International Ice Hockey Federation

A new shade of bleu

A new shade of bleu

Focus on the new French stars

Published 12.05.2017 12:29 GMT+2 | Author Ismael Diakite
A new shade of bleu
Mix of veterans and rookies on the French team. From left: Teddy Da Costa, Laurent Meunier and Floran Douay sing the national anthem after the victory against Finland. Photo: Matt Zambonin / HHOF-IIHF Images
The French team has several young players on its roster. Two of them have made their debuts in this year’s IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.

On 9th May Anthony Rech, 24 years old, scored his first World Championship goal with the French team. A few days before, Floran Douay (22) and Maurin Bouvet (21) played their first World Championship games.

Those three players belong to the emerging generation with Jordann Perret (22), Nicolas Ritz (25), Florian Chakiachvili (25), and Valentin Claireaux (26).

“With [head coach] Dave [Henderson], we have always integrated young players,» Pierre Pousse, the French team’s assistant coach, said before adding, “and the older guys are able to impart the values of the French team and of the group to the young guys. They give them advice on their behaviour and on how to respect others. It’s natural for them. That’s how the French team’s values have carried on year after year.”

Cristobal Huet, Laurent Meunier, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Antoine Roussel are the leaders. “There are too many veteran players in the team to name all of them,” Antony Rech declared, joking. “It’s an honour to play with them. We, the young guys, try to get as much advice from them as possible and then use that to play better on the ice.”

Among those new talents, Nicolas Ritz was the first to play at a senior a World Championship, in 2013 in Helsinki, Finland. Florian Chakiachvili followed in 2014, Anthony Rech and Valentin Claireaux in 2015 and Jordann Perret in 2016. It seems as though every year, new young players are being integrated into the team for the World Championship.

“We are really proud and it’s a great surprise to be here,” Maurin Bouvet said. He played his first match against Finland last week. The new young French players continue to make their debuts.

In 2016, for his first World Championship, Jordann Perret recorded an assist against Germany. This year, the French rookies are front and centre. During the historic victory against Finland (5-1) Valentin Claireaux scored and Anthony Rech contributed three assists. “The new players are happy to be motivated by the young ones and the veterans to improve the French team,” Floran Douay explained the day after that victory.

Pierre Pousse agrees: “We need these young players! The older guys had the experience but the young players bring their youth and vivacity to the team. When everyone manages to perform together, it’s for the whole team’s benefit.”

The French team has reached the World Championship quarter-finals twice, in 1995 and 2014. Three years ago in Minsk, Nicolas Ritz and Florian Chakiachvili were on that team. Today, in Paris, the team will certainly be eager to achieve the same goal.

Will they?


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