The NYTHL held its year end Championship this past Saturday June 3, 2023. It was the ninth League date to close out the league’s eighth season, which took place at Rab’s in Staten Island, New York. Seventeen participants from four different states fought ferociously for the right to be called this season’s NYTHL Champion. The day had a few surprises – none any bigger than Bob D’Addario’s magic run all the way to the Finals. Fred Tinao and George Slater also performed well as they each made a run to the Semi-Finals. At the end of the day – it was Vinny Catania who won his fifth consecutive title and sixth in seven years. Anthony Sciacca took home the “B” title and awards were given for rookie of the year, most improved player and sportsmanship. Lets breakdown and recap the day.
Seventeen players were present at the Championship, fifteen of whom were eligible to compete for the League’s top “A” championship. A final round robin was held consisting of sixteen games. Those results were added to the cumulative standings for the year and each player was then seeded by their year’s winning percentage. The overall one seed would receive a bye into the Quarter-Finals with the remaining fourteen battling to see which seven would join the one seed. The seven who lose in the preliminary round will play for the league’s “B” title. The remaining two players Dennis Simone and Phil Brancucci were each granted a wild card to also compete in the B tournament for a total of nine. Before the play commenced – Walter Zissler was awarded the league’s most improved player. The sportsmanship award went to Derek Nisbett and rookie of the year went to Fred Tinao. It was now time. The last round robin of the year then commenced. League Champion Vinny Catania led the field with an 11-1-4 record which added to his long ago clinched one seed. Rookie of the year Fred Tinao was again impressive as he recorded a 12-3-1 record which gave him the seventh seed. Chris D’Andrea’s 12-4-0 day catapulted him into the second seed overall. The Bob “O” – Bob D’Addario who was fresh off two very impressive league date’s in a row, continued his fine play by finishing 12-3-1 which put him as the six seed. Paulie Crescitelli was 10-3-3 which gave him the league’s third seed on the year. Brian Sullivan picked a wonderful time to play his best table hockey since entering the NYTHL. He was 10-4-2 and ended his season as the eleven seed. George Slater had another solid day with plenty of ties. George was 7-3-6, good for the fourth seed overall. Slater finished with a league high 38 ties. League veteran Len Mecca had another solid day. He recorded a 9-4-3 record to land him the fifth seed overall. Walter Zissler’s 7-4-5 day propelled him up and over the 500 mark for the year. The league’s most improved player finished the year two games over and gave him the ninth seed. The Ageless Anthony Sciacca finished 8-6-2 and ended the season as the eighth seed. Rookie Robert Brancucci continued to show improvement with a 4-8-4 record giving him the tenth seed. Larry Durham had a down day and sunk to the twelfth seed. Rookie Phil Brancucci finished 4-11-1 at his second ever league date. He shows tremendous promise and will no doubt along with his brother Robert – do well in the seasons to come. Lee Hendleman continues to progress as he earned three more wins and finished as the thirteen seed. Mike Gershon recorded three wins and was the fourteen seed. Dennis Simone did not win at his second league date, but did record two ties. He along with Phil B. were not eligible for the “A” Playoffs but would compete for the “B” title. Finally Derek Nisbett who did win his second straight sportsmanship award also didn’t record a victory, managing only a tie finishing him as the fifteenth seed. It was now time to crown a Champion for the year.
