CATANIA SWEEPS WAY TO THIRD CONSECUTIVE NYTHL CHAMPIONSHIP, FOURTH IN FIVE YEARS


The NYTHL’s sixth season concluded this past Saturday at Rab’s Country Lanes in Staten Island, New York. Fourteen players from five states competed in a round robin that totaled 13 games then a series of best of seven playoffs. Gary Nicholls made his way from North Carolina to represent the NCTHL. Paul Crescitelli who represented the MVTHL and Brian Sullivan made their way from Massachusetts. Joe Gurney traveled from Pennsylvania and the rest of the league’s competitors from the New York / New Jersey area battled for this year’s New York Table Hockey League Championship. When the round robin concluded, those games were added into the year’s cumulative standings with the top two players receiving byes. The remaining 12 would play six series with the 6 winners joining the top two to create this year’s Quarterfinals. The six who lost would form this year’s “B” tournament. Let’s review the day.

A thirteen game round robin was all that was left before the start of the playoffs. Although it wasn’t very many games, it was enough for one change in the standings. A man who many feel could be the biggest threat to Vinny “The Vinner” Catania’s NYTHL Championship reign was John Power. He certainly proved that he came ready to play as he ripped through the competition during round robin play. Power finished 12-0-1 which was tops on the day. It moved him ahead of George Slater in the yearlong standings as the new five seed. Power won the round robin which included handing the Vinner a 5-4 defeat with just two seconds left to play. Power nearly had a perfect round robin, but had to settle for a tie versus Len Mecca in his final game before the playoffs. The Vinner finished second at 10-1-2, but had long ago clinched the league’s top seed on the year. Catania would receive a bye in this year’s playoffs. Len Mecca finished 7-1-5 suffering just one loss to the Vinner. Mecca secured the third seed for the year. Chris D’Andrea finished 9-4-0 on the day which was good for fourth. Chris’s performance was more than enough to solidify his second seeded record for the year. He would receive the second and final bye in this year’s playoffs. Gary Nicholls had his best effort yet finishing 6-5-2 thus earning him the twelfth seed. Paul Crescitelli also had his best day recording a 5-4-4 record which gave him the year’s eight seed. Bob D’Addario who already had the four seed on the year locked up, finished 6-6-1 good for seventh on the day. Anthony Sciacca wrapped up the year’s seven seed by recording a 5-5-3 mark. George Slater struggled during round robin play, going 6-7-0 which opened the door for John Power to pass him in the yearlong standings. Slater was now the six seed on the year. Larry Durham finished tenth on the day and on the year. He went 4-8-1 on the day. Phil Lynch who was hoping to finish above 500 for the first time came up short also going 4-8-1 which dropped him two games below and earned him the eleven seed on the year. Brian Sullivan finished twelfth on the day and ninth for the year. Joe Gurney finished 13th on the day and year and Mike Gershon who made his long awaited debut following the Covid Pandemic finished last on the day and would round out the payoffs as a vote in and fourteenth seed.

The Preliminary round was now set for the 2020-2021 NYTHL playoffs. Top seeded Vinny Catania and second seed Chris D’Andrea each earned first round byes. Third seed Len Mecca swept Fourteen seed Mike Gershon by scores of 4-1, 5-1, 4-0 and 5-0. Four Seed Bob D’Addario swept past thirteen seed Joe Gurney. D’Addario won all four by close scores of 5-3, 3-2, 2-1 and 4-3 respectively with the final two wins coming in overtime. A red Hot fifth seeded John Power swept past twelfth seed Gary Nicholls 4-1, 6-2, 4-0 and 4-3. Sixth seed George Slater took on this year’s most improved player eleven seed Phil Lynch. Phil took game one 5-2. Slater then bared down sweeping the next four by scores of 1-0, 4-1, 2-1 and 2-1 with those final two coming in the extra session. Seventh Seed Anthony Sciacca defeated ten seed Larry Durham in six games. Sciacca won game one 4-2. Larry then took games two and three by scores of 2-0 and 4-3 in overtime. Anthony tied the series with a 3-1 win in game four. He took the series winning the last two games 6-3 and 3-1. The last spot in the Quarter-Finals was filled when Eight seed Paul Crescitelli swept nine seed Brian Sullivan. Paul took game one 2-0 then took a pivotal game two in overtime by a 3-2 score. Sullivan never recovered dropping the Final two by scores of 2-1 and 5-4. For the six who won it was on to the Quarter-finals. For the six who lost – they would compete for the “B” title with Larry Durham and Brian Sullivan receiving first round byes.

