THE Canadian men's and women's junior field hockey teams - powered by a lot of North Shore talent - both qualified for the 2013 Junior World Cup by advancing to the championship finals of the Pan American Junior Championships being held this week in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Semifinal games played Thursday were pressure-packed for both sides - a win would guarantee a World Cup berth while a loss would mean more must-win games. The women took the field first against Chile and, with a vocal Canadian cheering section in the stands, battled to a 3-1 win.
North Vancouver's Holly Stewart scored the game's first goal in the first half but Chile replied quickly to make it 1-1 at the half. Jessica Buttinger of Waterloo, Ont. put the Canadians ahead again two minutes into the second half and Vancouver's Caashia Karringten sealed the deal with a goal off of a penalty corner in the 57th minute.
In a pool with Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico and Brazil, the Canadians finished in second place behind Argentina with a record of two wins, one tie and one loss to put them into the semifinals. Chile, meanwhile, entered the semifinals with a perfect 5-0 pool play record that included a 2-1 win over the United States.
Following Canada's semifinal win Argentina topped the United States 6-0 to earn their way into the final - played Saturday after North Shore News deadline - to face Canada for a second time. Argentina defeated Canada 6-0 when the two teams met in the opening round.
Win or lose, however, the Canadians will make their first appearance at the Junior World Cup since 2005. The Canadians have not made the final of the Pan American Championships since 1997.
North Shore players on the team include Rachel Donohoe, Hannah Haughn, Karli Johansen, Ashley Kristen and Holly Stewart from North Vancouver and Shannon Elmitt and Kim Scraper from West Vancouver.
On the men's side North Vancouver brothers Spencer and Taylor Curran helped Canada make their first Pan Am final since 1985 and qualify for the Junior World Cup for the first time since 2001.
The men also faced Chile in semifinal action Thursday and fell behind 1-0 early but replied later in the half to make it 1-1 at the break. With a ticket to the World Cup dangling in front of them the Canadian men broke the game wide open at the start of the second half, scoring four goals in the first 13 minutes to take a commanding 5-1 lead. Three more goals in the dying minutes topped off a decisive 8-1 victory. Vancouver's Gordon Johnston led the way with a hat trick while Tsawwassen's Andrew Kanerva added a pair.
The Canadians will face Argentina in the championship final Sunday. Through three opening round games and two playoff matches the Canadian men have a perfect 5-0 record with 32 goals for and 15 against. Argentina also went 5-0 with 62 goals for and 18 goals against.
For full tournament coverage visit panamhockey.org.