Mighty opponent Metz unbeatable - Tornado lose 12-3
On Saturday, Tornado Luxembourg played its seventh game of the preliminary round of the French Division 3 in Metz against a strengthened opponent. Indeed, Metz had recruited a few more Russian veterans since its victory in Luxembourg a month earlier, beating Epinal 24-1, Chalons 17-1 and even unbeaten league leader Strasbourg 3-2. The foreboding for this encounter was thus already pretty bad.
Coach Joakim Eriksson's squad did however not travel to Metz with the spirits low. An honorable fight was the objective.
And the first period started on the right foot with a Tornado team that came out strong and impressive against a surprised Metz home squad. Puck possession was equally divided between the teams throughout the first 20 minutes and Metz found an equal opponent in the visitors from Luxembourg. But Undelis, who went on to score 4 goals in total in the game put Metz on the scoreboard at 11:26 after a clearing attempt failed and the puck trickled in behind a solid Gilles Mangen in the Tornado net. Despite the Metz lead, Tornado resisted the pressure and had many good chances of their own to score the equalizer. But, as so often this season, finding the back of the net was not easy. Worse, a breakaway by the same Undelis during a Tornado powerplay ended up in the shorthanded 2-0 just 8 seconds before the buzzer to signal the end of the first period.
While Erksson complimented his lines for the fight they were putting up against a more skilled Metz team, the coach of the home team must have been given them hell. It showed in the second, when Metz came on strong in the beginning moments of the period with resolution to score goals. It was Georges Scheier however who put Tornado on the board on the powerplay at 22:04 after taking a pass from Patrick Schon in front of the net and burying it for the 2-1. Francois Schons then had to serve an interference penalty and Metz capitalized on the powerplay at 23:59 when Drain scored on a perfect feed in the slot. Once again trading powerplays, Tornado showed resilience and Robert Beran took Francois Schons' rebound in a scramble in front of the net to once again reduce the deficit to one goal ar 24:52, less than a minute after Metz took a two-goal lead. Tornado was still in the game and showed no signs of giving up in front of a mighty opponent. Unfortunately, halfway through the game, fatigue became a factor on the undermanned Tornado defense and Metz's "Russian Machine" got into gear. Hamri scored at 28:26 and 34:33, in both cases catching the Tornado defense off guard at the blue line and going for breakaways. Then Essipov sealed the 6-2 lead for the period at 36:22.
In the third, Metz punished Tornado for taking too many penalties and the result of the game became unfair compared to the level of play of the visitors from Luxembourg. Undelis scored his third at 41:39 while Bertrand netted the 8-2 just a minute later at 42:35. When Vologzhanin scored the 9-2 at 47:30, the game heated up a bit, resulting in a misconduct penalty for both Kai Linster and Francois Schons, leaving Tornado with two defenseman on the roster for 10 minutes. Bertrand scored on a 5-on-3 powerplay at 50:29, Essipov hit the back of the net at 54:33 and Undelis tallied another powerplay goal at 57:18 so that Tornado was staring into a 12-2 abyss towards the end of the game. But none of the players was willing to let up and everybody put up a fight all the way to the end. At 9 seconds before the end of the game, Beran even managed to score another powerplay goal on a feed by Thierry Magalhaes for the final score of 12-3 in favor of the home team.
The result might seem disappointing, but the level of play was not. It makes coach Eriksson and his team hopeful to finally snatch a first victory in the last game of the preliminary round in Chalons next week.