College Hockey:
Capraro’s Breakout Night Leads UMass Past SLU

— Chris Capraro scored two goals, including the game winner, and added an assist as the Massachusetts Minutemen defeated St. Lawrence, 5-1, in a penalty-laden affair at the Mullins Center.

The sophomore from Medford, Mass., netted the clincher at 5:15 of the second period. Tim Vitek circled around the net and flipped a pass to Capraro, who slipped past goaltender Kevin Ackley and backhanded a point-blank shot to make it 2-0 for his first goal of the season.

“There’s not a lot of guys playing at the highest level of hockey that see the ice the way he sees the ice,” UMass coach Don Cahoon said.

Capraro was also a big influence on the power play. After the Minutemen put together organized perimeter play, Marvin Degon held at the point, then slid a wrister towards the net, and Capraro stuck his stick out, tipping the puck over Ackley’s shoulder and in, to make it 4-0 UMass.

Thomas Pck scored his third goal of the season after some nifty puck movement from the forward line of Capraro, Vitek, and Stephen Werner. Capraro ended up with the biscuit to Ackley’s right, and hit Pck just inside the blue line, where he fired a wrister glove high.

“We’re starting to gel a little more, the lines got changed up, and we played pretty well out there tonight,” said Capraro, who along with Pck is creating a formidable tandem — the two hooked up for a similar goal in Massachusetts’ 3-2 win over UMass-Lowell last Saturday. “It seemed like we were clicking a little more, and any time I see Tommy with the puck, I know he’s looking for me and I’m looking right back. He’s a shooter and I’m a passer.”

Capraro also benefited from new linemates. He and Greg Mauldin switched up, putting Mauldin on a line with James Solon and Providence transfer John Luscz, while Capraro took the left-wing slot alongside Tim Vitek and Stephen Werner.

In all, 30 penalties were called for a total of 60 minutes, though the final eight infractions were called after the final scrap. Sixteen penalties were called on the Saints for 32 minutes, and the Minutemen were caught 14 times for 28 minutes. UMass held the special-teams advantage, scoring three power-play goals and one shorthanded tally.

“[Assistant Coach Bill Gilligan] generally runs the man-down, and I tried to keep it pretty much in line with what he’d do,” Cahoon said. “I thought the kids killed penalties pretty effectively most of the night. And then the power play, we just made some changes yesterday, personnel-wise and setup-wise.”

Gilligan was on the recruiting trail, and thus unable to run the penalty-killing unit.

The first period was mostly back-and-forth, with neither team able to capitalize until the final minutes. The Minutemen broke the ice at 18:58 when Greg Mauldin found freshman Mark Matheson in the slot. Matheson slung a wrist shot that beat Ackley stick side, making it 1-0. Capraro picked up a secondary assist on the play.

Winer went mostly untested in the first period, although he made a strong stand against one SLU breakaway. The Saints didn’t find the net until 2:14 of the third, when a scrum in Winer’s crease ended with the puck bouncing off of the goaltender and in. Drew Bagnall was credited with the goal, which made it 5-1. Neither side scored for the remainder.

While Ackley took the loss, and let up four of UMass’ five goals, he did manage a number of quality stops, including two quick ones on a breakaway by Tim Vitek, and the subsequent rebound. Mike McKenna stepped in for the third period, and allowed one goal on seven shots.

The game ended with more physicality, as a small skirmish erupted to the right of Winer’s net. Cahoon rushed onto the ice to help break up the fracas, and ended up hitting the ice himself. The coach was uninjured, and successfully separated his players from the Saints on the ice.

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