Canada, Russia, Japan and USA complete semi-final line-up at Men’s Hockey World League Round 2 event
Thursday was quarter-final day at the Men’s Hockey World League Round 2 event in Tacarigua, Trinidad & Tobago, with Canada, Russia, Japan and USA all emerging victorious to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018.
The battle between the team that topped Pool A and the side that finished fourth in Pool B was far closer than many had predicted, with Canada’s Red Caribous (FIH Hero World Ranking: 11) overcoming a gritty Switzerland (WR: 30) 2-1.
Following two goal-less quarters, defender and penalty corner ace Scott Tupper put the Canadians ahead midway through the third period. However, it was a lead that lasted just three minutes, with Nicholas Steffen’s field goal restoring parity to set up a tense final quarter.
The winning goal arrived six minutes from time, with Tupper notching his second penalty corner of the game to put his side through to the semi-finals where they will meet Russia (WR: 22), who defeated Chile (WR: 26) 4-2 in the second match of the day.
The Russians dominated the contest and opened up a 3-0 lead going into half time thanks to open play strikes from Andrey Kuraev, Marat Khairullin and Alexander Korolev, with Ilfat Zamalutdinov making it 4-0 early in the third period.
Late Chilean goals from Andres Ovalle and Pablo Purcell reduced the deficit but did not affect the outcome, with Russia going through to the semi-final stage as deserving winners.
In the third match of the day, Pool B winners Japan (WR: 16) eased to a comfortable 5-0 win over Pool A’s bottom placed team Barbados (WR: 49). Striking sensation Kenta Tanaka continued his imperious form with a first minute goal before Seren Tanaka doubled the advantage ahead of the second quarter.
Shota Yamada, Hirotaka Zendana and Kentaro Fukada scored in the second, third and fourth quarters respectively as Japan set-up a semi-final clash with USA (WR: 29), who battled to a shoot-out victory over Trinidad & Tobago (WR: 33) in a remarkable final match of the day.
Mickell Pierre gave home favourites T&T a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute, with Dylan Francis doubling the advantage with just two minutes of the match remaining. Incredibly, USA scored two goals in the 59th minute to force a shoot-out, with Michael Barminski and the evergreen Pat Harris dragging their team back into the contest in the most unlikely of circumstances.
The USA were more clinical in the shoot-out, triumphing 3-2 thanks to converted efforts from Harris, Ajai Dhadwal and Tyler Sundeen to break the hearts of the home fans packed into the stadium.
The action continues on Saturday 1st April, with the 5-8 classification matches getting proceedings underway. Switzerland face Chile at 1315 (Local time UTC/GMT -4) before Trinidad & Tobago take on Caribbean rivals Barbados at 1530. The first of the semi-finals sees Canada taking on Russia at 1745 ahead of the USA versus Japan fixture at 2000.
Like all the Round 2 events, the competition in Tacarigua – which is located around 20 kilometers inland from capital city Port of Spain – consists of teams that came through the first phase of the competition and nations that were automatically given a bye through to Round 2 due to their higher placement in the FIH Hero World Rankings. The highest ranked teams will enter the World League at the Semi-Final stage of the Hockey World League which will take place in this summer.
The top two finishers from the men’s Round 2 events in Dhaka (4-12 Mar 2017), Belfast (11-19 Mar 2017) and Tacarigua, (25 Mar-2 Apr 2017) are certain to qualify for the Hockey World League Semi-Finals, being joined in the World Cup qualifier phase by the two highest ranked of the third placed finishers from those three events. Malaysia and China took the top two places at the event in Dhaka, with Egypt (FIH Hero World Ranking: 20) finishing in third place. In Belfast, Ireland claimed a first place finish ahead of France, with Scotland (WR: 27) taking third position.
To learn more about how the teams progress through the competition in the hope of reaching the 2018 Hockey World Cups, click here, with more details about all of the HWL events available by clicking here.
You can keep track of the tournament in Tacarigua on the official competition pages by clicking here and on FIH’s social media channels using the #HWL2017 hashtag.