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      The NYTHL’s third league date of the season took place on Saturday December 9, 2023 at Rab’s on Staten Island.  It featured fourteen competitors from four different states.  Each player competed in a double round robin totaling twenty six games.  Chris D’Andrea announced that he would not compete in the playoffs that followed round robin play.  This meant anyone below him in the round robin standings would move up one spot.  The remaining twelve would compete for the League Date III title.  The top four players would receive byes and the bottom eight would play to see which four winners would join the top four in the “A” Playoff Quarter-Finals.  The four who lost would comprise the “B” Playoffs.  At the conclusion of the double round robin, Vinny “The Vinner” Catania finished in the top spot with a 19-2-5 record.  Len Mecca finished second at 18-7-1 good for 37 points.  John Power also had 37 points (15-4-7), but finished third because his 15 wins were three less than Mecca’s eighteen.  Chris D’Andrea also was 15-7-4.  Steve “The Stein” Bernstein would round out the top five with a 15-6-5 record.  Others to mention are Brian Sullivan who had his best day yet at 12-8-6 and Lee Hendelman 7-18-1 who both are showing marked improvement. It was then on to the Playoffs.

     In the Preliminary – Play in Round, George Slater swept Dennis Simone, Brian Sullivan swept Derek, as did Walter over Phil and Robert over Lee.  In the Best of Five Quarter-Finals one seed Vinny Catania swept eight seed Rob Brancucci.  The two seed Len Mecca after dropping game one, rebounded to take the next three verse seven seed Walter Zissler.  Three seed John Power took down six seed Brian Sullivan three games to one.  Four seed Anthony Sciacca shutout fifth seed George Slater 2-0, then won games two and three in overtime by scores of 3-2 and 4-3 respectively.  The Semi-Finals were set. 

     The one seed Vinny Catania took on the five seed Anthony Sciacca.  Anthony Sciacca had beaten and tied The Vinner earlier in the day during round robin play.  That however did not carry over into the playoffs.  Catania tightened up to sweep Sciacca by scores of 6-2, 3-0, and 3-0.  The Vinner was through to the Final.  In the other Semi-Final the two seed Len Mecca gave three seed John Power all he could handle.  Power fresh off of a League Date Two Championship dropped game one to Mecca in overtime by a 4-3 score.   Facing elimination J.P. showed his true grit by winning game four 6-5 tying the series.  He then took the deciding game five by a 3-2 score thus setting up a rematch of the League Date II Final versus The Vinner.

     J.P. made his season debut at League Date II and left a mark by defeating the Vinner three games to one in last month’s Final.  Power has been one of the league’s best players for a long time and has never played better as he has made his second straight trip to a League Date Final.  The rematch was underway.  The Vinner jumped out to the series lead with a solid 4-1 game one victory.  J.P. rebounded well and tied the series with an overtime 5-4 triumph.  The Vinner put together a solid game three and defeated Power by a 5-2 score.  Game four was a tight one and featured a late goal by The Vinner with six seconds remaining to tie and send the game to overtime.  Then Catania connected on a second touch center tap in goal off the faceoff to win the game 4-3 and take the series three games to one, thus flipping the script from last League Date. 

     In the “B” Playoffs Lee Hendelman swept past Dennis by scores of 6-1, 6-2 and 4-2.  Phil Brancucci also swept his series, defeating Derek by scores of 3-0, 3-0, and 3-1.  The “B” Final was set between Lee Hendelman and Phil Brancucci.  Phil jumped out with a 2-1 game one victory.  Lee then tied the series with a 4-1 win.  Phil jumped back ahead two games to one with an exciting game three overtime victory by a score of 3-2.  Lee stiffened up and squeaked out a 2-1 victory to tie the series in game four.  With all the marbles up for grabs, Lee  then forged ahead with a 3-2  conquest to win the series in five and clinch his first ever “B” tournament victory.  Lee is showing some steady improvement as is Phil who has only a few league dates under his belt.

     Another exciting league date is in the books and another calendar year is history.  The league continues to grow and the competition continues to heat up.  With great games to play and great people to compete on them – what are you waiting for?  Start the New Year off right and get behind the rods.  Join the NYTHL.  Like so many others, you will be glad you did.  See you at League Date IV on Saturday January 20, 2024.  Happy New Year and God Bless!






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