The win was welcome relief for last year’s gold medallists. After winning their first four games, they suffered consecutive defeats and were heading in the wrong direction.
France finishes the tournament with a 1-1-0-4 record, good for sixth place in Group A. It might not sound like much, but it's an incredible achievement considering they were supposed to be playing in Division I-A and were promoted to the top pool only a few weeks ago. And now, their strong showing has earned them another trip to the top in 2023.
"When we heard that we had a chance to go back up, it was a huge emotion for us," Sasha Treille said. "We were really ready to give everything to stay here, because obviously, it's a way better tournament and we are with all the top players in the world. So we're pretty satisfied. We came here to stay in the top division, and that's what we did. Except for this last game against Canada and probably the second period against Denmark, that's where we can have a little bit of regret. Otherwise, it was a success, I think."
Canada's attack was led by Drake Batherson, who carded four assists. Pierre-Luc Dubois had two goals and an assist, and Dylan Cozens had a goal and two helpers.
With the seven goals, Canada tied Switzerland for the most goals in the preliminary round with 34. Yet Canada doesn't have an individual in the top 10 scoring, testament to their balanced attack.
"I think we're a team that looks ahead of us, and right now that's the medal round," said Cole Sillinger. "That's what we're focusing on here. And the good news is, it doesn't matter what happened in the preliminary round. It's all about what's going to happen coming up here next. So we're ready for that. [Sweden is] obviously a skilled team and work hard and have got some NHL guys. It's going be a fun game, I think. With us scoring some goals tonight and getting some confidence in ourselves again, I think that's key for us. We're just really looking forward to that game."
Five minutes later, Canada doubled its lead thanks to another smart and quick play from Sanheim. This time he was along the boards closer to the end red line and fired a shot on goal. It handcuffed Ylonen, and the puck dropped in the blue ice where Max Comtois swatted it in for his second goal of the tournament.
It was all Canada in the second as France had precious few rushes into the offensive end. Canada wasted no time in going up by three, scoring at 2:07. Dubois got the puck in the slot, waited for Ylonen to go down, and then wristed a shot stick side.
Towards the end of the period, they added a fourth thanks to a breakaway pass from Zach Whitecloud to Eric O’Dell. O’Dell burst in on goal and deked Ylonen out of position before tucking it in. Whitecloud himself made it 5-0 early in the third on a play in which he did everything during a four-on-four.
First, he kept the puck in at the France blue line. Then, he eluded two men and moved in on goal, then snapped a shot high glove side past Ylonen for the pretty marker.
France finally got on the board three minutes later off a Canadian turnover inside the France blue line. Anthony Rech claimed the puck and went down on a two-on-one, wiring a shot over Dreidger's glove to break the shutout at 8:20.
Canada got that one back, though, three minutes later. Some tough forechecking allowed Drake Batherson to feather a pass to Dubois in the slot, and he made no mistake with the target practise. Forechecking was the name of the game for goal number seven as well, Batherson finishing things off with a bullet over Ylonen's shoulder to close out the scoring.
And now, Canada prepares for the playoffs with more than a little excitement. "It's the reason why we come here," captain Thomas Chabot added. "I mean, at the end of the day, it's a long season, and it's hard on everyone. But when we get the chance to be here and compete for something at the end of the season, I think it makes it special. This event is great. There are a lot of fans from different countries. You get to see different cities as well across the world. Just to be here and have the chance to compete again, even when your NHL season's over, is always fun."