Redemption came exactly a year to the date as Lou "The Legend" Marinoff defeated Vinny "The Vinner" Catania in seven games to capture the 2017-2018 NYTHL crown. For an instant it looked like Catania had another comeback in him as he once again needed three straight to beat Marinoff, but this time he fell short in the final game. Lou's stellar play in the final game propelled him to his second NYTHL title in three years. Here is a complete review of the round robin and playoff action.
One more round robin was necessary to complete the final standings for the year and determine playoff seedings. As usual it was close, but in the end Vinny Catania won the round robin by defeating everyone except for a 3-3 tie with Len Mecca. The Vinner finished 7-0-1 for 15 points and first place on the day. It also clinched the regular season title for him as well, giving him the overall number one seed. The Vinner finished with a 111-20-16 record for the year. Len Mecca who had shown rapid improvement in recent months finished a very strong second on the day with a 5-1-2 record for 12 points. This propelled him ahead of Johnny "NY Lightning" Fayolle for the 5th seed overall on the year. Third went to Marinoff as he cruised to a 5-3-0 record (10 Points) and clinched the second seed for the year. He very well may have one another regular season title had he not missed League Date 5. Bob D'Addario also finished with 10 points at 4-2-2, giving him the 3rd seed for the year. John Power finished 5th on the day 4-3-1 (9 Points) and cemented his 4 seed on the year. John Fayolle's unfortunate mark of 2-4-2 (6 Points) landed him 6th on the day and dropped him to the 6th seed for the year. George Slater and Larry Durham each finished 2-5-1 (5 Points). That gave Slater the 7 seed for the day (he defeated Larry 5-1 in round robin play) and the 7th seed for the year. Larry earned the 8 seed for the day and year. Marc Nedboy finished without a victory and the 20th overall seed. On to the playoffs to decide this year's Championship.
Because nine Players competed - an extra series was needed to narrow the playoff field to an even eight. To do that the 8th seeded Larry Durham had to play the 20th seeded Marc Nedboy. The winner would move on to play The Vinner in the quarterfinals. Because it was the Championship playoffs - every series played would be a best of seven. Larry very methodically eliminated Marc in a four game sweep by scores of 8-0, 4-1, 4-2 and 6-0. This set up a Quarterfinal showdown with Catania.
The Quarterfinals had some very interesting matchups. The defending Champion and one Seed Vinny Catania took on 8th seed Larry Durham. Although Catania swept past Larry - the series was much closer than the series final score. Catania won game one easily by a 7-1 score. Game two was a dogfight with Catania winning in Overtime 3-2. Game three was no different as Vinny squeaked past Larry 6-5, then won the series with an exciting 8-7 Overtime victory. It was a heroic effort by Larry as three of the four losses were by one goal with two games decided in Overtime. A testament to how good Larry has become. The 2 seed Lou "The Legend" Marinoff took on 7 seed George Slater. George was the most improved player of the year, a fact not lost on Marinoff. Lou gave maximum effort in sweeping past Slater by scores of 9-1, 4-3 OT, 4-1 and 6-5. It was another quarterfinal where the higher seed had to work much harder than expected to win. Slater in his second year really has improved and is an example of how the league as a whole has really stepped up its game. Bob D'Addario and his 3rd seed took on the now 6 seeded John Fayolle. These two have had numerous wars these past two seasons with Fayolle getting the better of play. This series all though close would be no different. Right off the bat overtime was needed for Fayolle to take game one 7-6. Bob tied the series with a 3-2 win, then Fayolle took a 2-1 series lead with a 6-3 victory. Bob again tied the series again winning by one goal 4-3. The next two games were classics. Fayolle took a 3-2 series lead with a 3-2 victory in overtime. Fayolle then needed overtime again to defeat D'Addario 4-3 to take the series 4-2 games. In the 4 vs 5 seed Quarterfinal it was another great matchup as 4 seed John Power took on 5 Seed Len Mecca. John Power defeated Len in game one by a score of 6-5. Mecca tied the series with a 3-0 shutout then took the lead, winning game three in a close one 4-3. Power tied the series by winning game four 7-3. It was now a best of three. Mecca jumped ahead again by winning game five by a 2-1 margin. As usual there was plenty of fight left in J.P. as he took down Len 5-2 to tie the series once again at three games apiece and thus forcing a game seven. In the end Mecca proved to be too much – outscoring J.P. 6-4 which earned Len the final spot in the Semi-Finals.
