France wins and advances

Reaches QF for first time since 1995

19.05.2014
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Chizhovka Arena Minsk  Belarus

The French players sing the national anthem after qualifying for the quarter-finals for the first time in 19 years. Photo: Richard Wolowicz / HHOF-IIHF Images

On the strength of four unanswered goals in the third period, France beat Denmark 6-2. The win gives France a spot in the quarter-finals.

"This is huge for French hockey," said Dave Henderson, France's head coach. "It’s been a long time since it last happen. I’m totally happy with the team.

"We made some adjustments for the third period and got back to playing our style," he continued. "We got pucks to the net and it paid off. It’s rare that our teams scored that many goals, but maybe it’s because Denmark opened up."

This is the first time since 1995 that France has reached the quarter-finals. That time, stars of the team included goaltender Petri Ylonen and Philippe Bozon. Now, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Antoine Roussel and Stephane Da Costa are leading the troops.

In today’s game, da Costa had two goals and two assists, Bellemare had one goal and two assists and Roussel had a goal and three helpers.

"It’s huge. We talked about it now, and I don’t realize it right away, but it’s huge," said Antoine Roussel. "We have a big game tomorrow still. We just want to move up in the standings and make things better for ourselves, and have fun."

The Danes are now out of contention for the quarter-finals. The result means that the four teams qualifying for the next round has been decided, with one day remaining on the round-robin. Besides France, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Canada have also qualified from Group A.

"We’ve been a little too much up and down," said Jannik Hansen of his team's fate. "If only we could have played a little bit more of a steady game and even pace. We’ve been talking, especially the first couple of games, about playing 60 minutes. Today was a golden opportunity to do that as well.

"We played maybe half an hour, 35 minutes," he reasoned. "But the rest of the game, our passes aren’t there, and we’re giving away the puck on the blue line and the red line, creating turnovers against ourselves."

Julien Desrosiers and Antonin Manavian also scored for France.

Jesper B. Jensen and Kim Staal were responsible for the Danish markers.

One minute in, Julien Desrosiers opened up the scoring after the French orchestrated a quick breakout from their own zone, catching Denmark off guard.

Denmark created little for the first part of the game, but somewhat surprisingly tied it up after fifteen minutes. Jesper B. Jensen let go of a shot from the point that bounced off Nicolas Besch, standing in front of goaltender Cristobal Huet, and into the net to make it a 1-1 game.

With 37 seconds remaining, France regained the lead. Antoine Roussel moved past Oliver Lauridsen with a beautiful deke, moved into the slot and fired a wrist shot just inside the post on Simon Nielsen’s glove hand side.

Eight minutes in, Laurent Meunier had a great chance to give the French a two-goal lead after Julien Desrosiers had broken in on net. Meunier’s shot at the gaping net sailed wide, as Nielsen struggled to get into position after committing to stopping Desrosiers.

The next goal of the game would instead fall to the Danes. With five minutes left of the second it was 2-2 after a shot from the point by Kim Staal. The Danes kept going after the goal and with two minutes remaining, Morten Poulsen went to the net and picked up a pass from Julian Jakobsen, but Huet was there to make the save on the shot from close range.

In the third, play went back and forth as both teams were looking to get the winning goal in regulation. In the first ten minutes, Denmark had more shots and chances, but it was France that got the goal after Stephane da Costa had won a battle in the corner, before Antoine Roussel set up Pierre-Edouard Bellemare for the all-important third goal of the game.

"We really got going late in the second and early in the third," said Denmark's Head Coach Jan Karlsson. "Before their third goal we had a lot of time in their zone. But looking at the entire game, France were better in front of both nets."

After that, it was all downhill for the Danes. Only a minute later, the French added some insurance, when da Costa put the puck in the net after a nifty pass from Roussel, standing behind the net.

Fast forward another three and it was da Costa feeding Antonin Manavian on a rush, to make it 5-2 France.

Finishing out the scoring, da Costa scored his second of the game after a rebound in front deflected on his skate and into the net. The play was reviewed, but the goal stood.

"We lost the Italy game and we thought we were going to be in trouble. But we came back hard and we won some big games," da Costa said. "I don’t want to look at any upsets or anything. I just want to celebrate the Denmark game right now, and then we’ll have the Czech game and see who we’re playing. We’re going to play as hard as we can. That’s all we can do."

Five minutes into the second, Denmark’s forward Jannik Hansen left for the dressing room after being cut. He returned later in the period, using a jersey with the number 75, but switched it for a jersey with the number 8, in the third period. He usually wears number 36.

PETER WESTERMARK

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