The New York Table Hockey League’s seventh season concluded this past Saturday at Rab’s Country Lanes in Staten Island, New York. With thirteen players from four states competing for the title there was no shortage of surprises. The day was chock full of great action! The players competed in a twelve game round robin followed by a Championship Playoff tournament comprised of all best of seven rounds. When all was said and done Vinny Catania stood alone on top of New York’s Table Hockey mountain. It was the Vinner’s fourth consecutive title and fifth in six years. We will review how this came to be.
The month of June means playoff time in the NYTHL. League Date Nine featured a Single round robin consisting of twelve games. Those games once completed were added to the year-long standings, as seeds were determined by overall winning percentage. With New York Table Hockey League Icon John Power unable to compete, it enabled others to move up in the year end seeding. For some it was business as usual. For others who had clinched their positions, they used it as an opportunity to ready themselves for the upcoming playoffs. League power Chris D’Andrea mastered the field as he finished in the top spot with an 8-1-3 record. That cemented the overall two seed for D’Andrea. League veteran Len Mecca finished just one point off the pace with an 8-2-2 mark. That locked Mecca into the three seed. League Champion Vinny Catania earned an 8-3-1 record on the day, having the one seed overall already locked up. The most improved player of the year Paul Crescitelli also finished 8-3-1 thus locking him into the year-end four seed. The Chief capped off his impressive inaugural season with a 7-4-1 mark which locked him into the fifth seed. Larry Durham had one of his best round robins – also finishing 7-4-1. Larry defeated The Vinner earlier in the day as well as Len Mecca. Durham was locked into the nine seed. Rookie of the year Arnie Layton finished 7-5. He earned his first win over Catania earlier in the day and finished the season as the ten seed. George Slater finished 5-5-2 as did Bob D’Addario. They were the six and seven seeds respectively. The amazing, ageless Anthony Sciacca finished 4-7-1 thus locking him into the year’s eight seed. Lee Hendelman continues his gradual improvement. He earned three wins on the day and finished as the eleven seed. Mike Gerson struggled along with Derek Nesbett. They each earned just one tie and were the twelve and thirteen seeds respectively. Derek did take home the Sciacca Sportsmanship award for the year. With the seeds set it was time to crown a Champion.
With Thirteen players in attendance, the one, two and three seeds for the year earned a bye. That meant Vinny Catania, Chris D’Andrea and Len Mecca would wait as the remaining ten would each play a best of seven series to see which five winners would join them in the Quarter-Finals of the “A” playoffs. The five who lost would move down to the “B” tournament. There were no surprises as Paul Crescitelli swept past Derek as did The Chief over Mike. Bob after dropping game one, came back to win the next four over Rookie of the year Arnie Layton. In similar fashion Anthony Sciacca dropped game one then took four straight defeating Larry Durham. George swept Lee in the last preliminary round series. On to the Quarter-Finals
The one seed Vinny Catania had a tough Quarter-Final draw when he was opposed by his longtime nemesis and master of the box defense Anthony Sciacca. Tony had Catania down by two with just seconds left to go in game one. The Vinner scored with thirteen seconds left, then scored again just eight seconds later tying the game with only five seconds remaining to force overtime. Catania won the faceoff and never let Sciacca touch the puck as he scored quickly winning game one and never looking back. Catania swept past Sciacca by scores of 4-3 in OT, 4-1, 3-2 and 6-1 to move on. Two seed Chris D’Andrea won game one versus seven seed Bob D’Addario by a score of 3-2. The Bob O returned the favor, defeating Chris 3-2 in OT to tie the series. D’Addario followed that with another OT victory in game three, winning 4-3, to take a 2-1 series lead. Chris D’Andrea turned things up a notch and displayed to everyone why he is a top player in the NYTHL. Chris won the next three games by scores of 5-1, 4-0 and 3-2 to advance to the Semi-Finals. Third seed Len Mecca then faced Six seed George Slater. Slater surprised Mecca in game one defeating him 6-3. Slater followed that up winning game two by a 4-1 margin. When Mecca rebounded to take game three by a big 6-1 margin, most thought order was restored and Len would then take over the series. George had other plans. Slater’s excellent defense and his use of various speeds on offense proved to be too much for Len. Slater took the next two games by scores of 4-1 and 3-2, thus completing the upset and winning the series in just five games. In the final Quarter-Final series, it was a battle of the League’s two fastest rising stars. The very impressive four seed Paul Crescitelli would take on first year sensation and fifth seed - The Chief. It was a very tough draw for the league’s most improved player, but Paulie handled it well. Crescitelli took the first three hard-fought games by scores of 4-3, 5-4 in OT and 2-1. The Chief won in another nail biting game by a 2-1 margin of his own. Paul then defeated the Chief 5-3 thus giving Crescitelli the series in five, four games to one. The Semi-Finals were set.
