HELSINKI – Kévin Hecquefeuille scored two of five power-play goals in the game to lead France to a 6-3 win over Kazakhstan at the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. The win pulls France even with a win and loss while the Kazakhs are 0-2.
Laurent Meunier had three assists while Julien Desrosiers had a goal and two assists. The game was marred by a devastating hit to the head by Sasha Treille on Roman Starchenko. Treille was given a major and match penalty, and the hit will be reviewed by the IIHF's disciplinary committee with any further decision coming tomorrow morning.
In all, the game featured 63 penalty minutes.
"It feels good to win the game," said French goalie Cristobal Huet, "but we have five more games ahead of us. But it's a step forward, and hopefully we can win some more games here."
France scored three goals of four goals in the first period, all with penalties involved. In the first instance, the French had a power play when Kévin Hecquefeuille got the puck along the board at the blue line. He dragged it to the middle of the ice and fired, his shot sneaking under the arm of goalie Alexei Ivanov at 8:59.
Two-and-a-half minutes later, the Kazakhs were being called for a penalty when Nicolas Besch carried the puck in on goal. His shot was redirected by defenceman Yevgeni Fadeyev right between Ivanov’s legs for a 2-0 France lead.
France made it 3-0 on another power play with three minutes left in the period. Treille was in the slot when a loose puck came to him, and he rifled a high shot over Ivanov’s shoulder before the goalie could react. That spelled the end for Ivanov, as coach Andrei Shayanov tried to get his team more involved in the game by inserting Vitali Yeremeyev.
The move worked in the immediate as Kazakhstan connected on its own late power play. Vadim Krasnoslobodtsev found a loose puck to Cristobal Huet’s back door side and roofed a quick shot before the goalie could get over.
France pulled ahead by three goals again midway through the second period. Desrosiers took a nice pass from Meunier in the high slot and fired a low shot. Yeremeyev made the save but kicked the puck right back to Desrosiers, who made no mistake with the rebound.
Kazakhstan had a series of power plays in the middle part of the period but managed only one goal. They had two five-on-three situations thanks to a match penalty to Treille. Starchenko was skating through the middle of the ice. He had the puck and his head was down, but Treille stuck out his elbow and made clean and direct contact with Starchenko’s head.
The Kazakh flew through the air and appeared unconscious as he hit the ice, but he eventually was able to leave under his own steam. Ultimately, though, he was unable to return to play.
Fyodor Polishuk got the second Kazakh goal when his pass from the side of the net went off Huet’s stick and in during the two-man advantage.
Kazakhstan made for an interesting third period by scoring just 42 seconds into the final 20 minutes. Talgat Zhailauov was well checked when he let go an easy backhand, but Huet couldn’t control the puck and the Kazakh smacked his own rebound home to cut the France lead to 4-3.
A turnover at their blue line midway through the period cost the Kazakhs, though. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare converted a pass from Anthony Guttig to give the French a two-goal lead again and ice the victory.
Hecquefeuille added a late power-play goal to close out the scoring.
"We didn't make many mistakes," acknowledged Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. "It was a good game, and winning it was very important. We knew it was almost a relegation-round game."
France plays Canada tomorrow while Kazakhstan plays Belarus on Tuesday.