(needs graphics added and a little more editing)
Hometown: Montreal, Que / Monroe, NY
Dr. Lou Marinoff's story starts a long time ago. Long before the NYCTHA. Suffice to say, he won three straight Canadian OPen Championships to start out the 1980s playing on the then popular Coleco model #5380 TH board. Winning at table hockey in Canada, the heart of anything related to hockey, is tough. Winning three straight Championships in any sport is tough. So, winning three straight table hockey championships in the heart of where that sport is a fanatical pusuit is an incredible feat, putting Lou in a small fractional group of individuals or teams.
After about twenty years out of the sport, Lou was featured in "Table Hockey, The Movie," which has played several times over the years on Canadian television.
In 2006, John Power, successfully endeavored to put on a TH tounament in New Ork using the Coleco board. Why or how John reached and got Lou to participate in this tournament at this time is for John and Lou to tell. You might find Lou's portion of that answer at his website www.LouMarinoff.com
Here I could, but will not digress into comparing the NYCTHA to previous leagues in NY. Simply put John's Coleco tournament, dubbed the "Original Six" proved to be the genesis, time zero, for the re-birth of table hockey in a more dynamic far-reaching geographic manner in the greater New York area than in many years.
"Original Six" Tournament, Sept 2006
Though this story is about Lou, Lou was not the only star attraction at the "Original Six." Kenny Dubois and Roger Owens, also accepted invitations to attend.
Roger Owens, Brooklyn NY, was also in the aforementioned movie. In that movie, Roger was playing on another kind of board, Stiga. He was also part of the American contingent at the European Stiga championsips.
Kenny Dubois, is a champion on multiple kinds of table hockey boards. TH afficianados who know the history of the sport and the game itself, often compare him to a musician capable of mastering multiple instruments. Kenny actively was playing TH before and since the "Original Six."
Other players at that tournament also came with notable achievements such as champions of their local leagues.
So, this is where Lou began his comeback against a talented cross-section of TH players.
The "Original Six" tournament provided Lou, a great player from yesteryear, with a gauge as to his capabilities today.
In his first 14 games, a round robin against all players present, he was 10-1-3 (WLT) and GFA 4.79 - GAA 1.36 both second only to Kenny Dubois.
"O Six - Playoffs"
In the next round, the playoffs, Lou won his Quarterfinal Best of Five series in three straight, 3-0. In the Semi-Finals, also a Best of Five, he encountered Roger Owens, a top player himself. And, a player who would also join the NYCTHA. This day would not be their only day meeting each other, nor the only time they would meet in a playoff series. In fact, Roger would prove to be Lou's toughest opponent.
In their first playoff series, it was Roger who won the first game, 5-3. Lou would win the second game 5-2. Like the heavy-weight fights of Ali-Frazier, Roger put Lou down in game three, 3-2. But, like Ali, Lou with his reputation and back against the wall came out like an injured tiger to take game four, 4-1, to tie the series at two games apiece forcing a deciding game five where he put Roger away again 4-1.
"O Six - Championship"
In the championship game, the great player of yesteryear was up against the great all-board player of today, Here is where being out of the sport, which had evolved with new plays and strategies, is where Lou's thirty years away from the game is where his his opponent, quickly took him out in four straight (4-2, 4-2, 6-2 and 7-2).
But, this wasn't the end for Lou. Rather, it marked a new beginning. He would go on to play in the NYCTHA's first regular season, would play in four (?) tournaments before season's end, where he would win its first Championship.
I think it appropriate to provide this introduction to Lou's first year of play in a TH league in thirty years and his his larger comeback story.
In the first seven rounds of play, Lou got dinged (a tie or a loss) five times (3 ties, 2 losses). The season began in October. The seventh round of play occurred in the second round robin of the December date.
If you take a close look at his Goals For, Goals Against and the size of the gap between them, before the seventh round and particularly after, you'll see something happen. The gap grows significently indicating that he had practiced enough that his play significently improved vis-a-vis everyone else. Roughly stated, he went from an average game winning 5-2 (a three goal difference), to 6-1 (a five goal difference!). I think I am on safe ground speculating that this was the result of studying and consulting with other great players and intense practice. In fact, the second American tournament, the Coleco Cup, Las vegas, was coming soon in January.
