New Zealand will go into next month’s men’s Hockey World Cup off the back of a home series defeat to Canada.
Despite goals to Dominic Newman and Cory Bennett giving them the lead, the Black Sticks lost 3-2 to Canada in game four in Auckland on Sunday as the visitors clinched the series 2-1.
New Zealand are ranked ninth in the world to Canada’s 11th.
It wasn’t the Black Sticks’ best preparation for the Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar, India, starting on November 29, although they were without some overseas-based players.
“The European guys come home this week so that will be good and we’ll look forward to having those guys back into the training environment,” coach Darren Smith said.
“Whenever you get a chance to play it’s a good opportunity to try and polish things up. There was a fair amount of untidy things that we did and other things that were pretty good.”
After a 3-0 victory and 0-0 draw in the first two matches, the Black Sticks were in the box seat but suffered a 2-1 defeat on Saturday before another loss in the decider at Lloyd Elsmore Park.
They led 1-0 at halftime after Newman’s seventh minute goal in an opening quarter full of opportunities for the hosts.
Canada stormed back in the third quarter with Brenden Bissett levelling the scores, before Bennett gave the hosts the lead again from a penalty corner.
Two goals in three minutes saw Canada clinch it, with Gordon Johnston’s penalty corner finishing the job for the visitors with three minutes remaining.
“We were slack through the period where they took a 2-2 and a 3-2 lead. It’s a disappointing way to end but we just have to take what comes to us,” Smith said.
The Black Sticks men name their World Cup squad on November 1.
AT A GLANCE
Canada 3 (Brenden Bissett, Oliver Scholfield, Gordon Johnston) New Zealand 2 (Dominic Newman, Cory Bennett). HT: 0-1.
Series: Canada won 2-1