QUEBEC CITY – The whites were blue and the blues were white, but the rest of the game looked just like the one 24 hours earlier. Italy dominated big parts of the game, but France got the necessary goals on powerplay, to win the game 6-4, booking a ticket to the 2009 World Championship in Berne, Switzerland.
Italy’s coach Michel Goulet had decided to start Thomas Tragust in goal. Italy seemed well prepared for the game and it also got the start it wanted when Jason Cirone gave it 1-0 lead, tipping in a rebound.
Just as in the first relegation round game between the teams, Italy took penalties, and French capitalized on the powerplay. Just like yesterday, coach Dave Henderson was yelling Baptiste Amar’s and Sebastien Bordeleau’s names a lot, pushing their ice time over 20 minutes again. And just like yesterday, they delivered.
First, at 8:13, Bordeleau sent a long pass to the blueline to Amar who scored the equalizer on the first French powerplay. Five minutes later, France had another powerplay, and Amar and Bordeleau zigzagged the puck to Yorick Treille who beat Tragust to give the French the lead after the first period.
Italy started the second period in just as determined fashion as the first one, but Jonathan Zwikel pushed Italy against the wall by giving France 3-1 lead after a well executed 2-on-1 attack.
Michel Goulet pulled Tragust and sent in Gunther Hell, in an effort to shake up his team.
It worked. For a while. Italy pulled closer after Andre Signoretti scored a shorthanded goal at 26:12 when he took a slapshot on the third rebound and buried the puck behind Cristobal Huet. The momentum seemed to shift to Italy who even got two chances to score on powerplay. Unfortunately for them, France managed to kill both penalties.
The third period was dramatic. First, the French seemed to put the game away when Julien Desrosiers scored after just one minute, finishing his end-to-end rush with a shot that beat Hell low on the stickside. Two minutes and 57 seconds later, Italy scored 4-3 when Pat Iannone lifted a rebound into the net, and just 58 seconds later, France’s Yorick Treille followed Francois Rozenthal’s shot and sent the puck in off his pads. The play was reviewed by the video goal judge.
"We played two games and we worked extremely hard, and sometimes it's the little things that trip you up," said Italy's Mario Chitarroni.
"I think we played well in a lot of aspects of the game, but we gave up good scoring chances. Over the two games, their power play worked extremely well, and we struggled on our penalty kill."
With 8:58 remaining, Bordeleau gave Italy a three-goal lead. He lifted the puck high, sending it bouncing towards Hell who fumbled. Bordeleau was first at the rebound, tipping it in for 6-3.
Jonathan Tippis kept the Italian hopes up, scoring 6-4 on a powerplay with three minutes remaining, but that was as close as Italy got.
"At that stage you're not giving up, but you're praying for a miracle, and nine times out of ten it doesn't happen," said Chitarroni.
The French team was delirious with happiness after the game.
"It's perfect," said Bordeleau. "Now the goal is for us to stay in the top group. The grand finale tonight will be my best memory of the tournament."
The Italians were disappointed, naturally.
"It's tough, because we prepared extremely well, and at the end, we ran into a goaltender that's a little above our level. He did what he was supposed to do," said Chitarroni.