Hockey Headlines

Saturday, 30 July 2016

The Field - Part Five

HBIC's look at the teams taking the pitch in Rio for the 2016 Olympic field hockey event continues today. We're nearly halfway through the teams so we should start seeing some gold medal favorites shortly, but we still have a few teams to roll through as the August 6 start date approaches. I encourage you to look back through the previous four entries to get you set for the field hockey tournament, and there is a piece about the rule changes that were made for the Olympic Games that should probably be read as well. With that in mind and hopefully read, here are the next two teams from the Rio field hockey event!

Women's #8 - South Korea

QUALIFIED: 2014 Asian Games (1st-place).

TEAM COLOURS: Red, white, blue.

OLYMPIC MEDALS: Silver - 1988; silver - 1996.

LONDON OLYMPICS: 8th-place.

South Korea was the first team to qualify for the Rio Olympics with their tournament win at the 2014 Asian Games. They went undefeated in the preliminary round, hammering Kazakhstan 11-0, downing Japan 2-0, and crushing Hong Kong 8-0. The beat India in the semifinals by a 3-1 score, and then captured the championship over China by a 1-0 score. With the win, they earned the Asian continental qualifying spot for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

South Korea also took part in the FIH World League Semi-Finals in Antwerp, Belgium. The preliminary round saw the Korean squad tie Italy 1-1, fall to the Netherlands 2-1, hammer France 11-0, and beat Japan 1-0. In the quarterfinals, they downed Belgium in a penalty shootout, downed New Zealand in a penalty shootout in the semifinals, and lost in the final to the Netherlands by a 2-1 score. Overall, not a bad showing from the South Korean team at the FIH Semi-Finals.

The South Korean team can score as shown by their two tournament performances. In the two events, Kim Jong-eun recorded eight goals, Oh Sun-soon scored six goals, Park Mi-hyun had five goals, and Cheon Eun-bi had four goals. 13 players scored for the Koreans in the two events, and they finished first- and second-place in the two events. This could be a team to keep an eye on.

OLYMPIC OUTLOOK: I had stated that these teams in the middle of the pack could be wild cards, and South Korea fits the bill. They can score in bunches when given the opportunity, and they can certainly keep pace with the good teams. They are excellent in penalty shootouts, and they beat some good teams ranked ahead of them at the FIH Semi-Finals. A medal isn't out of the question for the South Korean squad by any means. A betting man would take a safer bet, but the Koreans could be on the podium after all is said and done.

Men's #8 - New Zealand

QUALIFIED: FIH World League Semi-Finals (6th-place).

TEAM COLOURS: Black, white, light blue.

OLYMPIC MEDALS: Gold - 1976.

LONDON OLYMPICS: 9th-place.

New Zealand needed help to make the Olympics as they finished in sixth-place at the FIH World League Semi-Finals and lost to Australia at the 2015 Oceanic Cup. With four spots available, they got the help they needed when Argentina - second at the FIH Semi-Finals - won the 2015 Pan-American Games to become the North American continental qualifier, and the Netherlands - third at the FIH Semi-Finals - won the 2015 EuroHockey Nations Championship to become the European continental qualifier. Their qualifying spots at the FIH Semi-Finals then went to the next best teams - Spain at fifth-place and New Zealand at sixth-place!

New Zealand got off on the right foot in the preliminary round at the FIH Semi-Finals with a 4-0 win over Egypt. They then beat Japan 2-1, tied the Netherlands 1-1, and tied South Korea 3-3. They ran into a plucky Canadian team in the quarterfinals, though, and fell in a penalty shootout after ending the game in a scoreless draw. They would meet Japan again in the consolation semifinals and win 4-1 before losing to Spain in the fifth-place game by a 3-1 score.

Captain Simon Child was the leading scorer for New Zealand in the FIH Semi-Finals with four goals, but the scoring threats are many on the Black Sticks squad. Steve Edwards, Hugo Inglis, and Nick Haig all had solid tournaments as well, and nine different players recorded goals over the course of the tournament. New Zealand proved they can play with the big teams as they played to a draw with the Netherlands, but their loss to Canada still leaves some room for improvement.

