Game 2 Match Report

USA U21 Men’s New Zealand Tour

Auckland, New Zealand


August 14, 2012


USA U-21 Men – Match Report

By Mike Whitehead – Manager


USA vs. North Harbor NHL


Match Time:  7:15 pm


U21’s continued play at North Harbor Hockey Club on Tuesday evening.  This time their opponent was the NH Premier National Hockey League (NHL) team, one of the topsides in New Zealand consisting of a few current and past NZL men’s national team players as well as their clubs top athletes.


The first half started off with the North Harbor (NH) squad playing fast and physical, which the U21’s were prepared for.  The U21’s were caught off guard and allowed NH to score off a FG in the second minute (U21’s 0–1 NH).  The U21’s came back fighting swapping possession with the NH team with a few offensive chances but without much circle penetration.  In the 10th minute NH forced another FG making the score 0 – 2.  The U21’s continued play matching the NH’s fast physical play and in the 18th minute. Ranjot Sangha played a quick pass from outside the 23 meter line connecting with JaJa Kentwell at the top of the circle for a FG making the score 1 – 2.  Play continued with both teams swapping possession for the remainder of the half but with less then a minute the NH team scored another FG in the 35th minute finishing the half 1 – 3.


With the second half under way, the U21’s came out eager to prove they can compete.  The play continued as the first half with both sides playing fast and physical.  The U21’s forced a PC in the 42nd minute converting their second goal of the match by Aki Kaeppeler with a low drag flick in the bottom right corner making the score 2 – 3. Play by both sides was evenly matched and the U21’s was pushing to equalize the match, but in the 51st minute the NH team was able to score another FG putting the U21’s down two goals.  The U21’s were not discouraged and fought hard but in the 65th minute the NH team put in another FG making the score 2 – 5.  The U21’s were unable to pull back another goal, ending the match 2 -5 in favor of the host team.  The U21’s came away knowing they played well and gave it their all, and could have kept them in the match. Ultimately the U21’s came away with some valuable experience and will continue executing the needed changes as the continue their tour in New Zealand.


Next match for the U21’s will be at the Auckland Hockey Club, just south east of the city, on Thursday August 16th at 8:00 pm.  The team will play against the Auckland HC Academy Select team, a U23 group, and be the first of three matches before heading back to the states on Sunday.



U21 Men NZ Tour – Day 4

The day started as usual with the chef from each room preparing breakfast.  This was accompanied by the familiar irritating sound of the incredibly sensitive smoke alarms going off repeatedly.  After breakfast was done, we met as a team for a jog and stretch. That funny warm up was followed by a debrief of yesterdays game.  Directly after the meeting we hopped into our vans and departed for a light practice.   We ran a counterattacking drill and short corners.  The team left the field in good spirits, prepared for the good test tonight.

Next came lunch and down time where some players went to the mall, others slept and some got some treatment from our trainer, Donnie.  We had another meeting at 3 followed by dinner, which was again cooked by each room’s designated chef.  One final team meeting at 5:45, and we were off to the field for a great game. In the van’s there was a strong sense of focus and determination.  It’s always exciting to play at night under the lights, especially when you are representing USA in another country.

North Harbour came out strong and found an early goal off of a mistake.  Then we calmed down and found our rhythm.  They scored another goal towards the middle of the 1st half, but we quickly answered with one of our own by none other than JaJa Kentwell.  North Harbour finished their third goal right before the end of the half and we found ourselves down by two after 35 minutes.

USA came out more confident in the second half and earned a short corner, where my co-writer, Aki Käppeler, pinned a drag flick into the bottom right corner of the cage.  Suddenly we were only down by one goal and there was a lot of game left.  North Harbour came right back and scored a goal to keep the margin at 2.  The rest of the game was filled with very even play.  North Harbour scored one final goal with a few minutes left to play and the game ended in a 5 – 2 loss for USA. Considering that we won the penalty shootout after the match 5 – 3 the game actually ended with a 8 -7 loss, showing just how close we were…

During our cooldown the team voted Mo Ghandi man of the match.  This was a terrific turn around for Mo considering the day he had had .

