Peter Lappin was supposed to be in graduation ceremonies at St. Lawrence University Sunday night. That's where his family was. But Lappin had other things to do.
"It's just a great feeling to finally win a championship," Lappin said. "We came so close in college."Lappin's St. Lawrence team was the NCAA runner-up in April. He'd almost single-handedly put the Saints into the championship game with a hat trick in a 3-2 win in the semifinal game.
He added a hat trick for the Eagles on May 7 as they eliminated the Colorado Rangers 4-2 in the Turner Cup semifinal series, and his hat trick Friday night included the game-winning goal in overtime in the Eagles' last home game of the year. That brought the Eagles to Flint with a 3-2 lead in games. All they needed was one more win.
Lappin scored their first four goals Sunday night, then picked up two assists for a six-point performance in the title game. He won the league's postseason scoring championship and was named the MVP of the playoffs by the IHL.
He finished with a nine-game scoring streak and five games with three points or more in the playoffs. He totaled 16 goals and 12 assists for 28 points in the 17 playoff games he got into. He sat out two against Peoria. His 28 playoff points were two more than Flint's John Cullen compiled.
Coach Paul Baxter said he couldn't recall anybody ever doing such a thing - seven goals in the two deciding games of a championship series - and claimed it as a record for Lappin.
"I didn't see Joe Mullen play when he was younger (and was an Eagle)," said Baxter about his former Calgary Flames' teammate, "but I can't imagine Joe Mullen was any better. Very few people I've seen respond in gigantic situations like that."
"I don't know what to say," Lappin said.
"When Theoren Fleury left," said Eagle captain Rich Chernomaz, "Lappin stepped right in and did the same thing for us."
Fleury had scored 16 points in his eight playoff games before departing as per the Calgary Flames' wishes. When Fleury left, many wrote the Eagles out of the championship picture, but Lappin scored in every game since Fleury took off.
"He and JJ (Jim Johannson) work so well - they're like magic together," said Chernomaz. "It's a great thing for Peter to come in and play like that."
Eagle goaltender Marc D'Amour agreed. "You couldn't ask more from a guy just out of college. He's going to help the Calgary Flames a lot. Sixteen goals in the playoffs is unbelievable."
D'Amour probably would have been series MVP if Lappin hadn't finished so strong. But the Eagle goalie didn't seem to care. He was delirious with his first-ever championship.
"It's the highlight of my career," said the six-year veteran who's hoping somebody will give him a contract for next year since his pact with Calgary ran out at the end of the regular season. "I'm still in shock. I don't know whether to cry or be happy. I'm numb. I'm stuck for words."
"He's the guy we really went to the bank with all year," said Baxter about D'Amour. "He deserves a lot of credit for the sincerity of his effort. I'm really impressed with the way he responded." D'Amour, 27, played all 19 playoff games, all but 51 minutes of the playoffs, and made a franchise-record 62 regular-season appearances - a total of 81 games out of the 101 the Eagles played. His regular-season record was 26-20-5 with a young team that was in last place a few months ago, and his playoff record is 12-7.
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