Tag Archives: National Team

Bonjour From Brussels

Well after a busy Summer with the National Team which had me in Glasgow, Scotland for the Commonwealth Games I’ve finally settled into my new home in Belgium and figured it was time to put pen to paper and update everyone on how I’m doing.

The search for a European Club can be difficult at times and I was fortunate enough to find a spot playing alongside Canadian National Team Captain Scott Tupper at Royal Racing Club de Brussels and the set up here couldn’t be much better. The club itself has a long and proud history and will be celebrating its 125 year anniversary next season. The facilities are equally impressive and we not only have a permanent tribune next to the main hockey pitch but also our very own street sign.

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The team itself has been super welcoming and we have a nice mix of Belgians, Canadians and even 3 Irish lads. The only downside to this is that it’s often difficult for the Belgians to understand the Irish when they speak English so Tups and I are usually called upon to be emergency interpreters, better equipped to decipher the confusing Irish lingo.

On the pitch we have had some successes already as we had a great last preseason weekend in England at East Grinstead Hockey Club, going 3 – 0 and winning the inaugural Five Feathers Invitational Trophy. This weekend was especially fun for Scott and I as we got to catch up with Kevin Pereira, a fellow Canadian manning the pipes for Reading HC this season.

Back in Belgium we have started the Division Honneur (DH for short) somewhat cautiously with hard fought draws on the road against Braxgata (3-3) and Daring (2-2), not terrible results by any means but tough not to have picked up a W considering how well we have been playing at times. Overall though we know it is a long season and as long as we pick up the 3 points this weekend in our first home match vs Leuven we are still on track for a top 4 spot and berth in the playoffs!

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Outside of hockey I’m quite busy coaching youngsters in the club and am beginning French lessons on Monday, so I’m quite confident the next blog post you see from me will be in perfect French! Also my girlfriend Abi has settled in nicely at her club Royal Wellington and outside of hockey is equally busy with coaching and a heavy course load UBC.

Thanks to everyone for their support back home and huge congratulations to our U-18 boys for their recent Silver Medal in the Youth Olympic Games, very impressive and hopefully a sign of things to come.

 

Allez Racing!

 

Mark

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FHCMNT Vancouver Viewpoint Challenge

Well there is now less than 6 weeks left until the first major tournament of the year for the Canadian Men’s National Field Hockey Team at the 23rd edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia. This will be the perfect opportunity for us to test ourselves against a whole host of high quality teams including Pakistan, Malaysia, France and Korea. We are going to need to be in absolute top condition to play our up-tempo, aggressive style against these teams especially considering the unforgiving Malaysian heat and humidity. I can tell you from experience that going from the cool, crisp West Coast air to the heat and humidity in Malaysia can make you feel like you’ve just smoked 75 packets of cigarettes before a match played underwater on a pitch doubled in size. Ok maybe a little dramatic… but the critical point is that we are going to need to put in a huge amount of work over the next month and a bit to get our fitness levels where they need to be. We also know that pounding pavement alone on these cold, wet and dreary winter days here in Vancouver is about the least motivating thing on the planet and that we need to spice things up a little if we want to push ourselves to where we need to be..

Thus… Enter…

The #FHCMNT Vancouver Viewpoint Challenge

The FHCMNT will be undertaking a variety of creative workout challenges around the city in search of the best viewpoints you can find on two feet. This is an opportunity for our team to not only inspire each other to work harder on the Road to Ipoh but also to inspire our community to stay true to their New Years Resolutions and get out there and explore the most beautiful city on Earth. We encourage people to run with us / challenge us / or share their favourite running routes and staircases with us.

You  can follow our progress on the fieldhockey.ca website or better yet the check out and follow the official MNT Instagram and Twitter accounts @fhc_mnt for real time updates on our latest conquests in the GVRD!

Today we kick off the #FHCMNT #VVC with a run from the bottom to the top of UBC… starting down at the infamous Wreck Beach before charting a course for the 17th floor of Gage Tower North! Stay tuned for the pics…

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How does it feel to be the Leafs?

“Errr… Welcome to Vancouver, the temperature outside is 15 degrees and slightly overcast… please remain seated until the seatbelt sign turns off… ohhh and for those looking for an update in the hockey game the Leafs are up 4 – 1 in the 3rd period… flight attendants please prepare for cross check… “
 

These were the first words we heard after arriving back in Vancouver from Paris and the many Leafs fans on board our flight AC181 from Toronto to Vancouver were quick to burst out into cheering and applause. Little did they know that by the time we had passed the first bar in the airport the score would be 4-3, by the time we had reached the baggage carousel it would be 4 -4 and by the time I climbed into my car and turned on the radio the Bruins had scored in overtime to win Game 7. On the drive home the radio hosts were already talking about how this was one of the greatest chokes in playoff history, and the front page of the Toronto Sun the next day sums up perfectly the general sentiment in the GTA…images

The irony of the situation did not escape me and I was quick to draw parallels to our own result in Paris at the FIH World League Round 2 Tournament only 36 hours earlier where we blew a 2 – 0 first half lead against France to lose 3 – 2. It was a win and your in scenario with only the top 2 teams progressing into the next round and thus we were extremely disappointed to come away with nothing… the wounds were still very fresh…

As I watched the highlights of the Leafs collapse later that night I couldn’t help but continue to draw parallels between the two games as at both the TD Bank Garden in Boston and the Saint Germain Hockey Club in Paris the home fans had helped to propel the comeback.  Their passion and energy helped to shift the momentum in the matches and we were unable to swing it back in time to hold on to the match.