With Vinny Catania earning a bye as the one seed, the fourteen remaining players did battle in a best of seven series to see who would join him in the Quarter-Finals. Those who lost would compete for the “B’ title. Two seed Chris D’Andrea shut out fifteen seed Derek Nisbett for the series. Chris won by scores of 6-0, 9-0, 3-0 and 8-0 to move on. Three seed Paulie Crescitelli also swept past his opponent - Fourteenth seed Mike Gershon by scores of 4-1, 6-2, 2-1 and 8-0. Fourth seed George Slater clamped his “D” on thirteen seed Lee Hendelman, sweeping him by scores of 2-0, 5-1, 5-0, 4-1. Fifth seed Len Mecca swept twelfth seed cross-town rival and practice partner Larry Durham. Len took the series by scores of 6-2, 5-3, 6-5 and 4-2. In a battle of two hot players, six seed Bob D’Addario jumped to a three games to none lead on eleven seed Brian Sullivan by scores of 6-5, 3-2 and 4-3. Brian then battled back to take the next two, by scores of 5-2 and 3-2. The Bob O then closed him out with a decisive 6-1 victory to win the series in six. Seventh seed rookie of the year Fred Tinao took on the league’s other top rookie – ten seed Robert Brancucci. Fred proved the voters right by sweeping Rob by scores of 5-4 in overtime, 3-0, 6-1 and 3-0 to continue his incredible first season. Eighth seed Anthony Sciacca battled the most improved player of the year nine seeded Walter Zissler. Walter took game one 2-1. Anthony tied the series with a 5-3 win, and then dropped game three to Walt by a 3-0 score. Anthony again tied the series in game four winning 2-1. Walter then took the lead by winning game five 3-0, then closing the door on Anthony for good with a hard fought 3-2 victory to win the series in six and move into the Quarter-Finals. Let’s review the Quarter-Final round.
The One seed Vinny Catania matched up against the only lower seed to win his series – nine seed Walter Zissler. The Vinner took game one 4-2 and then did not allow a goal for the rest of the series. The Vinner won the final three games by identical 3-0 scores to sweep the series in four. Two seed Chris D’Andrea then faced super rookie seven seed Fred Tinao. Chris took game one 4-2. Fred then tied the series with a 4-3 victory. Fred shut out Chris in impressive fashion 5-0 in game three, then extended the series lead to 3-1 when he won game four 4-3. Chris didn’t retreat as he battled to win game five with an impressive 5-0 shutout of his own. Fred then flipped the script by closing the series with another impressive shutout 4-0 to win in six and advance to the Semis. Three seed Paul Crescitelli then took on the hot six seed Bob D’Addario. The Bob O made the Finals two months ago at League date seven and the semis at league date eight. He recorded victories by sweep over Mike, Robert B., and George at League Date 7 then swept Len and defeated Chris D’Andrea in five at League Date 8, before falling at both dates to The Vinner. D’Addario’s solid play gave him the confidence he needed as he entered his matchup with Paulie. The series was all Bob O as he made Paulie his most recent victim by sweep. Bob won in decisive fashion by scores of 4-1, 2-1, 6-0 and 6-3 to advance. The final Spot in the Semis was decided when fourth seed George Slater powered past five seed Len Mecca in six. Len took games one and two by scores of 3-2 and 2-1. George then swept the next four 5-3, 3-1, 7-2 and 2-1 in overtime to advance. On to the Semi-Finals.
With a trip to the Finals on the line the Semis were underway. The League Champion took on the league’s top rookie. The Vinner took games one and two by scores of 3-0 and 3-1. Fred then took game three in overtime 3-2. The Vinner pulled away by winning the final two games 6-3 and 3-1 to qualify for his eighth consecutive Final. Fred’s quest for a title was finally over, but a remarkable season it was. He is already a top player, and it will be fun to see what he accomplishes in the years to come. In the other half of the bracket it was long time rivals George Slater and Bob D’Addario doing battle. The Bob O took the first two by scores of 3-2 and 4-1. George won game three 2-1, but failed to tie the series when he dropped game four by a 4-1 margin. George refused to go quietly as he shutout Bob in game five 2-0 to pull within one in the series. The Bob O who always laid claim to being the league’s second best player for years now – was now finally able to officially make that claim as he defeated George 4-1 in game six to qualify for his first ever NYTHL Championship.
