The NYTHL’s Fourth League date of its eighth season took place this past Saturday with fourteen participants from four different states. Once again league rookies Fred Tinao and Robert Brancucci had good showings and continue to improve. Speaking of improvement, don’t look now, but here comes Walter Zissler. His hard work on the board led to his best day yet as he has now thrown his hat into the ring as a legitimate contender. Bob D’Addario, George Slater and Anthony Sciacca each put together solid runs in the playoffs, but when all was over – League Champion Vinny Catania was back on top. Let’s review all of the exciting action.
With fourteen players present a double round robin was held consisting of twenty-six games. Defending League Champion Vinny Catania once again finished atop with a 23-1-2 record. Chris D’Andrea also had a stellar day as he compiled a 20-2-4 record good for second. Chris handed the Vinner his only loss on the day in their second meeting and gave up a league date low of just 38 goals in the 26 round robin games. Paul Crescitelli who won the playoff tournament at league date three last month, followed that up with a solid record of 18-4-4 which was good for third. League veteran Len Mecca had his usual solid day, finishing fourth as he compiled a record of 15-7-4. Walter Zissler who has really worked on his overall game is seeing the fruits of his labor pay off. Walt finished 14-10-2 which represented his best day yet for the fifth spot. Bob D’Addario played well as he earned the sixth seed with an 11-8-7 mark. League rookie Fred Tinao continues to turn heads as he compiled a 10-9-7 record which landed him seventh. Ageless Anthony Sciacca checked into the eight spot at 10-11-5. Rookie Robert Brancucci continues to improve at a rapid rate as he carved his way to a 10-13-3 record as the ninth seed. George Slater had an off day during round robin play. Slater struggled his way into the tenth spot as he posted just an 8-13-5 tally. Brian Sullivan has begun to ascend to higher ground. He finished eleventh but did have nine wins against fifteen loss and two ties. Larry Durham’s up and down season continues. He was 6-17-3 giving him the twelve seed. Lee Hendelman thirteenth struggled with just two wins and a tie, but continues to grow on the game and slowly improve. Derek Nisbett did gain his second victory on the year and even threw in an extra point with a tie. Derek rounded out the field as the fourteen seed. It was now on to the playoffs.
This month because fourteen players competed, but only thirteen would participate in the playoffs, the top three seeds would receive byes. Because Chris D’Andrea was unable to play, that enabled all seeds below him to move up one spot. This also meant the remaining ten would play a best of three preliminary round series. The five winners would be added to the three who had byes to compete in the Quarter-Final Playoffs. Fourth seed Walter Zissler defeated thirteen seeded Derek Nisbett by identical scores of 2-0. Five seed Bob D’Addario also swept twelfth seeded Lee Hendelman by scores of 6-1 and 5-1. The eleven seed Larry Durham scored a small upset as he swept by six seeded rookie Fred Tinao by margins of 6-4 and 2-1. Seven seed Anthony Sciacca had a tough time ousting ten seed Brian Sullivan. Anthony dropped game one 2-1 before tying the series with a strong 4-1 victory. Game three was decided in overtime as Sciacca moved on to the Quarters with an exciting 3-2 victory. Finally the ninth seeded George Slater avenged his disappointing round robin performance as he swept past rookie Robert Brancucci. Slater took out the eight seed, sweeping the series by scores of 3-0 and 3-1. It was now on to the Quarterfinals.
The One seed Vinny Catania needed overtime in game one against eleven seed Larry Durham who played very well in a 5-4 loss. Catania then took the next two by scores of 6-0 and 6-2 respectively to advance. Two seed Paul Crescitelli fresh off his thrilling victory at League Date three, faced the nine seed George Slater. Paulie soon realized that when the target is on your back – everyone steps up their game. This was definitely the case versus George. George took game one by a 3-1 margin. Slater then took game two with an exciting 5-4 win in overtime. Paulie tried to get back in the series, but fell short again in overtime as he lost 4-3 and was subsequently swept out of this month’s playoffs in upset fashion. For Slater, he flipped the script on what was a disappointing day, but now found himself in the Semis. Speaking of upsets – here is another. Seven seeded Anthony Sciacca lost game one to third seed Len Mecca 3-1. The ageless Sciacca then tied the series with a 4-1 triumph. Anthony pulled ahead in the series with a game three victory of 7-3. Mecca then tied the series with a 3-1 victory, forcing game five. The battle between the league’s two elder statesman did not disappoint. Anthony then pulled the upset with a 5-3 victory in the series’ final game to advance to the next round. In the last series of the Quarter-Finals four seed Walter Zissler took on five seed Bob D’Addario. Walt jumped out to the series lead with a 3-2 victory in game one. The Bob O then tied the series with a 3-1 victory. Walt then pulled back ahead with a 4-3 overtime victory. Facing elimination, Bob responded with 2-1 series tying victory. Down a goal in deciding game five, D’Addario scored on a defensive pico that bounced into the net with just one second remaining. As a result the series would be decided in sudden death overtime. Bob took advantage scoring in the first minute of the extra session to win the series and advance. We move to the Semi-Finals.
As the day progressed - the one seed Vinny Catania was probably expected to still be around, but nine seed George Slater was not. The Vinner took a very tight game one, by a 2-1 margin. The Vinner then won game two by a 3-0 shutout. Catania then clinched the series by jumping ahead in game three and holding on for a 3-2 victory to sweep the hard fought series. Catania was once again through to the Finals. Two men on a Cinderella run met when five seed Bob D’Addario met seven seed Anthony Sciacca in a battle of the defenses. Bob jumped out to series lead when he took game one 4-1. Anthony struck back to knot the series at one with a 2-1 game two victory. The Bob O jumped back out ahead following a 7-6 game three win. D’Addario then clinched the series with a 6-3 win to move on and meet The Vinner in the Finals.
When the Vinner first entered into the league here in New York it was natural for him to align himself with Bob D’Addario as practice partners. The two live just fifteen minutes apart. That aside though – when they meet at league dates the gloves come off and the two do battle. The Vinner who was upset at League Date three, left nothing to chance. Playing a bit conservative, Catania out defended the Bob O enroute to a 2-1 opening game win. The Vinner then pulled away winning game two 7-3, then ended the series in a sweep by winning game three 5-2 to claim the league date four title. D’Addario played well and put together a nice run in the playoffs on his way to the finals and finishing second on the day. A third place series was not played, as a result Anthony Sciacca placed third by virtue of the day’s standings. There were no “B” Playoffs this month.
Another great League Date is in the books, and as we wish everyone a Happy and Healthy 2023 our league continues to grow and is off to a great start this calendar year. With the emergence of an improving Walter Zissler, rookies Fred Tinao, and Robert Brancucci the competition continues to heat up. Let’s not forget John Power, The Chief and Arnie Layton who will soon be returning. With players like Paul Crescitelli and Chris D’Andrea performing so well and league Veterans Bob D’Addario, Len Mecca, George Slater and Anthony Sciacca who are more than capable players – this season will only get better. Although we appreciate all of your support, I end this month as I do all months by asking one question. With such a great venue, so many great people and superior SOHO Classic S-Slot games to play on – What are you waiting for? GET BEHIND THE RODS AND IN THE GAME! See you at League Date Five on February 11, 2023!