THANKS TO GAITS, SAINTS DIDN’T HAVE PRAYER

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by Bill Fleischman, Daily News Sports Writer

In lacrosse, one Gait is a major asset. Two Gaits are too much, as the New York Saints learned.

Gary Gait scored six goals and twin brother Paul contributed four to help the Philadelphia Wings overpower the Saints, 17-7, in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League American Division final last night at the Spectrum.

Paul Deniken added three goals for the Wings.

The Wings will play in Buffalo Saturday at 2:30 p.m. for the MILL championship. The Bandits, who beat Detroit, 16-10, in Saturday’s National Division final, have edged the Wings by one goal in each of the last two MILL title games. This season, the Wings and Buffalo (each 6-2) split their two meetings.

The Wings never were in danger last night as they led, 3-0, after just under 12 minutes. The Saints (2-6 in the regular season) are the league’s lowest scoring team.

Accompanied by an enthusiastic crowd of 10,794, play-by-play on the public address system and deafening rock music, Deniken scored just 47 seconds after the opening faceoff, attacking from the deep left side to beat goalie Sal LoCascio. At 5:15, Gary Gait scored the first of his three first-half goals. Gait ran over New York defender Don McNichol, separating him from his helmet before scoring.

Paul Gait’s blazer from about 20 yards out made it 3-0.

The closest New York could get were 5-2 and 6-3 deficits. Gary Gait’s third goal of the half, with just 26 seconds remaining before intermission, put the Wings ahead, 7-3.

Wings goalie Dallas Eliuk made several key saves while the Wings were crafting their early lead.

“While we were getting our feet on the ground, (Eliuk) made some outstanding saves,” Wings assistant coach Tony Resch said. “We struggled at times, but they’re a good defensive team with a good goalie.”

When the Wings opened the third period with quick goals from Kevin Finneran and Paul Gait for a 9-3 advantage, the Saints’ hopes were crushed.

Paul Gait led the MILL during the regular season with 31 goals in eight games. Gary Gait was tied for fourth with 16 goals. The former Syracuse All- Americas usually are almost unstoppable, but they and the Wings were shut down in a 13-4 loss to the Saints Feb. 26. Eliuk said that defeat by New York inspired the Wings last night.

Added Gary Gait: “Knowing they can beat you makes you go out and play better than they did. We didn’t hustle as much as we should (last night), but fortunately they came out kind of flat and didn’t go crazy.”

Buffalo’s size presents problems for the Gaits.

“More than anybody else, (Buffalo) physically takes a toll on the Gaits,” said Resch, a former Wings captain who teaches and coaches at Penn Charter. ”When we beat Buffalo (16-12, March 19), we spread it around. We didn’t rely on the Gaits to generate offense. That’s what we have to have again.”

Said Gary Gait: “We know we can beat them. Until this year, we hadn’t done it in a couple years.”

The last goal of the game, by the Wings’ Brian Voelker with four seconds remaining, was his first in 17 career games.

Last night’s game will be shown tonight on ESPN2 at 7 o’clock.

(Philadelphia Daily News, April 11, 1994)

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