Canadian men’s field hockey team qualifies for Olympics after shootout win

Canada's men's field hockey team after qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. (Field Hockey Canada/Twitter)

VANCOUVER — Gordon Johnston and Adam Froese scored in a sudden-death shootout to give Canada a dramatic 3-1 victory over Ireland on Sunday, earning the men’s field hockey team a berth in next summer’s Olympic Games.

Captain Scott Tupper forced the shootout when he scored on a penalty stroke with no time left on the clock.

Ireland thought the game was over and began celebrating but the penalty was awarded after a video review showed a Canadian player was fouled in the game’s hectic dying seconds.

The teams were tied 3-3 after the first round of the shootout which saw five players from each side attempt shots.

In the first round of the sudden death both Johnston, with his second goal of the game, and Ireland’s Eugen Magee scored. In the second round, Ireland’s John Magee missed his shot. Froese was mobbed by his teammates after his goal made the shootout score 5-4.

A 5-3 defeat in Saturday’s opening match meant Canada, nicknamed the Red Caribou, had to win Sunday’s game by three or more goals to earn an Olympic berth.

Oliver Scholfield scored the other goal for Canada in the 37th minute.

John McKee scored for Ireland.

The game was tied 1-1 at half time.

Knowing their backs were against the wall the Canadians pressed offensively from the opening whistle. That pressure helped lead to seven penalty corners in the first half, but only Johnston was able to convert, scoring in the 21st minute.

A defensive lapse led to McKee’s goal in the sixth minute. There were no Canadian markers as McKee carried the ball down the side then banged home the goal. McKee pumped his fist in celebration afterward.

Canadian goalkeeper Antoni Kindler made a couple big first-half saves, including a stop with just 1:41 left in the first half.

The Canadian men competed at the 2016 Rio Games but haven’t played in back-to-back Olympics since 1984 and ’88.

In its first attempt to qualify for Tokyo, Canada lost 5-2 to Argentina in the gold-medal game the Pan American games in Peru this summer.

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