Dragflick Newsdesk : With two bids on the line for the 2023 Hockey World Cup, the Red Caribou must make the finals to secure their spot.
Since the adoption of the Pan American Cup in 2000, Canada’s Men’s Team has yet to finish worse than second. But historical records don’t guarantee anything, and the team is taking nothing for granted, with perennial favourite Argentina in attendance and USA, Mexico, and Chile lurking. Every team will be going all out for the coveted World Cup bids.
Canada is coming off a second-place finish at the 2019 Lima Pan American Games and 12th place at the 2020 Olympic Games.
The bulk of the Canadian squad has been training in the domestic environment, in Vancouver, working with coaching staff in preparation for the Pan American Cup. The team took a short tour to California. Led by head coach Pasha Gademan, to get some time together before traveling to Santiago. Veteran defender, Gordon Johnston said the tour to Moorpark was key in their preparation.
“It was nice to get everyone on the field together again and get some new guys some experience. It was crucial in terms of bringing the group together and getting in a good spot before the Christmas holiday,” Gordon Johnston said. “It was a very important part of our prep.”
Notably, the team will be without long time leaders Scott Tupper and Mark Pearson, both announcing their retirements late last year. Despite losing some critical leadership pieces, the team remains largely unchanged, returning 14 players from their extended Olympic roster.
“Those guys were such a big part of our team for years. But one of the great things about them, they were always mentoring us and passing on knowledge,” he said.
“It leaves a bit of a hole, for sure, but they’ve done such an amazing job, they’ve set us up to feel prepared moving forward.”
Several of the Red Caribou have been playing in an elite European environment for the fall, including athletes in the Belgian, Dutch, and German leagues. Johnston has been playing for HGC in the Dutch Hoofdklasse and said the experience has been excellent so far. The Canadian defender said the competition level is high and it gives him weekly quality repetitions.
“It’s been great. Everyone has been so welcoming to me at the club. The hockey level is so high, and we have a really good team that will challenge for the title this year.”
The team will rely on their group winter training and their Moorpark training tour to make sure they are connected and feeling ready to take on Pan Ams this month. The Red Caribou open their Pan American Cup campaign on January 20, against Mexico.
Canadian Men’s Hockey team’s Roaster :
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