Click on the photo to read about the Championship Victory for I Padrini.
(Back row Left to Right) Dave Curcio, Dave Hill, Pat Pirone, Angelo Deluca, Rick Cassaon, Mike Caso
(Front row Left to Right) Greg Nevano, Ted Polonski, Billy Gardynski Jr, Tony Mastrocola
Missing from photo (and game): Franco Grutti
Pay your respects to I Padrini, they are the champs!
Congratulations to I Padrini as they parlayed their firm grasp on first place throughout the Over-30 winter 2011 season by running the table in the playoffs, capped off by a very close 4 – 1 victory over the Lunchpail Kids.Make no mistake this was a close game all the way as the final two goals were scored into an open net with less than thirty seconds to play.I Padrini was a team built on balance with a dominant scoring first line spearheaded by Dave Curcio and Franco Grutti, a hard working second line that could also rise up and score some timely goals, a very strong ball control defense, led by the dynamic tandem of Mike Caso and Greg Nevano, and if that was not enough, had the league’s stingiest and leading goalie in Bill Gardynski Jr.By week 5 of the regular season they convincingly swept a doubleheader to put a stranglehold on first place which they never relinquished.
What stood out most of all for this I Padrini team was how quickly all the players understood each of their individual roles on this team and what was expected of them.Out of all the teams trying to find their identity early in the new winter season, I Padrini was the first team to figure this out.When other teams faltered around them, they were the most consistent team, week in and week out, during the course of the regular season and playoffs.How consistent?I Padrini never had more than a two-game losing streak at any point during the season and consistently would string together three or four game winning streaks.
I Padrini confidently stormed into the playoffs, wrapping up first place overall with three weeks to play in the regular season, going 7-1-1 over their last nine games played, outscoring their opponents by a 31 – 14 margin in the process, and throwing in three shutouts just for good measure.They weren’t the highest scoring team in the league; in fact they were the fourth highest scoring team.Their strength lay in their team defense and goaltending as they only allowed 21 goals against over 12 games played, with goalie Bill Gardynski Jr. turning in a stingy goals against average of 1.73 and .0932 save percentage.
Not surprisingly, the Finals of the winter 2011 season featured the top two teams in the Over-30 league, with I Padrini only giving up a miniscule 21 goals during the season, while the Lunchpail Kids gave up a measly 24 goals.The consensus heading into the Finals was that this would be a defensive game highlighted by the goalies and a stingy defense.Also factoring into this equation was the cancelling out of Doug Sedille from the Lunchpail Kids (retired due to injury) and Franco Grutti from I Padrini (missing due to business commitments).It’s too bad that both these players could not be present and play in this game as it would have been an unbelievable Finals having both of them involved.
I Padrini had a commanding edge in the head-to-head season series with the Lunchpail Kids, winning all three games played between both teams by an 8 – 2 goal differential, including two shutouts.To say that I Padrini had the Lunchpail Kids number was an understatement.We expected a low scoring contest dominated by the goalies and defense, and that is exactly what the fans got to see.The consensus coming into this game was for I Padrini to have their defensemen trigger and utilize their balanced offensive attack by constantly running and wearing down the older defensemen of the Lunchpail Kids; while the Lunchpail Kids would counter with their ball control slow down style, finding Joe Shannon for that one-timer as often as possible, and keep the ball away from Dave Curcio.
The first period was played extremely conservative and cautious by both teams.There was no flow to this game, and no one was trying to make any plays with the ball.It was as if players from teams did not want to cause a turnover that resulted in a scoring chance.Therefore, the start of this game was controlled by the defensemen on both teams, with the play taking place mostly between the white clearing lines of the rink.Not much was happening in this period and it was reflected in the shots on net as I Padrini held a 6 – 1 edge in shots attempted.We believe that in the history of the Over-30 league, this was the fewest shots ever attempted by one team playing in the Finals.After one period, the game remained scoreless.
Something had to give to start the second period, and both teams seemed to get the wake up call, as the game picked up and became more wide open in its style of play. I Padrini definitely started to assert their younger self as they kept coming on the offensive attack.The only reason this was still a scoreless game at this point was the outstanding play of goalie Jeff Deharo for the Lunchpail Kids.Even though he was not called upon to make as many key saves as Jeff, goalie Bill Gardynski Jr of I Padrini was just as outstanding.In fact, in one sequence halfway through the second period, both goalies make the same type of toe save in preventing what should have been a sure goal.First, Jeff stopped Dave Curcio point blank with his right toe and then on the same shift, Junior flashed out the left toe in stopping Joe Shannon on a blast from the high slot.The game and momentum was shifting and favoring I Padrini at this point.If the Lunchpail Kids did not counter, it was just a matter of time before I Padrini would score first.
