Are the French still worthy of the World Cup? Scored a magic goal and almost caused a sensation
The tricolors, who replaced Russia in the tournament in Finland, fought to the end in the match with Slovakia.
The national teams of Slovakia and France opened the World Cup competitions in group A. The Slovaks came to the tournament as a bronze medalist of the last Olympic Games. But the French – a team from the first division – were included in the list of participants in the championship after the exclusion of the Russian national team from it.
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However, the difference in the level of rivals was not huge – this was confirmed by the friendly match that the teams played six days before the start of the World Cup. The Slovaks, led by ex-Buffalo Sabers player Craig Ramsey, scored a modest 2-0 victory.
Four of the six previous meetings between the teams within the framework of the World Championships also took place in a tense struggle, and eight years ago, the “tricolors” even won in a scoring match (5:3).
A new round of confrontation began under the dictation of the French. IIHF Hall of Famer Philippe Bozon’s team looked fresher and more energized. With their activity, the “tricolors” deserved several dangerous moments – only the implementation let them down.
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The Slovaks turned out to be more cold-blooded and used the first worthy moment. Juraj Słafkowski, who became the main discovery of the Beijing Olympics, beat two opponents in the defense zone and gave rise to an assist attack. In three gears, his partners brought the puck to Pavol Regenda, who, being on the spot, opened the scoring from the second finishing.
The French took the failure as a signal for more decisive action and in the next shift they earned a removal, which, however, did not help them restore equality. At the end of the period, there was an outbreak of aggression on the ice: Christian Pospisil and Charles Bertrand quarreled and received a small fine for being rude. It is noteworthy that in the starting 20 minutes, the Slovaks made only five shots on target, and Regenda performed three of them.
France v Slovakia (2022 Ice Hockey World Championship match)
The French failed the debut of the second segment of the meeting – they lost to their opponents in motion and quickly retired. The Slovaks played the majority mercilessly, as a result, the captain and the oldest hockey player of the team, 31-year-old Tomas Tatar, scored.
The Slovaks had the opportunity to increase the advantage in hot pursuit: in the first minutes after the goal, France had difficulty getting out of their own half of the site. However, over time, the “tricolors” moved away from the shock and suddenly returned to the game. Anthony Rösch picked up the puck immediately after the throw-in in someone else’s zone and dragged it to the nickel, from where he sent it into the net – 1:2.
The progress of the French could be interrupted by one individual mistake: Valentin Clairaut fouled and left the team in the minority. But this time, his partners found an antidote to the Slovak majority, confidently defended the gate, and then pulled off an attack in which everything was magical. Defender Johann Auvita found a pass from his frontline to Clairaut, who, with an aesthetic pass between the legs, brought Jordan Perret one on one with Patrick Rybar. The Frenchman effectively “rocked” the goalkeeper and carefully directed the puck into the lower right corner.
The music played on the French street for a little more than five minutes: the Slovaks used the far bench and, during a positional attack, released a new link under the tired five of the opponents. A fresh combination brought Slovakia forward – Samuel Takacs entered his name in the protocol.
Most of the third period, the team spent absolutely no moments. The Slovaks owned the puck for a long time – however, they could not extract dividends from control alone. Six and a half minutes before the final siren, the French goalkeeper helped Ramsey under his sponsorship: Henri Corentin Buss took the puck outside the trapeze intended for this and received a two-minute penalty, but the Slovaks did not have enough help from the opponent. The score changed only after the French released the sixth field player. France blocked three shots of the Slovaks on an empty goal. And the fourth struck Regenda. The 22-year-old striker scored a brace and set the final result. 4:2 – Olympic bronze medalists start the World Cup with a predictable but faded victory.
Tomorrow Slovakia will play with Germany, and the next match of the French will take place on May 15 – they will face the national team of Kazakhstan.