College Hockey:
Close As Can Be: Dartmouth, Princeton Draw

— For as many tight games as his players have put him through, Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky doesn’t let it show.

With Friday night’s 3-3 ECAC Hockey League tie against No. 15 Dartmouth before 4,445 at Thompson Arena, the Tigers added another gas bubble to an ulcer-inducing statistic. Fifteen of Princeton’s last 18 games, dating back to last season, have either been ties or one-goal affairs; the Tigers are just 2-9-4 in those contests.

Going gray? Nope. Hair falling out? Nah. Acid reflux? Hardly. Gadowsky just wishes Princeton (1-6-2 overall, 1-4-1 league) could find a way to do just a little bit more.

“Tonight hasn’t been a lot different from a lot of the games we’ve played this year,” said Gadowsky, whose Tigers rallied from a 3-1 hole to draw Dartmouth (5-3-1, 4-3-1). “We’re happy and proud of the fact that we were able to come back on a very good hockey team. But that being said, we’ve had these games quite similar this year, and we haven’t been able to win. I honestly don’t know what it takes to change that, except for changing it itself.”

Junior goalie Mike Devine — as he frequently has been for a banged-up Big Green — was the difference. Devine robbed Princeton on two quality chances, saw two others ping the post and added four more stops in overtime (out of 25 saves for the night) to salvage the point.

Devine stole a goal from the Tigers’ Grant Goecker-Zoeller in the second period, dropping his paddle to the ice to rob the Princeton nemesis after he faked Devine down. He kept Kevin Westgarth from converting a third-period scramble, saw an apparent Tiger goal in overtime waved off by a high stick and poke-checked Darroll Powe on a bid seconds later.

“He was on his game,” Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet admitted. “He’s such a competitive kid. He really helps our team, without question; he made some huge saves for us. That was definitely a losable game.”

The hosts jumped to a 2-0 lead after one period despite managing just five shots on Princeton goaltender Zane Kalemba, who finished with 16 saves. Nick Johnson wrapped a David Jones give-and-go feed around Kalemba at 12:58, while Jones tipped in a T.J. Galiardi feed at 19:55.

Powe cut into the Big Green lead at 4:44 of the second, only to have the Big Green’s Jon Grecu answer 20 seconds later. Brandan Kushniruk tipped a shot past Devine at 15:54 to draw within a goal, a deficit teammate Max Cousins erased midway through the third on a transition redirection.

Dartmouth gets division-leading Quinnipiac Saturday, but could use a vacation instead. Defensemen Grant Lewis and Peter Boldt are injured, fellow blueliner Ben Lovejoy played in obvious pain last night, but a three-week break arrives once the Bobcats leave.

“My shoulder’s been bothering me, my back’s been bothering me,” Devine said. “We just need to heal.”

The Tigers, Gadowsky said, just need to figure something out, especially with Harvard on the horizon Saturday.

“To be good in this league,” he said, “you’ve got to be good at the close games.”

Greg Fennell covers Dartmouth hockey for the Valley News of West Lebanon, N.H.

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