Even the greatest of them all sometimes falter. Every great champion has trials and tribulations along the way. Sometimes the mark of a man is how he handles that defeat. Lou "The Legend" Marinoff displayed exemplary sportsmanship when he finally was defeated by Vinny "The Vinner" Catania in their NYTHL League Date 6 Final Series. The day provided many surprises and great competition. Nine men battled tooth and nail through two round robins and playoffs and for the first time ever The Vinner was left standing.
To show just how tight the competition was, you need to just look at the standings. The Vinner and The Legend stood at the top after the two round robins with identical 12-2-2 records. The two tied in their first meeting, but thanks to a last second goal by the Vinner, he defeated Lou 7-6 thus giving him the top seed on the day due to the head to head tie breaker. Len Mecca played superbly as he was the only person to defeat the Vinner on the day and he did it twice by scores of 6-5 and 7-3. Mecca went 6-1-1 in the 2nd round robin to finish a personal season best 10-5-1, good for the 3 seed. The 4th seed was decided by another head to head tie break as John Fayolle went 1-0-1 VS Bob D'addario on the day as both finished with 18 points. Moussa Chermiti finished with 17 points which was 5 ahead of the rapidly improving Larry "L.D." Durham. George Slater finished 8th with 4 points, two ahead of the returning Bob Duenskie whose spirited play earned him 2 points.
In the best of three play in series - George Slater for a second straight month swept his opponent. This time defeating Bob Duenskie by scores of 2-1 and 3-2 in overtime. It was a very competitive series for these two upstarts. George Slater then went against the top seeded Vinner in the best of five Quarterfinals and was swept in 3 games. The 2nd seeded Lou Marinoff also swept his opponent Larry Durham as both Marinoff and Catania had to endure some tough games. The other two quarterfinal match ups were much closer. John Fayolle who came off of a controversial series win VS Bob D'Addario in League Date 5 - proved that the better man indeed won. This time he needed one less game as he defeated Bob 3 games to 1. D'Addario could have tied the series at two a piece but fayolle slammed in the winning goal in overtime to put game 4 and the series on ice. In the series of the day 6th seeded Moussa Chermiti once again locked horns with 3rd seeded Len Mecca. Moussa took the opener 5-2, then Len rebounded to take the next two contests by scores of 4-2 and 5-3. Moussa who has shown much growth in the game in recent months rebounded to take game 4 by a 3-2 score. The stage was set for a deciding game 5. The tight contest looked all but decided when Len Meccas scored with 11 seconds remaining to take a one goal lead. However it was not to be, as Chermiti tied the game just 5 seconds later with his patented right wing to center shot which forced overtime. In the O.T. it took just 4 seconds as Chermiti's left defensman cleared the puck forward into an open net for the 5-4 victory. Moussa had advanced to a 2nd straight league date semifinal. For a second straight time he met The Vinner and as was the case last month Catania swept the series in 3 games by scores of 6-3, 7-3 and 7-0. In the other semifinal as it was another semifinal rematch between Johhny "NY Lightening" Fayolle and Marinoff. Fayolle played a very spirited series and even took game 1 by a score of 5-3. Marinoff rebounded to win a very tight game two by a score of 7-6. The Legend won more comfortably 6-3 in game 3 before winning the series in a game four slug fest 9-8. The stage was again set for a Marinoff - Vinner final.
For a fourth time this season The Legend and The Vinner locked horns for a League Date title. The Legend won the previous three. As a matter of fact The Legend has won every league date ever held by both the N.Y.C.T.H.A. and the N.Y.T.H.L. that were not attended by World Champion Carlo Bossio or worldly renowned Kenny Dubois. This time things would finally be different. The Legend shot his way to an early 3-1 lead in game one before The Vinner came back for a 5-4 victory. Unlike the prior two times when The Vinner had won game one - game two did not require overtime. It was not won by Marinoff either as Catania erased an early deficit to win 6-3. It was the first time Vinny ever had a two game lead on Lou. Knowing that a game three loss to Marinoff could be disastrous and probably get him right back into the series - Vinny "The Vinner" Catania put everything he had into a very close third game which he led 3-2 in the game's final minute. With 36 seconds left The Vinner was stopped on a right wing to center tip which was brilliantly saved by Marinoff, however the rebound stopped right in front and The Vinner was able to find the net and seal his first ever league date victory over The Legend, defeating him by a score of 4-2 and sweeping the series three games to none. It was a great moment for both competitors who shook hands and embraced as they shared a mutual respect for one another. After all it is just one league date. Perhaps just a bump in the road for the great champion Marinoff. Whether or not it is a sign of things to come, only time will tell.
With the League date 7 Championship Playoffs just around the corner on June 3, 2017 - One thing is certain - the league is filled with improving competitors and maybe for the first time nothing is for certain.