid in goal. Mark, Keegan [Pereiara] and [Jamie] Wallace will need to apply score board pressure. Gordon [Johnston] and Scott [Tupper] will need to both be finding the net on their penalty corners, while Adam [Froese] and Sukhi will need to dominate between the two 25 yard lines. And, we all will need to be gritty and collectively smart on our defence.”
Game 1 vs Mexico | July 30 | 2pm
Game 2 vs USA | August 1 | Noon
Game 3 vs Peru | August 3 | 4pm
Canada is the favourite to go undefeated in their group but the team understands that each game holds its own importance. One team that Canada is very used to facing are their neighbour’s south of the border, the United States. Over the years, this matchup is something that has turned into a rivalry; one Tupper is looking forward to.
“Any game at a Pan American Games is special, but it’s always a very competitive game against the USA,” said Tupper. “They’ve improved over the last few years, added some new players and have gotten some good results lately. We’ll have to be really sharp and perform at our best if we want to take the win.”
The major competitor in the Pan American region is Argentina. They are the third ranked team in the wolrd, and are the front-runners to win the tournament, something that Canada will look to steal from the Argentinians.
Although they are expected to have a tough knockout stage, Bundy is expecting a shot at the gold medal.
“The expectations are to manage the pool games well and top the pool,” said Bundy. “Play with a high level of ‘collective intelligence’ through the cross-over games and put ourselves in the final.”
Going into Pan-Ams, Canada has been working hard on filling the holes in their game and improving on their strong points. They have been training in preparation for the tournament, and feel that they have solved any problems that they might have had.
“Right now, it’s just making sure that we’re all on the right page with things like set plays, corners and different tactics we have, as well as maintaining a competitive edge,” said Tupper. “Most of the work is done, we just need to keep each other sharp and arrive in Lima ready to hit the ground running.”
“The team is always working on its gaps, but with half dozen training sessions and a couple warm games before the Pan-Ams start, the body of work is done and now it time to perform,” said Bundy. “We have an obligation to our community and ourselves to grab this opportunity with both hands. As Canadians we have a history of qualifying for the Olympics through the Pan-Ams, we plan to seize this opportunity and continue this tradition.”
Canada is coming off a big gold medal finish at the FIH Hockey Series Finals in Malaysia, then followed it up with a great performance during a test series against the Japanese National team. Canada will aim to keep their momentum flowing and use their experience to lead to continued success in Lima.
“We have an experienced group of individuals that knows their responsibilities and what they have to contribute in order for us to have success,” said Tupper. “That, and we are a really close group that loves spending time together and enjoys stepping on to the field to play together. We have a lot of experience in the group right now and that’s always helpful. The majority of our squad has played in big games and tournaments, so we’ll have that to fall back on as we get to difficult patches throughout the tournament.”
Canada’s first game of the tournament is on July 30th, when they take on Mexico in what should be a hard-fought, and competitive match to start the event. Follow the Field Hockey Canada event page for game results, photos and more.