The NYTHL’s Seventh League date of its eighth season took place this past Saturday April 18th with fifteen participants from four different states. It featured the debut of Dennis Simone and the return of Rob Howard for just his second ever league date, his first in four years. Several players had good days and two familiar faces met in the Finals. Let’s review the day.
Fifteen players meant that each player would play fourteen 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. When all was said and done – League Champion Vinny Catania ran the table. He led the pack with a 14-0-0 record to earn the top spot and bye. George Slater finished second at 11-2-1. Bob D’ Addario was just a point behind 11-3-0 earning him the third spot. Paulie Crescitelli was 10-4-0 landing him fourth. The ageless Anthony Sciacca turned in another solid performance, finishing fifth with a 9-4-1 mark. Robert Brancucci also finished 9-4-1, but lost the goal differential tie-breaker. Len Mecca had the same amount of points as Anthony and Rob with an 8-3-3 record, but the one less win placed him into the seventh spot. Walter Zissler continues his improvement as he finished eighth with a 7-5-2 day. Larry Durham was ninth at 6-8-0. He was one point better than Brian who finished tenth at 5-8-1. Lee Hendleman also has shown improvement. He finished eleventh at 4-9-1. Rob Howard and Derek Nisbett each had a win and two ties, but Rob’s better goal differential earned him the higher twelfth seed. Mike Gerson was fourteenth with a win and a tie. Dennis Simone of Staten Island, New York made his debut. He did earn his first point with a tie and showed lots of promise. He rounded out the standings in the fifteenth spot. 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. George Slater Swept Dennis Simone. Bob D’Addario Swept Mike Gershon. Thirteen Seed Derek Nisbett after losing game one to four seed Paulie Crescitelli, earned his first ever playoff win. Derek tied the series with 1-0 Shutout. Unfortunately he was shutout in the final two games and lost the series in four. Anthony Sciacca swept Rob Howard. Robert Brancucci defeated Lee Hendelman in four games. Len Mecca defeated Brian Sullivan in four as did Walter Zissler who defeated Larry Durham. It was now time for the Quarter-Finals.
The One seed Vinny Catania matched up against the improved eighth seed Walter Zissler. The Vinner earned a hard-fought sweep over Walter by scores of 7-3, 5-1 and 1-0 in overtime. The two seed George Slater defeated the seven seed Len Mecca in a three game sweep by scores of 6-1, 4-2 and 7-5. Third seed Bob D’ Addario also swept his series. He took down sixth seed Rob Brancucci by scores of 5-4, 3-1 and 2-1. In the Final Quarter-Final series the fifth seed Anthony and four seed Paul Crescitelli met for a third time this season in the playoffs. They each had a victory to their credit. This series figured to be close and it was. Paulie took game one 4-2. Anthony returned the favor with a 4-2 win of his own. Paulie then won game three rather easily 4-1. Sciacca struck back to tie the series with a 2-1 overtime victory in game four. Not putting Anthony away in overtime would come back to bite Paulie as Sciacca won game five with a 1-0 shutout to win the series in five and move into the Semi-Finals. It was now on to the Final Four.
The top seeded Vinny Catania swept past five seed Anthony Sciacca by scores of 4-1, 4-1 and 5-3. Two seed George Slater once again met his rival three seed Bob D’ Addario. These two have had too many battles to count, but haven’t met in a while in the playoffs. Both players won all six of their playoff games to get to the Semis. Something had to give and thanks to the stellar play of Bob D’ Addario it was George who gave in. The Bob O continued a stellar defensive day and mixed in some good offense. He took down George in a sweep by scores of 6-3, 5-3 and 5-3. D’ Addario would meet longtime practice partner Vinny Catania in the Finals.
Both the Vinny Catania and Bob D’ Addario were rolling heading into the Finals. The Vinner had won all twenty games he played on the day. Bob had won all nine of his playoff games and twelve straight overall. Once again something had to give. This time it was the Bob O. The Vinner took game one fairly easily 4-1. Bob took a 3-2 lead in to the final minute of game two but was tied late and then lost in overtime 4-3. D’ Addario was then down two games to none. He was once again given an opportunity to hold a 3-2 lead, but The Vinner once again tied the game with 1:36 left to force a second straight overtime. The two exchanged shots back and forth, but at the one minute mark Catania slammed home a rightwing to center pass for the 4-3 win to take the series in a sweep three games to none. It capped a perfect 23-0 day for Catania, and was Vinny’s sixth league date title on the season. Not lost was the great effort by Bob who made an impressive run into the Finals and played well in the Championship. He also had a combined record of 20-6-0 on the day.
The third place game/series was not played, thus George Slater finished third by virtue of the standings. In the “B” Playoffs #9 Larry Durham earned a bye into the Semi-Finals. In the Quarter-Finals Brian swept Dennis in three by scores of 4-3 OT, 4-1, and 3-1. Lee dropped games one and two to Mike by scores of 3-1 and 3-2. Hendelman then came roaring back to defeat Mike by sweeping the next three games - by scores of 5-3, 4-3 OT, and 6-2. Rob Howard and Derek Nisbett played an extremely competitive Quarter-Final. Rob took game one in overtime 3-2. He then also won game two via a 3-0 shutout. Derek fought back to win game three 3-2 in overtime. Howard then took the series with a game four 2-1 victory. In the Semi-Finals #9 Larry swept past # 12 Rob Howard by scores of 4-3, 4-1 and 5-4. #10 Brian swept #11 Lee by tallies of 7-2, 7-2, and 7-3. In the “B” Championship #9 Larry dropped the first two to # 10 Brian by scores of 4-3 and 4-3. Facing elimination, Larry orchestrated a wild comeback as he rallied to win the next two by identical scores of 4-3 and 4-3. With the series on the line Larry took down Brian 4-2 to win the series 3-2 and earn his second “B” title this year.
Another great league date is in the books. The league’s top players are continuously under attack. Fortunately the league continues to expand as does its parity. This has led to great competition and new rivalries. Old rivalries just intensify. What never changes is the great camaraderie and loads of fun had by all. It’s about time you join us. What are you waiting for? GET BEHIND THE RODS AND IN THE GAME! See you at League Date Eight on Saturday May 13, 2023!