The NYTHL Quarter-Finals were underway. Top seed Vinny Catania met eight seed rookie of the year Paul Crescitelli. Game one was very close with Catania taking down Paul 4-3 in overtime. The Vinner seemed to figure Paul out as the series went on defeating him 6-1, 7-3 and 6-1 to sweep the upstart Crescitelli in four games. Paul will no doubt be a force in the league for years to come. Chris D’Andrea swept past seven seed Anthony Sciacca by scores of 3-1, 6-1 and 3-2 in overtime. Chris finished Anthony off with a neat 5-0 shutout to catapult him into the semi-finals. Third seed Len Mecca had his hands full with six seed George Slater. George took game one 3-2 in overtime. George then won game two 4-3. Down two games – Mecca rallied to tie the series with 4-3 and 3-2 victories. Slater pulled back ahead in game five with a 3-2 win. With a chance to tie the series, Len Mecca was upended in overtime 4-3 by a victorious Slater who pulled off the biggest upset of the day. The final spot in the Semis was determined when four seed Bob D’Addario was defeated in six games by five seed John Power. Bob took game one 3-2. Power took the next two games by scores of 7-3 and 5-3 for a two games to one series lead. Bob tied the series with a 4-3 overtime win. In the end, Power proved to be too much for the “Bob O” clamping down and defeating him by scores of 3-0 and 3-1 to move on and end D’Addario’s season.

One seed Vinny Catania and six seed George Slater met for the right to advance to the NYTHL Championship. The Vinner took game one 4-1. Slater then proved to be a formidable opponent keeping the games low scoring. Catania won Game two 4-3 in overtime then won games three and four in regulation by the same 4-3 scores. The Vinner who has qualified for the final in every year of the league’s existence was back again for a sixth consecutive year. The Vinner’s opponent was decided when two seed Chris D’Andrea met five seed John Power. Power took game one with a solid 4-1 victory. D’Andrea tied the series in overtime with a 3-2 triumph. Power pulled back ahead with a 4-3 victory. He then took a 3-1 series lead with a 3-1 win. Chris kept his season alive with a 3-1 victory of his own in game five. In the end Power proved to be too strong winning game six 4-3 and the series four games to two to earn the right to face Catania for the Championship.

In the matchup everyone wanted to see – The top seeded Vinner seeking his third straight championship and fourth in five years took on a red hot fifth seed John Power. The Vinner struck early and often winning game one 5-1. The Vinner held off J.P. in game two winning 4-3 for a 2-0 series lead. With the series shifting over to John Power’s Canadiens board which played much faster than Catania’s Islanders board. Vinny used his defense to slow down J.P. winning game three by a 4-1 score. The Vinner clinched a sweep of the championship with a goal in the final minute to defeat Power 2-1 thus earning the Vinner the 2020-2021 NYTHL Championship. In doing so it was Catania's twenty first consecutive league date victory. Vinny also finished the final two league dates with a 52-1-3 record which included both round robin and playoff games.

Chris D’Andrea defeated George Slater in six games for third place in the consolation series. D’Andrea took game one 4-2. George won games two and three by 2-1 and 8-4 victories. Chris then went on to sweep the final three games by scores of 4-3, 3-0 and 3-2 in overtime to secure the series.

In the “B tournament Phil Lynch swept Mike Gershon 4-1, 6-1, 6-1 and 4-2. Gary Nicholls defeated Joe Gurney four games to one. Joe took game one 4-2. Gary then won the next four 3-2, 3-2, 3-0 and 5-1. In the Semis fresh off a bye Brian Sullivan defeated Gary Nicholls in game one 4-1. That however was the end of the line for Sullivan who dropped the next four to Gary by close scores of 2-1, 3-2, 2-1 and 5-4. Larry Durham took advantage of his bye and swept past Phil Lynch by scores of 7-2, 3-2, 4-2 and 4-1. Durham’s victory over the year’s most improved player Phil Lynch was a surprise to many. A very interesting “B” Final pitted Gary Nicholls versus Larry Durham. Larry jumped out to a 3-0 series lead when he won by scores of 4-3, 5-0 and 3-2. Nicholls fought hard to make it a series by rebounding with 5-4 and 5-2 victories of his own. Nicholls could have tied the series, but it was Larry who scored in overtime of game six to earn the 2020-2021 NYTHL “B” Championship. It was a great way for Durham to end the year.

With six seasons in the books, the NYTHL continues to exemplify why it is the best league of its kind. With great venues, high character competitors and an unparalleled love of table hockey it is no surprise why the league continues to grow and is thoroughly enjoyed by its players. With a new season beginning in October 2021 – what are you waiting for? Get on the board and GET IN THE GAME!