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The NYTHL’s Eighth League date of its eighth season took place on Saturday May 13th with seventeen participants from four different states. It featured the debut of Phil Brancucci and the return of Fred Tinao. John Power also made his return and along with Fred – both men performed very well. With seventeen participants in the house a single round robin was played along with a full playoff tournament as always is the case each month. In the end there were some surprises as some lower seeded underdogs knocked off their opponents to advance. By the day’s end only The Vinner and rookie of the year candidate Fred Tinao were left standing. Let’s take a deep dive into the action.

Seventeen players meant that each player would play sixteen games, one against each opponent. The one seed would receive a bye in the playoffs with the remaining fourteen playing a Preliminary Play in round. The seven winners along with the one seed would move on to the “A” Quarter-Finals. The seven who lost would move into the “B” Quarter-Finals. At the conclusion of round robin action – League Champion Vinny Catania led the field with a 13-1-2 mark, earning him the top spot and bye. Chris D’Andrea was hot on the Vinner’s heels, as he finished second just a single point off the pace at 11-2-1. J.P. made his first appearance since league date five and as usual performed well. Power finished third at 11-3-2, handing the Vinner his only loss of the day in the process. George Slater had a solid league day finishing fourth with a 10-3-3 mark. The league’s road warrior Paul Crescitelli finished fifth winning eleven of his sixteen with no ties. Paulie does a great job enduring the long drive from New Hampshire and performing at a high level every month. The ageless Anthony Sciacca continues to amaze everyone as he continues to grow his game. Sciacca’s devotion and dedication is paying off as he is playing his best table hockey to date. Anthony was 9-4-3 – good for sixth on the day. The always dangerous Len Mecca recorded a 8-3-5 tally for the seventh seed. Fred Tinao who missed the previous three league dates came back strong with a 9-7-0 record which landing him in eighth. Fred will go on to do more damage later. The vastly improved Walter Zissler was ninth at 6-4-6. Robert Brancucci the other rookie of the year candidate had a slow start, but then finished strong as he compiled a 6-7-3 record good for tenth. Bob D’Addario had a disappointing round robin, but for a second straight month picked up his play during the playoffs when it counts the most. The Bob O was 6-8-2 in the eleventh spot, but did damage later on in the day. Another league road warrior Brian Sullivan – fresh off of organizing the 2023 Benej classic in Massachusetts (which was superbly run, and lots of fun) – was also 6-8-2. Brian’s slightly worse goal differential than bob landed him one spot behind D’Addario. Larry Durham was 4-9-3 placing him in thirteenth, but he too did some damage in the playoffs. Lee Hendelman is slowly progressing as he too earned four wins (ending up fourteenth). The debuting Phil Brancucci and brother of Rob Brancucci made his league debut and also earned four wins landing him fifteenth. The Brancuccis decided to take their lifelong household battles into the NYTHL. It stands to be another fun rivalry to keep an eye on. Mike Gerson finished sixteenth with a win and Derek Nisbett earned just a tie to round out the standings. On to the playoffs.

With Vinny Catania receiving a bye, the fourteen remaining players did battle in a best of five Preliminary Play-In round series to see who would join him. Because the Brancucci brothers couldn’t compete, anyone below them was bumped up one seed. Chris D’Andrea Swept Derek Nisbett. J.P. Swept Mike Gershon. George Slater swept past Lee Hendelman. In the upset of the day the twelve seed Larry Durham defeated fifth seed Paul Crescitelli. Larry took game one by shutout 1-0. Paulie tied things up in blow out fashion 8-3, restoring order in the process. So we thought! Larry rebounded to take game three 4-3, then finished off the upset with a 6-5 victory to take the series 3-1 games. Anthony Sciacca swept Brian Sullivan to advance. In the other big upset of the day – The tenth seeded Bob O – Bob D’Addario shrugged off a poor showing in the round robin to not only upset seventh seeded Len Mecca, but did so in a sweep. Bob advanced to the Quarter-Finals with victories of 3-1, 3-2 and 4-2. Bob had more magic in his hat for later on. In the last series of the round - eight seeded rookie Fred Tinao swept past Walter Zissler in what was another big surprise by scores of 4-1, 5-4 and 4-2. It was now time for the Quarter-Finals.

