Thursday, December 31, 2009

Home Season Six preview: Atomic Bombshells and Rockits

In the first preview of the upcoming home season, we asked the captains of the Dagger Dolls and the Garda Belts about their teams.  We now turn attention to the other bout on January 2nd...Rockits versus the Atomic Bombshells.

Atomic Bombshells:
Captain: Mitzi Massacre #3
Co-captain: Misfit Maiden #313
Last won the Golden Skate: 2007
Colors: orange and lime green

We asked each team a set of questions; here is what Mitzi Massacre wrote:

Q  How would you explain your team to a person who's never come to a bout?
A  The Atomic Bombshells are confident but not cocky, skilled and athletic but real warm-hearted and spirited, individually strong but collectively bad-bleeping-ass.  If you don't know we're the orange team, just look for the girls that are calmly recycling themselves in the pack and picking off blockers and jammers with (atomic) aplomb! 

Q  Tell us a little about your new crop of rookies.
A  BOOMbay Safire has such a sweet disposition that it's shocking when she knocks a shoulder into your sternum.  You just don't see it coming.  We've noticed a sorta preternatural awareness of who is on the track and where.  Expect her to see her heavy hitting as a Blocker and Pivoting eventually.
We liked Double D. Fense right away because she gets that look in her eye right before she takes someone down that tells you the hit is going to be right on target.  Dubs is relentless and just totally eyes on the prize at all times.
Madame dStompadour comes from having spent a season with the Auld Reekie Rollergirls of Edinburgh, Scotland.  She's taking it slow on an injured knee so far and has just stepped up with amazing sideline support for the team in this first year.  Expect to see her jamming and definitely blocking in the back of the pack; she's got a very solid and fast stride on her.
We fortunate that our rookies apparently talked before the home season started and decided to get their major injuries over and done with early on in their derby careers.  You'll see two of them toughing it out on the track through a separated shoulder (Double D.) and dislocated fingers (BOOM).

Q  Why are you going to win your first match in the home season?
A  We just really like each other and got each other's backs at all times, on and off the track, and this is pretty huge when it comes to keeping our head in the game.  We know this season is ours for the taking and we're ready!  Though we went 2-2 last year, we saw it as hugely successful in a rebuilding year and all games were still very competitive. Individually, our players are very strong but it is the confident, collected way we work together on the track that we will use to win the game.  We try to spend a lot of time on skill-building and techniques like visualization, but when it all comes down to it we just have a ton of fun together playing this game and believe we have both the physical and mental skills to win.

Q  Who is that guy with the mask and the crazy fire extinguisher?
A  That's Meltdown, the coolest mascot of the Atomic Bombshells.  He wears that visor and carries that extinguisher around due to an childhood accident resulting in head trauma that now causes a mysterious powerful optic beam that shoot from his eyeballs.  It's pretty cool.  Also, Meltdown is the inspiration for Beach Party Meltdown, who appears randomly at our bouts.  Look for him this season!

Garrison's take:
Every couple of years, the Bombshells have gone and reinvented themselves.  In 2006, veterans converged on the team and created a superteam that defeated all comers.  Last year, Misfit Maiden and Mitzi took on the gargantuan task of filling seven openings with rookies (not old hands at the game) and whipping the chaotic mess into a damn fine derby team.  That team is now in its second year, and it has the potential to break the Rockits' nine game streak of wins.

Last year, the Bombshells started playing anyone who wanted to jam; we ended up seeing ten different women at the jammer line, six of whom jammed more than ten times.  The more depth you have for jammers, the fewer problems that you will have when several jammers are in penalty trouble.  What's more, the Bombshell jammers were sent to the box only fifteen times throughout the season; only the Rockits did better at keeping their penalty sheets clean.  The offensive firepower of this team is only going to improve; the Bombshells have been deeply involved with the All-Stars this summer, and several of the women in orange played in heavy rotation as scorers.

