Following an undefeated record all the way to the 2015 Pan American Games men’s field hockey semifinal, University of Victoria Vikes forward Brenden Bissett and his Canadian team mates sealed their ticket to the 2016 Olympics with a win over Brazil on Jul. 23 in Toronto, Ont. The International Hockey Federation (FIH) announced today that the team Canada moved up two spots in the World Ranking to No. 13, while their counterparts Brazil are just No. 37. After going 0-0 in regular time Canada went perfect on shoot outs to win 5-3 and now advance to the Pan Am Games final against Argentina.
“It’s an amazing feeling that we secured a spot at Rio,” said a speechless Bissett. “It’s a really proud feeling to represent Canada, especially in front of a home crowd like this.”
Following a 7-1 pool-play thrashing over Brazil in their opening match Canada was put to the test tonight as a fearless Brazil team, high on their quarter-final upset over USA, had nothing to lose. Brazil needed a Top-6 finish to secure themselves in the host berth in Rio and did that with an exciting shootout win over the States. Tonight, however, they tested the waters even further by edging Canada to a 0-0 scoreline after 60 minutes of play. Most of the possession lied with the home team but when needed Brazil’s keeper Faustino was in fine form.
“UVic has an amazing facility in Victoria and they give me access to great services for physio and recovery which are really important,” adds Bissett about his training in Victoria with the Vikes. “I’ve had a lot of support from (the Vikes team). I got a lot of e-mails of congratulations from the last tournament right up to here. It’s nice to be a leader on that team and try to carry that over to this team.”
Forward Bissett was credited with helping lead a speedy and youthful Canadian forward line that included former Vike and now UBC Thunderbird Matthew Sarmento as well as junior national stand out Gabriel Ho-Garcia and Ontario native Devohn Norohna-Texeira. Canada was forced into a shootout in which all five shooters – Mark Pearson, Norhna-Texeira, Sukhi Panesar, Gordie Johnston and Adam Froese – buried their chances in the eight-second time limit. Keeper Dave Carter made the pivotal save on Brazil’s third shooter to also secure Canada’s win.
With Argentina already qualifying through FIH World League classifications Canada automatically earn a spot to the 2016 Games by being in the final game of the Pan Ams. Canada and Argentina have met in the Pan American Games final for the last 10 years and the rivalry is the longest and largest in the Pan Americas. With both teams already qualified for Rio nothing more than bragging rights will be on the line.
Bissett and his teammates will take on Argentina on Saturday, Jul. 25. At 19:30 Eastern time. CBC will live stream the game panam.cbc.ca
On the women’s side, former Vikes Thea Culley, Danielle Hennig and Kaitlyn Williams will play for bronze against Chile on Jul. 24 at 17:00 Eastern time. The No. 20 Canadian women lost 3-0 to World Ranked No. 8 USA in the semifinals on Jul. 22 despite an entertaining and defensive game.
“Going to the Olympics is something that every athlete dreams of but it doesn’t meant that you aren’t a good athlete if you don’t get there,” said an emotional Culley after the team’s semifinal loss which took them out of Olympic qualification. “I’m so proud my team and we are going to be pulling everything together to win the bronze medal match. It’s wonderful to be Canadian and to play for Canada.”