Roussel, France Head to Quarterfinals at World Championship
Stars forward Antoine Roussel and France are putting together a nice run at the 2014 World Championship, securing the country’s first berth in the quarterfinals at the tournament since 1995.
“We are a team of character that recovers after every difficult moment. Everyone worked hard and contributed,” Roussel told French media. “We have been close to qualifying the last two years. This year, it's really cool to make it at last and be part of that group.”
France, which wrapped up preliminary round play with a 5-4 overtime loss to Czech Republic on Tuesday, has a big challenge ahead in the playoff round, taking on unbeaten Russia in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
France won four of seven games in the preliminary round, finishing in the fourth and final playoff spot in Group A. There were big victories over Canada, Slovakia, Norway and Denmark.
Roussel, who leads France in scoring, came up big down the stretch in preliminary play. He had two goals and one assist and was named France’s best player in a key 5-4 win over Norway on Saturday. He had one goal, three assists and a plus-five rating in a 6-2 victory over Denmark on Monday that clinched France’s spot in the playoff round.
“It’s great for our country,” Roussel told the IIHF site after the win over Denmark. “People may watch it and say, ‘Oh, my kid might play hockey now, instead of playing soccer.’ I hope this win is going to do a lot for us to get more rinks and more respectability in the sports ranking in France. Hopefully it’s going to grow.”
Roussel tallied a goal Tuesday, giving him 11 points (6 goals, 5 assists) in 7 games at the tournament, which is being held in Belarus. He is currently tied for second at the tournament in points and he is tied for second in goals as well. His plus-seven rating is tied for sixth.
USA, Thomas to face Czechs in quarterfinals
Stars goaltender Tim Thomas and Team USA will take on Czech Republic in Thursday’s quarterfinal round. The USA won five of seven games and finished second in Group B.
Thomas ended preliminary play with a 5-2 record, 3.38 goals against average and .868 save percentage.
Thursday’s quarterfinals games
Russia vs. France
Sweden vs. Belarus
USA vs. Czech Republic
Canada vs. Finland