The cold winds blowing in from Rockaway Beach did very little to turn down the heat on the third chapter of the 2017-2018 NYTHL season. Ten players battled through two fierce round robins and then playoffs. In the end it was down to current League Champ Vinny Catania and World great Kenny Dubois.
The re-appearance of Kenny Dubois for a second consecutive month made it certain that in order to win you were going to have to defeat him. What was once a land of The Vinner –VS- The Legend in the Finals with everyone else a bit behind has turned into the aforementioned two doing battle as usual but in the semi-finals instead. Something else has changed as well. The rest of the pack who may have had a way to go – have closed the distance between the top and middle tiers. The emergence of Bob D’Addario, and reemergence of table hockey stalwarts Len Mecca and John Power have made the battle to the top an all out war. Then there is the constantly improving Larry Durham and the always dangerous John Fayolle who when on - can beat almost anyone! The Rod Father and George Slater continue to improve as they each become more familiar with the board and their competition. Everyone in the league has shown vast improvement
As is the norm - the battle started with ten men who were to do battle in a double round robin for seeding with the 10 man league date 3 playoffs to follow. The top six would receive first round byes with the 7th seed battling the 10th and the 8 -VS- 9 seeds all facing off in best of 3 series to get into an 8 man quarterfinal.
As is the routine when table hockey great Kenny Dubois plays, he rolls through the round robin and playoff competition. He went undefeated, but did actually play a tie against John Fayolle in a classic 5-5 game. Dubois finished the two round robins as the one seed with a 17-0-1 record. Lou “The Legend” Marinoff took the second spot with a 14-4-0 record. When did we ever think we would see a day where Lou had a good day, but would suffer 4 losses? He would go entire seasons with less than that amount! Defending League Champion Vinny Catania finished with the 3rd seed with a 10-6-2 record. The Vinner suffered consecutive losses to John Fayolle, John Power, and Lou Marinoff to end his 2nd round robin and drop him to third. John Power – fueled by a win and a tie over Catania and a win VS Marinoff put him just one point behind The Vinner and into the 4th spot. Bob D’Addario had a 5-3-1 record after round robin one then went 3-5-1 to end his day 8-8-2 and in the 5th spot. Len Mecca finished right behind Bob with a 7-8-3 record. Larry Durham – last season’s most improved player, improved on his prior appearance with a 7-10-1 record good for the 7th spot. Despite Splitting with Vinny Catania and tying Kenny Dubois – John Fayolle finished lower than usual with a record of 6-11-1, earning the 8th seed. That speaks volumes to the rise in the level of play in the NYTHL. The Rod Father -Bob Duenskie 3-14-1 took 9th with George Slater finishing 10th at 2-16-0.
With the standings after round robin play shaking out as they did – it would provide for some real interesting Quarter Final Matchups. First however it was the best of three preliminary round, to determine which two winners would join the top 6 to complete the round of eight.
The Preliminary – Play in round pitted 7th Seeded Larry Durham -VS- 10 seeded George Slater, and 8th Seed John Fayolle -VS- 9 Seed “The Rod Father” Bob Duenskie for the right to move on. If you have followed these play in series in recent months, you may have noted that George Slater has never lost one of these best of 3 series despite being the lower seed almost EVERYTIME. This series would be no different as he reversed his two round robin losses to Larry by edging him in two close well played games. Slater took game one in overtime 4-3 and sealed the series with an identical 4-3 game two score. Upon further review – George not only has never lost one of these series – he’s never dropped even one game. In the 8-9 Play in – The Under achieving, but very dangerous Johnny “NY Lightening” Fayolle was too much for The Rod Father, defeating Duenskie by scores of 6-2 and 4-1.
The field of eight was set for best of five Quarterfinal play. 10th Seeded George Slater would play top seed Kenny Dubois. 8th Seed John Fayolle matched up against 2 seed Lou Marinoff. Those match ups exemplify how important it is to stay out of that play in round and earn a bye. What awaits you is usually a top seed and an early exit. This was the case in these two series as Lou “The Legend Marinoff tore through John Fayolle by scores of 7-0, 4-1 and 4-0 to sweep the series. The Professional Kenny Dubois breezed past George Slater who, although has had success in play in rounds, has never advanced out of the Quarterfinal round. Kenny defeated George by scores of 8-0, 8-1 and 9-4. The other two Quarterfinals series were predicted to be a little closer. The 3rd seeded Vinny Catania faced off against 6th seeded nemeses Len Mecca. Len has proved to be a very tough opponent for Catania and this time was no different. Mecca took the opener 4-3. The Vinner rebounded with a 7-2 victory to tie the series then won the series with hotly contested victories in games 3 and 4 by scores of 3-1 and 4-3. One half of the Semi-Final bracket was set with 2 seed Lou Marinoff -VS- 3 seed Vinny Catania. It would be yet another battle, but as is the case when Dubois enters the fray the Lou and Vin war would be for the right to go to the Finals instead of in the finals. The final spot in the semis, and would be opponent for Kenny Dubois would be determined when 4th Seeded John Power played against 5th seeded Bob D’Addario. The 4-5 matchup is usually a toss-up. This one although a sweep, was the closest series yet. Power would need overtime to get past D’Addario in game one by a score of 5-4. J.P. defeated Bob again 6-5 and clinched the series and a berth in the Semi Finals with another one goal hard fought victory in Overtime by a 4-3 margin. Although Bob was swept his continued improved play indicates his stock is on the rise.
The road to the Finals would once again follow the same path as in League Date 2 the prior month. Top seeded Kenny Dubois took on the 4th Seeded John Power. J.P. played a spirited series and put up a good fight, but in the end - lost in a sweep by scores of 4-2, 6-1, and 8-5. Kenny’s opponent would be decided when 2nd seed Lou Marinoff faced off versus 3rd Seeded Vinny Catania. These two have met so many times with Marinoff dominating, but the past four consecutive series have all gone to The Vinner. Catania made it 5 in a row by sweeping Marinoff in another series that proved to be much closer than the 3 games to 0 Margin. Catania won by scores of 3-2, 4-2 and required Overtime in game 3 to win 5-4.
The stage was set for a rematch of the prior month’s League Date 2 Final of Undefeated Kenny Dubois -VS- Vinny Catania in which Dubois swept three games to none. At that point it didn’t look good for Catania, considering Dubois hadn’t lost a game all season. That would change when The Vinner handed Kenny his first loss of the year by a score of 7-5. The Vinner who struggled all day to get going finally put things together in his run to the finals and served notice that he was serious about trying to beat the unbeatable. The Vinner amazingly took game two as well by a score of 6-5. Beating Kenny once is hard enough, twice – almost unthinkable. Three times in a row, or in five games for that matter is a tall task. One that was a little too large for The Vinner. The sleeping giant was awoken, and when forced into a corner of having to win three straight – Dubois blew past Catania in game three 6-3, then tied the series by winning an entertaining game four by a 4-2 margin. The league date 3 title was on the line in a winner take all game 5. The Great Kenny Dubois proved the cream indeed does rise to the top. He added two goals in the final minute to an already two goal lead to take down The Vinner 7-3. In doing so he completed the comeback by winning the final three games of the series to win it three games to two. It’s just another entry to add to the Impressive resume of Mr. Kenny Dubois.
The best of three third place consolation series was played between two seed Lou Marinoff and 4th seeded John Power. The Legend took down Power in two by close scores of 6-4 and 7-5.
Dubois 1st, Catania 2nd and Marinoff 3rd, and a good time had by all. Come down and be a part of League Date 4 – it promises to be fun filled intensity!