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Canada finishes in eighth place after a heartbreaking loss in shootout

(Belgrade, Serbia, June 23, 2019) – The Canadian men had to settle for eighth place after a heartbreaking shootout loss to Kazakhstan on the final day of competition at the 2019 FINA World League Super Final in Belgrade. The Canadians were in control most of the game, but a late surge helped the Kazakhstanis force the shootout. Kazakhstan prevailed on penalties and recorded the 17-16 win.

In a back and forth affair, Reuel D’Souza scored twice in the first period to give Canada a 4-2 lead heading into the second quarter. The Kazakhstanis tied the score 5-5 at 3:18 of the second period, but Nicolas Constantin-Bicari and Jérémie Côté each tallied one to give Canada a two-goal advantage (7-5) at halftime.

Kazakhstan came back to even the score (7-7) in the opening minutes of the third quarter. The Canadians answered back; Constantin-Bicari beat the goalkeeper with a beautiful backhand shot while Côté netted his second of the day to put Canada in front 9-7. Both teams exchanged goals, but the Kazakhstanis capitalized on a man-up opportunity late in the third quarter to come within one goal with eight minutes to play in the match.

Canada’s lead did not last long in the fourth quarter, Kazakhstan tied the score once again with 7:28 to play. With plenty of time on the clock, Constantin-Bicari stepped up and netted his fourth and fifth goal of the day to give Canada a two-goal advantage at 2:46 of the fourth quarter. Kazakhstan continued to push on offence and found the equalizer with just over a minute to play in the game. Canada was unable to score on the next possession, meaning a five-round shootout would decide the winner. In such an intense match, Canadian Head coach, Pino Porzio had to work with a few of his players being fouled out for the penalties. In the end, Kazakhstan topped Canada 4-3 and recorded the 17-16 victory.

“It was a close game, we missed a lot of blocks on defence, and we gave them some easy situations. We had a few chances to extend our lead late in the game, but we couldn’t capitalize on these opportunities to put the game out of reach” indicated Head Coach Pino Porzio.

The local heroes, the Serbians captured the gold medal by defeating their long-time rival, Croatia in the final. This victory makes them the first team to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games. In the coming weeks, the Canadian men will continue their preparation for the 2019 Pan American Games in August; this competition is a qualifier event with the top team earning a spot for Tokyo 2020.

CANADA 16 – 17 KAZAKHSTAN (4-2, 3-3, 4-5, 2-3 SO: 3-4)

Aleksic, Patterson (1), Djerkovic, Constantin-Bicari (5+1), Halajian (1), Torakis, Spooner, Côté (2), Gardijan (+1), Soleimani (+1), Blanchard, D’Souza (4), Radenovic.

Final standings

  1. Serbia
  2. Croatia
  3. Australia
  4. Spain
  5. Hungary
  6. Japan
  7. Kazakhstan
  8. Canada


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