by Tom Mahon, Daily News Sports Writer
Dallas Eliuk and Marty O’Neill have a lot in common.
Both are goalies in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League – Eliuk for the Philadelphia Wings, O’Neill for the Boston Blazers.
Both are boyhood friends, who grew up near each other in Canada – Eliuk in Vancouver, O’Neill in Victoria.
Heck, O’Neill was even the best man at Eliuk’s wedding.
On Saturday night, the two will be at opposite ends of the spectrum, the CoreStates Spectrum, as Eliuk’s Wings host O’Neill’s Blazers in a game that might have an effect on playoff seedings.
Philadelphia and Boston are each 4-2 and tied for second place behind unbeaten Buffalo. The top four teams make the playoffs and if the Wings and Blazers finish with the same record after the 10-game season, Saturday’s game will act as a tie-breaker to determine the higher seed.
Eliuk isn’t too concerned about any of that right now. He just wants to win.
The Wings are coming off an 18-15 road loss to the Rochester Knighthawks that ended a four-game winning streak. Gary Gait, the team’s leading scorer with 25 goals and 13 assists, had six goals in that game, but the team played subpar, according to Eliuk.
“We weren’t prepared to play last weekend,” said Eliuk, a freelance artist who draws everything, including caricatures at children’s birthday’s parties. “The team was flat. It was a good wake-up call for when we play Boston. They’re a fast team. They’ve got the top defense in the league and they’re able to keep shooters at bay.”
Saturday’s game marks the first time in four seasons the Blazers have played in Philadelphia. It is rumored some of Wings players were miffed at not getting a chance to play in Boston’s new FleetCenter. But Eliuk, a six-year veteran on the team, pointed out that playing at the Spectrum provides the Wings with a huge edge.
“Home-field advantage does make a difference,” said Eliuk, who is a sizzling 16-1 at home over the past four seasons. “I’d like to say you tune the crowd out, but when you’re playing in front of 15,000 screaming fans, it pumps you up. I’ve traveled all over, but Philadelphia has the best fans in the league.”
Blazers forward Brian White is the son of former Boston Celtics star Jo Jo White. Brian also plays football for the CFL’s Baltimore Stallions . . . Wings fan John Sapello is operating a web site on the Internet that can be accessed at http://www.servtech.com/public/hob900/mill. Sapello, a 23-year old insurance claims examiner from Minotola, N.J. compiles Wings stats, rosters, standings, players’ quotes etc. . . . At halftime, some lucky fan with the ugliest blazer (poking fun at Boston’s nickname) can win a $250 gift certificate to a Center City jewelry store.
(Philadelphia Daily News, February 22, 1996)