OLYMPIC OUTLOOK: New Zealand has all the makings of an Olympic champion with balanced scoring, good defence, and excellent fitness. New Zealand also seems to fall into periods of scoring droughts against teams that play a defence-first mentality. While there is no denying they have the talent to stand on the podium, a consistent effort over the two-week Olympic tournament will be needed if they hope to take down some of the better teams.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the field!

Friday, 29 July 2016

The Field - Part Four

With the break in the series thanks to The Hockey Show, we're back to business here on HBIC in looking at the next set of teams in the Rio Olympic field hockey event. The teams we'll see in Parts Four to Six are generally what would be considered "wild cards" - good enough to win the event, but inconsistent enough to finish anywhere down to eighth-place or lower. They have the talent to make waves in the preliminary round, but it's their performances in the medal round that often leave their fans wanting something more. In any case, here are the next two teams in this examination!

Women's #9 - Germany

QUALIFIED: 2014–15 Women's FIH Hockey World League Semi-Finals (3rd-place).

TEAM COLOURS: Black, red.

OLYMPIC MEDALS: Silver - 1984; silver - 1992; gold - 2004.

LONDON OLYMPICS: 7th-place.

Germany claimed one of the four available spots at the 2014–15 Women's FIH Hockey World League Semi-Finals by finishing in third-place at the event. Germany's preliminary round went pretty well as they hammered Uruguay 8-0, downed Ireland 3-1, tied the Americans 2-2, and tied South Africa 0-0. They downed Spain in the quarterfinals via the penalty shootout before running into the Great British team who defeated Germany 1-0. This pushed Germany to the bronze medal game, and they brought home some hardware after beating Argentina in a penalty shootout.

Germany has some excellent scoring threats in Lydia Haase, Hannah Krüger, and Eileen Hoffman. They have a fantastic young player in Charlotte Stapenhorst who received the Young Player of the Tournament award at the Women's FIH Hockey World League Semi-Finals, and she is a definite scoring threat as well. They have a balanced attack with ten players recording goals at the FIH Semi-Finals, and they showed that they can win in penalty shootouts when the chips are down. Defensively, they held their own with teams ranked higher than them, but they couldn't get the results on the scoreboard they needed when it mattered.

OLYMPIC OUTLOOK: I like Germany's chances to bring home a medal, and they seem to win a medal every three Olympiads. This would be that year, but trends can only continue if they play above their heads when running up against upper echelon teams. There will be a number of those teams in Rio, so this German squad will need to fire on all cylinders for the two weeks in Rio. I like Germany, but they're facing an uphill battle if they are looking to medal in Brazil. They're a wild card for a reason, so don't bet heavily on Germany if the risks seem to high. It might be a safe play.

Men's #11 - Germany

QUALIFIED: 2014–15 Men's FIH Hockey World League Semi-Finals (5th-place).

TEAM COLOURS: Yellow, red, navy blue.

OLYMPIC MEDALS: Bronze - 1960; silver - 1980; silver - 1996; silver - 2008.

LONDON OLYMPICS: 6th-place.

Spain needed some help to get to Rio, and they certainly didn't help themselves at the FIH Semi-Finals. They opened the preliminary round with a 3-2 loss to Canada, dropped a 4-1 decision to Germany, beat Austria 4-1, and was downed by Argentina 1-0. They dropped a 3-1 decision to the Netherlands in the quarterfinals, but they looked like a much better team in that game. That would carry over to the consolation semifinals where they would down South Korea in a penalty shootout, and they would finish the tournament in fifth-place after dispatching New Zealand 3-1.

