Less than 60 days to the first Floorball match played at the World Games 2022, we’ll be looking at the next team in our countdown that will compete in July in Birmingham, Alabama; Canada!
The journey to the World Games in 2022 began at 2020 Floorball World Championships in Helsinki last December where the top 5 finishing countries, top AOFC teams and top AMER teams would qualify alongside the hosts UNITED STATES for the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, United States.
Sweden, Finland, Czech republic and Swiss were the first to qualify followed by Thailand who beat Philippines in a nervous shootout for 13th position and qualification in Birmingham and Canada which finished 12th and was the highest ranked AMER country. Latvia completed the World Games lineup by beating Norway for 5th place.
Canada have never been to the World Games before, making Birmingham 2022 a huge achievement and competition for them. Their path to the World Games was started at the Men’s WFC 2020 in Helsinki. They were able to open the tournament as their first game against Singapore, winning a 9-8 home-and-away. Canada’s second game was against the strong team of Estonia with whom they lost 21-4. Their final group game against the Philippines was to decide who would advance to the knockout stage. Canada again won the game 13-8, showing a strong attack with plenty of goals and chances throughout the game. By making the playoffs, Canada had qualified for the World Games, as the United States had failed to qualify for their group playoffs. Their playoff match against a solid 5th-ranked Latvia ended in a 16-3 loss. This set Canada up for placement matches in which they first lost to Germany 15-7 in a wild game before coming up against Poland for 11th place. The game was an extremely close affair both ways, with the teams still tied after regular hours and overtime. A shootout was to decide the things in which the Poles prevailed, with a solid performance from the Polish keeper in the shootout. A disappointing end for the Canadians, but a tournament they could be proud of and consider the strongest team outside of Europe in the tournament.
With the World Games being hosted in Alabama, USA, Canada will seek increased support from traveling and local Canadian fans to help them do their best at their first World Games. With Floorball growing from 6 to 8 teams at this year’s World Games, Canada will be aiming to be the best-placed team from outside of Europe with a strong lineup of European nations competing, or even creating a possible surprise and to push for the semi-finals.
The Floorball League of Canada (in which a large majority of national team players participate) has been badly affected since the start of the pandemic and has not seen a match played since the 2019/20 season. This has hampered the development of much of the national team. Some players have moved or are based in Europe and play in some of the top leagues. One of them is Valtteri Viitakoski, born in Ontario, Canada and now playing for Nokian KrP in the Finnish F Liiga. As Nokian was in the playoff finals in Finland, Valtteri was unable to make it to the WFCQ 2022 AMER Men’s Qualifying Event in Fort Worth, Texas, which took place in April, but is an important part of this Canadian team and will be looking to show their best abilities in Alabama for the World Games. Watch the interview of Adam Troy with Valtteri Viitakoski, as part of our series of interviews on the road to the World Games, to find out more about his journey and his hopes for the next World Games tournament.
Canada recently competed in the WFCQ 2022 AMER Men’s Qualifying Event in Fort Worth, Texas, USA for the chance to qualify for the World Championships in November 2022. Canada managed to win the game 1 and to tie game 2, thus ensuring their qualification for the World Championships this November in Switzerland. Game 1 was a 4-1 win followed by a 4-4 tie in Game 2, meaning an 8-5 win on aggregate.
How will Canada perform at the World Games in Alabama? Only time will tell, but they are sure to be boosted by strong, capable individuals, great team chemistry and the confidence of their recent win over USA.
The previous edition of the World Games in 2017 in Wrocław was won by Sweden, beating Switzerland in the final, 7-5. Finland came in 3rd, followed by the Czech Republic in 4th, the United States in 5th and Poland in 6th.
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Pictures of Juha Hautakangas