-- NYCTHA at the Coleco Cup, Las Vegas, NV, January 2006
At the coleco Cup, Lou again finished second in an American tournament. This time losing to one of the great Canadian table hockey players, Dave Kraehling, Mississauga, Ontario. Dave Kraehling in the 2006-07 tournament season was finishing in the top 3 in Canadian custom coleco tournaments.
As an indicator that the series would be exciting, the first two games both went into overtime and both scores ended at 3-3, but with each player winning a game. Dave, as if making a statement, then took command by shutting out Lou in game three, 4-0 and pounding Lou 7-2, to win game four and take a 3-1 series lead.
But, unlike his series with Kenny Dubois where Lou had just re-entered the game, Lou was now at the half-way point in completing his first regular season playing against his league-mates every month and had been learning from today's great players and practicing. Add that to his confidence having won championships years before and you have a great player who knows how to get back into a series.
So, down three games to one in a best of seven championship series and after what would be two crushing defeats for most players, Lou re-thought his game and mounted his comeback. Game five, like games one and two, ended 3-2. Close. But, Lou won in regulation. Down now three games to two, the pressure shifted to his opponent. Needing only one game to win of three possible remaining games, Dave had lost one. So, the pressure was on him to end the series and end it now. And, Game Six was just that, a presssure-cooker. Only one goal was scored. Only one goal was allowed. And, it was Lou Marinoff who won that game, coming back to tie the series 3-3.
I think this series alone and, in particular, this game demonstrated that he was back in the game with his game at a level ready to compete for top finishes at the premier events.
So, regardless of the outcome of Game Seven, Lou had learned how good he was against today's top players. He also proved to today's players that this Old Timer, still had teeth.
To Dave Kraehling's credit, he proved that he too could adjust his game, strategy and tactics, in order to figure out an opponent and earn a victory. As if to prove his own genius, Dave shutout Lou in Game Seven, 3-0.
As a side note, the NYCTHA's contingent of players finished the day ranked, 2, 4, 5 & 7 of 13 participants, or tops for any league sending more than one player.
NYCTHA - Regular Season
Back in the NYCTHA, Lou finished the regular season at 94-3-3 of 100 games played and shutting out his opponent in one third of those 100 games. His only defeats coming to Roger Owens and Greg Scoma.
Prior to the NYCTHA playoffs was the "Johnny Goodguy" tournament in Brampton (greater Toronto), Canada. OF sixty players, Lou finished eighth on the day. Playing against top competitors from around Canada and the USA, sharpened Lou's capabilities going into the NYCTHA playoffs.
In the playoffs, Lou's main threats were Roger Owens, Greg Scoma and John Power.
Since the "Original Six" tournament's first round, its playoffs and the NYCTHA's regular season, Lou had played Roger sixteen games. Roger won four of them (25%) and, as previously discussed, took Lou the distance in their first playoff meeting at the "Original Six."
Against Greg Scoma, while Lou dominated in total wins against him, Greg had proven a couple of times, however, that he could beat players ranked above him. At the "Original Six" tournament, Greg beat out Roger Owens for Third Place. In November's regular season play, Greg beat Lou 4-2. At Las Vegas, Lou and Greg's series got progessively closer in the scoring each game. Greg took Lou into overtime in Game four. Greg scored in overtime, but the goal was disallowed. Lou later won that game and with it the series. Then in March, Greg finished higher than Lou at Johnny Goodguy by upsetting Matt Walma. So, statistically, Lou would be expected to win a playoff series with Greg however Greg was demonstrating that he could close the competitive gap.
Against John Power, in their first meeting at the NYC "Original Six" tournament they tied 2-2. They did not meet in the playoffs. During the NYCTHA's regular season, Lou dominated in total regular season wins at 12-0-1. It is quite interesting to point out that half of JOhn's losses were by only one goal! The next closest person in one goal losses to Lou, was James Friedl, two games. While both Lou and John were in Las Vegas for the Coleco Classic Cup, they met once in the initial round robin, which Lou won. Lou and John finally met in a playoff series at the NYCTHA playoffs in the Championship round.
In the NYCTHA Playoffs, Lou met and defeated in the Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals and Finals/Championship in order Adam Zawislak, Roger Owens ang John Power. (WHAT HAPPENED IN ZAWISLAK-MARINOFF GAME???) Lou swept the series. John had two close games, losing game one and three both by scores of 2-0.
Lou won the Inaugural season's first championship trophy, his first league championship trophy in about thirty years.
Congratulations Lou Marinoff, NYCTHA, Classic Coleco League Champion 2006-07 !