The front of the Bombshell pack is going to be very, very tough this year.  Venus Thightrap earned her All-Star blues as a pivot, not a jammer.  Against Carolina, against Hammer City, and against Sioux Falls, Venus showed herself to be a phenomenal presence.  When you put her in the front of the pack, the opposing team had a strong tendency to not score.  The Bombshells have got other strong pivots as well...whether Diamond Rough, Chinese Takeout, or Misfit Maiden, the Bombshell pack is going to be well-managed this year.

Captain: Coochie Coup #333
Co-captain: Abbie Mischief #318
Last won the Golden Skate: 2009 (current champions)
Colors: red and silver

We asked each team a set of questions; Coochie Coup sent us these answers:

Q  How would you explain your team to a person who's never come to a bout?
A  The Rockits are a very competitive, egalitarian team. For us derby is more sport than show so we work hard and have a tight team dynamic. We try and focus on strategy and working with people’s strengths and minimizing their weaknesses.  We like to enjoy derby and understand that winning is enjoyable. Plus, I think we are geek chic w/ a love of cake and gummi bears.

Q  Tell us a little about your new crop of rookies.
A  They are f***ing awesome. We feel very lucky to have them and each of them is a great fit for our team. They have great attitudes and work hard both and outside of practice. They are getting better every day.

Q  Why are you going to win your first match in the home season?
A  Because we are superior –  physically, mentally, and culturally. The Rockits have always stepped it up for a bout in ways that continue to impress even a hardened Captain like myself and I expect a continued unbeaten streak and the Golden Skate Three-peat. We don’t need big talk – they will hear us just fine on the track Saturday night.

Q  Will the loss of any previous skaters impact how the Rockits play?  
A  No, this team is deeper than my cleavage.

Garrison's take:
The Rockits are, simply, the team to beat.  No team has defeated them in two seasons; should they defeat the Bombshells, The Rockit Streak goes to ten.  But this is a new year.  Slate's clean and Jawbreaker, Dudezilla, and Soylent Mean - three of the top five jammers for the 2008-9 Rockits last year - are gone from the roster.  Jawbreaker alone scored 40% of the Rockit points.  The trick for the other teams is to not breathe a sigh of relief from this news.

The thing is, the secret of Rockit success has never been at the jammer line; it's the suffocating Red Wall defense.  The Rockits allowed 130 points over five games; every other team allowed at least 300 over the same period.  What does that mean to the fan of other teams?  Watch your packs.  Teams must clear the way for their jammers; the Rockit pack is guarded in the back by the likes of Vuedoo Prodigy and Honeydew Felon.  If they pass the back, the back blockers move up and scrape the opposing jammer off the front walls made of Scarmen Hellectra, Coochie Coup, Rizzo, and Pain Gretzky.  With the loss of several dedicated Rockit jammers, opposing scorers might not have to race as fast to the front of the pack to get the lead, but scorers must still find a way through, and their teams must help them.  So far, no one's pulled it off long enough to beat the Rockits.

2010 is nigh.  It's a new year, a new season, and a new run for glory.  This is the moment that you have waited for, derby fans. Saturday starts the clock on the countdown to April's season championship.  Doors will likely open early; beat the rush and find yourself a seat for the best season yet (you know, deep down, that this is true) at the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium. Don't miss a moment.

Reporting for the Minnesota RollerGirls,
-Garrison Killer

Home Season 6 Preview: Dolls and Gardas

Home Season Six preview: Dagger Dolls and Garda Belts

The handmade capes, the Robber outfits, the Supervillain shirts that were tragically not for sale...they're all gone. League mixers are the past and on Saturday, January 2nd, 2010, the Minnesota RollerGirls begin the home season. The road to the Golden Skate has been cleared, and every team awaits the first whistle on Saturday night. In this and the following preview, we will reintroduce you to the four teams of the MNRG and we'll look ahead to the upcoming home season.

Dagger Dolls:
Captain: Candi Pain #666
Co-captain: Sweet Justice #i4ni
Last won the Golden Skate: 2005
Colors: pink and black

We asked each team a set of questions; here is what Candi and Sweet Justice reported back:

Q How would you explain your team to a person who's never come to a bout?
A The Dagger Dolls are everyone's favorite team because we are the prettiest and most fun!