The problem, however, is that there were only four spots available at the FIH Semi-Finals and a fifth-place finish wasn't going to cut it. Thankfully, Argentina did the Spaniards a favor by winning the 2015 Pan-American Games, and that opened up their spot from the FIH Semi-Finals where Argentina finished in second-place. Because Argentina was now representing the Americas in terms of being a continental qualifier, the next highest finisher at the FIH Semi-Finals would take Argentina`s spot, and Spain jumped into the Olympics with their fifth-place finish!

Spain has a star in Pau Quemada who tied for the lead in goal-scoring at the FIH Semi-Finals with six markers. The problem, however, is that there isn't much scoring depth behind Quemada. Spain only had five different goal-scorers in the FIH Semi-Finals tournament, and the other scorers tied Quemada's output combined. Andrés Mir and Albert Beltran had a pair of goals each, but they`ll need more to have any chance of making it to the medal round.

OLYMPIC OUTLOOK: I'll be honest: not good. Spain wasn't good at the FIH Semi-Finals tournament against lower-ranked Canada and looked horrible against Germany. They finally got it together against the lower-ranked South Korea before downing the higher-ranked New Zealand. They are wildly inconsistent, and that can't happen in a tournament as big as the Olympics. Spain has enough talent to throw some scares into teams, but they just seem to be too one-dimensional. If they can reach a sixth-place finish in Rio, that should be considered a success.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the field!

Thursday, 28 July 2016

The Hockey Show - Episode 201

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, is back tonight with a guest whose stock has done nothing but risen since he appeared on The Hockey Show. Granted, it was definitely on the rise prior to his appearance on the show, but we're happy to take some credit for his meteoric rise in the entertainment world despite being no part of his continued and long-term success. Ok, we had nothing to do with his incredible career. I'll admit it right now. I'm just happy he still makes time for us on our little radio program!

Tonight, The Hockey Show is proud to have Jared Keeso return to the show. Jared won the Canadian Screen Award in 2015 for "Best Performance by an Actor in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role" for his performance as Ben Chartier in Bravo's 19-2, and we'll talk to him about Season Three which can be seen on Bravo on Monday evenings and on bravo.ca. Jared was also seen on CraveTV's Letterkenny, and there have been some exciting changes for that show as they finish filming Season Two. We'll also chat about his favorite team's changes as the Calgary Flames retooled this off-season, talk to him about the Subban trade as a Montreal resident, and get the low-down on his upcoming projects!


With Jared on the phone tonight, the phone lines will be closed. However, get the latest Jared Keeso news by tuning your radio dial in the Winnipeg region to 101.5 on your FM dial or listen live between 5:30pm and 6:30pm CT on your web-enabled device at the UMFM webpage!

Email all show questions and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter. You can also post some stuff to Facebook if you use the "Like" feature, and I always have crazy stuff posted there that doesn't make it to the blog or show.

We welcome back the one-and-only Jared Keeso to The Hockey Show tonight only on 101.5 UMFM!

PODCAST: July 28, 2016: Episode 200

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The Field - Part Three

In this continuing series as we prepare for the start of the Rio Olympic field hockey event, HBIC will continue to look at the teams who make up the field for both the men's and women's tournaments. We've already previewed Spain and India on the women's side while Brazil and Canada were introduced on the men's side. All four team are probably going to struggle against the best teams in the world, but anything can happen and that's why the games are played on the field. In saying that, let's look at the next two teams in this series!

Women's #10 - Japan

QUALIFIED: 2014-15 Women's FIH World League Semi-Finals (6th-place).

TEAM COLOURS: Red, blue, white.

OLYMPIC MEDALS: None.

LONDON OLYMPICS: 9th-place.

Like India's qualification, Japan's inclusion in Rio was due to the fortune of others. Four spots were available at the Antwerp FIH Semi-Finals, and Japan claimed the final spot in Antwerp. The Netherlands won that tournament and claimed a spot. Second-place South Korea had already qualified by winning the 2014 Asian Games. New Zealand took a second qualifier spot by finishing in third-place, but Australia's spot was up for grabs after they won the 2015 Oceanic Cup. With two remaining spots open, fifth-place India grabbed a spot and sixth-place Japan also qualified for Rio.