Despite the loss, the effort and performance of the team was incredibly encouraging.   The bar has been raised again and we will continue to improve as a team as playing opponents of this calibre is truly helping our game.

Alex Grassi #10

Aki Käppeler #11

U21 Men NZ Tour – Day 3

New Zealand Day # 3


Thousands of years ago, Oracles were worshipped for foretelling the future of their people. On August 13th 2012, we have acquired an improved version of the Oracle’s abilities. Not only can we see the future, we can also travel to the past. As we compose this blog on the 13th of August, viewers will already have read it on the 12th. Some people call us “gods” for having this ability; others just call us the “USA Junior Field Hockey Team.” Puzzled fans often ask us how we came to possess such a rare ability; our response consists of three simple words, International Date Line. For everyone back home in the States, we are living in the future… somewhat at least.

After spending the day site seeing and enjoying our day yesterday, we went to sleep mentally preparing for our first game in New Zealand. 9:00 A.M. the alarm rings and we jump out of our beds. One-person jumps in the shower, one cooks breakfast, while the other one sets up plates and utensils and pours the drinks. The person who was in the shower gets out and finishes cooking breakfast while the chef takes a shower. By the time the second person gets out of the shower breakfast is ready on the table ready to eat. We finish our breakfast ahead of schedule, which gave us plenty of time for the last person to take a shower while the other two washes the dishes. After breakfast we brushed our teeth and relaxed for a bit before walking outside to meet the team. Breakfast eaten, showers taken, teeth brushed, outside ready for a team jog and stretch, a beautiful day ahead. RE-WINNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNND!!!!! This is what really happened… 9:00 A.M., alarm goes berserk, takes look at alarm, realizes it’s time to wake up, press snooze button, alarm rings again, picks up alarm and throws it across the room, fall asleep, wake up more than a hour later realizing it’s minutes before team jog and stretch, jump out of bed while yelling “WAAKKKKEEEE UPPPPPP!!!”, throw on whatever clothing is nearest, grab an apple and eat it while sprinting outside to meet the team. Ahhh, that’s more like it. During every tour we go on, a morning jog is in order.

After the jog and stretch we headed to the North Harbour pitch, which is conveniently only 5 minutes away from the Motel we are staying at. We gathered ourselves in the practice working on several pieces of gameplay and then closed it out with penalty corner sequences. We returned to the hotel to cook our own dinners and watched the Olympics.

Game time was soon upon us so we left the Motel around 7:00 P.M. to ensure we have plenty of time to warm up before the game. Our opponents for the night were the North Harbour Selection, a group consisting of New Zealand Premier League players as well as a few lesser-experienced players. Regardless, it was going to be a good first match for us to get the wheels turning again. The game didn’t progress fast but it was clear that we were in dominance. Christian Linney was first to capitalize for the USA as he scored a tip off a threaded pass from the base line. The US went into halftime with a 1-0 lead.  The North Harbour team didn’t let up and were skilled enough to win a corner and execute. JaJa Kentwell then put himself in great position to clean up and tuck away a backhand flick shot. Within minutes of the opponents scoring their second goal, Ranjot Sangha put in a backhand shot off the right post. The USA regained some insurance on their lead and soon gained another corner. Johnny Orozco lined up for a drag flick only to be denied by the keeper, however, Ranveer Kundi put the rebound back at goal which was stopped by a defenders foot on the line. Johnny Orozco was once again called up to do the penalty stroke. He put the penalty stroke in and secured the win for the USA. The game ended in a 4-2 victory for the States.


The day progressed smoothly and it was easy to say the players were content with the victory. New Zealand has been great to us thus far and we can only hope that it has more to offer. The level of hockey over here is magnificent…the gameplay, the number of fields, and the competition are all excellent. We feel this is a great step in our preparation for the Pan American Games. Anyways, tomorrow is another day closer to the tournament and we must again rise and do what we came out to do.


