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A couple of names changed, but they once again came from as far south as North Carolina. Ten men again did battle on a Saturday in Staten Island to see who would win the 2018-2019 NYTHL 3rd league date. Despite great showings by Lou Marinoff, George Slater, Mort and Len Mecca, this time it was “The Vinner” Vinny Catania who came out on top.

The double round robin was not business as usual per say. Yes Vinny Catania and Lou Marinoff led the field, but the emergence of George Slater was the biggest surprise of the day. Slater has continued to show growth in his game this season. It was never more evident than his 8-1-0 finish through the first round robin. At the time – it led the field. George opened the day by taking down Defending League Champion Lou Marinoff 3-2. It was his first ever victory over “The Legend”. He also defeated Vinny Catania 6-4 and everyone else in his path except Len Mecca. George went 4-4-1 in the second round robin to finish a very strong 12-5-1 good for the third seed. The top spot went to Vinny Catania who finished 14-2-2. It marked the first time in three league dates thus far that he won round robin play. Lou “The Legend” Marinoff finished 2nd with a 12-2-4 mark. Mort continued to play well finishing 4th at 8-5-5 which was one point better than Bob D’Addario’s 8-6-4 finish good for 5th. Len Mecca received the last first round bye with a 6th place mark of 7-8-3. It’s now time to review the playoffs.

With the first six seeds receiving byes, the bottom four battled it out in a best of three series so that the two winners would join the top six to form the quarterfinals. The seventh seeded Moussa Chermiti defeated tenth seeded Larry “L.D.” Durham by scores of 3-1 and 5-3. The returning Anthony Sciacca who earned the eighth seed went the distance with ninth seeded Gary Nichols in a thrilling three games. G-Nick won game one 3-2, then dropped game two by a 3-2 score in overtime. With a trip to the quarters on the line, Sciacca easily won the rubber game 7-1 to take the series. Nichols again came from North Carolina and this time won 5 games in the round robin and another playoff game. The rookie continues to show marked improvement as he has been a great addition to the league

The quarterfinals had some surprises. One seed Vinny Catania swept past Anthony Sciacca in three games by scores of 2-1, 7-3 and 5-1. Two seed Lou Marinoff had a battle on his hands with Moussa Chermiti. The two tied both of their prior round robin games 2-2. Moussa continued his stellar play by stunning the Champion in game one by a 4-1 score. As he often does however; Marinoff figured out his opponent and took games two and three by identical 5-1 scores. Marinoff again had to battle in order to earn a 5-4 victory which gave him a 3-1 series win over Chermiti. The six seed Len Mecca rose to the occasion and knocked off third seed George Slater in a three game sweep. Mecca won game one 4-1 then took games two and three by a goal for the sweep. Although Slater had a great day, he was unable to solve the veteran Len Mecca who (including the round robin) won all five games on the day. The final quarterfinal series was an exact rematch of their quarterfinal in League Date II, Each owning the same seed as well. This time fourth seeded Mort avenged last month’s 3-1 game quarterfinal loss to Fifth seeded Bob D’Addario in a series that went the distance. Bob took the opener 3-2, then dropped games two and three by scores of 5-1 and 2-1. The Bob O did tie the series with a solid 5-0 shutout of Mort in game four. With the series on the line, Mort got off the deck and defeated D’Addario in Overtime. He did so by executing a brilliant right wing check of Bob’s left defenseman which led to a center tip in to take the series in five by a 4-3 score.

The Semi-Finals featured matchups of old rivals. One seed Vinny Catania battled six seed Len Mecca. The two tied their first round robin game when Len Mecca stormed back with three goals to erase a 5-2 deficit to tie the game 5-5. Catania took the second game via a 1-0 shutout. As always the two play games that are both very competitive and entertaining. This time was no different. Catania stormed out to a 3-0 lead in game one only to see it evaporate when Mecca scored three straight to force overtime, then add a 4th consecutive goal to defeat Catania in game one by a 4-3 score. The Vinner did rebound to take game two 4-2 to even the series. Catania then shut out Mecca 3-0 in game three, and then pulled away with an 8-3 victory in game four to defeat Mecca and take the series three games to one. In the other semi-final bracket, two seeded Lou “The Legend” Marinoff would once again do battle with fourth seeded Mort. These two have battled for well over a decade. Would this be the time Mort broke through? The question was answered after three classic battles – unfortunately for Mort all three close games went in favor of Lou with resulting scores of 5-3, 3-2, and 5-4 in OT. The Finals were set and again it would be Catania -VS- Marinoff

Speaking of rivals, when it comes to the New York Table Hockey League, the Catania – Marinoff saga can compare to any in any sport. These two split the first two league dates so far this year. The Vinner won a thrilling five game series during League Date I. The Legend rebounded as he always does by sweeping The Vinner in three at League Date II. The two men tied the first round robin game 2-2 before Marinoff won the second round robin game 5-4. As always the battles are fierce and this time was no different. Catania opened the series with a narrow 4-3 victory. Marinoff returned the favor taking game two by the same score which tied series. The Vinner then pulled ahead by winning game three 3-2. Vinny then led game four 3-2 with just seconds remaining. As was the case all series long - great goaltending dictated the pace. Catania then finally pulled away when he banged in a loose puck rebound with his left wing with just 13 seconds remaining to go ahead 4-2. That’s how it ended with Catania taking the series from the Defending Champion three games to one.

Mort defeated Len Mecca in a two game sweep to take third on the day by scores of 6-2 and 8-6. That concluded the action and it was another date in the books. At the top Catania and Marinoff continue to slug it out as they alternate league date wins. The gap between them and the rest of the field continues to narrow with the emergence of players such as Mort, Len Mecca, Chris D’Andrea, George Slater and Bob D’Addario. With everyone improving its just a matter of time before someone will finally break through. Will It be you? Come join us for the next league date in January.

It was a great 2018 as the NYTHL continued to grow. It takes a lot of help from a lot of people within the league to make it happen and for that – Thank you! Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year. See you in 2019.

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