HANOVER, N.H. — David Jones’ second goal of the game, a shorthanded breakaway with 8:11 to play, broke a 1-1 tie and powered No. 17 Dartmouth to a 3-2 win over Princeton at Thompson Arena on Saturday night, giving the Big Green a two-game sweep of its ECACHL quarterfinal series with the Tigers.
The victory returns Dartmouth (18-10-3) to Albany’s Times Union Center, where the Big Green will meet No. 5 Clarkson in a Friday semifinal. Dartmouth dropped a 6-3 decision to the Golden Knights in Hanover in November and tied them in Potsdam in January, failing to protect a 4-2 third-period lead.
The final 20 minutes have been much kinder to the Big Green lately. J.T. Wyman followed Jones’ go-ahead score less than two minutes later, and Mike Devine — after being solved by a Mark Magnowski goalmouth scramble conversion at 13:49 of the third — stopped everything else on a 27-save night.
“I think our willingness to really battle and not get de-focused and frustrated” made a difference, Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet said. “We hung in there and got some timely goals.”
Jones’ was the best.
In the last seconds of a Ben Lovejoy minor penalty, the Big Green assistant captain sneaked behind the Princeton defense in the neutral zone, catching defenseman Grant Lewis’ eye, then his blue line-to-blue line stretch pass. Jones faked Princeton netminder B.J. Sklapsky (29 saves) down with a left-right move, tucking the puck into the open right side.
Wyman followed with a professional-grade finish at 13:15. Kevin Swallow held the puck in the low right circle on a two-on-two with T.J. Galiardi long enough for the trailing Wyman, who one-timed a 40-foot bomb from the high left circle past Sklapsky for a 3-1 lead.
“The whole night it was kind of hard, because they were playing us really tight on the walls,” Wyman said. “Swallow had a pretty clear lane to the net, but I was wide open and just yelling.”
Jones opened the scoring at 6:38 of the first period with his 17th goal of the year, a one-time drive from the right hash made possible by Nick Johnson’s feed from the right corner. Princeton (15-16-3) came back at 7:22 of the middle period, with Lee Jubinville wrapping a Kevin Westgarth pass around Devine’s leg from the top of the crease.
Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky made no changes in his lineup from Friday’s 6-2 loss save for the goal. Sklapsky had thrown a 3-0 shutout at the Big Green last month in what remains Dartmouth’s only loss in its last 10 outings.
“I thought he played extremely well; he made some huge saves, especially in the first period, when I thought we could have been down 3-0,” Gadowsky said. “He gave us a chance to win the hockey game.”
The end of the Tigers’ season marks the end of college hockey for nine Princeton seniors, including Sklapsky.
“You won’t know the magnitude of what they’ve meant to this program, because of what they are in the locker room and other things they do off the ice,” Gadowsky said. “It’s tough right now, but when we look back on this year and see how far that this program has come in a short time, this class is going to be thought of extremely highly.”
Greg Fennell covers Dartmouth hockey for the Valley News of West Lebanon, N.H.