Q Tell us a little about your new crop of rookies.
A Don't tell anyone, but they are total ringers from the far corners of the globe. They have been studying derby since their births.

Q Why are you going to win your first match in the home season?
A Simply because we are better than they are.

Q How have the Dagger Dolls been training in preparation for the home season?
A We have studied and trained with a Jedi master and a pack of wolves. Oh...and a stylist!

Garrison's take:
Last year is something of an unpleasant memory for Dolly fans. Last in the league, the Dagger Dolls had difficulty staying out of the penalty box and mounting enough of an offense against strong packs to get points on the board. They've been winless since March 8, 2008...and that is not lost on the women in pink.

Dolly offenses in the past prefer using a wide array of scorers and this year should be no different. They get to rely on the hard strides of All-Stars Psycho Novia and Sweet Justice...but also newcomers like Killaman Jaro and Patently Offensive, both of whom were darlings of the league mixers. The Dagger Dolls will get their opportunity to show their stuff at the line, particularly if the captains can manage the penalty situation. The case can be made that the Dolls have recruited the fastest women in the rookie pool for the past several years; they just need to keep their strides through the pack clean to take the lead and to control that clock. If they have that capacity, Dolly fans will be delighted by much higher scores.

To score, you really do need a well-oiled defense to back you up and protect the jammer...and the Dolls have been a delight to watch so far this year. If you have seen the mixers or watched the All-Stars in motion, you've been able to see Candi Pain, Wonderbroad, Sinaminn, Shiver Me Kimbers, and even rookies Rollercat and Killaman Jaro casting a long shadow over their packs. Whether Sinaminn routing players into the crowd from the corners or a sweet shoulder check from Kimbers, the Superhero/Supervillain game - with many Dolls on both sides - was like watching a Dolly convention on the track. The Dolls are effectively linking up and hitting roller girls hard. Hot pink stylish violence on the track is going to be their stock in trade.

The start of season six returns of Barbie Brawl to the Dolly pack and longtime fans will be delighted to learn that Buffy the Vampire Skater will be putting on skates for the new skates. That's right...the former Bombshell has jumped to the Dolls. The injections of veteran talent will be welcome to the Dagger Dolls; no less than five of last year's team stepped aside - giving Candi Pain and Sweet Justice ample opportunity to bring in a new Dolly breed.

Garda Belts:
Captain: Suzie Smashbox #91
Co-captain: Citizen Pain #F16
Last won the Golden Skate: Never
Colors: green and white

We asked each team a set of questions; here is what Suzie said:

Q How would you explain your team to a person who's never come to a bout?
A The best, of course! [laugh] I'm not sure...we are the favorite team, it seems, based on crowd cheers. We are also the only team who has never won a Golden Skate.

Q Tell us a little about your new crop of rookies.
A We have a lot of new girls this season. Our first bout will be almost half veterans and half rookies because of vet injuries and such.

Q Why are you going to win your first match in the home season?
A Because we want it.

Suzie also dropped the questions to her players; here's what one rookie - Little Tornado - wrote:

Q How would you explain your team to a person who's never come to a bout?
A We're the green team. You can recognize us by the trail of blood we leave in our wake. Look for us in the penalty box.

Q Tell us a little about your new crop of rookies.
A The new rookies are tough. They survived 8 weeks of boot camp training how to play roller derby. But they're new school skaters that have respect for the rules and playing a fair game - good thing we have some old school Gardas to correct us!

Q Why are you going to win your first match in the home season?
A We're stronger, faster, meaner and prettier.

Q What do the Garda Belts do for fun?
A Play derby and dream up new ways to hit girls off their skates. (And rescue kittens)

Garrison's take:
The Garda Belts were so damn close. For the first time since the inaugural season, the Garda Belts advanced to the championship match in 2009 off of superior jamming from Suzie Smashbox and a vastly-improved blocking staff. This was a changed team of Gardas; known for their hard hits, the Irish attackers continued their bruising ways while keeping their noses clean in front of the refs. It wasn't quite enough to defeat the Rockits, and now they must begin anew.

