Lions beat France to go top of World Champs group

Finland's Lions have won all-but-one of their group stage games at the World Championships in Slovakia so far.

Finland's Veli-Matti Savinainen in action against France, 19th May 2019 / Credit: Matt Zambonin, IIHF

The Finnish men’s ice hockey team have beaten France 3-0 at the World Championships in Slovakia, a result that puts them in pole position to finish the preliminary matches on top of group A.

The winner of group A has a potentially easier route through the rest of the championship as they face the fourth place team from group B in the quarter finals.

First, Finland must overcome Germany on Tuesday night to stay on top.

Sunday’s game against France saw one goal in each period from the Finns, with Joel KivirantaNiko Mikkola and Jere Sallinen put the puck in the back of the net.

“It’s difficult to score when teams defend well and goalies play well” Finnish coach Jukka Jalonen told reporters after the game.

“We were playing for the win, and we knew if we were patient we’d get the chances. Maybe we could have capitalised on our chances a bit better, but 3-0 is a good result” he said.

France have a tougher time moving forward. They’ll have to beat GB in their last group match to stay at this level of competition. If they lose, they’ll be relegated to ice hockey’s lower division.