Signing out,


Mikey Barminski # 3


JaJa Kentwell  # 5





Watch out for a New Zealand tour video coming out soon.

Game 1 Match Report

USA U21 Men’s New Zealand Tour

Auckland, New Zealand


August 13, 2012


USA U-21 Men – Match Report

By Mike Whitehead – Manager


USA vs. North Harbor Select


Match Time:  8:15 pm


The USA U21’s arrived in Auckland on Saturday, August 11th, early in the morning after a long twelve-hour flight for Los Angeles. Coach Clements plan was to keep the team up all day so they could acclimate to the local time, which they all did very well with an


The U21’s had two training sessions prior to their first match at the North Harbor Hockey club just outside of Auckland in the city of Albany.


The first match for the U21’s would be against the North Harbor Select side, made up of a few National Hockey League players (NHL) and five of the NZL JNT team players.


The first half of the match was a good test for the U21’s; the North Harbor select side played with good intensity which the U21’s matched play from the beginning.  The U21’s were first to score in the 20th minute by a nice pass from Tyler Sundeen from the right side finding Christian Linney for a FG making the score 1-0. Which was the only goal for the half.


With the second half under way, the NH Select scored in the 41st minute off a PC making the score 1-1.  In the 45th minute, the U21’s put another FG on the board by another nice play down the right side from Tyler Sundeen, to Rutger Pruijs finding Ranjot Sangha on in the circle making the score 2 -1.  The NH Select equalized the match with a FG in the 50th minute, making it 2 – 2.  The U21’s weren’t finished and continued to keep pressure on the NH Select to force a number of turnovers.  In the 54th minute, Johnny Orozco played a nice ball into the right attacking 25 to Rutger Pruijs playing the ball down the base line, passing to JaJa Kentwell making the score 3 – 2 USA.  The U21’s force a PC in the 59th minute, which resulted in a rebound shot by Ranveer Kundi hitting the NH Select defenseman off the body for a PS.  Johnny Orozco scored the 4th goal for the U21’s making the score 4 -2.  With time running out, the U21’s came away victorious, final score 4 – 2.


Next match for the U21’s is against the NH NHL squad, the premier level in New Zealand, on August 14th, at 19:15.  This will be a much tougher match for the U21’s and a great test as they prepare for the Junior Pan Americans in September.

U21 Men NZ Tour – Day 2

Officially Day 1 began with a 6:50 am Olympic Men’s Hockey Final however said programme was not aired until 9.  “T’was only 2 hours later than advertised” I hear you say. Well that’s 2 crucial hours we needed to adjust to the new time zone. An auspicious start to the campaign indeed. Next on the schedule was a 10:15 jog and stretch 

Next we headed to the National Museum in downtown Auckland to sample local culture and heritage. We toured the museums various exhibitions, from the unique wildlife that inhabit the island to the unique culture of NZ. By the end of the tour we were famished and naturally after such a successful trip to the museum assumed the omens had changed. But something was astray..  What we found was like a scene from CSI. The van’s window was shattered and our collection of humble goods stolen. Jackets, backpacks, water bottles, and most importantly our lunches were gone. All that remained were little smears of peanut butter jelly, and pockets of crumbs from where the sandwiches resisted capture. Have you ever seen a crime so cowardly? So malicious? So desperate? What had we done to incur the rath of the gods we asked ourselves. Eventually we exchanged buses and headed back to the fort for some RnR before training. We trained at 7pm at the venue of the most recent Men’s Champions Trophy. A fantastic club complex consisting of 3 high quality water based pitches, a spacious clubhouse, changing rooms and concessions. Fresh from the sting of losing our pbj’s, we attacked training with all the strength an underfed athlete could muster and produced a high quality and highly beneficial session. Training was not without dramas however and Christian Linney injured his ankle. 

