Team France needs all the help they can get to advance to the quarterfinals of the IIHF World Championships on their home ice. They finished group play in fifth place – the top four teams in each Group moves on to the quarterfinals. They do not control their own destiny, but they did do all that they could by defeating Slovenia yesterday 4-1.
After a scoreless first period, France finally broke through on the power play eight minutes and twenty seconds into the second period. Slovenia’s Jurij Repe was called for holding at the 8:05 mark and Antoine Roussel converted on the ensuing man advantage. Yohann Auvitu and Stephane da Costa had the assists. That was Auvitu’s first of three points on the afternoon.
He would get his second at the 11:08 mark when he scored on goaltender Matija Pintaric from Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Roussel. That goal doubled up the French lead to 2-0.
France would finish things off in the third period. At just the 3:55 mark, Sabahudin Kovacevic was called for hooking and the French would convert on that power play as well. Roussel scored from Auvitu at the 4:01 mark to make it 3-0.
Slovenia would get one back just 24 seconds after the third French goal when Jan Mursak scored from Ales Music and Pintaric. That made it 3-1.
Down by two, Slovenia needed a bit of a miracle. And that would seem to be at hand when Nicolas Besch of France was called for holding at 17:51 of the period. Slovenia would pull Pintaric for the two man advantage with about 2:30 left in the game. But France’s Roussel would score into the empty net, shorthanded, to make the final score 4-1. French goalie Cristobal Huet gave way to Florian Hardy with a little more than 30 seconds remaining in the game.
Overall, The French finished with 25 shots while Slovenia had 27. Pintaric made 21 saves for Slovenia while Huet and Hardy made 26 saves for France.
Yohann Auvitu ended the afternoon with the goal and two assists for three points. He had a game total of three shots on goal all in 22:58 of ice time spread over 32 shifts.
And that will close the curtain on France’s group play. Again, finishing in fifth with six teams having games in Group B later today does not look good for their chances of moving into the quarterfinals. But stranger things have happened and we will find out for certain later today.
France finished group play with two wins, two overtime wins, no overtime losses and three regulation losses for ten points. Their goal differential was a plus-four. Right now they are ahead of Norway, Belarus and Slovenia only. Stephane da Costa finished group play in the top ten in scoring with six goals and four assists for ten points.