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As an athlete I hate the word Choke and I feel for those Leafs guys getting blasted by the press and their own fans. Games are a constant roller coaster of momentum and in my 7 years as a member of the Canadian Team and 2 years in the Bundesliga I have seen this roller coaster shaped in countless different ways. The mistake we made in Paris was allowing that roller coaster of momentum to shift to such a degree that you feel like there is nothing you can do about it and you are merely out there waiting for them to score…

From my experience I think that solving this scenario is super simple and does not require 10 years of experience or 200 caps to learn. You need solid basics and to win fouls in order to slow down the match, decrease the tempo, allow your own team to reset and begin slowing down the momentum shift. Scooping the ball 70 yards seems at times like the best option to relieve pressure however often the ball is merely picked up and pumped back into your own half putting yourself on the back foot again. It’s the same in ice hockey where teams holding a lead tend to just hit the red line, dump it in and then retreat, allowing teams like the Bruins an easy opportunity to start an effective breakout. Our team, like the Leafs needs to learn from this experience and recognize the reasons for failure in order to prevent losses like this in the future. Solid basics, a strong mentality and an ability to recognize and respond correctly to situations and the shifting momentum in the match is critical and provides a framework for success.

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Overall this was certainly a disappointing result and progressing to World League Round 3 would have been a huge accomplishment and reward for our hard work, however I have to keep in mind that this is a young group at the beginning of a journey and we will have more chances for glory on the Road to Rio 2016

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Big Chimping…

So me and my teammates have recently started Chimping!
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Here’s the scoop… CHIMP (CHaritable IMPact) is a website which allows donations and tax receipts to be done easily online and encourages donors to “follow” and engage with us on our journey towards the Rio Olympics. The goal is to create a community of supporters who we can interact with using our CHIMP account. Donated funds are collected through this online charitable platform and then will be redistributed to my network of charities within CHIMP. Although this is definitely a very new technology, it has been done successfully by other Canadian athletes and I used Olympic Windsurfer Nikola Girke as inspiration for my own account. During the lead up to last summer’s London Olympics Nikola utilized her CHIMP account very successfully and to date has been able to attract over 50 members to her group and redistribute over $3000 CDN to charities which were especially meaningful to her including CAN Fund, Kidsport and the CKNW Orphans Fund. Nikola was great at posting photos, comments and her goals for the Olympics and was able to challenge her network of followers to donate more should she achieve a podium / PB finish in London. We aren’t talking major cash here but how cool is it that someone can say they offered up $20 to help motivate and drive an athlete to achieve her goal at the Olympic Games.
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As an athlete this is where I recognize the value of this new technology, as no longer are we forced to solicit money selling T-Shirts to our friends and family, we can now share our goals and aspirations within our community of supporters and challenge them to CHIMP us should we achieve them. Therefore, my goal at this point is to begin building my community of supporters that I can bring along with me on my journey to the Rio Olympics. Click the link below if you’re interested in checking it out I’d love to have you on board…
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Back at it…

The dreaded Yo-Yo

The dreaded Yo-Yo Test

The title says it all… After some baseline fitness testing for the boys last week out at UBC, we finally got to pick up the sticks again on Tuesday. It has been a long 5 weeks since our last game at the Champions Challenge in December and although we have been busy on the treadmill and in the weight room over the holidays there is always a special soreness that comes after the first on-field session back. Luckily a few ice baths, roll outs and maybe a yoga session or two over the next week will help sort that out.

However, despite the soreness and cold January weather there was a good competitive atmosphere at training, which I think has been aided by the introduction of some new juniors into the fold. Although maybe not quite as dramatic as the addition of Portman and Mendoza in Mighty Ducks 2 each of these young guns bring something to the table and generally increase the level of competition at training. In my mind, competition is a healthy thing in any team training environment and will only serve to push guys to train harder on and off the pitch.

Overall I think it’s been a promising start to the year and I am looking forward to see where guys are at during our first inter-squad match tonight…

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New Year, New Blog

Well here goes…

For starters, building and maintaining a blog is something that I have been stewing on for a while now and thinking back on it I guess I had a few good reasons to hold out, including a major lack of website building experience, a little nervousness about what my friends and teammates would think (shameless self promotion anyone?) and I guess an overall feeling that what I had to say wouldn’t resonate with anyone in particular.

However, the more I have thought about it and the more time I have put into building this site the more excited I have become about this new opportunity to express myself, my thoughts and my goals as I move into a new 4 year cycle with the Canadian Men’s National Field Hockey Team. Missing out on London last summer was an unbelievably tough pill to swallow, but to be honest and to the credit of our group we have rebounded well from that disappointment and have used it to fuel us in our trainings on the pitch and in the weight room. (Or hiking / doing wind sprints / piggy back races up the side of Cypress bloody Mountain – although the view might have been worth it…) IMG_0277

I am pumped about this new cycle but know that, in order to be successful moving forward, we need to professionalize our training environment as much as possible, and I guess this blog, as well as serving to update my friends, family and fans on what our team is up to, is a way for me to articulate and hold myself accountable to both my athletic and scholastic goals. Essentially if I write it down and tell the world about it I better be doing it!

I’m kind of feel like I’m throwing myself in at the deep end here so would appreciate any comments, questions, concerns that you might have…

Stay Tuned!

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