Team Russia is a powerhouse at the Ice Hockey World Championships. They've won gold in three of the last five years including 2012. Prior to their contest versus France, they were undefeated in 13 games.
Yes, I said prior to. The 13-game unbeaten streak to a stunning end Thursday with a 2-1 loss to the French.
Again: the French. As in, France, ranked 14 in the world. France, who dropped the last meeting between the clubs in 2009 by a score of 7-2, and who had never beaten Russia in six tries. Until now.
The French players couldn't believe it.
The game-winning goal was scored by Dallas Stars forward Antoine Roussel, who walked out from the corner and gave the France a lead in the second period they wouldn't relinquish, thanks in large part to Florian Hardy, the third-string goalie that outduelled Russia's third-stringer and stopped Alexander Radulov on a penalty shot to keep the game tied at one.
Hardy agreed that it was the biggest game of his life.
It's France's Miracle on Ice. From the IIHF:
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.
"It’s fantastic to beat the defending champions and the best players in the world," said French coach Dave Henderson. "It’s so big for French hockey it’s hard to describe."
"We have a lot of players who play in the French league, and there's a big difference [between us and them]," said France's Vincent Bachet. "But we stayed focused and disciplined, and everything's possible. If we played them 20 times, we'd lose...19 times, I guess."
If the "Miracle On Ice" comparison didn't land for you right away, that quote should do it. It's eerily similar to Herb Brooks' speech in Miracle. ("If we played 'em 10 times, they might win nine. But not this game. Not tonight.")
It was especially special for Vincent Bachet, who wore the "C" in this game after regular French captain Laurent Meunier went home for the birth of his child.
"Maybe when I'm 60, I'll tell my grandchildren how I was the captain of the team who beat Russia in the World Championship," Bachet said after the game. "It's special."
Here are some highlights from the game.
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey World Championships
- Miracle on Ice