The NYTHL’s Sixth league date of the 2020-2021 season kicked off this past Saturday - returning to Rab’s Country Lanes in Staten Island, New York after a yearlong absence. All Covid 19 Safety Protocols were in effect as 13 players from five states competed in a double round robin that totaled 24 games. Bob Cuozzo from Connecticut and Joe Gurney from Pennsylvania each made their season debut and turned in Impressive performances. Paul Crescitelli’s cast was removed and he was back to near one hundred percent. As a result, he turned in his first winning league date in just his fourth try. Chris D’Andrea, John Power and George Slater joined Vinny Catania in the Semi-Finals. In the end The Vinner would capture his eighteenth consecutive League Date title. Let’s review the day.
This month’s format had all players qualifying for the Playoffs. The top four seeds received byes and the bottom eight would face off to join those four in the Quarter-Finals. Bob Cuozzo dropped out of the playoffs due to fatigue thus leaving twelve players. League Champion Vinny Catania once again led the field following the double round robin with a 21-1-2 record earning him the top seed. Chris D’Andrea (14-4-6) took the second spot edging past John Power (14-6-4) who finished third. Len Mecca finished fourth, earning the final first round bye with a 13-8-3 tally. George Slater started slow then caught fire by days’ end finishing 14-10-0 for fifth place. Bob D’Addario (12-10-2) finished in a tie with Paul Crescitelli, but was awarded sixth because he had one more win than Paul. Crescitelli finished seventh just three points ahead of eight place Anthony Sciacca (8-9-7). Larry Durham finished 8-13-3 for ninth. Brian Sullivan finished tenth. Bob Cuozzo finished with seven wins landing him in eleventh place. Joe Gurney had five wins in twelfth. Cuozzo and Gurney had impressive days especially considering both had long layoffs. Walter Zissler finished last with one win and three ties. On to the playoffs.
With the top four seeds receiving byes, the next eight each competed in four best of five series to see who would join the top four in the Quarter-Finals. The Preliminary round saw fifth seed George Slater sweep past thirteen seed Walter Zissler by scores of 3-1, 3-1 and 2-0. Sixth seed Bob D’Addario who advanced to two consecutive league date championships almost saw an early exit when he faced eleventh seed Joe Gurney. Joe took game one by a score of 2-1. Bob tied the series with a 5-4 triumph. Joe put Bob on the brink of elimination with a game three 3-2 victory. Facing elimination – the Bob O battled back to tie the series with a 3-1 victory, then won the series with another 3-1 win. Seventh seed Paul Crescitelli swept past ten seed Brian Sullivan in a series that was a little closer than appeared. Paul took game one 2-1 in overtime, then won game two 4-1. Crescitelli clinched the series with another overtime victory of 3-2. The Final spot in the Quarter-Finals was determined when eight seed Anthony Sciacca battled back from an 0-2 deficit to defeat nine seed Larry Durham. Larry took games one and two by scores 2-1 and 4-1. Facing elimination – the ageless Anthony Sciacca won game three 5-1. He then tied the series with a 1-0 game four shutout. Anthony closed out the series with an impressive 5-1 win to take the series three games to two. On to the Quarter-Finals.
Sciacca then took on Top seeded Vinny Catania to kick off the Quarters. The Vinner won Games one and two by identical 5-2 scores. Catania had to battle back from two goals down to defeat Sciacca in Game three 6-5, winning the series in a sweep. Two seed Chris D’Andrea then faced seventh seed Paul Crescitelli. Paul’s impressive run came to an end in a three game sweep at the hands of D’Andrea. The series featured two very close games, but in the end Chris was a little too much - winning by scores of 4-1, 2-1 and 3-2. Third Seed John Power who was playing very well would collide with six seed Bob D’Addario. The Bob O was fresh off of a five game series 0-2 comeback and was attempting to reach his third straight league date final. His dreams would quickly come to an end when Power went through D’Addario like a hot knife through butter. J.P. swept past Bob by scores of 4-2, 3-1 and 7-4. The final spot in the Semis was determined when the fifth seed George Slater also came back from an 0-2 deficit to fourth seed Len Mecca. Len won game one by a 4-2 score. Len won game two in overtime 2-1. Slater facing elimination rebounded to take game three by a 2-1 victory of his own in overtime. George tied the series when a third consecutive game went to overtime, winning 3-2 thus forcing a deciding game five. In another nail biter – Slater up a goal, put the series on ice with a late insurance goal to win game five 3-1. The Semi-Finals were set.
Two of the hottest players on the day would do battle when top seed Vinny Catania met fifth seed George Slater. Something had to give and in game one it was The Vinner. Slater’s defense was too much for the Vinner to handle as George took game one 3-1. Game two was a barn burner. In what was a one goal game, the Vinner added a goal with one second left to tie the series with a 5-3 victory. The Vinner staved off George who pulled to within a goal with four seconds left. Time ran out on George, giving the Vinner a 5-4 victory. The Vinner up two games to one smelled blood in the water and clicked on all cylinders rolling to a 9-1 game four victory to clinch the series and earn a trip to the Finals. His opponent was determined when two seed Chris D’Andrea met three seed John Power. Earlier in the season D’Andrea swept Power in three games in the League Date Two Semi-Finals. J.P. was determined to rectify that, but things looked bleak when Chris won games one and two by scores of 5-4 and 4-2 respectively. Now it was Power’s turn for a miraculous comeback. J.P. took game three 7-4, then tied the series with a 3-1 game four win. With a trip to the Finals on the line – J.P. took down Chris in game five with a 3-1 victory. The victory set up a rematch of this season’s League Date One Final.
Top seeded Vinny “The Vinner” Catania was attempting to win his eighteenth consecutive League Date. Many in attendance thought that the run would finally come to an end. Third seed John Power was playing well and had been destroying his competition in various exhibitions in preparation earlier in the week. Power struck first in game one, scoring the first goal of the series which held up until the last minute, when Catania scored with just over forty seconds left to force overtime. The Vinner then seized the game, scoring in OT for a 2-1 victory. Unfortunately, the Vinner then pulled away with victories of 6-2 and 5-1 to sweep the series and clinch his eighteenth straight League Date Championship. J.P. thus finished second on the day, with Chris D’Andrea finishing third based on the standings.
Another League Date is in the books. The NYTHL continues to grow with great people coming together for spirited competition. Hopefully with vaccines rolling out and proper precautions taken – we are making progress in the fight against Covid. With our venue back up and running and our players slowly returning – we are expecting our largest turnouts. Get in on the fun by getting behind the rods. What are you waiting for? Come join the NYTHL today!