CANADA LOOKS TO BUILD ON BRIGHT SPOTS HEADING INTO NEXT MATCH
Canada began their Olympic campaign with a 7-1 defeat at the hands of world-number-5 and reigning Olympic bronze medalists, Germany.
It was déjà vu — from the 2016 Rio Games — for the Canadian men’s team as they drop their opener to Die Honamas 7-1. Despite scattered moments of creativity and attack from the Red Caribou, the Germans carried the possession and the play for the duration of the game. Although Canadian keeper, Antoni Kindler made several fantastic saves in short succession to start the game, Germany opened the scoring on a penalty corner set at the 11-minute mark.
In the 16th minute, right as the second quarter started, Canada sprung to life. Floris van Son delivered a piercing backhand ball into the circle to Gabe Ho-Garcia. Ho-Garcia one-touched the ball to Keegan Pereira who smashed it into the corner of the goal, tying the game 1-1. For about six minutes, Canada looked like they were back in this game and could make a push. The energy was stomped out swiftly, as Germany’s Christopher Rühr notched back-to-back goals, re-establishing the German lead. The German lead grew in the second half and they added a pair of late goals to close out the game.
Pereira has a knack for finding the net in Olympic openers. In his debut game against this same German side in 2016, Pereira also bagged a goal. He was held off the scoresheet for the remainder of the Rio Games. Scoring a goal on the Olympic stage is an achievement, but the team score line always comes first, and Pereira knows Canada must step it up in their coming matches if they want to make it to the bracket stage.
“It’s an indescribable feeling to score a goal on this stage, it really is. Especially in that moment, helping get the team back into it, getting that belief. It’s a special feeling,” Pereira said. “Obviously it didn’t go well for us after that, but I think it’s all mistakes that we can fix moving forward and we expect to have them figured out before we play GB.”
The attacking one-two punch of van Son and Pereira was threatening all game. Even before they got on the scoresheet, they were the bright spots in the Canadian attack. Pereira said it’s not just one aspect that needs tightening up, he said the team needs to up their performance on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
“We had some moments, but we have to do better,” he said. “I think we need to play with a little more confidence; we know we can make those forward connections, we know we can get circle entries and outcomes, we just have to play with that belief.”
On the defensive end, goalkeeper Antoni Kindler, making his first Olympic start, stood tall in the Canadian net. He weathered flurry after flurry of German assault. Kindler finished the night with 15 saves, facing 22 shots. Commenting on his Olympic debut, he said the whole team needs to tighten up and play a more consistent and complete game moving forward.
“The Olympic magnitude isn’t lost on me. Obviously there’s some nerves before a major competition like this, but those quickly disappear once you are in the game,” Kindler said. “I think our whole team played flat in moments, and it hurt us. Germany can be clinical in their attacks, and we paid for it tonight.
“I know we are capable of a better performance, and I know we all expect it of ourselves. I need to be better, we’re still a confident group; we just need to shore a few things up and bring a better team game against GB,” Kinder said.
Canada takes on Germany in opening round Olympic action at the Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo. Photos/Yan Huckendubler
Canadian Head Coach Pasha Gademan made his Olympic debut this evening behind the Canadian bench. According to Gademan, Canada showed some promise for stretches of the game but needs to tighten up on the defensive side and add a little more offensive flourish.
“There were batches in the match, tonight, where we played really good hockey. We showed that when we drive and push forward, when we are creative and attacking, we can be really good,” Gademan said. “It’s not always easy to find positives in a 7-1 game, but there were really good moments.
Team Canada has a tight turnaround, as they take on Great Britain in less than 48 hours. They face a Great Britain team who took down South Africa today 3-1 in a spirited affair. According to Gademan and Kindler, the team has more in the tank and expects to step up in their second showing.
“It’s in this team’s culture and built into its DNA to battle and improve every game,” Gademan sad. “I never question this team’s work rate; we’re always working hard. I believe we have the tools and power to come out much stronger and play a more complete game against [Great Britain].”