Larry and Eli. Not a comic duo, but a pair of combatants meeting in today's 6 p.m. ECAC semifinal at Boston Garden.
Larry--the St. Lawrence hockey team--turned in a stupefying (and not Stooge-like) season. The Saints finished with a 15-7 ECAC record and easily disposed of quarterfinal opponent Vermont last week.
Eli--known as Yale to the uninitiated--also gave a jolt to the ECAC. A team that was decimated by the loss of 13 graduated lettermen certainly wasn't supposed to be back at the Garden this year. Credit this year's Eli success (the team finished 14-7-1 in the league) to a pair of puckstoppers named Mike.
Both the number two-seeded Saints and the third-seeded Elis defeated top-seeded Harvard during the regular season. Yale stormed past the Crimson, 4-2, in New Haven, Conn. in February. And just two weeks ago, the Larries came to Cambridge and got a big laugh out of their 4-3 overtime victory, which snapped Harvard's 29-game home unbeaten streak.
St. Lawrence and Yale both swept number-four RPI this season.
The Larries and Elis met twice during the regular season. Both times, the home team prevailed. Yale slipped away, 3-2, in New Haven in December and SLU took a 6-3 decision in Canton, N.Y. in February.
SLU was the ECAC's first tournament champion in 1962, and advanced to the final two years later. The Larries have not reached the finals since (although they have made the playoffs five of the last six years), but have always been a league terror--despite the comic nickname.
SLU sports a top-flight scorer in Dave Saunders, who recorded 10 goals and 25 assists for 35 points during the regular season. The brothers Lappin, Pete (21-12--33) and Tim (8-21--9), also provide Saint scoring punch.
SLU even boasts a solid goaltender in Scott Yearwood, who owns a 2.86 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage.
In SLU's dismantaling of Vermont in the ECAC quarterfinals, the Saint offense shone the first night. The "Chicago Connection" of the Lappin brothers and right wing Joe Day--the team's second line--connected for six goals and seven assists as the Larries buried the Catamounts, 9-1.
The second night--in SLU's 3-1 victory--it was Yearwood's turn to shine, as he paced the Saints with 24 saves.
Yale has never won the ECAC Tournament. In fact, the Elis had never been in the semifinals before last year.
After losing 13 letterman to graduation last year, Yale faced a big problem: how to score goals. The top guns were gone. Only a couple accurate shots--Bob Kudelski and Adam Snow--remained.
Best in His Business
But Tim Taylor, who was named ECAC Coach of the Year yesterday, realized his team didn't need to score that much. After all, Yale had Mike. Twice.
Senior Mike Schwalb turned in one of his best years, recording a 3.42 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage in 12 games. Good.
Sophomore Mike O'Neil, who was named first-team ECAC yesterday, proved the best number-two netminder in the nation. He finished with a 3.42 g.a.a. and a .910 save percentage. Great.
Larry and Eli. Comedy and combativeness. Goals and guffaws. Together for one show tonight.