Portions of content courtesy of Sarah Juggins (PAHF)
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – July 21, 2017 – In the coming weeks Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster, Pa. will welcome some of the greatest field hockey talent in the world at the 2017 Pan American Cups (PAC). With many of the participating nations enjoying recent success, this is another prime opportunity for many individual athletes to showcase their talents on the international stage.
Of the participating men’s national teams, each have key athletes to keep an eye on throughout the tournament. With PAC taking place from August 4-13, some teams will be treating the event as a tune up for the FIH Hockey World League Final in December in Bhubaneswar, India, and others will be looking to book their ticket to the 2018 Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup. Whether that mentality translates to building confidence or reassessing is dependent on the teams’ performance over the past few months. Nevertheless, expect the best of the Pan American Hockey Federation has to offer when the men’s teams hit the turf this August.
No. 1 Argentina
The top FIH Hero World Ranked team, and recent Olympic Games champions has not lost a beat since their gold performance in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As recent qualifiers for the Odisha Hockey World League Final after finishing second in the Semifinals, Argentina is the reigning Pan American Cup Champions after ousting host nation Canada, 4-0, back in 2013. In that game defender Gonzalo Peillat had a head-turning performance having tallied all four goals in Argentina’s second PAC title. Since then the 24-year old Peillat has remained a major component of the Los Leones’ success. In 2014, he was named the FIH Young Player of the Year and in the same year he led the team in goals at the Rabobank Hockey World Cup in The Hague, The Netherlands. Peillat followed up that achievement with a team leading 11-goal showing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. He has shown no signs of slowing down coming in to PAC after his performance at the FIH Hockey World League Semifinals in London, England leading the event with 12 goals.
No. 11 Canada
A medal winner of each past Pan American Cup events, Canada looks to reclaim gold following a fifth-place finish at the Semifinals in June. With a World Cup qualification already secured, 14 of the 18 players from the Semifinals roster will appear for Canada in Lancaster, Pa., and is a perfect opportunity for rookie Brad Logan to get his first taste of one of the highest levels of international play. Logan, whose hometown is Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, played with Banbridge HC after a successful career with Western Province at the U-21 and Senior levels, earning two gold medals. He will join notable veterans with goalkeeper David Carter and Iain Smythe, who are both set to hit the 150 international cap mark during PAC. Also, team captain and most capped athlete on the roster, Scott Tupper.
No. 26 United States
Home advantage is an added boost for the U.S. Men’s National Team that looks to make a big stamp in international play. Medaling is the ultimate goal, following a fourth-place finish in 2013 at the hands of a 3-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago. PAC will also be a big test for USMNT Head Coach Rutger Wiese after being named to the position in January. Leading the charge on the field for the red, white and blue will be the veteran talent of Pat Harris and William Holt, who pilot the team in international appearances with 119 and 113 respectfully.
Another key athlete who has less than 20 caps to his name is goalkeeper Brandon Karess. He had a spectacular showing at the FIH Hockey World League Round 2 in Tacarigua, Trinidad and Tobago winning three thrilling shootout competitions to secure the bronze medal. His stellar defense, saving 12 out of the 15 shootout chances, earned him Goalkeeper of the Tournament.
No. 27 Chile
Nestled in Pool A with Team USA is the Chile Men’s National Team that has never qualified for the World Cup. Also not medaled in over a decade, Chile hopes to be a dark horse squad, especially coming off a third-place finish at the 2015 Pan American Games and a third place victory at the FIH Hockey World League Round 1 in Chiclayo, Peru. Led by captain Sven Richter on offense, and goalkeeper Adrian Henriquez, Chile is not a team to sleep on by any means.
No. 29 Brazil
Dropping four spots in the FIH Hero World Rankings since early 2017, Brazil is still looking to find its true identity on the turf. Despite large strides in team identification and development since hosting the Olympic Games, the men’s side faces an uphill battle with Canada looming in pool play. An opening win against Mexico would give a large momentum boost to a squad that has not finished higher than seventh in past PAC competitions. This tournament spells nothing but fresh chances for players like Patrick Arnoud van der Heijden and Bruno da Silveira Mendonca to give Brazil a larger stepping stone to success.
No. 33 Trinidad & Tobago
Placing third in the 2013 PAC will be a big measuring stick in 2017 for Trinidad and Tobago. They saw recent success as hosts of this season’s FIH Hockey World League Round 2, and will use that momentum as a springboard in a few weeks as the second-highest ranked team in Pool B behind Canada. Additionally, the squad’s international experience as players and coaches has benefited them greatly. Among them is young gun Tariq Marcano, who remains a key player to watch on the field especially given his outings with British Club St Albans.
No. 41 Mexico
Following a head turning performance at FIH Hockey World League Round 1, the Pan American Cup will be a big test in terms of where the Mexico Men’s National Team stands up against its higher ranked opponents. Their highest finish in PAC history was sixth in 2013, losing to Chile 6-3. Despite lacking experience in comparison to the rest of the participating teams, Ivan Arballo has emerged as a key penalty corner converted for Mexico, and teammates Edgar Garcia and Ruben Martinez bolster international cap experience with a young squad.
No. 48 Venezuela
Arguably facing the toughest challenges of any team in pool play, Venezuela hopes to strike better fortune than their previous PAC appearance in 2004, where they went 0-5. They remain winless in the competition altogether, but have a formidable weapon in Cristian Jose Vargas Prado. The 21-year-old registered 12 goals during FIH Hockey World League Round 1 across five games en route to a second-place finish in the competition behind Chile. He has proven to be someone to never take your eye off and if given the chance, Vargas will open up opportunities to the rest of the team’s offense if left unchecked.
Don’t miss out on the biggest field hockey experience in the United States since the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. Purchase tickets now for the 2017 Pan American Cups by clicking the image below.