Japan started the Antwerp tournament with a 6-1 win over France, but it went downhill from there. The Netherlands beat Japan 4-0, Japan and Italy tied at 2-2, and South Korea beat Japan 1-0 in the preliminary round. The quarterfinal match saw them drop a 5-1 decision to New Zealand, but a penalty shootout win over Belgium pushed Japan into the consolation final where they met India. India would finish in fifth-place with a 1-0 win, but Japan did enough to find themselves in a qualifying position once the continental tournaments were decided.

Japan struggles to score goals against the better teams as evidenced by their four goals in six games in Antwerp following their big win over France. Akane Shibata might be their best offensive threat when the tournament opens, and Akiko Kato can also fin the back of the net when given the opportunity. Outside of those two players, there aren't a lot of other women on this squad who have made a mark on the international stage.

OLYMPIC OUTLOOK: As stated above, Japan will struggle to score against the heavyweights in the tournament. Japan's defensive game is fairly decent and they should hold their own against some of the teams, but winning any medal might be a pipe dream for this young team. That being said, Japan has improved and will look to finish better than ninth-place as they did in London in 2012.

Men's #12 - Ireland

QUALIFIED: 2014-15 Men's FIH World League Semi-Finals (5th-place).

TEAM COLOURS: Green, white.

OLYMPIC MEDALS: None.

LONDON OLYMPICS: Did not participate.

Ireland qualified as the fifth-place team at the Antwerp FIH World League Semi-Finals and claimed one of three available spots. Australia won the tournament, but claimed the continental qualifier position by winning the 2015 Oceanic Cup. Belgium, finishing second, claimed a Rio qualifying spot. Great Britain finished in third-place and claimed the second qualifying spot. The fourth-place team, India, had already won the 2014 Asian Games and qualified there, so the next best team took the qualifying spot, and that team was Ireland.

Ireland's inclusion into the Rio Games may confuse people since Great Britain already has a team that consists of the majority of the British Isles. Players from Northern Ireland, England, Wales, and Scotland only play as Great Britain in the Olympics or Olympic qualifying tournaments, so Ireland has somewhat been on its own for some time. In 1992, the Irish Hockey Union decided to enter a team into Olympic qualifying tournaments for the fist time, ensuring that they would remain a sovereign nation when it came to the "Great Britain" squad.

Ireland's only play at the Olympics came in 1908 when they won the silver medal in field hockey. In 2008, it appeared that the Irish squad was in line for a spot at the Beijing Olympics, but they missed out after goal differential resulted in Argentina and New Zealand claiming two of three qualifying spots. A loss to France in the third-place game meant Ireland would not be playing in Beijing. They again just missed out in 2012 for London's Olympic Games, but they have qualified for Rio and will be looking to make an impact there.

In Antwerp, Ireland had a decent preliminary round as they tied Great Britain 2-2, fell 4-2 to Malyasia, beat China 6-0, and fell to Belgium 2-1. Australia dropped a 4-1 decision on Ireland in the quarterfinals, but they rallied back with a 1-0 win over Pakistan before claiming fifth-place in the tournament with a 4-1 win over Malaysia.

Ireland can score and certainly looks like a hungry team when it comes to goals. Shane O'Donoghue, Peter Caruth, Alan Sothern, and Kyle Good all had excellent tournaments in Antwerp, and they'll be relied upon when it comes to scoring in Rio. Goaltender David Harte was named as the Goalkeeper of the Tournament in Antwerp, but that's only the tip of the iceberg for Harte. He won the FIH goalkeeper of the year award in 2015, and was named Goalkeeper of the Tournament at the 2015 EuroHockey Nations Championship. Harte could be the difference if Ireland makes a run in the medal round.