The Semi Finals were now set. The 1 seed Vinny Catania took on the 6 seed Johnny "NY Lightning" Fayolle. This was a rematch of last year's semi-final in which Catania swept in four. Unfortunately for Fayolle, this year would be no different as the Vinner rolled to his 3rd straight NYTHL Finals appearance by once again sweeping Fayolle in four. Catania won by scores of 4-1, 10-2, 10-6 and 9-2 to continue his attempt at a second straight NYTHL Championship. 2nd seed Lou Marinoff looking to regain his title would first have to get past the rapidly improving and recently hot 3rd seed Len Mecca. Unfortunately for Len - Marinoff was too tough on this day as he swept past Len by scores of 6-4, 4-3, 4-3 (OT) and 10-4. The rematch was set. In all three years of the NYTHL it has been Lou Marinoff -VS- Vinny Catania fighting it out for the Championship. This latest chapter would decide if Lou could regain his title or if The Vinner would repeat.
Exactly a year to the day these two would once again face each other to determine who's best. Winning last year - Catania had defeated the only champion New York had ever known. The two fought neck and neck all year with each taking 3 league dates. The Vinner had won four of the seven best of fives they played during the year and also held a 8-4-2 round robin head to head advantage. This however was for much higher stakes. As was the case last year - the player who held the regular season advantage meant very little by Championship's end. With both Vinny and Lou sweeping their way into the Finals with perfect 8-0 records - something had to give. In this case it was Catania's Defense as Marinoff stormed him taking game one by a score of 6-3. Things didn't get any better in game two for the Vinner as he was again taken down by a furious Lou Offense and a Defense that earned Marinoff the nickname "Legend". The Vinner had lost again by a score of 5-2. The first two games were on the Vinner’s board and the next two shifted over to Lou's board. In a must win game three The Vinner responded by taking down Lou 5-4 in a very exciting game. The Vinner failed to tie the series when Marinoff blew passed him by a 6-2 score in game four. This put The Legend on the verge of regaining his title and the Vinner on the brink of elimination. Previously on three prior occasions this season, Marinoff had the Vinner down two games forcing Catania to win the Final three. Miraculously The Vinner was able to do so, coming back to win League Date 1 Final, the League Date 2 Semifinal and the League Date 7 Final. Did he have one more comeback in him? With game 5 shifting back to the Vinner's board this seemed to galvanize him as he again won a close one 4-3. The Series was back on the Legend's board and with the Vinner needing a win to knot the series - he responded in a big way by winning 6-3. The Vinner had tied the series and game seven was back on The Vinner's board. Those who stayed and watched paid their respects to the two participants with a rousing standing ovation to show the appreciation they had for the two participants and their collective efforts. This was something that both Catania and Marinoff appreciated and will always remember. Tension was high and so much at stake. Catania and Marinoff threw everything including the kitchen sink at each other and neither man budged. The goaltending and defenses were great. One minute went by without a goal. Tension mounted. Finally The Legend broke through when he attempted a pico with his leftwing which was temporarily saved until Lou’s Center banging in the rebound to take a 1-0 lead with 3:22 remaining. Both defenses held strong and great saves were plentiful. The Legend then struck again with his patented right wing to center angled low tip with just 1:15 remaining. The 2-0 lead seemed insurmountable and was. Seconds later - The Vinner then inadvertently deflected the puck with his right defenseman into his own net with just 48 seconds left. Marinoff led 3-0. It took just six seconds for Lou to score his fourth goal when his left defenseman cleared the puck into Catania’s vacated net. The Vinner broke the shutout when his center banked the puck off the board and hit in his own pass off of a faceoff with just 10 seconds remaining. The goal however was just cosmetic as they say. All that was left was the countdown. Lou “The Legend” Marinoff got off the deck after losing games five and six and rebounded with his best performance of the series. He regained the title with a solid, well played 4-1 victory in game seven. It was exactly one year to the day when he had lost the title to Catania, so redemption on this day was very sweet. For the Vinner he dug himself a hole that this time he could not dig out of. Iy culminated another very exciting season. John Fayolle then defeated Len Mecca in the third place game by a score of 6-2.
It was a great year as the League continued to grow. As many as 22 players participated in League Dates. Newcomers Phil Lynch, Kevin Gilligan and Chris D’Andrea are three players that really enjoyed the competition and vowed to become big factors very soon. The Marinoff / Catania rivalry will be as strong as ever and the improved play of the rest of the players in the league make it a real possibility that a Catania – Marinoff Final may no longer be a given. For now it’s Congratulations to the 2017-2018 NYTHL Champion Lou Marinoff, the runner up Vinny Catania and John Fayolle who finished third. More congratulations go to this year’s award winners. Rookie of the year – Chris D’Andrea, Sportsman of the year John Power, and to George Slater – this year’s most improved player. The NYTHL will begin its fourth season in October. Hopefully you too will be part of the action.