For a second straight month, nine players engaged in battle as the NYTHL returned to Mother Pug's in Staten Island for the League's fifth date of the season. With the return of Defending Champion Lou "The Legend" Marinoff - there figured to be plenty of obstacles and bumps in the road enroute to the League Date five title. In the end the league’s two best once again engaged in battle. Let’s review the day.
Many of the league’s familiar faces were in attendance. This time however the NYTHL road warrior Gary Nichols from North Carolina was unable to attend. With Lou Marinoff back in competition - it meant that a trip to the Final would not come easy. In the round robin - Vinny "The Vinner" Catania led the way with a 12-1-3 record for 24 points. That edged Lou Marinoff by two points (11-2-3). Bob D'Addario off a very impressive double round robin performance finished third with 24 points (11-3-2) just one point behind Marinoff. George Slater also finished well with a 10-4-2 record good for 22 points and the 4th spot. Len Mecca at 8-7-1 (17 Points) finished 5th, three points ahead of Chris D’Andrea who had a disappointing round robin for his standards 5-8-3 good for 14 points. Larry Durham 7th, Anthony Sciacca 8th and Tom McHugh 9th rounded out the standings.
As the playoffs started - the top seven spots were already decided. A best of three play-in series between Anthony Sciacca and Tom McHugh was needed to find out who would claim the eighth spot and face The Vinner in round two. Table hockey veteran Sciacca was a heavy favorite over Tom McHugh who has just one year of experience. Although Sciacca went on to win – it was a great series with every game a low scoring nail biter. Sciacca took game one in Overtime by a 2-1 score. McHugh battled back and shut out Sciacca in game two via a 1-0 triumph. Sciacca proved to be slightly better as he once again scratched out a 2-1 win in game three to take the series by the same margin 2-1.
Sciacca's day ended in round two when he was swept by the Vinner in three games, by scores of 7-1, 4-1 and 6-1. Two Seed Lou Marinoff also swept his series by defeating seven seed Larry Durham. Lou rolled his way into the semi-finals with victories of 8-3, 8-7 and 7-1. Two more series needed to be played to determine who would play Marinoff and Catania in the Semi-Finals. Third seed Bob D'Addario faced new rival Chris D’Andrea. The Bob O surprisingly swept the series powered off thrilling Overtime victories in game one and two, winning those games 2-1 and 1-0 respectively. D’Addario went on to win the series by taking game three by a score of 4- 1. The Final spot in the semis was decided when Len Mecca defeated George Slater in four games. Mecca took game one by a 2-1 score. Slater tied the series with a 4-3 game two victory. Len edged George 4-3 to take a two games to one edge. Then it happened. The “Oh I’m Ready game”. Slater had a 4-2 lead in the last 30 seconds. Mecca scored with just ten seconds remaining. With Mecca down by one, he put all his years of table hockey wisdom and chicanery to work. He distracted George by telling him not to stall. Slater asked Mecca if he was ready and Mecca replied “oh I’m ready!” and that’s when mecca took his center and moved Slater’s goalie to the side. As fate would have it Mecca was able to get the puck from George and bang in a loose puck goal with his left winger into a net that he previously opened just seconds earlier. This forced Overtime which Mecca won 5-4, taking the series three games to one. Those who saw it live or watch the video find it both hilarious and insightful. Slater took it in stride and was a good sport stating that Mecca “was a savvy veteran who used his experience to beat me”. The Semi Finals were then set.
The one seeded Vinny Catania was next up for the savvy veteran Mecca. The Vinner proved to be a little too much as he managed to defeat Mecca but not without a battle. Catania took games one and two by convincing 8-1 and 3-0 scores. Mecca then was able to get back into the series with a well-played 3-2 victory over Catania. The Vinner then earned his way into the Finals by closing out Len with a 3-2 victory of his own in game four, taking the series three games to one. The two seed Lou Marinoff took on three seed Bob D’Addario. The two were separated by just one point after two round robins. Marinoff however reminded Bob that when the money was on the line – efforts must be doubled in efforts to try to defeat the Legend. Lou Powered his way into the Finals. Sweeping the series by scores of 6-2, 2-1 and 5-2. D’Addario had a great day, but in the end lost to a great player. It would be the Vinner –vs- The Legend once again.
Another Catania – Marinoff League Date Final was to take place. The history between the two is well chronicled in the history of this league. This battle would be the epitome of what this rivalry has become. The two fought hard and competed with the smallest of margins separating them. This series went the distance then went to overtime in the deciding game. Marinoff drew first blood with a 5-4 victory. The Vinner then clamped down with two impressive defensive performances to take games two and three by scores of 3-1 and 3-0. The Legend as he so often does – adjusted and battled back to tie the series with a 5-4 victory. What is better than a series that goes the distance? A series that goes the distance and overtime in the deciding game. Little more needs to be said, but in the end The Vinner banged in a left wing goal in the overtime to narrowly defeat The Legend three games to two. This was just another chapter in the storied rivalry of these two. This gave The Vinner his 4th League Date title of the season. He has won three of the four Finals this season versus Marinoff. Lou did not play in League Date Four. Marinoff holds a 4-1-3 record versus Catania in round robin play. As usual these two will continue their back and forth, fierce battles in what is the League’s most intense rivalry. Bob D’Addario by virtue of his round robin record took third on the day as no consolation series was played. What will happen in League Date Six? Come down and find out. Better yet - come join us and change history yourself. See you next month!