The One seed Vinny Catania matched up against twelfth seed Larry Durham. The Vinner earned a series sweep over L.D. by scores of 4-2, 9-2 and 8-3. The two seed Chris D’Andrea became the next victim of the Bob O’s magic. D’Addario after being shutout 2-0 in game one rebounded with big victories of 8-4 and 4-3 in overtime to take a 2-1 series lead. Chris tied the series with a 3-1 victory, but then dropped an exciting game five by a score of 3-2 to give D’Addario his second straight upset. J.P. was unable to continue on, therefore Fred Tinao was granted three victories of 1-0 to advance. George Slater was also unable to continue; therefore Anthony Sciacca was granted three victories of 1-0. It was now on to the Final Four.

In the Semis the top seeded Vinny Catania ended the Bob O’s improbable run as he swept past D’Addario by scores of 6-2, 5-2 and 3-1. On the other side six seed Anthony Sciacca fresh off another strong round robin took on League rookie sensation Fred Tinao. In a battle of the defenses Fred Tinao not only prevailed by beating the veteran Sciacca, but did so in a sweep by scores of 3-2, 4-0 and 3-1. It was the league rookie against the league champ in the finals

Vinny Catania was probably figured to be in the finals, but the fact that the rookie Fred Tinao was there with him had to be a surprising one. Fred had to beat very tough players Walter Zissler and Anthony Sciacca to get there. Fred had his work cut out for him as he suffered a 9-1 loss in round robin play to the Vinner. As the Finals commenced however, what happened previous had little effect on Freddy. Tinao took a 2-1 lead into the game’s final minute before the Vinner tied it late forcing overtime. The Vinner was able to connect on a rightwing to center tip in to win 3-2 in the extra session. Fred was just as competitive in the second game, but this time lost 5-4 in regulation. The Vinner then opened things up a bit and closed the series with a decisive 10-1 victory to win League Date Eight. The bigger story was the rookie Fred Tinao making the Final and playing so well.

The third place game/series was not played, thus Anthony Sciacca finished third by virtue of the standings. In the “B” Playoffs #7 Len Mecca and # 9 Walter Zissler each earned a bye into the Semi-Finals. In the Quarter-Finals Brian swept Derek in three by scores of 5-0, 4-3, and 6-0. #13 Lee defeated #14 Mike Gershon in a very exciting five game series. Mike won game one 5-4 then dropped game two in overtime 2-1. Lee took the series lead with a 3-2 victory, but then lost game four in overtime 2-1. Lee managed to pull away slightly with a 4-2 game five win to take the series 3-2. For the second straight month Lee and Mike had five game battles with Lee prevailing in both. In the Semi-Finals Len swept Lee by scores of 5-3, 5-4, and 4-2. Walter defeated Brian Sullivan in another exciting five game series. Brian won game one 4-3 in overtime. Walt took games two and three by scores of 6-4 and 6-2 respectively. Brian rebounded to tie the series with a 3-2 game four win. In the end – Walter was a little stronger as he took game five 5-2 to win the series. The two top seeds in the “B” bracket both advanced to the Final. The higher seeded Len Mecca took games one and two by scores of 4-3 and 4-2. Walter responded with a 3-2 game three victory, before succumbing to Mecca in the fourth game 8-3 to give Len the “B” tournament title.

Another great league date is history and the 2022-2023 season has just one more date. The NYTHL Championship is upon us. The season will conclude by crowning its Champion on Saturday June 3, 2023. A record twenty four players have battled it out throughout the year. The Continued growth of the NYTHL is a testament to the quality of the people that participate in it. A great time continues to be had by all. You too can join us. What are you waiting for? GET BEHIND THE RODS AND IN THE GAME! See you at League Date 9 – THE 2022-2023 NYTHL CHAMPIONSHIP!


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