Slovakia won its final Preliminary Round game at the 2012 World Championships in dramatic fashion, gaining a 5-4 victory over France in a game with three tying goals from Les Bleus, to retain the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
As has been common throughout most of Slovakia’s streak in Helsinki, they opened the scoring early, with a Milan Bartovič slap shot ripping past French netminder Cristobal Huet far side, to go ahead 1-0 2:36 into the first. Tomáš Kopecký would double up on France four minutes later, knocking in a Branko Radivojevič rebound to go up 2-0. France would counter back, striking just 21 seconds later on a Yorick Treille tip of a Alexandre Rouleau point shot, deflecting the puck mid-air to cut the score in half. France would then tie just under eight minutes later, with Marcel Haščák giving away a brutal pass right to Teddy Da Costa, who deked past Michal Sersen and fired past Slovak goalie Ján Laco to tie the game at 2-2 after the first.
Slovakia would regain the lead five minutes into the second, on a Michal Handzuš tip of a Zdeno Chára point blast, to regain the lead at 3-2. But France would again strike in quick fashion, with Damien Fleury, parked in front of the Slovak goal, whipping a Laurent Meunier behind the net pass past Laco just under four minutes later, to even the score at 2-2. The firing show continued, with Radivojevič putting Slovakia ahead 4-3 39 seconds into the third on a 2-on-1 wrist shot over Huet. But, Les Bleus again tied the game, with a beautiful bad angle wrister from Antoine Roussel just under five minutes later tying the game. Radivojevič would add his second five minutes later, a point shot wrister that beat Huet on a Handzuš screen, that finally gave Slovakia the lead for good, as France was unable to equalize, leaving the final score 5-4.
With the win, Slovakia wins its fifth straight game in its tenth and ongoing International Hockey Lineal Championship reign, after defeating the United States, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Switzerland and now France. Canada entered the Worlds as IHLC holders, who dropped the title to the U.S. after two games, who in turn lost to Slovakia in their first IHLC defence. This is the first iHLC game between Slovakia and France in nearly twenty years, the last being the the Preliminary Round closer at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics, which Slovakia won 6-2. Slovakia now brings the IHLC to the Medal Round, where they face Canada in the Quarterfinals.
02:36 – GOAL – Bartovič (Bližňák, Sekera)
06:11 – PEN – Sersen, tripping
06:15 – PEN – Meunier, hooking
06:50 – GOAL – Kopecký (Radivojevič)
07:11 – GOAL – Treille (Rouleau, Desrosiers)
15:00 – GOAL – T. Da Costa
28:58 – PEN – Fleury, interference
29:09 – PEN – Sekera, tripping
34:07 – PEN – Meunier, tripping
35:26 – PP GOAL – Handzuš (Chára, Sekera)
39:21 – GOAL – Fleury (Meunier)
40:39 – GOAL – Radivojevič
45:17 – GOAL – Roussel (S. Da Costa)
49:06 – PEN – Besch, interference
50:27 – PP GOAL – Radivojevič (Sekera)
58:55 – PEN – Meunier, slashing + 10 min. misconduct
W: Laco (24-28)
L: Huet (24-29)
SHOTS ON GOAL
9+14+6 = 29
10+10+8 = 28
Goaltenders: Peter Hamerlík, Ján Laco. Defence: Ivan Baranka, Zdeno Chára (C), Dominik Graňák (A), Andrej Sekera, Michal Sersen, Tomáš Starosta, René Vydarený. Forwards: Milan Bartovič, Mário Bližňák, Michal Handzuš, Marcel Haščák, Marek Hovorka, Libor Hudáček, Tomáš Kopecký, Michel Miklik, Juraj Mikúš, Branko Radivojevič, Miroslav Šatan (A), Tomáš Surový, Tomáš Tatar.
Goaltenders: Cristobal Huet, Fabrice Lhenry. Defence: Baptiste Amar, Yohann Auvitu, Vincent Bachet (A), Nicolas Besch, Kevin Hecquefeuille, Antonin Manavian, Maxime Moisand, Alexandre Rouleau. Forwards: Pierre-Édouard Bellemare (A), Charles Bertrand, Stéphane Da Costa, Teddy Da Costa, Julien Desrosiers, Damien Fleury, Brian Henderson, Loïc Lampérier, Laurent Meunier (C), Damien Raux, Antoine Roussel, Yorick Treille.