Exhausted from a long and problematic day we got back the hotel and hoped to pass out. Just one more task remained before we could tuck ourselves in and properly mourn our lunch. The task was to sing Andrew Davis happy birthday. We caught him after having a shower and to see the surprise on his face when he saw everyone singing him happy birthday when he walked out of the bathroom was priceless. It was a good end to an overall fun day (except the getting robbed part). We’ll be sure to keep you updated on the games and any other highlights of the trip.


Tyler Sundeen and Mo Ghandi 


U21 Men NZ Tour – Travel Day

All of us awoke on Thursday bracing for a hard day ahead of us which would end on Saturday evening in NZ – they are almost a day ahead in time and space from the USA. Preparations included charging our IPods and laptops for a 13 hour voyage across the world. Hugs and kisses to our beloveds were exchanged with an assurance that we would return with shield in hand or on it. We set sail to the mysterious Kiwi Land as Spartans courageous and weary of the job at hand.

Check in was perhaps the most eventful part of the journey. A young maiden, whose name one of our teammates, Ranveer Kundi, had suspiciously discovered and befriended on facebook, distracted our minds for an hour or so before we boarded our extraordinary craft. The word extraordinary in this case is not at all misplaced or overstated. Almost all of us agreed that the IPad like device that lay in front of every voyagers face was equivalent to an IPod or laptop filled with music, movies, and other appliances that offered a distraction from flight-sickness and even boredom. In addition, the hostesses were extremely hospitable and kind to every passengers’ needs. People, Air New Zealand is the bees’ knees.

Once we landed, we braced ourselves for what our coach said was going to be a thorough search by the New Zealand customs officials. To our relief it was a much more relaxed process and only our unfortunate teammate Mohan Gandhi was moderately tormented by the officials due some banana bread that he could not let go of.

As we travelled from the airport to our motel, we were discouraged to find that our coach Chris Clements was the only Hobbit to be found in the magical land of New Zealand. Nevertheless, the knowledgeable native kiwi guided us through the city to a mall, which we enjoyed for three hours while the staff procured supplies so that we could cook meals on our own. Afterwards, he along with another one of his kiwi friends took us to a historical bomb shelter that all of us thoroughly enjoyed. We felt as if we needed to digress to a younger age and pretend that we were actual soldiers wandering through the tunnels and fighting off enemies, such as those in Call of Duty. Don’t judge us; it was very fun. We were all very relieved when we returned to the motel and were allowed to finally fall asleep. We had arrived in New Zealand at about 7 in the morning and were required to stay awake till at least 10 at night. It was not easy and we jumped at the opportunity to finally rest our poor powerless selves. It’s off to bed with an excitement to explore more of New Zealand tomorrow. Peace.


Liam Walsh and Ajai Dhadwal

NZ Arrival

Hi Everyone

We arrived safe and sound in New Zealand – 2 days sightseeing, National Museum and War Memorials, Trained x2, Game x 1 won 4-2 vs North Harbour selection. more detailed updates to follow.




NZ TOUR – U21 Men

Today the team departs for New Zealand on a 5 game tour. We will keep you posted here for tour updates and results.

Follow us on Twitter –  @usafieldhockey  or  @clements_cc   or

Monday 13th  v Nth Harbour Selection  (Rosedale park)  8:15pm
Tuesday 14th  v Nth Harbour NHL Team   (Rosedale park)  7:15pm
Thursday 16th  v Auckland Development  (Llyod Elsmore)  8pm
Friday 17th  v Auckland Development  (Llyod Elsmore)   6pm
Sunday  19th  v Auckland Development  (Llyod Elsmore)   10:30am
FYI – New Zealand is 19hrs ahead of Pacific Time

U21 Men 3 Nation Invitational v Chile 4-2 win 7.19.12

The morning started with an annoying sound coming from our phones, signalling the 815 wake up alarm… oh what we would give to sleep in a day. 8:30 soon came about, and with 8 seconds remaining the last of the team assembled in the courtyard, ready to tackle the cafeteria’s breakfast buffet. As soon as we arrive, the same lady greets us all as the past days… “Hello! Good morning! Ticket please!” and onto the buffet we charge. 30 minutes later and its time to go back to our dorms… nap time!


