AMHERST, Mass. — Chris Capraro is developing a penchant for heroics.
For the second straight game, the Massachusetts sophomore scored the winning goal. This time, however, it came with a little more weight, as his tally midway through the third period edged Holy Cross 2-1 at the Mullins Center. The Crusaders put up quite a fight, holding an obvious advantage at times, but succumbed to Capraro’s third goal in two games.
The winning tally came thanks to a scrum in front of Tony Quesada’s goal, where Capraro took a feed from Mike Warner to pot the clincher, making it 2-1 with 11:18 remaining. Stephen Werner set the play up with a shot that ricocheted to Warner and then Capraro.
“[It's good] when you can get a win when you’re not playing your best hockey,” Capraro said, “a win’s a win. Yeah, it was ugly, but that’s what we’re here to do. They’re not always going to be pretty.”
Quesada was the spark for Holy Cross with 28 saves on 30 UMass shots, many of those made in spectacular fashion. His quick glove and 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame was a deterrent for a number of quality shots. Holy Cross coach Paul Pearl was appreciative of the freshman’s efforts.
“If they come down on two-on-one and bury it, everyone’s going to go ‘ugh,’” Pearl said. “If they come down on a two-on-one and he makes a couple of saves, everyone on the bench perks up a little bit, like ‘Hey, we can make a mistake and it won’t end up in our net.’”
As he has in previous games where the Minutemen struggled, Thomas Pck tried to turn the game around himself early in the second. He took the puck from his own blue line, blazed into the offensive zone, and beat Quesada over his left shoulder. But the shot was a touch high, and it clanged off the crossbar.
The Crusaders tied it 1:24 into the second. Andrew McKay carried nearly all the way to the endboards, and fired an impossible shot that Winer deflected with his paddle. James Sixmith was at the ready on Winer’s doorstep, however, and banged the rebound home between the goalie’s legs to make it 1-1.
John Toffey nearly had his first goal in a UMass uniform late in the first period when he left a drop pass for Pck, who ripped off a cannon shot that echoed loudly off Quesada’s pads. Toffey skated in on the loose rebound, but was on his stomach underneath a Holy Cross defender, and couldn’t knock the puck, sitting precariously in the middle of the crease, over the goal line.
The Minuteman penalty killers continued to impress, with the help of Winer. Holy Cross invaded the offensive zone midway through the first with Toffey in the box for holding — one of just two penalties called the whole game. Winer made the initial stop, and a flurry of purple sweaters surrounded the crease, hacking away at the loose puck. UMass finally knocked it loose and cleared the zone, much to the delight of the 2,707 in attendance.
Holy Cross was equally solid on the penalty kill, fending off the Minuteman attack for the entirety of Jason Schuster’s two-minute cross checking minor that came less than a minute after Toffey left the box.
UMass junior Greg Mauldin hit paydirt 9:56 into the first period. Toffey doggedly chased a Crusader into the corner to Quesada’s left, and fished out the puck, whipping around and finding Mauldin wide open in the slot. Mauldin took the feed and fired a wrist shot that beat Quesada stick side low. It was the first UMass point for Toffey, who transferred from Ohio State last season and played his first game in the maroon and white Friday.
Quesada made a pair of spiffy saves in the first period, stifling first Greg Mauldin on a pass from John Luszcz, and then Kevin Jarman off a great cross on the doorstep.
The Crusaders played with plenty of grit in the opening period, holding the puck in their offensive zone for a handful of shifts, and disrupting the Minutemen, especially when they tried to break out of their own end. Cahoon counted 53 UMass turnovers, and “countless ones in our own end.
“That’s a really bad performance. People were trying to do much, the role players, because they’re not focused on the things they need to do to contribute.”