French Coupe de la Ligue (Finals and All-Star Game)

[b]Istres 22 – Montpellier 20[/b]

In a startling upset, Istres knocked off 5 time defending Couple de la Ligue Champion Montpellier 22-20. Istres, currently in 9th place(7 wins, 3 draws, 10 losses) in the 14 team French league, handed league leading Montpellier (19-0-1) only its second loss of the season against a French side. Istres, a 10.5 goal underdog, coupled strong court defensive and goalie play to hold Montpellier to just 20 goals. Istres’ goalie, Vincent Gerard stopped 25 of 45 shots for a 54% save percentage. Mohamdi Loutoufi led a balanced scoring attack with 5 goals.

Both sides played without several key players due to injuries. Montpellier gave extensive playing to several less experience players to start the match before bring in veterans Mladen Bojinovic and Wissem Hmam midway through the first half. This strange substitution pattern seemed to impact Montpellier’s offensive flow and Istres was able to take advantage of several turnovers for key fast break goals. Montpellier is still on pace to win the regular season title and will likely continue to advance in the Coupe de France competition, but Istres’ victory will prevent them from repeating their “triple” title performance of last year.
French Handzone article with several photos:

[b]Challengers 48 – All Stars 42[/b]

In a game, as the score indicates, lacking any meaningful defense the Challengers defeated the All Star 48-42. The teams consisted of several foreign players playing in France, a few stars from other teams in the league and a few players from the two teams that lost yesterday. The highlight of the game for many was an opportunity to see the great Jackson Richardson play. Richardson, who is coming out of retirement to play for German side, Rhein-Neckar Lowen, did not disappoint and showed his usual flare in passing and scoring

[b]Best Fans Award: [/b] 38 members of youth teams in Quebec traveled by bus, nonstop, all the way from Quebec City to Miami to witness the matches at American Airlines Arena. OK, I’ve taken some serious road trips to play Handball in the past, but it’s hard to top that commitment.

[b]Media Reports[/b]

Miami Herald: “Istres stuns Montpellier to win world handball title at American Airlines Arena”
L’Equipe TV (Video) Istres Triumphs in Miami: