The greatest champion, The only champion New York , has ever known was finally defeated on Saturday at Steeplechase Beer Garden in Brooklyn. Vinny "The Vinner" Catania finally was able to get past arch rival Lou "The Legend" Marinoff four games to two. It culminated a season which featured seven dates, eighteen players and even visits from Table Hockey Great Kenny Dubois, and hockey legend Stan Fischler. The Maven just happened to bring MSG cameras with him to the league's opening date which aired during both New York Islanders and New Jersey Devil's broadcasts. League Date Seven featured an awards ceremony, a single round robin and then finally the 2016-2017 NYTHL Championship Playoffs.
First - The Awards. Rookie of the year went to George "G.S." Slater. George was brand new to the league when he started and in a short time has already displayed flashes of brilliance. His defense keeps him in many games as he continues to grow his offensive arsenal. George will be a big factor in a small amount of time. His charisma will certainly polarize the league. Most Improved player went to Larry Durham. Larry continues to show signs of steady improvement as he slowly climbs in the standings. He had classic games with some of the leagues top players and certainly will be a huge factor in 2017-2018. The Most Outstanding Sportsmanship award went to a very deserving Len Mecca. Len not only is a top player in the league, but is a veteran of many different game boards. He always conducts himself with the utmost respect of the game and is willing to and has educated anyone who has asked for advice about anything Table Hockey!
Next - the final round robin of the 2016-2017 season. The story of this particular round robin was Johnny "NY Lightening" Fayolle. He finished in the top spot playing his best table hockey of the year not having lost a single game, with a record of 5-0-3 and the best goal differential. The Legend Lou Marinoff finished the round with an identical 5-0-3 record which enabled him to clinch the regular season championship with a final record of 79-9-9 which was 12 points better than The Vinner at 73-15-9. Speaking of The Vinner he was 5-1-2 and third on the day. Bob D'Addario was 5-3-0 who captured fourth on the day and finished the season at a personal best of 44-39-14. Fifth went to a returning Anthony Sciacca who despite having hip replacement surgery and trying to work off the rust finished a respectable 4-4-0. Larry Durham finished 3-3-2 for the sixth spot, Len Mecca was seventh 1-5-2, followed by George Slater eighth 1-6-1 and a returning John Power (More on him later) who finished ninth at 0-7-1. The Conclusion of this round robin gave us our playoff match ups. The Preliminary series would feature seventh seeded Anthony Sciacca -vs- tenth seeded Bob Duenskie (who arrived just in time for the playoffs). The eighth seeded John Power would face ninth seed George Slater. The Winners of these two series would move on to play the top two seeds in the quarterfinals. The highest seeded player remaining would play number two seed The Vinner, while the lowest seed remaining would have to play the defending champion and one seeded Lou "The Legend" Marinoff. The rest of the quarterfinals featured the third seeded John Fayolle -vs- sixth seeded Larry Durham, and fourth seeded Bob D'Addario -vs- fifth seeded Len Mecca.
The 2016-2017 Playoffs. The Preliminary round featured three returning men. In the seven -vs- ten match up Anthony Sciacca whose return from surgery was great to see. His opponent, ten seeded Bob duenskie returned after a two year hiatus. Without having played in the round robin the last seeded Duenskie seemed sure to have no chance against the much more experienced Sciacca. Anthony blew Bob away 7-1 in game one and a rout was in order. WAIT - not so fast. Duenskie rallied but again fell short 4-3 in overtime. Down by two games Bob tightened up his game and took game 3 by a score of 2-1 in another overtime. Bob parlayed that with another one goal victory 3-2 to tie the series. Sciacca retook control of the series in another one goal game by defeating Duenskie by the score of 2-1. Bob rallied again in another overtime and won 4-3 in game six. This was the fifth straight one goal game which forced game a seventh and deciding game. Unfortunately the experience and steady defense of Anthony Sciacca proved to be too much as he defeated Duenskie four games to three setting up a date with the two seeded Vinner in the Quarterfinals. In the other Preliminary Playoff, a returning eighth seeded John Power suddenly woke from his slumber and swept past rookie George Slater. Power won games one and two by an identical 3-2 score. John powered past George 4-1 in game three, and ended the rookie's season in overtime defeating George 3-2 yet again and setting up a date against The Legend in the Quarterfinals.
The Quarterfinals had some interesting match ups. The second seeded Vinner was able to sweep past seventh seed Anthony Sciacca by scores of 4-1, 6-2, 5-2 and 4-3. This secured Catania a trip to the Semi-Finals. Third Seeded John Fayolle continued to roll as he destroyed the league's most improved player Larry Durham in a four game sweep. Fayolle bludgeoned Durham by scores of 13-1, 4-2, 10-3 and 8-5. Johnny Lightening out scored Larry 35-11 in the series. Fayolle's victory ensured him a match up with The Vinner in the semis as any remaining seed would have to be lower than Fayolle's three seed. The Bob D'Addario -vs- Len Mecca (4 vs 5 match up) was anyone's guess as to who would win. This question would be answered after six tough battles. D'Addario took the series in 6 . Bob took game one 3-2, lost game two 3-2 then rebounded to take game three 5-3. D'Addario took control of the series winning game four 3-1. Mecca wouldn't give in that easily and won game five 4-3. Not wanting to risk it all in a game seven D'addario scored five times to defeat Mecca 5-4 in game six, thus taking the series in six. The Final Quarterfinal was the most shocking. The Defending Champ and top seeded Marinoff would have to face a very tough eighth seeded John Power. Power who hadn't won in the round robin but began to put things together in the preliminary round. Power had no intention on rolling over for anyone. As it turned out he shook the hell out of the Champ. Lou defeated Power in game one 4-2. Power was finding his game and in game two he stunned Lou with a 7-5 victory to tie the series. Game three was a classic and went to overtime with Power striking again 5-4 to go ahead two games to one in the series. Could this be it for Lou? Can the match up everyone expected versus The Vinner be in jeopardy? Maybe Fayolle who had played so well would get to the final, but would Marinoff was the big question? Legend's are born for a reason. The man who has known nothing but winning again found another way to rally back. Marinoff ties the series at two with a 4-2 victory. As the games meant more Lou played even better. Marinoff scored decisive victories in games five 7-3, and six 6-2 to take the series four games to two. Lou showed why he was the Champ. Power showed why he is always a force that cannot be overlooked. Although John Power's season was over his day was not. The Semis were set. Top seed Marinoff -vs- four seed D'Addario. Two seed Vinner -vs- three seed Fayolle. Two fierce battles to get to the championship we about to ensue.
The Semifinals pitted the top four seeds from the season. It was all chalk to this point and from this point the remaining four were all business. Top seeded Lou Marinoff had little trouble defeating Bob D'Addario. Marinoff took a hard fought game one 2-1 and slowly pulled away from there. The Legend took the next three games by scores of 5-2, 6-4, 5-1 to sweep his way to yet again another Championship Final. His opponent would be the winner of two seed The Vinner versus three seed John Fayolle. Fayolle had steamrolled pretty much everything in his path on this day up to that point. It was sure to be another war between these two to get to the Championship. The Vinner took game one 6-4 from Fayolle, ending Lightening's winning streak on the day. As the series went on things worsened for Fayolle as The Vinner found his stride and amazingly swept his way passed Fayolle by scores of 8-5, 5-3 and 7-2. For the third straight year in New York, Vinny Catania would play Lou Marinoff for the Championship.
The 2016-2017 NYTHL Championship was held between the top two seeds. The top seeded Legend Lou Marinoff and the second seeded Vinny Catania. It took three years, but the Vinner finally defeated Marinoff at League Date VI a month earlier. It was however the only time The Vinner ever won a series that truly counted against The Legend. Marinoff defeated Catania in the prior two New York Championships and every other time they met in a league date final until last month. The stage was set. Would The Vinner continue his hot play of 17 straight playoff victories dating back to league date VI, or would Marinoff again prove why he is the standard in New York Table Hockey. In what was expected to be a war - truly was a war. The Vinner took an exciting game one by a score of 5-4. The Legend knowing the importance of falling behind by two games, rallied and blew by The Vinner in game two 5-2. Marinoff also took the important swing game three by a score of 4-3 to take a two to one series lead. Marinoff was leading game four by a 3-2 score with just over a minute left to play. A Vinner loss here would have put him down to the Champ in what would have probably been an insurmountable three games to one deficit, instead Catania battled back and scored two goals in the game's final minute to win 4-3 and tie the series at two. The Vinner really seemed to tighten things up and rolled to a 5-2 victory in game five. Incredibly Catania was one game from the title. One game from ending one of the great runs in table hockey history. One win - which The Vinner knew he would have to go to Hell and back to get. In was was a tense filled game six. The first goal would be important and The Vinner wanted it, but did not get it. Forty one seconds in The Legend opened the scoring. Every offensive opportunity was earned. Both men played tough defense and sixty one seconds later The Vinner finally broke through and tied the game. With the score tied at one - every shot, every save, and every opportunity was paramount. just past the halfway mark The Vinner capitalized off of a low tip save by Marinoff, which left a rebound in front of the net that The Vinner worked free and tucked into the net. Catania had the lead with 2:26 to play. More intense played followed with each participant knowing how important the next goal would be. Seventy one seconds later The Vinner's Center struck again on a loose puck in front of the net just above the right circle to take a 3-1 lead. Although up by two, Catania knew he had blown such leads before to Marinoff. The Legend mounted numerous comebacks over the previous three seasons. The Vinner knew The Legend could make up two goals with time to spare in the remaining minute and fifteen seconds, so he dug in for what he knew would be the Champs final and best stand. As expected shots rained from everywhere forcing The Vinner to make numerous tough saves. The clock ran down to five seconds when the puck went out of play. The participants continued their fight through until the final second. That was when "The Legend" Lou Marinoff extended his hand to the new champion Vinny Catania. In the same way he conducted himself throughout his career and as Champion - Marinoff displayed great sportsmanship giving credit to the victor. The only Champion New York Table Hockey ever had, had given way to a new champ. Both participants were congratulated on a tough series and great season. The NYTHL's second season was just that - truly great.
In the Consolation Third Place Series - the third seeded John Fayolle rolled passed the fourth seeded Bob D'Addario four games to one. Fayolle took the first two games 10-6, 6-3, then dropped game three 6-5. Fayolle then went back to work and methodically took down D'Addario in games four and five by scores of 8-2 and 8-5. For Fayolle he avenged his consolation loss to Len Mecca from a year ago. For D'Addario it was disappointment, but his best year to date.
Finally the awards were presented to the top three players. George Slater because of his charismatic and colorful wit was originally slabbed to host the presentation, but with the return of John Power - it was decided that it would only be right to have the man that created it all - be the one to host. After all none of what the NYTHL is would be without the continued efforts of John Power. A truly great player, organizer and most importantly an even better man, As expected J.P. did not disappoint. Trophies were presented and a great time was had by all. With season two now behind us - season three will hold some big questions. Can the Vinner repeat? Will The Legend return to his throne? Will John Fayolle take the next step? Will veterans John Power, Anthony Sciaaca and Len Mecca show why they are always top contenders? Will improving players Bob D'Addario or Larry Durham continue their rise and take it to the next level? Will George Slater continue to progress? Will some previous players come back like Bob Duenskie did? All these questions and more will be answered in season three. Will you be there?