10:45 rolls around much too quickly and it’s time for the debrief meeting of yesterdays game. Oh what a glorious day it was: to beat our Canadian rivals 3-0. What a comeback from our first days match versus Canada, which put us into agony.


1145 strikes the clock and we’re off to the races for our jog and stretch… or so we think! Our amazing trainer, Jason, steps through the doors and announces, “alright, we are going for a nice walk, but everybody must be silent. Think about what you are going to do today. How you are going to play, how are you going to improve?”  Well who would complain about that deal? After our lengthy 5 minute walk, we stretch and limber up, ready to tackle the days challenges. And then the announcement comes… lunchtime!


After stuffing ourselves full at lunch, its time to walk back and relax for a couple hours until our heart-rate spikes set for 1500.  Casually we jog over to the nice grass patch and begin limbering up for the sprints awaiting us. Thankfully we all worked hard to get our heart-rate up the first time, and head back to have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in Jason’s suite.


1630: pregame meeting. Time to get our hockey caps on and prepare for the game ahead. Speeches are made, and points are discussed. We’re playing in blue today, while I’m bringing up the rear in my bright yellow jersey. As we leave we’re all joking around, and as we jump in the vans we’re all having a great time. Why wouldn’t we be? We’re all U-21 players playing for our country, playing the sport that we love!

 As we arrive to the field, our demeanours change. Turf shoes on, jerseys sporting the red white and blue logo of our country, we begin our warm up. 1830. Game time. 

70 minutes later we emerged with a 4-2 score-line, placing us at the top of the table, awaiting the score of tomorrow’s game, Canada vs. Chile. But until then, we can relax, and enjoy tomorrow: the last rest day before the fateful 2 games ahead, and our trip back home. Dinner was amazing, and with the cheerful atmosphere as a result of our wins, the team is in a very upbeat mood. Thanks for reading!


Andrew Davis and Austin GroeneveldImage


3 Nation Invitational Game 3 v Canada, 3-0 win

Having properly settled into our quarters in the Ritsumeikan house, there were no surprises when the game day schedule posted to the coach’s door started off with an 8:30 breakfast at our friendly neighborhood cafeteria.  While the early wake up calls and the soggy scrambled eggs have become a bit drôle, the bacon remains delicious and the vibrant cafeteria atmosphere wakes us up in the morning 

We spent the rest of the morning in our rooms, relaxing and putting the finishing touches on our weekly food logs. We are required to track our nutrient and caloric intake to make sure we are getting all the sustenance we need to compete at an international level. This process comes more naturally to some of us than others, fortunately our resident computer whiz kid Alex Grassi whipped up an excel spreadsheet and preloaded it with tones of nutritional information. This is helping us all with our performances and fueling our bodies for International Hockey which takes more than the average 3 meals a day.

After a quick jog and stretch at high noon, we had another appointment with the cafeteria to refill the food stores, and we started preparing for our 6:30 game against Canada. The topic conversation at lunch remained lighthearted with much of the team contemplating what they would or wouldn’t do for a billion dollars….

The real pregame preparation began at 3:00 pm with intense heart rate spikes, followed by heavy snacks to fuel the body before the game. In our pregame meeting we concentrated on a concise list of controllable factors like communication, substitution, positioning and repositioning. We were all a little shocked after our first game loss on Sunday, but today was a different story. We were well prepared, all on the same page tactically and  we just knew there was a job to do and we wanted to do it.


The rest is history 3-0 victory  v Canada. 



Check out or game footage and tournament standings at



Liam Walsh and Sean Cicchi