OLYMPIC OUTLOOK: Ireland will be in tough against some of the better teams, but I might pick them as my darkhorse in Rio. They should scare a few good teams who take them lightly as they are very well-organized team that can score, but they won't surprise everyone they meet. I'd love to see the Irish squad medal, but if they can make it into the semi-finals, they'll have exceeded all expectations.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the field!

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

The Field - Part Two

Yesterday, we started out looking at the two lowest-ranked teams in the Rio Olympic field hockey events according to their FIH rankings. Spain on the women's side and Brazil on the men's side got the treatment yesterday, so we'll continue looking at the next lowest-ranked teams that will take to the pitch in Rio. As we saw yesterday, there are some teams that have the odds stacked against them when it comes to winning a medal, but anything can happen on the pitch! Today's teams? India and Canada!

Women's #13 - India

QUALIFIED: 2014-15 Women's FIH World League Semi-Finals (5th-place).

TEAM COLOURS: Light blue, white, saffron.

OLYMPIC MEDALS: None.

LONDON OLYMPICS: Did not participate.

Like Spain's qualification, India needed help to get into the Olympics. The Netherlands won the Antwerp FIH Semi-Finals tournament, so they claimed one of the four spots available in Antwerp since Brazil's women's team did not qualify as the host team. Second-place South Korea had already qualified by winning the 2014 Asian Games. New Zealand took a second qualifier spot by finishing in third-place, Australia's spot was up for grabs after they won the 2015 Oceanic Cup, leaving two spots for fifth-place and sixth-place to jump in. That's how India got into the Rio Olympics.

This will just be the second appearance all-time at the Olympics for India's national women's team. They finished in fourth-place at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, so there's hope they can turn in another outstanding performance. There have been other tournament wins in the past, but they haven't recorded a tournament win since 2004.

Ritu Rani led the team in scoring in Antwerp, and there's a belief that there could be other breakout stars on this Indian team. Vandana Kataria, Poonam Rani, and Rani Rani are all seen as legitimate goal-scoring threats, so this squad should be able to find the back of the net when given the opportunity. The only question will be whether they can keep pace with the higher-ranked teams.

OLYMPIC OUTLOOK: India will be in tough as they suffered a 5-0 loss to New Zealand and a 4-2 loss to Australia in the round-robin in Antwerp before getting trounced by the Netherlands 7-0 in the quarterfinal game. They did beat Japan in the fifth-place game so there's some hope for a win or two, but they're still trying to catch the teams at the top of the rankings.

Men's #15 - Canada

QUALIFIED: 2014-15 Men's FIH World League Semi-Finals (4th-place).

TEAM COLOURS: White, red, black.

OLYMPIC MEDALS: None.

LONDON OLYMPICS: Did not participate.

Canada qualified for the Rio Olympics by finishing in fourth-place at the FIH World League Semi-Finals in Buenos Aires, Argentina, claiming one of the four available spots there. In the preliminary round, Canada downed Spain 3-2, beat Austria 3-0, and suffered a 2-1 loss to Argentina before being blown out 9-0 by Germany. A penalty shootout win over New Zealand in the quarterfinals pushed Canada into another match with the Argentinians, but Canada fell 3-0 in the semi-final. The bronze medal game saw Canada get hammered 6-0 by the Netherlands, but they did what they came do in getting qualified for Rio.

David Carter, Canada's goalkeeper, was named as the Player of the Tournament and the Goaltender of the Tournament in Buenos Aires, so you know that Canada has a pretty good last line of defence. Mark Pearson, Gordon Johnston, and Sukhi Panesar are three major strikers for Canada, and they should carry the load of the offence for the Canadian squad.

OLYMPIC OUTLOOK: Canada is still a neophyte when it comes to the big tournaments, and their record in the medal round of the Buenos Aires tournament is a testament to that. Despite winning the game against New Zealand, the Canadians recorded no goals in three games when hardware was on the line. Their blowout losses to perennial favorites Germany and Netherlands also serve as a reminder of the growth that is needed for Canada. If they can reach the medal round in Rio, they'll have taken a major step in their quest to show the world that they belong.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the field!