BURLINGTON, Vt. – Massachusetts senior Chris Capraro scored the game-winner with 2:05 remaining in the third period to give the 19th-ranked Minutemen a 3-2 victory against No. 16 Vermont in front of the 54th straight sellout crowd of 4,003 at Gutterson Fieldhouse on Friday night. UMass improves to 14-10-5 overall and 11-8-3 in Hockey East with the win while UVM falls to 15-12-4 and 10 -8-4 in league play.
“Tonight wasn’t about goal scoring; it was about keeping the puck out of the net,” Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said. “I thought we made three really bad defensive mistakes and we can’t have that from key players. It was great to come back but if you can’t make smart plays with under five minutes to go you’re not going to win many hockey games.”
Freshman Viktor Stålberg (Gothenburg, Sweden) scored a power-play goal and freshman Brayden Irwin (Toronto, Ontario) scored at even strength for the Catamounts.
Freshman Will Ortiz and junior David Leaderer both scored even strength goals for UMass. Capraro added the game-winner for his eighth tally of the season.
Ortiz notched his seventh goal of the year from the slot just 2:08 into the first period to give the Minutemen an early 1-0 lead.
Leaderer extended the UMass advantage to 2-0 at 10:47 of the opening period with his third goal of the year. Ortiz set up the score with a cross-ice pass from the bottom of the left circle.
Despite outshooting UMass 11-6 in the first period UVM found itself down two goals at the end of 20 minutes.
Vermont rallied with two goals in the second period to even the score. With the Catamounts on the power play, Stålberg scored the first goal on a wrap around at 5:16. Junior co-captain Torrey Mitchell (Greenfield Park, Quebec) fired a shot from the left circle and UMass sophomore goalie Jon Quick made the initial save. But Stålberg was there for the rebound and beat Quick to the opposite side of the net for the goal. Sophomore Corey Carlson (Two Harbors, Minn.) also assisted on the goal. Mitchell’s assist marked the 100th point of his career. He is the 40th Catamount in school history to reach the century mark.
The Catamounts tied the game with 3:48 to go in the second period on Irwin’s fifth goal of the season. The freshman controlled the puck from his knees and whirled around from the slot to record the goal. Carlson and junior Slavomir Tomko (Zvolen, Slovakia) each assisted.
UMass responded in the third period with just 2:05 left when Capraro put a rebound past Vermont junior goalie Joe Fallon (Bemidji, Minn.) to make it a 3-2 game.
Vermont called timeout with 1:35 to play and pulled Fallon from net in favor of an extra skater but was unable to score the equalizer.
Vermont faces UMass again on Saturday at 7:05pm at Gutterson Fieldhouse. On Saturday it’s the S.D. Ireland Trading Card Night at the Gut. There will also be a postgame autograph seassion.
GAME NOTES: Vermont is 2-10-1 this season when its opponent scores first ... Vermont is now 16-4-2 all-time against UMass at Gutterson Fieldhouse ... Vermont is 7-9-0 against ranked teams this year ... Carlson’s two assists gave him the eighth multi-point game of his career.