HANOVER, N.H. — The speed limit on roads entering Hanover run between 30 and 35 miles per hour. That means, as a group, Dartmouth was breaking the law Friday night. Or so it seemed.
Racing past Princeton defenders on a regular basis, the 17th-ranked Big Green chased freshman netminder Zane Kalemba with a four-goals-in-10-minutes burst in the second period, buzzing the Tigers 6-2 to open their ECACHL quarterfinal at Thompson Arena.
T.J. Galiardi, J.T. Wyman, David Jones and Ben Lovejoy contributed to end Kalemba’s night and put Dartmouth (17-10-3) one win away from a return to the conference semifinals.
“They’re a good team, but they’re more of a team that, when they get the puck in our zone, they can drag it out in the corners and stuff,” said Kevin Swallow, who assisted on the Big Green’s first two goals of the night. “I think if it’s a high-speed game, high-tempo, that plays to our advantage, for sure.”
Wyman scored twice, including the highlight goal of the night to give the Big Green a 3-0 lead.
Rushing the right wing in front of the benches, Wyman chipped the puck off the right-wing boards past Tiger defenseman B.J. Mackasey, who first drifted toward Wyman, then reversed to chase the puck. Wyman beat Mackasey to the other side, grabbed the biscuit and floated a backhander past Kalemba at 4:27 of the second. Dartmouth was on its way.
“Their forwards — I’ve been saying for three years now — are probably the best in the league,” Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky said. “And they showed it tonight.”
The Big Green gained the first intermission with a 1-0 lead, despite playing at a plodding pace. Wyman netted the first of his goals at 11:54, potting his own power-play rebound under the fallen Kalemba through heavy traffic.
Galiardi doubled the lead 35 seconds into the middle stanza. Goals from Jones and Lovejoy — the former in speedy transition, the latter on a power-play bomb from the blue line — capped a frustrating night for Kalemba (13 saves), who left in favor of seldom-used Thomas Sychtarz at 10:31.
The Big Green didn’t pressure Sychtarz much, but didn’t have to. When Princeton’s Jody Pederson and Darroll Powe touched Dartmouth goalie Mike Devine (24 saves) for scores late in the middle period, the Big Green got back to skating and kept prime Tiger chances to a minimum.
Rob Pritchard hit an empty net with 4:27 to play to cap the scoring for the hosts.
Game 2 of the series is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Dartmouth, which has won eight of its last nine games (losing at Princeton on Feb. 10), has never failed to reach the conference semis when it has enjoyed a first-round bye under the ECACHL’s current playoff format.
Greg Fennell covers Dartmouth hockey for the Valley News of West Lebanon, N.H.