It was the team with heart against the team with talent. It was the new kids on the block against the old landlords.
Last night at Boston Garden, the new kids tried to sneak away without paying the rent. But the landlords collected.
Sparked by ECAC Player of the Year Pete Lappin's one goal and two assists along with a defense that wouldn't quit, St. Lawrence advanced to the final game of the ECAC Tournament with a 4-2 victory over Vermont.
The Saints, seeded second in the tournament, will face Clarkson in the ECAC title game tonight at 9 p.m. The Catamounts will face Harvard in the 6 p.m. consolation game.
Last year, SLU advanced to the finals, but fell to Harvard, 6-3.
"Last year's experience was great for us," Saint Coach Joe Marsh said. "We got a tremendous amount of growing out of that. Our guys handled the pressure well this time. We came in with the attitude that we can win this thing."
For the Catamounts (21-8-2 over-all), the chance to be the Cinderella of this year's Garden Party was just not to be. But their chances for an NCAA Tournament bid will depend on the outcome of tonight's consolation game.
As for St. Lawrence (26-7-1), it is assured of a bid to the national tournament.
A win tonight would give the Saints their first ECAC crown since 1962.
The Saints--who boast the best offense in the ECAC--needed only six minutes of the game to get their "catch-us-if-you-can" offense in gear.
Eleven seconds after UVM's Toby Ducolon was sent to the box for interference, Lappin took a pass from defenseman Brain McColgan and drilled a slapshot past Cat goalie Mike Milham.
"We took some untimely penalties and didn't heed the warnings we'd been hearing all week," Catamount Coach Mike Gilligan said.
Six minutes after Lappin's drill shot, Doug Murray netted SLU's second goal of the night on a deflection off a Pete McGeough shot from the point.
The Saints were marching in.
But the Cats, aided by a more than enthusiatic bunch of Burlington natives, didn't march out of the game. They finally capitalized on a power-play goal by Ian Boyce at the 14:57 mark of the opening period. Boyce netted his 16th tally of the season on a lighting-quick slapshot that sailed past the glove of Saint goalie Paul Cohen.