France Gets by Belarus in Shootout; Steelheads’ Season Ends

It was a pretty busy day for Devils prospects and players. You had Yohann Auvitu and Team France taking on Belarus in the IIHF World Championship in Paris. There was Mikey McLeod and Nathan Bastian and the Mississauga Steelheads trying to stay alive at the Erie Otters. There was also a signing of a prospect from the 2016 Draft.

First, the World Championship tournament, where France was coming off of a pretty solid showing against the powerhouse Canadians. They were in action earlier today against struggling Belarus, who stood in last place in Group B coming into this game.

Sacha Treille opened the scoring to give France the early 1-0 lead. That goal came 12:29 into the first period with assists to Teddy da Costa and Damien Raux. Belarus’ Yevgeni Kovyrshin was called for holding just as the first period was ending (with about 14 seconds remaining in the period), giving the French a power play to open the second period.

They would take advantage as Damien Fleury scored to double up the French lead. He got assists from Antoine Roussel and Stephane da Costa at the 54 second mark of the second frame.

At 6:40 of the second, Belarus cut the French lead in half when Alexander Pavlovich scored from Yegor Sharangovich and Pavel Vorobei. It was now 2-1.

Sharangovich tied things up from Charles Linglet 11:07 later and the game was headed into the second intermission knotted at two.

Belarus took the lead just a 1:20 into the third stanza on the power play after Antonin Manavian was put in the box for a hooking infraction. Alexander Kulakov had the goal and Sergei Kostitsyn and Artyom Demkov had the assists to give the Belarusians the lead.

That would only last 11:15 until Pierre-Edouard Bellemare tied things up again at 12:35. The game was stalemated at three now and was headed for overtime.

The OT period got a little bit scary for the French when Fleury was called for a hooking penalty 1:41 into the five minute extra session. With Belarus on the power play, it seemed like they had it in the bag. But France killed it off and the game was headed for a shootout.

This shootout came down to the last shot for France. Roussel went first for France and missed the net. Mikhail Stefanovich went first for the Belarusians and scored. Fleury was stopped by Belarus goalie Kevin Lalande and Andrei Stas was stopped by France’s Cristobal Huet. Stephane da Costa scored for the French to knot the shootout up. Pavlovich was stopped, as was Stefanovich for Belarus and the game was on Stephane da Costa’s stick. He scored to give France the 4-3 win.

Auvitu’s stat line from the afternoon read: three shots on goal in 25:55 of ice time.

France finished the game with 31 shots on goal and Belarusian goalie Lalande made 27 saves. Belarus had 22 shots on target while Huet made 19 saves for France.

The French now stand in sixth place in the eight team Group B. They have one win, two overtime wins, no overtime losses and two regulation losses. They have a plus-4 goal differential and seven points. In another test, they take on second place Czech Republic on Sunday at the AccorHotels Arena.

Meanwhile, later on in North America, the Mississauga Steelheads were fighting for their season at the Erie Otters in game five of the OHL championship series. They would not make it, losing 4-3 in overtime.

Mississauga came out guns blazing, getting the first goal at 8:27 when Spencer Watson scored unassisted. It was a crucial goal and made it 1-0 Steelheads.

The Steelheads would double up their lead with less than a minute left in the first period. Michael McLeod scored his eleventh from his brother Ryan and Watson at 19:18. The Steelheads had the momentum going into the first intermission.

Or so it seemed. Taylor Raddysh began an amazing individual output when he scored at 1:39 of the second from Kyle Maksimovich and Anthony Cirelli. It was now 2-1 Steelheads.

Owen Tippett seemingly put the game out of reach for Mississauga when he scored at the 14:09 mark of the second from Nicolas Hague and Trent Fox. It was 3-1 Steelheads at this point.

But Raddysh would take over first when he scored his second of the game from Dylan Strome and Cirelli on the power play at 18:12 of the second. That was set up when Brendan Harrogate was called for hooking at 17:32. That made it 3-2 Mississauga heading into the third period, and now the momentum had seemed to shift to Erie.

It would take a while, but the Otters pulled netminder Troy Timpano with a little over two minutes remaining in the game. With the extra attacker on, Raddysh completed the hat trick when he scored at 18:45 of the third off assists from Warren Foegele and Strome. The game was knotted at three and headed to overtime.

It was now pressure time for the Steelheads. They were fighting to stay alive and were now in sudden death OT. The onus was on them. And sure enough, just 2:41 into the extra session, Cirelli scored from Strome and Alex DeBrincat to win the game, the series and the right to represent the OHL in the Memorial Cup tournament. That goal came on the power play. Mississauga was 0-for-3 on the power play while Erie was 2-for-5.

Mikey McLeod’s stat line had the goal for one point, was a plus-1 with two shots on goal. He won 11 of 27 faceoffs he took. Nathan Bastian was a plus-1 with two shots on goal and four penalty minutes. He was 6-for-16 in the faceoff circle.

The Otters had 43 shots on goal and Matthew Mancina of the Steelheads was equal to 39 of them in 62:41 of work. Timpano made 23 saves on 26 shots against in 62:26 of work for Erie.

Congratulations to the Erie Otters as they continue on to the Memorial Cup (which begins May 19) and to Mikey McLeod and Nathan Bastian and the rest of the Steelheads, who had a great run in the OHL playoffs.

The Devils also made a signing today, bringing 18 year-old Jesper Bratt into the fold with a three-year, entry-level contract. The Devils’ press release stated that the 5-foot, 10-inch, 175-pound winger was selected by the Devils in the sixth round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, 162nd overall.

According to the press release he played from 2013 to 2017 with AIK of the Swedish Allsvenskan league. Last year, he had six goals and 16 assists for 22 points in 46 games. He has represented Sweden in the under-19 and under-20 World Championship as well as the under-18 World Championship where he won a silver medal in 2015-16. The press release also notes that he played in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament where he also won a silver with Sweden. That tournament is in the Czech Republic.

The native of Stockholm played 95 games in the Allsvenskan and scored 14 goals and 25 assists for 39 points. The press release also said he had 12 penalty minutes in his career there

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