Both the opposition and the climate provided enough challenges to the Canadian men’s national field hockey team as it finished fourth at the 2019 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup last week in Malaysia.
As a prep tourney for the ulpcoming FIH Hockey Series Final, also in Malaysia, it gave the national side a good glimpse into what it’s going to take to elevate into a medal position.
It came down to a showdown with the host country in the bronze-medal match, with Malaysia emerging 4-2 victors.
Earlier, New Westminster’s Brenden Bissett tallied the game-winning goal in the team’s second game of the tourney, a 4-0 shutout over Poland. Bissett, who is nearing 120 international games played for Canada, made his national team debut in 2011 and was a member of the 2012 Junior Pan American champions.
Canada also defeated Japan in Game 3 of the tournament, getting the game winning goal off James Kirkpatrick’s stick in the 41st minute.
In the tourney opener, Canada struggled to make quick adjustments and acclimatize to the humidity in a 6-3 setback to Korea.
Canada trailed 3-0 by the 20-minute mark and battled hard to pull even.
Burnaby’s John Smythe said while it wasn’t the start they hoped for, it showed a lot of determination in pushing back over the second half.
“The first game in the Malaysian heat is always tough. I’m proud at how the boys came back fighting in the fourth. We have some good building blocks to work on for the rest of the tournament,” said Smythe.
The squad will return to Malaysia before the end of the month to begin the road to qualify for the 2020 Olympics.