Tag Archives: toronto

Never an easy task…

Well turns out defending your Pan Am Cup title in front of your friends and family on home soil is not as easy as it sounds. Despite being undefeated after two games we are less than satisfied with the 3 – 1 win against Brazil and the 2 – 2 tie against Chile last night, especially allowing them to come back from being 2 – 0 down at halftime. This draw has made our goal of winning this tournament that much more complicated and we recognize as a group that we have lots of work and fine tuning to do over the next couple of days. What was especially disappointing for me was that it appears the lessons of our France match at World League Round 2 which I discussed here have not been learned and our young group is going to take a little more seasoning before we become comfortable in the pressure matches.

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However despite all this, what is reassuring and positive for me is that never before as a member of the Canadian Team have we looked so dangerous going forward or created as many goal scoring chances and penalty corners. I know it sounds cliche and I am going to sound like your classic NHL’er in a post game interview but it has literally been incredible how snakebit we have been in front of goal and how with just a little ‘kook luck’ around the keeper we might have won these two games very convincingly. Hopefully with a little extra work in the D at training over the next couple of days we will be able to start converting these chances in the matches and make our home town fans happy!

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All in all not the ideal start to our Pan Am Cup defence, but all the boys are loving the support from back home and here in Brampton and we are still positive and looking forward to our next match against Trinidad and Tobago…

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Playing on home soil…

During my 6 year international career I have had the privilege to represent my country over 130 times and compete at the highest level across  6 continents. I have competed in two Commonwealth Games, an Olympic Games and a World Cup and yet always considered there to be one major omission from my hockey resume… The opportunity to play a meaningful tournament on home soil in front of a passionate Canadian crowd!

Certainly international test series and matches, such as the recent Brazil matches in Vancouver or the India Series in Surrey back in 2009 have always been an awesome experience and a great boost for the local hockey community but for me there is something extra special about playing tournament hockey on home soil. Winning the last edition of the Pan American Cup in Chile back in 2009 was the highlight of my hockey career to date and I still get chills thinking back or when I look back at the pictures.

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I can only imagine what the feelings would be like if we were able to carry that cup around the Cassie Campbell pitch here in Brampton in front of 2000 Canadians in 8 days time. To give you some perspective on how much this tournament means to Canadian Field Hockey players check the blog I recently wrote breaking down the diary entries from the Canadian boys who won gold on home soil at the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg. I look to the successes of the past for inspiration and hope that this group of guys will be able to write their own chapter in Canadian Field Hockey history over the next week!

Overall, winning this tournament has been my sole goal since we failed to qualify for the London Games last February and the boys have put countless hours in on the pitch and in the gym to be ready for our first game tomorrow against Brazil. I for one cannot wait to suit up…

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Also please remember to check out http://www.panamhockey.org/en/home for all the tournament info and live streaming of the matches!!

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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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