For those of you new to Garda Belt's a primer. The Gardas like placing Suzie Smashbox at the jammer line. She will break through that pack faster than anyone has a right to, and she will get the lead jam and control the pack about two-thirds of the time. During those periods, the other team can forget about scoring if they can't send Suzie to the box. If this sounds boring, well, you've never seen the Garda Belts play. A good breakaway from the Garda Belts electrifies the crowd five times out of five. Suzie tends to play every other jam with a supporting cast of jammers taking the other ten or so scoring opportunities in the game. Hanna Belle Lector, Rumblebee, Anita Spankston...all are excellent defenders who can bring that added top gear when called upon to wear the jammer star.

This year may also bring a change in offensive tactics. Expect to see the Gardas finding a second or even third regular jammer - Suzie has been playing defense regularly in the All-Star packs...and laying on the sort of hits you'd expect from a Garda Belt. If that continues into the home season, the Gardas will need to expand their offensive start watching for a Garda who makes a strong impact early this season.

Speaking of impacts...a large contingent of the women in green have been practicing this summer as part of the All-Star season. Suzie, Tiki Torture, and Citizen Pain are probably the most visible to our fans, but several more players have been working hard to up their game. Anita Spankston, Rita Rawkuss, Punish-mint Patty...all part of the practices. Word is at least one of them have barely missed a night. Also, the recent game against Sioux Falls was something of a highlight reel for Tiki Torture as she weaved through the pack and fairly steamrolled Rollerdollz jammers. Take the Garda Belts from last year and imagine them with another summer of experience. Teams would be wise to not overlook the defensive potential of the Garda Belts in '09 as they prepare to face them. Individual players like Tiki, Optimiss Crime, and Citizen Pain are going to be dominating this year; perhaps the only question is whether they will attack as a single unit, or as a loose group of extremely competent players.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sioux Falls falls to Minnesota 180-44

The Sioux Falls Rollerdollz tell us that co-founders Queen Elizabitch and Pain Maker first saw roller derby live when they traveled to the Roy in October 2006. They've come back time and again, they've watched our bouts on the Internet, and our players have gone west to run one of their boot camps in South Dakota. Their geared-up arrival to the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium felt something like a reunion...maybe like one where a fight breaks out. And so, at the conclusion of the league mixer, the Rollerdollz hit the track and made ready to take on the Minnesota RollerGirl All-Stars for a match three years in the waiting.

Suzie Smashbox took to the line against Sioux Falls heavy Queen Elizabitch for the bout's first jam. Elizabitch attempted to take a whip from her pivot but slammed into a Minnesota player for her troubles; Suzie stole the lead out from under her and began accelerating. Elizabitch went to the penalty box, presumably for the back block on the MNRG blocker. Suzie made short work of the pack three times for an early triple slam. MNRG jammer Lexi cracked the pack next for thirteen on another power jam versus Applicious as the Sioux Falls scorer smacked straight into Venus Thightrap. Harmony Killerbruise took Minnesota's third lead jam as she passed a pack unable to touch her as Applicious' penalty expired; Harmony scored seven, but Applicious snuck up and got two before the Minnesotan could call the jam. Minnesota 35-2 with seven minutes past.

Sioux Falls scored again two jams later as Suzie Smashbox took her first trip to the penalty box. Julia Wild scrambled through the pack without taking the lead and scored four more. Unfortunately, Julia also called off the jam; an illegal procedure for a jammer who did not 'take the lead'. This ended the jam and sent Julia to the box; L'exi Cuter took full advantage of Julia's visit and started tearing apart the pack again. Julia had no luck breaking that pack once she left the penalty box; Tara Skatesov and Venus Thightrap ably controlled her in the front while L'exi scored fourteen.

