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September 22, 2017

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France stun famed Olympic champs Canada in int'l ice hockey

MINSK--France stunned Olympic champions Canada 3-2 in a shootout triumph on Friday to give them just a second win over their famed rivals in 83 years of the world championships.

Despite missing all of the team which delivered gold at the Sochi Olympics in February, Canada still boasted a squad of NHL talent. France, in contrast, had just two players who feature in the North American league.

Forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who plays in the Swedish league, proved to be France's winning star, scoring the crucial shootout goal against a Canada squad whose last world title came back in 2007.

The victory was the second by France against Canada at the world championships dating back to 1931 — the French previously defeated Canada in 1995.

In their most recent world championship meetings, Canada won 9-1 in 2011 and 7-2 in 2012.

France goalkeeper Cristobal Huet, who made 34 saves, denied Kyle Turris, Sean Monahan and Matt Read before Bellemare connected for the winner in the shootout.

"Any time we beat a top-six, it's huge," France coach Dave Henderson told the IIHF website. "Canada is where hockey is. If you beat Canada, it's a huge thing for French hockey."

Canada took a 2-1 lead with 9:18 remaining in the third period when Erik Gudbranson of the Florida Panthers scored.

France leveled two minutes later when Stephane Da Costa of the Ottawa Senators scored his second power-play goal with 7:25 left.

Da Costa had scored a power-play goal late in the first period to give France a 1-0 lead before Brayden Schenn from the Philadelphia Flyers tied it up at 1-1.

"You look at that team after they won that game, that's like winning a Stanley Cup for them," said Canada coach Dave Tippett.

Elsewhere, the Czech Republic saw off Slovakia 3-2, Russia beat Switzerland 5-0 and the United States routed Belarus 6-1.

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