By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
A miracle on ice?
France, including left-winger Tim Bozon of the Kamloops Blazers, defeated Russia 2-1 at the IIHF World hockey championship in Helsinki on Thursday.
“This was France’s equivalent of the 1980 Miracle on Ice where U.S. college players defeated the heavily favoured Soviets at the Lake Placid Olympics,” Lucas Aykroyd of IIHF.com wrote in his game story. He also referred to it as “one of the biggest upsets in international hockey history.”
Russia had won 13 straight World championship games; France had lost all five previous meetings with Russia, going back to 1992, the last one a 7-2 setback in Switzerland in 2009. Prior to 1992, France always was in a lower division, thus the teams never met.
“It’s fantastic to beat the defending champions and the best players in the world,” French coach Dave Henderson, a Winnipeg native, said. “It’s so big for French hockey it’s hard to describe.”
The Russians held a 29-19 edge in shots, with third-string goaltenders Vasili Koshechkin of Russia and Florian Hardy of France playing. The highlight of Hardy’s game may have been a glove save on forward Alexander Radulov on a second-period penalty shot with the game scoreless.
Just 15 seconds later, Alexander Perezhogin gave the Russians a 1-0 lead.
Damien Fleury tied it at 9:52, beating Koshechkin with a slapshot, and Antoine Roussel, who plays for the Dallas Stars and is the lone NHLer on France’s roster, got what turned out to be the winner at 16:48, putting a backhander through the goaltender’s legs.
“I’m (Hardy’s) roommate,” Bozon told Aykroyd, “and we talked about the game a little, and he was a little nervous.
“I think (the Russians) underestimated us a little, but that’s their problem. We never gave up, and I think we played a good game.”
Bozon, 19, has one assist in four games, averaging 8:43 minutes of playing time.
He is the third generation from his family to play for France’s national team, following his paternal grandfather, Alain, and his father, Philippe.
Philippe, the first French-trained player to reach the NHL, also is at the tournament, working for French broadcaster Sport+. As a national teamer, Philippe, now 46, played in four Olympics and nine World championships. He was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2008.
Tim told The Daily News after the game that he played about 8:30 against Russia.
As for the overall experience of playing in the World championship, he said: “It’s different because the ice is bigger. But the big difference is the players are really strong and they are big.”
Against Russia, he said, the French “played really well . . . good discipline.”
Russia (3-1) is to play Finland (3-1) today, while France (2-2) plays Saturday against the U.S. (3-1).
There’s more on the Bozons and their World championship experiences right here.
There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping by here, why not consider donating to the cause? Just click HERE. . . and thank you very much.