With just over three minutes to play in the second period, the Lunchpail Kids got the break that they needed, from a much unexpected source.Defenseman Umberto Baldassarre unloaded a heavy slap shot from the point, on a pass from Joe Shannon that beat the goalie to the high glove side.This goal, breaking up a scoreless tie, fell right into place with the Lunchpail Kids strategy and came at the right time.Prior to this, I Padrini was carrying the edge in play and shots on net.As previously mentioned, the only reason that the Lunchpail Kids was leading in this game was the outstanding play of goalie Jeff Deharo.After two periods, the Lunchpail Kids held a 1 – 0 lead, but I Padrini held a 17 – 10 shot advantage.
Heading into the third period now leading this game, I am sure that the Lunchpail Kids were talking about one thing and one thing only as a team.Make sure that someone is always covering Dave Curcio of I Padrini.If not, then they should have.That was the key to the third period for the Lunchpail Kids, as well as scoring that insurance goal.They thought they accomplished the latter early in the third period off a scramble in front, but, the referee blew the whistle after losing sight of the ball (the correct call), just before the goalie moved and the ball rolled across the goal line.
With just over five minutes to play, the Lunchpail Kids got caught with all three forwards in deep, allowing I Padrini to break out on a three-on-two, as Greg Nevano started the breakout with a pass deep in his zone to Rick Cassano who found Dave Curcio open on the right wing.Dave unleashed a slap shot from just inside the blue line that found the top right corner of the net, beating the goalie to the high glove side and tying this game a 1 - 1.This was the turning point of the game for I Padrini as they finally were able to solve how to get one past goalie Jeff Deharo.From this play on, it was all I Padrini who played with more of a jump in their step while the Lunchpail Kids played more defensive trying to hold on.The constant pressure by I Padrini finally resulted in a penalty against the Lunchpail Kids.Even though I Padrini did not score they kept the momentum and control of the ball.Eleven seconds after killing off this penalty and just over three minutes to play in the game, Dave Curcio struck again (as all big-time great players in this league usually do) as he received a pass from Greg Nevano down low, circled the net, and found an open Angelo DeLucca down low on the doorstep for a tap-in goal with a great no look pass, to give I Padrini their first lead of this game at 2 – 1.Great players make plays when they are needed and called upon; Dave Curcio made one such play!
With the goalie pulled and an extra attacker on with less than a minute to play, who else but Dave Curcio won a faceoff at center and beat the defenseman to the ball to score into an open net with only thirty-two seconds to play, giving his team a commanding 3 – 1 lead, and essentially sealing the victory for I Padrini.Tony Mastrocola followed that with his own empty net goal with only twelve seconds to play to account for the game’s final score of 4 – 1.The final shot totals favored I Padrini as they outshot the Lunchpail Kids by a 25 – 15 margin.
On the way to the Finals, I Padrini pulled out a tough grinding win over Game Day, as Dave Curcio (him again), Mike Caso and Rick Cassano each scored, breaking open a very close game in the second period and emerge with a 3 – 2 victory.
The Lunchpail Kids had an easier time reaching the Finals as Joe Shannon led the way over his former line mates by scoring four goals in the process and Dan Broderick set up three goals, as the Lunchpail Kids jumped out to an quick five goal lead and won going away 6 – 3 over Where’s Shannon.
The Hockey Gods must indeed be smiling down on the Over-30 league and Dave Curcio and Franco Grutti as they once again proved that if you are a member of that long standing dreaded curse list with zero championships won, you want to be on the same team as Dave and Franco.Ted Polonski can attest to that, as he finally won his first jacket after almost 14 years of chasing that dream, it finally became a reality.Mike Fleming, Dave Hill, Gary Goodwin and Rick Cassano can all attest to what Teddy got to finally experience for himself.Rumors are out there that the league Director will remove the bonds on Luigi Derenzes, taking him away from the Cooch’s, and putting him with Dave and Franco next year, to finally give him a chance at that jacket.
For his efforts throughout the playoffs, especially in the Finals with no Franco present, Dave Curcio won the Playoff MVP award for his timely goal and leadership skills (don’t worry Franco he still needs another one to catch you).Congratulations also goes out to Pat Pirone on tying Ed Nigro for the most championships won in the Over-30 league with 10 championships.Kudos also goes out to first-time jacket winners in Ted Polonski, Greg Nevano and Angelo DeLucca.
Congratulations to the I Padrini championship team whose players include: co-captains Dave Curcio and Franco Grutti, Mike Caso, Greg Nevano, Dave Hill, Angelo DeLucca, Pat Pirone, Ted Polonski, Tony Mastrocola, Rick Cassano and Bill Gardynski Jr.
2011 Winter Playoffs MVP
Congratulations to Dave for winning his 1st
Playoff MVP Award.
If you have ghosts… call Ghostbusters!
If you are curseded… call Cursebusters!
Once again Dave Curcio single-handedly removed fellow teammate Ted Polonski from the dreaded “Cursed/Jinxed” list.This time he did it without fellow Cursebuster; Franco Grutti.
One of the best centermen and two-way players in the leagues history, Dave continues to prove his weight in gold and jackets as he now owns 6 championships pullovers.
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