The great American goal rush
by Andy Potts|21 MAY 2023
Team USA's Cutter Gauthier enjoys the congratulations of his team-mates after scoring on France in a convincing victory at the 2023 World Championship in Tampere, Finland.
Team USA cruised to a sixth successive victory in this year’s World Championship, running up a 9-0 scoreline on France. Cutter Gauthier led the way once again, with the 19-year-old scoring a hat-trick and getting his first assist in Tampere.

This was the highest-scoring U.S. display since 2018’s 9-3 victory over Korea. The win also matched that year’s record of winning the first six games of a World Championship campaign. The 2018 team eventually took bronze in Copenhagen.

"It was good," said Gauthier. "Our coaches preached at the beginning of the game: 'It doesn't matter which opponent we're facing.' So that's what we stuck to. And I thought we had a good 60."

France, safe from relegation but unable to reach the quarter-final, had little to play for. Sebastian Ylonen returned in goal and Sacha Treille added experience to the offence, but Alexandre Texier missed out due to illness. That was another blow for a goalshy French attack that has now gone 130:52 without a goal since Charles Bertrand scored on Finland.

"I think the key for us was to have a good start but it didn’t happen," reflected France's Kevin Bozon. "We went down 1-0, it was 3-0 after the first period. We tried to keep calm in the locker room and recover and come back harder in the rest of the game, but it didn’t work."

For the USA, scoring is not a problem. The team moved on to 30 for the tournament tonight. It took just six minutes to break the deadlock here, with Connor Garland getting away from Thomas Thiry and going around the back to set up Drew O’Connor for a close-range snipe.

Then Gauthier got into action. The teenager showed great anticipation to get goal side of Floran Chakiachvili and collect Scott Perunovich’s stretch pass. Gauthier advanced on Ylonen’s net and beat the French goalie low on the blocker side. Next he claimed his first assist of the tournament, charging down an attempted clearance and deflecting the puck into T.J. Tynan’s path as the Ontario Reign captain potted his first goal in Tampere.

Tynan is enjoying life alongside Gauthier and expects even bigger things from the youngster in the future.

"When you get on the ice with Cutter at first, the first time he rips it, everyone's kind of looking at each other: 'Did you just see that?'," he said. "The sky's the limit for him. He's been a joy to play with. And he's going to be incredible. It'll be fun to watch."

France was limited to a couple of chances on the rush, with Pierre Crinon and Tim Bozon keeping Cal Petersen honest. However, the USA was very much on top at the first intermission.

Early in the second Gauthier struck again, converting the first power play of the game. He took a Perunovich feed in the right-hand circle and placed his shot through Crinon’s legs to beat Quentin Papillon, who replaced Ylonen at the intermission.

After that, the tempo dropped a little. That didn’t prevent the USA extending its lead during a passage of four-on-four play early in the third when O’Connor stripped the unfortunate Chakiachvili of the puck and skated through to go fivehole on Papillon for his second of the night.

Perunovich moved to five assists earlier in the game and then added his first goal of a productive tournament to make it 6-0. France soon discovered that a struggling team just can’t catch a break. Matt Coronato’s shot bounced back off the glass for Rocco Grimaldi to see his effort deflected into the net off the goalie. Continuing the misfortune, Petersen denied Justin Addamo after Guillaume Leclerc’s rush found him all alone in front of the American net.

That was Petersen’s last action as he left the game to give Drew Commesso his first appearance of the championship. At the other end, Garland added an eighth almost immediately before Gauthier completed his treble with six minutes on the clock as another looping deflection wrongfooted the luckless French.

"It feels good," Gauthier said. "Any time you're able to score, especially for your country, is amazing. Winning this game today is what matters the most. It's only helping us go into [the] Sweden [game] in two days."

The final second saw a possible 10th American goal ruled out as the puck crossed the line after the hooter. Now attention turns to Sweden on Tuesday and the chance to top Group A.

"Everyone’s pretty excited about the next game," said Grimaldi. "It’s going to be a hard game, they’re a pretty good team and there are going to be a lot of ramifications for getting the top spot so it’s going to be a war and it’ll be fun."