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The fifth league date of The NYTHL’s 5th season saw players from all over the North East compete in a double round robin and playoffs. The League also expanded by one adding Walter Zissler from New Jersey. This time around – it wasn’t so easy for NYTHL Champion Vinny Catania during round robin play and the playoff tournament that followed. The top seven players went on to compete in the “A” Playoffs, with the bottom four competing in the “B” playoffs. Let’s review the action.

The double round robin had plenty of surprises and did not lack excitement. The Vinner who had won double round robin play at the previous four league dates was seriously challenged this time. Catania was beaten 5-3 by John Power and 3-2 by George Slater, putting Catania at 2-2 through four games. Anthony Sciacca then recorded his first win in a long time VS the Vinner in the final game of the first round robin, dropping The Vinner to an 8-3 mark and into 4th place. Catania had to go 9-0-2 to gain a share of the top seed on the day. John Power and George also finished atop with 32 points. The Vinner and J.P. each had one more win than George, dropping Slater to the third seed. Catania’s goal differential was better than Power’s, dropping J.P. to the second seed. This was the first ever three way tie for first after round robin play in the league’s five year history. Chris D’Andrea, 11-5-4 was the fourth seed. The savvy table hockey veteran Len Mecca went 12-7-1, earning him the fifth seed. Bob D’Addario struggled during the round robins – finishing 10-9-1 for the sixth spot. The Gentlemen Anthony Sciacca grabbed the final spot in the “A” tournament, compiling a record of 9-8-3. The ever improving Larry Durham’s 7-10-3 record earned him eight overall, but the top spot in the “B” playoffs. Mike Gershon showed some improvement by winning three games on the day, good for 9th overall and the second spot in the “B” pool. Brian Sullivan was the tenth seed (3rd in “B” pool) and newcomer Walter Zissler rounded out the field (4th in “B” Pool. It was then on to the playoffs.

The Best of five Quarterfinals were set. The number one seeded Vinner had a bye. The # 2 seed John Power once again drew a tough opening round opponent in seventh seeded Anthony Sciacca. J.P. swept past Anthony, but had to battle through a tough 3-2 overtime victory in game one then a 2-1 victory in game two. Power closed the series strong with a 6-2 triumph to complete the sweep. Number three seed George Slater drew six seed and nemesis Bob D’Addario. The Bob O had not made it past the opening round in his last two league dates and struggled in the two round robins. Determined not to have history repeat itself – the Bob O took game one in overtime by a score of 3-2. George battled back to tie the series with a 1-0 shutout. Bob retook the series lead with a 2-0 shutout of his own. By doing so – he won the only contest decided by more than a goal in the series. George again battled back by winning a tough game four by a 4-3 count. George and Bob would play another game five. The two battled fiercely through the deciding game. George led then Bob tied it. George retook the lead then Bob tied it again with three minutes left to play. Defense took over as the two battled their way through the rest of regulation time, each surrendering nothing. Overtime was needed. These two battled another two and a half minutes (more than the length of a total game) before D’Addario’s center would shoot in a pass from the right wing from just over the blue line for the series win and upset. D’Addario won the game and series 3-2. It was probably overall the best series of the year to date. In the last Quarter-Final series - fourth seed Len Mecca needed four games to defeat five seed Chris D’Andrea. Mecca took game one 4-1, then dropped game two 3-2. With the series tied, Len won game three in overtime by a 4-3 margin. Mecca closed out the series and earned a trip to the Semis with a 5-2 victory.

The Semi-Finals rekindled some old rivalries. First- the #1 Seed Vinner and 6 Seed Bob D’Addario did battle for a trip to the League Date 5 Finals on the line. The Vinner defeated Bob 7-5 in game one. Bob then tied the series with a 4-3 win. By doing so, Bob had snapped The Vinner’s 31 consecutive game playoff winning streak on the year. The Vinner was 31-0 this season and if you add in Game seven of last year’s Final - it was a 32 game playoff winning streak. Bob continued his stellar play, but it wasn’t enough as he lost a tough game three by a 3-2 score. The Vinner put the series on ice, gaining a trip to the Final with a rather easy 9-3 win over D’Addario. Bob had a good run though as he overcame his difficulties in the prior two league dates. Second seed John Power would battle fourth seeded Len Mecca for the right to play Catania. Last month the two met in the Quarter-Finals of League date 4 with Len winning three games to one. This month would be no different. Len took games one and two by margins of 3-2 and 7-2. Power fought back and won game three 5-2. Mecca rebounded in game four, defeating J.P. 4-1. Len was then on to the league Date 5 Final to once again take on Catania.

This was the second time that Vinny Catania and Len Mecca would meet in a League Date Final this season. Catania swept Mecca during League Date 2 earlier this year. Unfortunately for Len – this time was no different. The Vinner swept Len again by scores of 8-3, 2-0 and 5-1. The Vinner had saved his best table hockey for the Final series. Len once again played great, earning second on the day. This marked the Tenth consecutive League Date that The Vinner Finished on top. J.P. defeated Bob D’Addario 3-2 for Third on the day.

In the “B” playoffs, Eighth seed Larry Durham defeated new comer Walter Zissler in a tough five game series. L.D. won game one in overtime 3-2, then won game two 6-3. Not content to have his debut end so early, Walter rallied to win games three and four both by scores of 4-2 to force the fifth and deciding game. L.D. then bored down and defeated Walt by a score of 5-1 to earn a trip to the “B” Finals. Ninth seed Brian Sullivan then looked to avenge two earlier round robin losses to tenth seed Mike Gershon during their Semi-Final match up. Sullivan took game one by a 3-1 margin then defeated M.J.G. in Overtime of game two for a 2-1 victory. Mike battled back to win game three by a score of 3-1. Brian easily played his best game of the day, shutting out Mike 5-0 to win the series in four and meet Larry Durham in the “B”Final.

Fresh off of last month’s “B” title – Larry Durham looked to repeat the feat. Brian Sullivan however took the momentum of his Semi-Final series victory into the Final and won games one and two over L.D. by scores of 10-6 and 7-6 respectively. Facing elimination, Durham would pull a Houdini act by winning a hard fought game three 4-3. L.D. then battled back to tie the series by winning game four - with a blowout 6-0 shutout of Sullivan. With the series tied heading into a final fifth game - it was Larry Durham who was able to seize all momentum as he once again blew past Brian by a score of 6-2 for the impressive series comeback and win. It was Larry’s second “B” title of the season having now won it in consecutive months.

The same questions arise. Can the Vinner be stopped? Can Larry build on the success of his now two consecutive “B” titles? With another new player in the mix, the league continues to grow with more players coming! League Date Five had more parity and overtimes than ever before. With great people who happen to be great players on great games – I ask “What are you waiting for?” GET ON THE GAME! Get behind the rods.

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