The NYTHL’s Fifth League date of its eighth season took place on Saturday February 11th with fifteen participants from five different states. The sixteenth player was a special guest from Ennismore, Ontario – Dave Reid. Dave is a former NHLer who won two Stanley Cups with the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche. His career spanned over 15 years as he played in 961 games also playing with the Boston Bruins, and Toronto Maple Leafs. The Reider is also one of the NHL Network’s top analysts. He has been with the network since he retired back in 2001. Dave has an unmatched passion for table hockey. Since he started playing competitively just about a year ago, he has applied the same determination and grit he had as a professional ice hockey player to the table hockey board. He has worked tremendously hard on his game and it is no surprise that one year in – he is already a tremendous player. Most important he’s an even better person. His love for all things hockey is infectious. You won’t meet a more humble and respectful person anywhere. With all that said – he is a fierce competitor on the board. Dave Tied for the best record on the day, and advanced to the Semi-Finals in his very first league date. The improvement of Dave’s practice partner Walter Zissler has also been remarkable. Walt had The Vinner on the brink of elimination in their Semi-Final matchup. John Power played tremendously well as he also tied for the lead on the day, but earned the one seed due to having the most wins. Chris D’Andrea and Paul Crescitelli had their usual solid days, and the ageless Anthony Sciacca continued to impress. Let’s review the day.
Round robin play was very competitive as demonstrated by the top of the standings. John Power played very well and as a result of having the most wins earned the number seed. John played his way to a 12-2-1 record for 25 points. The Vinner won a tie break versus Dave Reid via a better goal differential. The second seeded Vinner and third seeded Dave Reid each played their way to 11-1-3 marks also good for 25 points. As amazing as Dave’s debut performance in the league was, equally as impressive is the performance of the fourth seed - the ageless Anthony Sciacca. Tony was 9-3-3 on the day. Chris D’Andrea earned the fifth spot via the goal differential tie-break over sixth seeded Paul Crescitelli. They each played to a 9-4-2 tally. Paulie would be bumped up to the fifth spot in the playoffs because Chris was not able to compete. George Slater finished seventh at 8-4-3. Len Mecca placed eighth at 7-6-2. The much improved Walter Zissler recorded a 7-7-1 day - good for ninth. Larry Durham finished as the tenth seed at 6-8-1. Robert Brancucci and Brian Sullivan placed eleventh and twelfth respectively with identical 4-8-3 records. Rob had the better goal differential. Lee Hendelman 13th, Jerome Ellison (making his way from Philly) 14th, Mike Gershon 15th and Derek Nisbett 16th rounded out the standings. It was on to the playoffs.
This month sixteen players participated, but only fifteen would compete in the playoffs. The top three seeds (John Power, Vinny Catania, and Dave Reid) each earned byes. Because Chris D’Andrea was unable to play, all seeds below him were moved up one spot. First was a best of five play in round. The four seed Anthony Sciacca swept past fifteen seed Derek by scores of 2-0, 2-1, and 4-0. The Five seed Paulie Crescitelli swept fourteen seed Mike Gershon by scores of 9-3, 5-1, and 3-1. Six seed George Slater Swept thirteen seed Jerome Ellison by scores of 2-0, 4-3 and 4-0. Seventh seed Len Mecca swept Lee Hendelman by scores of 7-2, 7-2, and 3-1. Eighth seeded Walter swept eleven seed Brian Sullivan who was unable to fend off hand cramps. Walter won 1-0, 4-1 and 5-2. Ninth seed Larry Durham defeated tenth seeded Robert Brancucci in four. Larry took game one 3-1, then Rob tied the series with a 3-1 victory of his own. Larry then took the lead by winning game three 4-1 and clinched the series with a 5-1 victory. Because there were nine players remaining, the eight seed and victorious Walter Zissler would play the victorious ninth seed Larry Durham in a best of three series. Larry took an early series lead with a game one 4-1 victory. On the brink – Walter fought back to tie the series with a 4-3 victory. With the series tied and a trip to the Quarter-Finals on the line it was only fitting that the deciding game would go to overtime. When it did – it was Walter who came out on top 3-2 to take the series two games to one. It was now on to the Quarter-Finals.
