The NYTHL opened its 4th season this past Saturday and as usual the action was face paced, the games hotly contested and new chapters were added to old rivalries. Ten players fought their way through a double round robin then playoffs. Although it was a fresh start for all, in the end the two men that ended last year’s season in an epic seven game series, began the new season once again going the distance.
The Legend Lou Marinoff began defense of his NYTHL title by once again setting the pace for the rest of the field. Two round robins determined which top six seeds would earn a bye into the quarterfinals. The bottom four would have to play a dangerous best of three series with the two winners joining the top 6 in the quarterfinals. Marinoff finished in first by burying the competition - scoring 98 goals while giving up just 37. He finished 15-2-1 on the day good for 31 points. His two round robin wins over 2nd place Vinny Catania 13-3-2 were the difference as Catania finished with 28 points. Mort had a solid day compiling a mark of 9-7-2 for third. Every one of those twenty points earned were needed as he finished just one point ahead of 2017-2018 rookie of the year Chris D’Andrea 8-7-3. Bob D’Addario had a disappointing start to his season as he finished 8-9-1 (17 pts) good for 5th place. George Slater had one of his best days yet at 7-8-3 (17 pts.) which allowed him to grab the last bye into the quarterfinals. Len Mecca 7-9-2 (16 Pts) finished 7th. Moussa and Larry Durham had 7-11-0 marks with Moussa earning the 8 seed due to the head to head tie break. Larry earned an impressive 4-2 round robin win over the Vinner enroute to the 9 seed. Phil Lynch competed in many close games but finished 2-16-0 for the 10th seed.
The preliminary round (best of three) playoffs began with the 7th Seeded Len Mecca battling 10 seeded Phil Lynch. Mecca needed overtime in game one to defeat Lynch 5-4. Len then swept the two game series by defeating Phil 5-2 to advance to the Quarters. The 8 vs 9 matchup featured #8 Moussa Chermiti vs # 9 Larry Durham. Moussa took game one by a score of 2-0. Larry rebounded to win game two 7-3. Game three was a nail biter which was deadlocked at one. Larry made an amazing save which turned into an offensive opportunity which he buried with seconds left to win the game and series 2-1.
The Best of 5 Quarterfinals were set. The #1 Seed Lou Marinoff swept his way past 9th seeded Larry by scores of 8-1, 9-1 and 8-3. The # 2 Seed Vinny Catania battled his way into the Semi-Finals in a much tougher series defeating the 7th seeded Len Mecca in four games. Catania took the first two by squeaking out wins of 2-1 and 5-4. Mecca responded by taking game three in another close one by a 4-3 score. The Vinner was finally able to put the series away - closing out the series with a 4-0 shutout. With Marinoff and Catania into the semis - two spots still needed to be decided. The 3rd seeded Mort swept 6th seed George Slater to earn the third spot. He took the opener rather easily 4-0 but then earned two tough victories in games two and three both by a 4-3 score. George continues to improve and a birth in the semi-finals may not be too far away for him. The final spot was between 4th seeded Chris D'Andrea and 5th seed Bob D'Addario. The reigning rookie of the year D'Andrea took Bob in game one 5-2. He took a firm grip on the series taking game two as well by a 4-3 margin. D'Addario fought back in game three winning 2-1. D'Andrea closed out the series with a hard fought 5-4 victory in overtime. The Semi Finals were now set.
Top seeded Defending Champion Lou Marinoff battled Rookie of the year 4 seed Chris D'Andrea. They played an epic first two games with Lou squeaking out a 3-2 victory in the opener and a 4-3 victory in game two. The Legend finally pulled away, earning a spot in the final when he closed out the series with his strongest effort yet topping Chris by a tally of 6-1. Lou advanced to another Final and D'Andrea served notice on this day that he plans on joining the party in the Finals real soon. Chris continues his very strong ascension to the top of the NYTHL. The 2nd seeded Vinner battled the 3rd seeded Mort. Catania knew he had to be at his best in order to advance and he was. The Vinner won in a sweep by scores of 5-1, 5-1 and 4-1 to sweep his way into the Finals and set up another meeting with Marinoff. It was indeed another rematch between the two finalists from each of the first three seasons.
Last season ended when Lou "The Legend" Marinoff defeated Vinny "The Vinner" Catania in the 7th game to recapture the Championship Catania had wrestled from him the prior year. As was the case last year and again this year these two once again met in the League Date Opening Final. No different than last year this best of five series would also go the distance. The Vinner opened the series with an exciting game one victory in overtime. He jumped out to a two goal lead which Marinoff erased forcing overtime. The Vinner put a right wing pico into the net to take the opener 5-4. The Legend lived up to his name AGAIN by erasing another Vinner lead - this time a three goal lead. Again Marinoff forced overtime, but this time he was able to complete the comeback earning himself a 5-4 victory to even the series. The Vinner narrowly defeated Lou 4-3 in game three for a 2-1 edge. The Champion Lou Marinoff made a strong statement when he tied the series by winning game four rather easily with a 6-3 victory. Who walked away with the League Date I title would be decided in another one game do or die scenario. The Vinner rebounded nicely and jumped out to a big lead early and held on to defeat Marinoff who simply would not give up. The Vinner earned the series victory and league date one title by defeating The Legend 6-4 thus winning the series 3-2 games. The Vinner as he did last year drew first blood by winning the series in five. Last year it mattered little as Marinoff took the biggest series at the end to secure the title. This year The Vinner aims to finish what he started.
Wrapping things up - Catania and Marinoff are still fighting it out tooth and nail at the top. Improving players like Bob D'Addario, Chris D'Andrea, Mort and Len Mecca may soon make a dent in what has been a league dominated by the aforementioned two. George Slater, Larry Durham and Moussa continue to show marked improvement and aren't far behind. What Phil Lynch lacks in experience he makes up for in heart and desire. His willingness to ask questions, study the game and learn has already made him a formidable opponent as he will soon join the likes of D'Andrea as a future rising star in the league. Another great season is now underway - hopefully you too will join us. See you on the table - next month.