France beats Denmark to reach quarters at worlds

MINSK, Belarus (AP) France clinched a spot in the quarterfinals of the ice hockey world championship with a 6-2 victory over Denmark on Monday, while Finland kept alive its hopes of advancing by beating Kazakhstan 4-3.

Stephane Da Costa scored twice as France netted four unanswered third-period goals in a span of less than six minutes. The game had been tied 2-2 after the second period.

France, which stunned Canada in its first game of the tournament, reached the quarterfinals for the first time since 1995.

”This is huge for French hockey,” France coach Dave Henderson said. ”It’s been a long time since it last happen. I’m totally happy with the team.”

Julien Desrosiers, Antoine Roussel, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Antonin Manavian also scored for France. Jesper Jensen and Kim Staal scored for Denmark.

The result means the Czech Republic also advanced to the quarterfinals from Group A together with defending champion Sweden and Canada.

France has also beaten Slovakia and Norway in Belarus. It will meet the Czech Republic on Tuesday in a match to decide who finishes third in the group. The loser will face Group B’s winner – high-scoring Russia – in the quarterfinals.

Captain Olli Jokinen scored to put Finland 3-2 ahead when his shot hit defenseman Alexei Litvinenko in the face before deflecting into the net, and also set up the winning goal for Jarkko Immonen as Finland stayed in contention.

Finland is third in Group B with 11 points but Latvia and Belarus are two points behind with two games in hand. The United States already advanced from the group with Russia.

”We’ll probably be watching the games later and hoping that we can continue in the tournament,’ Juuso Hietanen said. ”We have to do all the preparation as if we are going to play on Wednesday in the next stage.”

In the late matches Monday, Latvia plays host Belarus while Sweden faces Italy.