THE Canadian Men’s National Field Hockey Team has returned home to Vancouver with a silver medal for its second place finish at 2014 Champions Challenge in Kuantan, Malaysia. The finish was Canada’s best ever at the tournament, surpassing its placing of sixth in Argentina in 2012.
The team included South Asian players Sukhi (Sukhpal) Panesar, 20, of Surrey who plays midfield and is from United Brothers FHC, and Keegan Pereira, 22, of Ajax, Ontario, who plays midfield and is from UBC Thunderbirds.
“The team performed very well,” says Men’s National Team head coach Anthony Farry. “The most pleasing aspect was our level of consistency both on and off the pitch.
“We have a real focus on ‘what we need to do’ rather than being reactive to teams and changing things.”
Canada (ranked No.16) faced world No.7 Korea in the final and lost 4-0, but earlier in the tournament tied the Koreans 3-3. The Canadians beat world No.13 and host Malaysia in the tournament semi final.
The two positive results against teams higher in the world rankings combined with the silver medal will likely move Canada up a few spots in the world table.
The second place finish also ties Canada’s best finish at a major international event with its second place finish at the 1996 World Cup Preliminary in Cagliari, Italy, and the 1989 Intercontinental Cup in Madison, USA.
“It vindicates and validates a lot of what we already know and believe,” adds Farry. “Hard work, dedication and the level of commitment required to be successful are all areas where we excel.”
Canada also defeated No.17 France in the pool stage and No.18 Poland in the quarter final. Including the playoff rounds Canada finished with the tournament with three wins, two losses and one tie.
Forward Gabriel Ho-Garcia (Burnaby, B.C.) was named Best Junior Player and captain Scott Tupper (Vancouver, B.C.) finished fourth in tournament scoring with five goals.
The Men’s National Team will now continue its preparation for the 2014 Commonwealth Games to be held in Glasgow, Scotland July 23 to August 4. A roster will be named in early June.
“There is no doubt that we have a hard road ahead but we also know that this group is ready for that and with this taste they will be hungry to build on this result.”