After the Panthers (14-11-2) jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a goal by Andrew Smith, the Vikings answered when Mastropietro knotted it up early in the middle period. He roofed a shot from his knees to beat Ceasar, with Cam Moniz and Minter assisting. Just over a minute later sophomore defenseman Gabriel Cromp gave his team the lead for good with a power play blast from the point.
Before the period ended, Mastropietro and Boxford’s Keaton Cashin set up Minter, who uncorked a wicked one-timer from the left faceoff circle to give his team a little breathing room at 3-1. Cashin had a terrific game defensively, blocking numerous attempts as the Panthers were held to just three shots in the middle period.
“In a championship game like this, emotions run so high (that) scoring that first goal is a big deal. We had our chances but didn’t put one in, and you can’t get down by two,” said O’Neill. “We were fortunate to come back the way we did in the next period; those two quick goals changed the game.
“That (Mastropietro) line goes so well together, and they stay after practice to work even harder. We recruited Minter to be an impact player. He has all the skills and is very talented; he’s raised his game this season.”
Minter, who played for the Boston Jr. Rangers in the Atlantic Junior Hockey League prior to coming to Salem State, gave credit to his linemate ‘Mastro’ for a nice pass on his goal.
“I think switching wings helped us,” said Minter. “It gave us more offensive punch, and being on the left side is an easier feel for me. I can open up more.
“Winning the championship is a great feeling; I can’t remember the last time I won a championship. Maybe it was in baseball when I was a kid.”