Longtime friends Vinny Catania and Cinderella Man George Slater once again would do battle to see who would advance to this year’s Championship. The Vinner opened the series with a convincing 6-2 victory. George showed resolve coming back to force overtime in game two, but eventually fell to Catania by a 3-2 score. The series moving over to George’s favorite board was not enough to prevent Catania from taking the final two games by scores of 5-2 and 5-3 thus completing a sweep of the series. The win moved Catania into his seventh Straight Championship Final and an opportunity to capture his fourth straight Championship and fifth in six years. In the opposite Semi-Final It was two seed Chris D’Andrea versus four seed Paul Crescitelli. This series figured to be close as these two are some of the league’s brightest stars. As it played out – the series was an instant classic. Paul opened things up with a thrilling 1-0 victory in Overtime. That game set the tone for the entire series. These two men each played hard, tenacious defense, as every goal truly had to be earned. Each player throughout the series gave nothing to the other, and in turn it was a very entertaining series to watch. Chris tied the series with a 3-1 victory. Paul retook the lead with a 6-5 game three triumph. Chris retied the series with a 2-1 victory. Paul again took the lead in the series with a 3-1 victory of his own. Facing elimination, there was no margin for error as D’Andrea managed to stave off elimination with a very exciting 4-3 overtime victory to tie the series. It was then down to one game for a trip to the cup as the two did battle late into the final game tied at one. D’Andrea finally went ahead then scored again in the game’s final seconds to earn his first ever trip into the League’s Championship series.
The NYTHL’s Seventh Championship featured the one seed Vinny Catania versus the two Seed Chris D’Andrea. Either The Vinner would win his Fourth title in a row (5th in 6 years) or Chris would hoist the Cup for the first time. Either way both players are worthy of being the League’s Champion. The series kicked off with the Vinner taking a two goal lead. Chris would then score and they would keep trading goals. The Vinner carried a one goal lead into the final seconds before scoring with just a second left to earn a 6-4 victory. Catania began to pull away, winning game two 5-1. The series moving onto D’Andrea’s home board didn’t help as the Vinner’s defense seemed to be able to slow down Chris’s high powered offense. The Vinner won game three 4-2. Down 3-0 in the series, D’Andrea faced a tough task of having to now win four games in a row. At this point The Vinner seemed to be rolling and he didn’t want to give D’Andrea any opportunity to climb back into the series. With that said Catania played his most complete game yet as he won game four 6-1 to earn the sweep of the series and more importantly the 2021-2022 NYTHL Championship. In doing so The Vinner finished the playoffs a perfect 12-0.
Paul Crescitelli then played George Slater in the third place Consolation series. In what was another great series, Paul took back to his home in Massachusetts the league’s third place trophy as he defeated Slater four games to two. The difference in the series was the two overtime victories in games one and three for Paul. Crescitelli who organizes and represents the MVTHL now has a Most Improved Player and Third Place Trophy to proudly display. As for George, his deep run into the playoffs was a good way to end his year.
The five players who lost in the preliminary round then played for the “B” Playoff Championship. In Quarter-Final action, nine seed Larry Durham, ten seed Arnie Layton, and 11 seed Lee Hendelman each received a bye. Twelfth seed Mike would play thirteen seed Derek to see who advances to the Semi-Finals. Mike defeated Derek in six games by a 4-2 margin. Not all was lost for Derek, as he earned his first two victories in quite some time and displayed vast improvement since acquiring a game. Larry then defeated Mike in the Semi-Finals, sweeping him in four games. Rookie of the year Arnie Layton took out Lee Hendelman in five games, winning the series 4-1 games to advance to the “B” Championship versus Defending “B” Champion Larry Durham. Arnie continued his dominant play against Larry as he swept him in four straight by scores of 1-0, 5-2, 5-2 and 3-2 to wrestle that title from Larry. Like Crescitelli, Arnie was a medal winner and a trophy winner on the day. Arnie has overcome a lot of personal tragedies as he debuted with the league this year. He is not only an excellent player, but a great help in setting up and breaking down each league date. He has quickly become and valued friend and opponent to everyone in the league.
Another great year is now part history. As time goes on existing rivalries grow more intense as new one’s form. The Chief and Arnie Layton were tremendous additions to the league as Paul Crescitelli was last year. They came into the league as already very good players. Next year The Chief will bring some new players with him. Having seen and played some of these guys, I can tell you that they too are very good players and like The Chief will enjoy immediate success. Derek and Lee also were new additions. Although they lacked the experience of Paul, Arnie and The Chief, they are just as determined to improve. A record twenty-three people competed in the league this year. With great people, players, and a great venue with the best games to play on - What are you waiting for? Come on down and check out the action, or better yet – jump right in. GET BEHIND THE RODS AND GET IN THE GAME! You will be glad you did. Next season kicks off in October 2022 with the date TBA. For more info go to www.nythl.com. See you next year!