DONETSK – The Continental Cup Super Final opened with a clear 6-1 victory for defending champion Rouen Dragons against Italy’s Bolzano Foxes.
It was the highest margin of victory in the final tournament since Rouen defeated Asiago Hockey – also from Italy – 6-0 one year ago on home ice.
Five out of the six goals were scored by the first line, one dominated by French-Canadian players.
The Rouen Dragons outclassed their opponents with their passes, precision and speed. The game was basically over when the Frenchmen scored the 5-0 goal midway through the game. Only from then on did the Bolzano Foxes manage to regroup, play more aggressive and prevent a more demoralizing score.
François-Pierre Guénette scored two goals and had an assist. Julien Desrosiers had one goal and five points.
“We cannot complain about the score even though we didn’t expect to win by such a margin. Everything turned out well for us in this game,” Guénette said. “It went well for our line. We were blanked in our last game [in the French league] and showed the right answer.”
The Rouen Dragons were the stronger team from the beginning but missed out on their chances until Marc-André Thinel opened the scoring at 14:00 after some criss-cross passing in the Foxes’ zone on the team’s third power play.
With 3:24 left the Rouen fans at the arena celebrated the second goal. Desrosiers was left alone between the face-off circles, received the puck from Thinel who battled for it along the end boards and Thinel deked Bolzano goalkeeper Tomas Duba before shooting the puck into the net.
After 52 seconds in the second period, David Fredriksson scored on a rebound after a shot from Desrosier on a power play that was taken over from the first period.
At 7:46 Guénette made it even 4-0. Three minutes later Loup Benoit scored the 5-0 goal on a counter-attack, forcing Bolzano coach Brian McCutcheon to replace Czech goalkeeper Duba by home-grown veteran netminder Günther Hell.
“It’s very obvious that we had far too many penalties. If you have to kill penalties, you cannot win momentum in a game,” McCutcheon said. “Rouen executed well and once they got the lead they didn’t sit back and their goaltending was very strong.”
The only open question was whether the Dragons would be able to set a new Super Final record, but Dynamo Moscow’s 8-0 blanking of Hungary’s Alba Volan Szekesfehervar in 2005 remains as the highest score in tournament history.
The Bolzano Foxes in the second half of the game and regrouped. Markus Gander spoiled Fabrice Lhenry’s shutout attempt with his marker at 12:03 of the third period. Guénette scored the 6-1 goal on another power play with three minutes left in the game.
The Rouen Dragons will play Metallurg Zhlobin tomorrow before the Bolzano Foxes play the evening game on Saturday against host Donbass Donetsk.
“We have to be ready. I expect a good opponent tomorrow,” Guénette said.