HELSINKI – On the strength of Christian Ehrhoff's overtime winner, Germany defeated France 3-2 in the last game for both teams on Tuesday. The game’s only significance was for placement, since Slovakia’s earlier 4-1 win over the U.S. gave it the last Helsinki quarter-final berth.
Marcel Goc knocked France's Yohann Auvitu off the puck in the corner and, from behind the goal line, sent a cross-crease backhand feed out front to the German captain, who put it over French goalie Cristobal Huet's right shoulder at 1:05 of OT.
It was Ehrhoff's second goal of the night. Michael Wolf also scored for Germany. Julien Desrosiers and Antoine Roussel replied for France.
Huet, France’s renowned ex-NHL netminder, suited up between the pipes for the fifth time. Rob Zepp, who posted two 2-0 shutouts in this tournament, got the call for Germany over 2010 World Championship MVP Dennis Endras.
"We knew that we weren't going to advance, unfortunately, and sometimes it's hard to get up for the game then," said Zepp. "I thought we kept getting better as the game went on, as we have all tournament, and it was a real nice finish because we played a really solid tournament."
It was a somewhat disappointing outcome for both sides. The French had high hopes of making the quarter-finals after shocking defending champion Russia 2-1, but fell short against Latvia, which hurt their chances. The Germans, who finished fourth in 2010 and seventh in 2011, dug themselves a hole with three straight losses early in the tournament.
"We won the game we wanted to win against Austria," said French captain Laurent Meunier. "Then we got the big upset against Russia, but we lost some energy in that game, emotionally. Maybe the media from France was too much for some of the young guys, even though the publicity was good for the game."
At least both nations are staying in the top division. Germany has been among the world’s top 16 since 2007, and France since 2008.
Desrosiers opened the scoring for France at 1:42 with the man advantage. After a scramble in the crease, Nicolas Besch fed it across to him, and he fired it into the gaping cage.
Shortly afterwards, Raux beat Zepp on the glove side but rang it off the inside of the post. Desrosiers had a partial break but couldn’t squeeze it through the goalie’s pads.
With under four minutes left, the Germans had a good power play chance when Marcel Goc rang the puck off Huet’s left post. They finally cashed in when it became a two-man opportunity. Ehrhoff was left alone to come down the middle and blast a slapper high past Huet’s blocker at 17:32.
The French went up 2-1 with 5:03 left in the middle frame. On the rush, Antoine Roussel fired a left-side shot that deflected off the goalie, hit a German defender, and went into the net. Roussel, however, was sent off with a misconduct after some unnecessary post-goal exchanges.
Just 1:24 into the third period, Wolf made it 2-2 for Germany, racing into the slot to convert the rebound from a Frank Hördler shot.
"We could have closed the books earlier, but we gave them odd-man rushes that we shouldn't have," said Roussel. "We shot ourselves in the foot, and that sucks."
At the end of regulation, the Germans had a golden opportunity to win it with Besch off for putting the puck over the glass in his own end, but they couldn't capitalize on the man advantage.
The three best players of the tournament were named for each side. For France, that included Huet, Yorick Treille, and Damien Fleury. For the Germans, it was Zepp, Ehrhoff, and Marcus Kink.
France and Germany are bidding to co-host the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Paris and Cologne. The other bid comes from Denmark and Latvia, which would host in Copenhagen and Riga respectively. The allotment will be announced during the IIHF Congress. A preview will be published on IIHF.com tomorrow.