The Vinner and Bob D’Addario have been practice partners for several years, but recently the meetings have been few and far between. The two men have literally met thousands of times and are very familiar with each other and their style of play. Since the league’s inception – the Vinner has been in every Championship winning five of the seven (four straight). This would be Bob’s first ever appearance and the odds makers had him as a distant long shot. The Vinner jumped out to a 2-0 lead in game one within twenty seconds, but the Bob O battled back. The game was actually tied until the Vinner slammed in a rightwing to center tip in that found its way into the net with just eight seconds remaining. The goal gave the winner a narrow 4-3 victory. The Vinner had less trouble in game two winning 4-1. The two men then switched over to Bob’s choice of board and exchanged goals all the way to 4-4 before the Vinner pulled away for a late 6-4 win. In game four, D’Addario jumped out to a 1-0 lead about 90 seconds in, but the Vinner tied it with 2:18 remaining then hit another rightwing to center shot with just 32 seconds remaining to earn the series sweep. The Vinner’s drive for five straight titles was complete. It was his sixth championship in seven years. For the Bob O – he had earned the respect of many as he battled his way into the Finals. Although a sweep, each game was hard fought and closely contested. The Bob O will no doubt be telling the story of the 22-23 season for years to come.
The third place series was held between four seed George Slater and Seven seed Fred Tinao. Fred jumped out by winning games one and two by scores of 3-2 in overtime and 7-1. Slater who would not be denied hardware again in a consolation round then took it to Fred by winning the series by sweeping the next four games by scores of 3-2, 4-1, 5-4 and 4-3 to earn George Third place honors on the year. Fred in his rookie year finished an impressive fourth. In the “B” Playoffs the seven preliminary round fatalities were joined by rookies Dennis Simone and Phil Brancucci. The two lowest seeds Derek and Dennis would play an eight versus nine seed best of three play in round to join the other seven in the Quarter-Finals. Derek Nisbett earned his first ever series win by sweeping the best of three in two over Dennis by scores of 2-1 and 4-2. For his troubles Derek then took on one seed Anthony Sciacca in the Quarter-Final round. The ageless Sciacca swept past Derek by scores of 5-3, 2-0, 2-1 (OT), and 8-0. The two seed in the “B” Robert Brancucci took on seven seed Mike Gershon. Robert also swept past Mike by scores of 3-1, 2-1, 1-0 and 6-5 in overtime. Three seed Brian Sullivan took on six seed Lee Hendelman in what was quite a series. Brian took game one by a 4-2 score. Lee rebounded to take the next two by scores of 4-3 and 5-4. Sullivan then tied the series with a 4-2 win in game four, and then repeated that performance with a 4-2 win in game five. Hendelman battled back to tie the series in game six with a 4-3 win. With a trip to the “B” Semi-Finals on the line, Brian Sullivan squeaked out a 4-3 win in game seven to win the series by the same score to advance. Four seed Larry Durham took on five seed Phil Brancucci. Phil took game one 4-3, then won game two 5-4 for a 2-0 series lead. Larry earned his first win of the series in overtime of game three by a 4-3 margin. Durham then tied the series with a blowout 7-2 triumph. Phil retook the series lead with another overtime victory 3-2. Larry again tied the series with a decisive 4-1 victory. With the series on the line and tied at three, it was Phil - in only his second league date who advanced thanks to a 3-1 victory to seal the series. The Semis were then set. The aforementioned Phil then took on Anthony Sciacca. Tony lost game one 2-1, then swept the next four by scores of 5-0, 6-2, 2-1 (OT) and 4-3 (OT). Brian Sullivan battled Robert Brancucci in the other half of the bracket. Unfortunately Rob would meet the same fate as his brother by losing in the same round by sweep. Sullivan took the series by scores of 3-1, 3-2, 4-1 and 3-2 in overtime. The “B” Championship Final was set. Anthony Sciacca who played so well all year long would battle Brian Sullivan who had his best day ever. Anthony Sciacca proved to be a little too much for Brian as he swept him by scores of 5-1, 2-0, 4-2 and 2-1. This was Anthony’s first ever year end “B” title.
Another tremendous season is now league history. The 2022-2023 campaign saw 24 people compete in nine league dates. The Brancucci brothers, Dennis Simone and Fred Tinao are some of the new bright stars of the league. Even the two time Stanley Cup Champion Dave Reid (an excellent table hockey player) stopped by for a couple of league dates and hopefully next season will play in even more. Dave has the table hockey bug as do most of the players in the NYTHL. One more year is in the books. You may not have been part of our past history, but you too can join us and shape your own. As always the news story ends with the same question. What are you waiting for? GET BEHIND THE RODS AND IN THE GAME! See you in the 2023-2024 season which starts in October.