The fifth NYTHL season came to a close on Saturday concluding with Vinny Catania repeating as Champion as he swept his way to his third title in four years. In a season that was slightly shortened by the Covid Pandemic, 12 players managed to compete from New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts in the league’s first ever outdoor event held at the beautiful Kearney’s yard in West Islip New York. The combatants endured 90-degree weather, humidity and extra travel to compete in this year’s championship. A single round robin was held with those results being added to the prior 6 league dates to establish seeding. The top four spots received byes with the bottom eight competing in a best of seven play in round. The four winners moved on to compete for the NYTHL championship. The four players eliminated would compete for the “B” Championship. Let’s review the action.
In single round robin action, the Vinner led the pack with a 9-1-1 record. George Slater finished just one point behind with a 9-2-0 mark. Chris D’Andrea was 8-3-0 with Len Mecca on his heels with a 7-2-2 record. Bob D’Addario recovered after a slow start and compiled a 6-2-3 record good for fifth on the day. Walter Zissler showed massive improvement, finishing 5-5-1 on the day. 2019-2020 NYTHL rookie of the year Brian Sullivan also showed marked improvement going 5-6-0 on the day. The League’s most improved player Larry Durham had a disappointing day finishing at 4-5-2. Sportsman of the year – Anthony Sciacca earned a 4-6-1 record. Phil Lynch regressed from recent play good going only 2-7-2 on the day. Linda Ressman defeated husband Steve for her only win on the day (1-10-0). Steve was winless 0-11-0. With those results added to the season records it was on to the best of seven playoffs.
The battle for the Cup began with four play in series. The regular season and defending league Champion Vinny Catania received a bye as the one seed. George Slater received a bye as the second seed. Len Mecca and Chris D’Andrea also had byes as the third and fourth seeds respectively. Fifth seed Bob D’Addario made short work of new comer - twelfth seed Linda Ressman, sweeping the series and out scoring his opponent by a combined 16-1 score. Sixth seed Larry Durham also had little trouble with new comer Steve Ressman sweeping that series by a combined score of 18-5. Both Linda and Steve who both played in only their second league date, proved to be great new additions to the league. Their eagerness to learn and enthusiasm for the sport will make them very exciting players to watch in the near future. Seventh seed Anthony Sciacca jumped out to a 3-0 series lead on tenth seed Walter Zissler. Sciacca won by scores of 4-3, 7-1 and 5-1. Zissler attempted to make things interesting by taking game four by a 2-1 score. Sciacca put the series away in game five with a hard fought 4-3 victory. New rivals eight seed Phil Lynch and rookie of the year, nine seed Brian Sullivan played for the last spot in the “A” pool with the loser going into the “B” pool as the favorite. Lynch’s experience proved to be a little too much for a game Sullivan as Phil took the series four games to one. It was on to the Quarter-Finals with the four eliminated players moving into the “B” tournament
The Quarter-Finals commenced. Eight seed Phil Lynch earned the right to play the top seeded Vinny Catania. The Vinner started the defense of his title by taking down Lynch and sweeping him in four games by scores of 6-4, 4-0, 5-1 and 7-0. Lynch has been steadily improving and has made massive contributions in helping grow the league. His value as a member of the league is immeasurable. Second seed George Slater and seventh seed Anthony Sciacca played the series of the year for the right to go to the Semi-Finals. George opened the series with a 2-0 shutout of Sciacca. Anthony evened the series with a 4-3 victory. George then took game three by a 3-2 score. Tony struck back winning another one goal game by a 2-1. Slater again took a one game lead in the series by defeating Sciacca 4-3 in overtime. Facing elimination, Sciacca again tied the series winning his third game in the series by one goal 2-1. In the deciding game seven, Slater was in control in the game’s final minute leading 3-1. Sciacca broke through with two late goals to miraculously force overtime before giving up a loose puck goal to George’s center giving Slater the 4-3 game and series victory. Third seed Len Mecca played cross state rival - sixth seed Larry Durham. After dropping game one 6-4, Mecca then swept the next four games by scores of 5-2, 5-4, 5-4 in overtime and 5-3. Larry is coming on strong. As the league’s most improved player, he will be expected to make a big jump real soon. In the final series of the Quarters fourth seed Chris D’Andrea took down defensive Stallworth fifth seed Bob D’Addario. Chris won games one and two by scores of 4-0 and 3-1. In a pivotal game three, D’Addario failed to climb back in the series losing in overtime 4-3. Bob did manage to take game four and avoid being swept, winning 3-2. D’Andrea then closed out the Bob O in game five by a 3-2 score thus earning a shot at The Vinner in the Semis.
