Auvitu Has Three Points as France Beats Slovenia

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.

France Taken Down by Czech Republic, 5-2

Team France faced more stiff competition at the IIHF World Championship today, falling to the Czech Republic by a score of 5 to 2.

Just 8:02 into the game, France’s Laurent Meunier took a holding penalty to set up the Czech power play. It only took 30 seconds before David Pastrnak found the back of the net behind French goalie Florian Hardy. Roman Horak and Jakub Voracek had the assists on the power play goal that gave the Czechs the 1-0 lead.

That lead would hold through the first intermission, and France would tie things up early in the second period. Michal Kempny of the Czech Republic had taken a high sticking double minor at 18:42 of the first. The four minutes bled over into the second period and the French were able to hit pay dirt just 53 seconds into the second frame when Stephane da Costa struck again from Damien Fleury. Da Costa currently stands at third in the tournament in scoring with six goals and three assists for nine points. He is also the top goal scorer. The game was knotted up at one.

Despite the Czechs taking eight minutes in penalties over the course of the second period (including a Vladimir Sobotka double minor for high sticking), they were able to keep France off of the scoresheet and, in fact, ended up taking the lead themselves.

Michal Repik scored at even strength at the 6:52 mark of the second from Tomas Kundratek to give the Czechs the 2-1. France would take a lone penalty at 16:48 of the second when Stephane da Costa went off for hooking, but it was enough to come back and bite them.

On that power play, Jan Rutta scored off an assist to Roman Cervenka at 17:01 to make it 3-1 Czech Republic. The Czechs also added another one early in the third period. At 8:03 of the third frame, Repik beat Hardy (assist to Kempny) to pot his second of the game and put the Czechs up 4-1.

France would quickly answer that goal with an Antoine Roussel unassisted goal at 10:38, but things were getting out of hand for the French. They pulled Hardy with just under four minutes left in the game which would eventually lead to Tomas Zohorna scoring into the empty net (assist to Roman Horak) to make it 5-2 Czechs. And that was your final.

Yohann Auvitu had a shot on goal in 21:08 of ice time spread over 35 shifts.

The Czechs ended up with 28 shots on goal while goaltender Pavel Francouz made 22 saves on the French. The French had 24 shots and Hardy made 23 saves on the Czechs.

France now falls to 1 win, 2 overtime wins and three losses for seven points, placing them in sixth place in Group B. They have a plus-2 goal differential. The Czechs move into second behind Canada with three wins, two overtime wins and one loss for 13 points. Their goal differential is plus-11.

France’s next game comes Monday when they take on Slovenia (who currently sand in last place in Group B with one point) to finish out their Group B play.