With seventeen left to go, Sioux Falls called a timeout with Minnesota ahead by forty-three (49-6). In the following jams, Sioux Falls began to move their jammers through the pack more briskly, but both Harmony and Psycho Novia of Minnesota still grabbed leads again for three each. Hollicidal Maniac did particularly fine work dropping jammers to the outside, but Minnesota continued to widen the scoring gap. The 'Dollz kept going for the big hit, but could not keep a jammer down long enough to get their first lead jam. Suzie continued the string of leads as she jammed against Hollicidal, orbiting the pack on the outside for four unanswered points. L'exi grabbed another six as Julia Wild again went to the box for track cutting. Harmony took the lead late in the next jam while Queen Elizabitch got held back by Vuedoo Prodigy and Diamond Rough. On her lapping pass, Dusty Bibles of Sioux Falls shut down Harmony's progress. As Diamond Rough fell back to assist her jammer, Harmony passed her the star, and the amazonian Ms Rough ran out the remainder of the jam. 65-8 Minnesota.

Sioux Falls continued to have penalty woes as the refs sent their jammers to the box three times. Minnesota steadily distanced themselves from their opponents, but they had not broken Sioux Falls' nerve. In the penultimate jam of the half, Applicious charged from the box and caught the MNRG blockers napping, scoring five before the opposing jammer - Harmony Killerbruise - could call off the jam. Minnesota's Vuedoo Prodigy quickly answered that scoring run by scoring fourteen as time expired on the first half. 95-15 Minnesota.

Minnesota dominated the first half on scoring, on lead jams, and on penalties. The MNRG's pack continued to hold back their opponents and to peel errant blockers into the penalty box as they would get caught on track-cutting or back-blocking penalties. Meanwhile, four of Minnesota's jamming staff had already posted more than ten points.

The MNRG poured on the points in the second half as the Rollerdollz continued to take on water. Harmony started the half off with a nine-point jam as the refs sent Fully OZmatic to the box. Dollz blocker Red Thunder finally bottled up Harmony's advance, and Harmony called it off. Psycho took the remainder of OZ's penalty out and skated a thirteen-point jam as Venus Thightrap cleared the road for the young jammer. L'exi Cuter followed up for five on another power jam due to opposing jammer Queen Elizabitch's track-cut.

In the following jam, Harmony got out in front of Applicious and started putting on the brakes immediately. Skating stride for stride at a trickle of a pace, Harmony dominated the Sioux Falls jammer long enough that the pack actually caught up with the jammers and sucked Applicious into MNRG blocker Diamond Rough's not-so-gentle embrace. This "negative pass" meant that Applicious would have to pass the pack twice before she could score. Harmony sprinted ahead and appeared to break through the pack for four...although it took a few minutes of referee consternation before play could advance again. Applicious made up for the negative pass in the following jam as she scored five against Tara Skatesov, taking the team's first lead of the night. Julia Wild followed up with another lead and another four points. Minnesota ahead 126-27 with seventeen left to go.

Queen Elizabitch and Harmony went to the line. Amidst her stride, Elizabitch's skates locked up and QE jumped over to her bench for an unscheduled pitstop while Harmony scored fourteen before being sent out on minors. The next jam? Filled with penalties; neither Harmony nor her opponent could stay on the track long enough to break through the pack. Mitzi Massacre smoothed out Minnesota's nerves as she calmly picked her way through the chaotic pack for eight points. Killahertz lost out in the next jam as she cut the track on the initial pass; Elizabitch grabbed four while fending off strong shoulders from Suzie Smashbox. Venus Thightrap took another nine to Julia Wild's three as Diamond Rough blindsided Sioux Falls captain Pain Maker from out of the penalty box to make way for her jammer. Julia got sent to the box on a double penalty, which gave MNRG's next jammer L'exi Cuter the opportunity to score a double slam. 167-34 with 3 minutes left.

MNRG jammer Diamond Rough busted through the pack like a running back on fire, but it wasn't quite enough to beat out Applicious' speed. The Sioux Falls vet grabbed the lead jam and scored three. Elizabitch led the next jam, but could only call it off to shut down Abbie Mischief ahead of her on the track. And as time expired, MNRG all-star rookie Tara Skatesov took one last double slam for thirteen points to Applicious' seven. That jam was the second in five periods of MNRG all-star play (going back to MNRG v Carolina's second half) that the MNRG allowed their opponents more than five points in a single jam. Final score: 180-44.

