France Topples Finland; Otters Take 2-0 Series Lead Over Steelheads

On a busy day of hockey around the world, there were two games that were related to the Devils with some of their younger players getting some ice time in.

First, to Europe we go as France took on Finland at the IIHF World Championship. The game was played earlier today at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris and the French made the most of their home ice advantage in this game.

France took the early 1-0 lead when the Flyers’ Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scored from Anthony Rech and Laurent Meunier 14:17 into the game.

The Finns would tie it up just 1:33 into the second period when Mikko Lehtonen beat French goaltender Florian Hardy (assists to Antti Pihlstrom and Mikko Rantanen). But from there, it was all France. They scored four unanswered for the decisive 5-1 win.

Antoine Roussel made it 2-1 when he scored at 13:58 of the second (assist to Bellemare). The French then converted on a power play opportunity when Valtteri Filppula went to the box for hooking at the 16:51 mark. Valentin Claireaux scored at 18:49 (assists to Jonathan Janil and Rech).

Roussel scored again 8:27 into the third period from Rech (who had a strong three point day) to make it 4-1.

The Finns pulled goaltender Joonas Korpisalo with just over six minutes to go and Damien Fleury scored into the empty net from Teddy da Costa at 17:49 of the third.

For the French, Hardy made a solid 42 saves on 43 Finnish shots for a 97.67 save percentage. Korpisalo made 21 saves on 26 shots for the Finns for an 84 percent save rate.

The real story of this game, however, was the penalties. France took 20 minutes worth of them, including a ten minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to Roussel in the first. Finland only took eight PIMs, but did not convert on any of their chances.

Yohann Auvitu’s stat line saw him with four shots on goal and a plus-2 rating in 24:29 of ice time.

France next sees ice time on Tuesday, the ninth, when they take on the Swiss in the later Group B game. With the win today, host France leapfrogged several teams, including Finland and the Czech Republic in the Group B standings into third place behind Canada and Switzerland.

Coming back to North America, specifically Erie, Pennsylvania, the OHL Finals resumed with the Otters leading Mikey McLeod and Nathan Bastian and the Mississauga Steelheads one game to none.

This game was close until Erie scored late in the third period to wrangle a 3-2 victory out of the afternoon. The Steelheads actually took the early lead at the 16:14 mark of the first period when Ryan McLeod found the back of the net thanks to Spencer Watson and Stefan LeBlanc.

But the Otters would tie things up about two and a half minutes later when Alex DeBrincat scored his tenth of the playoffs from Anthony Cirelli and Dylan Strome. That goal came on the power play set up when Mikey McLeod was called for slashing at the 17:05 mark. Erie would go 1-for-4 on the power play while Mississauga was 0-for-1.

And that was it for the scoring until, with 18:03 having elapsed in the third period, Warren Foegele scored from Cirelli to give the Otters a 2-1 lead. The Steelheads would pull goaltender Matthew Mancina and DeBrincat would score unassisted, his second of the game, into the empty net to put Erie up 3-1.

Mississauga would pull Mancina again immediately following the faceoff after the empty net goal and it would pay off when Shaw Boomhower scored his first of the playoffs from Brendan Harrogate and Stephen Gibson at 19:31. But it was just window dressing to make the final score 3-2.

As you would expect, DeBrincat was named the game’s first star while Foegele was the second and Cirelli the third.

In goal, Mancina made 31 stops on 33 shots for the Steelheads (Erie also had the empty net goal, so they had 32 shots in the game) while Troy Timpano made 22 saves on 24 shots for the Otters.

Mikey McLeod had one shot and two penalty minutes, he also won 11 of 28 faceoffs he took. Nathan Bastian was a minus-1, had one shot on goal and four penalty minutes. He won five of the twelve faceoffs he took.

Game three, with the Otters looking to take a commanding three games to none lead in the best-of-seven series, takes place at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga tomorrow night, May 8.

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