The One seed John Power matched up against the much improved eight seed Walter Zissler. Walt stunned John in game one - winning by a 2-1 margin. J.P. tied the series with a 3-2 triumph. Walt then moved ahead with another 2-1 conquest in game three. To everyone’s surprise Walt did not let John back into the series as he clinched his first berth into the Semi-Finals with a 3-2 win to take the series in four. The second Seed Vinny Catania was able to sweep past long time rival and seventh seeded Len Mecca by scores of 5-1, 5-2 and 7-0. Third seed Dave Reid was making the most out of his debut. He would face his toughest test yet on the day when he faced six seeded George Slater. Dave took game one 4-2 and then followed that up with a 4-1 victory in game two. George battled back in game three, winning by a 3-2 score. The very impressive Reid would then clinch a spot in the Semis by beating Slater in overtime of game four by a 5-4 score. Dave’s outstanding first league date continued. Fourth seed Anthony Sciacca had a rematch with fifth seed Paul Crescitelii. Sciacca defeated Paulie two games to one in the league date two Preliminary Round Playoffs. Sciacca did not have the same success this time. Paulie swept past Anthony by scores of 4-2, 6-2 and 3-2 in overtime advance and close out the Quarters. Let’s review the Semi-Finals.
A very surprising day continued. Two seed Vinny Catania took on the vastly improved eighth seeded Walter Zissler. Vinny took game one 6-3. Walter shocked everyone when he earned his first league victory ever over the Vinner by a 3-2 margin to tie the series. The series then shifted over to Walter’s board which The Vinner admitted he doesn’t play well on. With that said, Walter’s stellar defense continued as he went on to win game three by a 2-1 score, thus leading the series by that same margin. Walt now had the Vinner on the brink. All the pieces were in place for a big upset, but the Vinner put together his best game yet on Walt’s board and responded with a 4-1 win to tie the series. With the series back on the Vinner’s board, the Vinner pulled away in the deciding game five with a 6-1 victory to move to the Finals. The Vinner’s opponent would be decided when three seed Dave Reid faced fifth seed Paulie Crescitelli. Dave dominated game one with a 5-0 shutout. Paulie bounced back with a 4-3 victory in game two to tie the series. A tightly contested game three saw Paulie defeat Dave in overtime 3-2. With a trip to the Finals on the line Paulie would take the series with another overtime victory in game four 4-3. Paulie would face the Vinner for a second time in three months in the League Date Finals. As for Dave it was an unbelievable debut which culminated in a semi-final loss that easily could have gone either way. On to the Finals.
Just two short months ago Paulie Crescitelli shocked everyone when he defeated the Vinner in overtime of game five in the League Date Three Finals. Paulie then was upset and swept by George Slater last month, thus motivating him in this month's playoffs. Crescitelli avenged that loss by sweeping his way through the first two rounds then beating Dave Reid in four. Now the question was could the Vinner avenge his loss to Paulie back in December? The series began, and Vinner took a close game one by a 5-3 score. Catania extended that lead by winning 6-3 in game two. The Vinner who took no chances in the series, closed out Paulie 7-3 to sweep the series in three. It was The Vinner’s fourth league date victory out of five on the year.
In the third place consolation game Dave Reid capped off his successful day by edging past his practice partner Walter Zissler 3-2. In the “B” playoff Quarterfinals #9 Larry and #10 Robert received byes. #12 Lee swept 15 Derek 3-0 games. #13 Jerome swept #14 Mike 3-0 games. In the Semi-Finals #13 Jerome defeated # 9 Larry 3-1 games. #10 Robert defeated #12 Lee 3-1 games. The “B” Final between Robert and Jerome was not played and will be played on a future date.
Another great day of action is in the books. There is clearly a shift in power taking place within the league with so many of the players improving rapidly. Dave Reid will be back at League Date VI. He is putting in the work to become a top player and looks to make his mark here in the NYTHL. J.P., Walter and Paulie continue to improve each week and are forces at the top. Another top player Chris D’Andrea has excelled the last two months, but hasn’t been able to compete in the playoff tournaments. Next month he returns to playoff action. The Ageless Anthony Sciacca, Robert Brancucci, Len Mecca, Larry Durham, Bob D’Addario and George Slater are all hungry veterans. New players to the league like Lee, Derek, Jerome, and Mike all are getting better. The N.Y.T.H.L. continues to grow with quality players and even better people. With the competition intensifying - the fun ramps up to an even higher level. Just one question remains. What are you waiting for? GET BEHIND THE RODS AND IN THE GAME! See you at League Date Six on March 18, 2023!