The second half gave Sioux Falls some ability to show off their hits; Red Thunder, Dusty Bibles, and Hollicidal Maniac all were dropping our players into the crowd. The tactic is great; it's hard to make it work consistently when the jammer won't stay down...and Minnesota's players kept getting up. Minnesota played a dominant game, and their partner system that shifts from active hits to pushing players into walls continues to gather traction. It will be of great interest to see what aspects of the all-star strategies we will see in the home season coming up in two weeks. In the meantime, congratulations to the MNRG for a 4-2 record at home in 2009, including a loss to Windy City...and a win against Carolina. 2010 Regionals are less than ten months away.

75 Harmony Killerbruise: 5-8, 42 pts
187 L'exi Cuter: 6-6, 52 pts
91 Suzie Smashbox: 3-4, 22 pts
109 Psycho Novia: 4-4, 20 pts
21 Tara Skatesov: 1-2, 13 pts
69 Vuedoo Prodigy: 0-1, 14 pts
55 Venus Thightrap: 0-1, 9 pts
3 Mitzi Massacre: 1-1, 8 pts
25 Honeydew Felon: 0-1, 0 pts
808 Killahertz: 0-1, 0 pts
1837 Diamond Rough: 0-1, 0 pts
318 Abbie Mischief: 0-1, 0 pts

3.14 Applicious: 3-9, 20 pts
375 Julia Wild: 1-10, 15 pts
40oz Fully OZmatic: 0-3, 5 pts
1.75L Queen Elizabitch: 1-8, 4 pts
AK47 Hollicidal Manic: 0-1, 0 pts

Superheroes overcome Forces of Evil, 62-40

The final league mixer of the '09-10 season brought together the four home teams for one last mashup. The Supervillains rode into this match with an odd sort of streak going; although each team is put together in an ad-hoc sort of way, the 'forces of evil' had consistently beaten the good guys over the past two years of mixers at the Roy. So, as past players and new blood lined up on the track, the Heroes were out to break the 4-0 streak; they pulled it off with ease, though one would never have guessed it from the first half.

Both teams sent out rookie Dolls - Ova Achieva for the Heroes, Patently Offensive for the Villains, to start the game off. Offensive flashed off the jammer line and hit the pack hard. While Ova got held up by Sinaminn (the villainous 'Dr Sin' for tonight's game) in the back, PO found a way past Superhero Wonderbroad and took the night's first lead jam. The refs caught an errant elbow flying from Ova and sent her to the penalty box, and the early power jam gave Patently the opportunity to score five points. The remainder of that time in the penalty box bled into the next jam, almost giving Rumblebee a free pass through the Superheroes for the second lead jam (it is far easier to pass the pack when you jam without your opponent on the track). While Ova burst from the box and through the pack with Shiver Me Kimbers' assistance, Rumblebee rode a whip off of Stacy Wreckt and called off the jam with four unanswered points.

Supervillain jammer Scarmen Hellectra snatched her team's third lead jam against Anita Spankston for a very fast four points. Following a scoreless jam, Trixie Whipsum - a shining Superhero jammer in Wonder Woman red - grabbed the lead and a single point for her team. She lapped the opposing jammer due to Hero Sweet Justice's patient blocking of Patently Offensive, but could not pass a Supervillain blocker wall, so called the jam off. With eleven minutes gone, the Supervillains were putting on an effective defensive clinic; 13-1.

A messy next jam as both Rumblebee and Anita alternated turns in the penalty box; Rumblebee took the lead and five while Anita grabbed four. Scarmen repeated her All-Star-trained gameplay with a rapid four-and-out jam that Superhero Ova Achieva could not answer. Ova's teammate Trixie Whipsum returned fire with the assistance of two whips from Anita Spankston for three points. Patently Offensive and Superhero Killaman Jaro raced for the next lead; Offensive just beat out Jaro and scored three, but couldn't stop the jam in time before her opponent stole a point. 25-9 with three minutes left. After a fast point from Sweet Justice for the Heroes, Scarmen Hellectra scored her third consecutive lead as Ova Achieva went to the box. Scar grabbed five points and called off the jam to strand Ova in a penalty situation for the last jam.

