A season high twelve participants played at Mother Pugs during NYTHL League Date Seven on Saturday including Defending Champion Lou Marinoff. Joining him were such players as Gary Nicholls from North Carolina, Len Mecca and Larry Durham from New Jersey and a host of others including newcomer Michael Gershon who will be known to the league as M.J.G.. Also on hand was Vinny Catania who had won five of the six league dates leading in to League Date Seven. Let's now review the action.
With twelve participants on hand - it meant a longer schedule than usual. John Fayolle participated in the first round robin, but then had to leave; therefore leaving a total of eleven. Because he played each player once - his games counted on the day and season long standings. The top five players after the double round robin would receive byes into the Quarterfinals. The remaining six seeds would play a single elimination game to see which three would join the top five.
The double round robin was grueling and totaled 21 games for the 11 players who competed in both round robins. When the smoke cleared, The Vinner grabbed the top spot with a 19-1-1 record good for 39 points. That was just one point ahead of Lou Marinoff who compiled 38 points with an 18-1-2 mark. The much improved Bob D'Addario fought his way into third place at 11-6-4 with 26 points. That was one point better than 4th place Chris D'Andrea (11-7-3). Larry Durham had his best ever league date finishing 5th and getting the last bye also at 11-7-3, but after a head to head split of games, he lost the goal differential tie break to D'Andrea. George Slater finished 6th at 10-9-2 and had 22 points. Len Mecca 7th, G-Nick 8th, Anthony Sciacca 9th, John Fayolle - only played 11 games finished 5-6-0 for 10th. Phil Lynch finished 11th and new comer M.J.G. finished last and did not record a victory or tie. M.J.G.'s debut in competitIve table hockey was a fun one, but he did not realize just how tough the competition would be. Although he did not have any points, he did improve as the day progressed and is eager to learn. He will be heard from in the future. It's on to the Playoffs
With the top five players in the standings all receiving byes - the remaining six played single elimination games to trim down to three to complete the quarterfinals. Six seed George Slater powered past twelve seed M.J.G. easily, defeating the new comer 7-0. Seven seed Len Mecca narrowly defeated the improving eleven seed Phil Lynch 5-4. In what was predicted to be the closest of all the play again games - the ninth seeded Anthony Sciacca edged past eight seed G-Nick by a score of 3-2 in a thrilling overtime victory. It was then on to the Quarterfinals.
Unfortunately for the ninth seed Anthony Sciacca, his reward for winning his opening round was playing the one seed Vinny Catania. This has not been a good matchup for Sciacca and wasn't again on this day. The Vinner swept Sciacca by scores of 5-1, 9-2 and 6-0 to advance. Two seed Lou Marinoff also had little trouble with seven seed Len Mecca, as the Legend swept past Len by scores of 6-2, 3-1 and 5-4 in Overtime. The three seed Bob D'Addario versus six seed George Slater series was a rematch of the series the two played just two months ago with Slater prevailing. Slater took the first two games of this series each in overtime by scores of 2-1 and 5-4. D'Addario then came back to win the next two by 4-2 and 4-3 scores to tie the series and force a fifth and deciding game. With the pressure on - Slater once again won the bragging rights winning the game 4-2 and the series in 5. George would be the only lower seed to advance in the round. In the final quarterfinal match-up fourth seed Chris D'Andrea surprisingly swept Larry Durham who had his best day to date. D'Andrea took the series with 6-2, 7-3 and 5-2 victories. The Catania -VS- Slater and Marinoff -VS- D'Andrea Semi Finals were set.
The Semi-Finals featured two interesting match-ups. The first one being one seed Vinny Catania -VS- the surprising six seed George Slater. Slater who had survived a single elimination game in round one, then a series deciding 5th game in round two, came into the series confident. So much so that he was able to surprise The Vinner by taking game one 4-3. In a tight second game, The Vinner turned the table, winning by a 4-3 score of his own to tie the series. From that point on it was all Catania as he took game three by a 5-1 score, and closed out the series with a 5-2 win in game four. The Vinner had earned a three games to one victory and a 22nd straight trip to a League Date Final. The second seed Lou Marinoff -VS- the four seed Chris D'Andrea was also interesting but never in doubt. Marinoff swept past the up and coming D'Andrea by scores of 8-2, 9-2 and 5-3. Yes - if you hadn't guessed -it's another Catania -VS- Marinoff Final
Right before the Finals began, four seed Chris D'Andrea narrowly defeated six seed George Slater 6-2 in a single consolation game for third place on the day. It was now time for the Finals. With Catania again facing his old nemesis Lou Marinoff - it was sure to be another war. The winner of the last league date before the Playoffs between these two has gone on to win the Championship in all three seasons of the NYTHL. Whenever these two meet - all stats are thrown away and that task at hand always takes precedent. Catania stormed out to an early 3-0 lead only to see Lou wipe it away and take a lead of his own. Catania then recaptured the lead to take game one by a 6-5 score. As he always does - The Legend bounced back and took game two by the same 6-5 score. Lou then took game three 5-3, putting The Vinner on the brink. Facing elimination - Catania responded by winning a lopsided game four by a 7-1 tally. With the series now tied, it was on to another deciding game five. In the finale the two trade traded goals and leads until the Vinner made it 6-5. Then what had occurred was about as rare as the sight of Haley's Comet. The Legend put the puck in his own net for a 7-5 Vinner lead. The Vinner added one more to take the game 8-5 and the series 3-2. It was Catania's sixth league date title out of seven this season. It was his fourth Finals victory over Marinoff in five attempts this year.
Overall the day was a huge success. We now have just one league date remaining in the season. Will Catania regain the title he lost a year ago? Will the Legend win his 3rd NYTHL title in 4 years and repeat as Champion? Is it possible that Bob, Len, George or Chris D'Andrea spoil the party and win their first title? All questions will be answered in the NYTHL 2018-2019 League Date 8 Championship Playoffs. Hope to see you there!