As the Semifinals began, the players began to wear down. The heat was a factor and the humidity definitely effected the playing surface forcing the players to adjust. Defending Champ Vinny Catania opened his series with Chris D’Andrea with a 6-3 victory. This did not bode well for Chris because Catania had lost just one playoff game the prior six league dates this year. Ignoring that, D’Andrea put together a superb defensive effort and handed the Vinner a 1-0 defeat to tie the series. The series then shifted to D’Andrea’s home rink. Unfortunately for Chris, it was the Vinner who put together back to back shutout victories winning game three 6-0 and game four 4-0. D’Andrea showed great perseverance by again defeating the Vinner on his home rink 4-3 to stave off elimination. Not having much success on his own board, and playing well on the Vinner’s – D’Andrea elected to stay on Catania’s board in an attempt to tie the series. In a hard fought game, the Vinner jumped out to a 2-0 lead and held on to finally win the game 2-1 and the series 4-2. It was the first time all year that Catania lost multiple games in a series as D’Andrea played exceptionally well and continues to improve on both ends of the game. For the Vinner he was on to his fifth straight Championship series in the five-year history of the league. His opponent would be decided when second seed George Slater would meet third seed Len Mecca. Slater displayed great resolve opening the series with a 2-1 overtime victory immediately after his hard fought seven game quarterfinal victory. Mecca tied the series with a solid 4-0 shutout. George then again took the series lead by winning game three 5-2. Len battled back with a 4-3 win in game four to tie things up. Mecca then took the pivotal game five in overtime with a 3-2 victory. Ion the spirit of one goal victories Mecca then closed out the series with a 2-1 triumph to advance to his first ever Championship. It was Catania versus Mecca for the Championship.
The Vinner had met Len Mecca in five playoff series this season during the six league dates. Three league date finals and two league date semifinals all resulted in best of five three game sweeps by the Vinner. In round robin games the Vinner held a 7-1-3 edge. Although it seems one sided, many of the games were dog fights. With both players not at their absolute best following the Covid layoff, both managed to find their way into the Championship. Enduring a long day in the heat, the Finals were under way. The Vinner opened the series with a convincing 5-1 victory. Game two was much different as the two battled neck and neck which was more representative of their prior battles. In the end The Vinner edged Len 2-1 to take a 2-0 series lead. Catania seized control of the series with a 7-3 victory in game three and closed out the series with a 5-3 victory in game four, thus sweeping the series in four games. It was The Vinner’s second straight Championship and third in four years. For Len it was his first finals, capping off a great season for him. Chris D’Andrea defeated George Slater four games to one to capture third place on the year.
In the “B” playoff Semi-Finals,Ninthseed Brian Sullivan swept past 12 Seed Linda Reesman ina four game sweep by scores of 4-0, 5-0, 4-0 and 4-0. Tenth seed Walter Zissler faced 11 seed Steve Reesman. Zissler also won via a four game sweep and also shut out his opponent for the series by scores of 3-0, 4-0, 4-0 and 6-0 thus setting up a Sullivan versus Zissler showdown for the “B” crown.
With new players come new battles. Ninth seeded Brian Sullivan and tenth seed Walter Zissler will have this series as the mark to begin their fledgling rivalry. With the NYTHL “B” Trophy on the line. Sullivan drew first blood with a 5-4 overtime victory. Not to be outdone, Zissler returned the favor with a 3-2 overtime win of his own. Brian took game three by a 3-2 score. Zissler failed to tie the series in game four, again falling in overtime via a 4-3 margin. Zissler staved off elimination with a 2-1 game five victory. Sullivan closed out the series with another one goal - 4-3 victory. Sullivan took the B title with a 4-2 series win. Congratulations to both players on a hard fought, entertaining series.
A fifth season is in the books. The league continues to grow and the competition intensifies. The NYTHL would like to give a special thanks to Dawn Kearney and Joy Amoroso – Catania for hosting a great Championship event. The venue was beautiful and the food amazing. This year was a challenging one as the Covid pandemic hit us all hard. The resolve of our players was evident as we powered through and finished our season. Our league continues to expand with great people. As usual I will ask “With great people on great games – What are you waiting for?” GET ON THE GAME! Get behind the rods. We are looking forward to starting our 2020-2021 season on time in October. Stay Well Everyone!