Shady O'Dread took advantage of the remaining power jam to score three as her teammates pulled the pack apart for her. Shady called the jam with three points as Ova's sentence expired and she charged from the penalty box. At the half, the Villains were ahead 33-10. The Supervillains started brilliantly and took advantage of four power jams to build up a quick lead. The Villains' blocking - particularly Dr Sin, Pain Gretzky and Norah Torious - also played into the 23-point gap between the two teams. It seemed that the Supervillains had it all in hand and were on their way to 5-0 for the forces of evil.

The Heroes punched back immediately in the second half. They sent Jax Kvaas to the line against Shady O'Dread, and Jax celebrated her first jam ever for the MNRG fans by exploding from the line and lapping the pack while her teammates Sweet Justice and Scootaloo concentrated fire on Shady. Ms O'Dread muscled through for the lead and called the jam, but not before Jax scored seven. Killaman Jaro then jammed against Scarmen Hellectra. The refs saw a foul and sent Scarmen immediately to the box. This gave Jaro a power jam opportunity; blasting past Dr Sin and Wanda Wreckonwith and threading a hole opened by teammate Citizen Pain, Killaman Jaro began accelerating. All around Jaro, the Supervillains continued to be sent to the box, and those remaining were no match for her speed. Killaman Jaro scored a triple slam, bringing the Heroes to within a point of their nemeses. 33-32 Villains with thirteen to play.

After a scoreless jam that sent Jax Kvaas to the box, Patently Offensive stepped to the line unopposed. Offensive broke through a light Superhero pack, got the lead, scored a point, and was sent to the box just as Jax was returning. Jax pulled a slam-plus for seven points and called the jam. This jam put the Heroes ahead for the first time in the game, and the Heroes built on that lead. Jax handed the remainder of Offensive's penalty visit to her teammate Scootaloo. Scoots took the lead and tore past Norah Torious and Flora Flipabitch. Patently Offensive returned to the track for about five seconds before being sent out again. Offensive came out a few seconds later as Scootaloo herself was penalized, but quickly returned to the box which freed up Scoots to score seven. Scootallo passed the power jam to fellow Superhero Buffy the Vampire Skater. Buffy scored two more before calling off the jam as she ran into Killaman Jaro's strong blocking.

The Villains responded with a four point jam from Rumblebee, but their momentum was cut short in the next jam as Patently tweaked her ankle and had to be helped to the back. Over the next three jams, Hell N Ready, Scarmen Hellectra, and Rumblebee all attempted comebacks, but none could break past a strong Superhero pack. Meanwhile, the Hero jammers built on the lead, scoring nine unanswered points over those jams. Villain Hanna Belle Lector scored on the last jam, but the gap was simply too large to overcome. In an amazing comeback, the Heroes won the day as time expired, 62-40.

In that second half, the Heroes outscored the Villains 52-7. That's a huge change from the previous half, and has a great deal to do with the format of the mixers; to accomodate the large number of players in a league mixer, team captains rotate players in and out at the half. This is more a logistic choice than anything; there's only so many RollerGirls that you can pack into the middle without someone throwing a punch. That said, the Superheroes did a remarkable job. Taking advantage of four near-consecutive power jams early in the half, the Heroes' play shone a spotlight on three excellent jammers - one of which we've never seen wear a star before. Jax Kvaas and Killaman Jaro tied for most points scored (18 each); it seems that we may see these two at the jammer line again soon (for different teams; Jax has played for the Rockits for three years, while Killaman is a Dagger Doll rookie). Also, teammate Trixie Whipsum went 4-for-4 as lead jammer. What's more, the blocking improved sharply; Killaman Jaro and Shiver Me Kimbers were in Supervillain faces throughout the half, while Lola Blackenblue and Sweet Justice called shots from the front.

With the league mixers complete, there's only place to go...January 2nd. You've gotten to see the newest rookies and the old vets work out the kinks of the summertime off-season; it's time for the home teams at last to hit the track. See you in two Saturdays.

23 Jax Kvaas: 1-4, 18 pts
9 Killaman Jaro: 1-3, 18 pts
6 Trixie Whipsum: 4-4, 9 pts
FU Scootaloo: 1-1, 7 pts
18 Anita Spankston: 0-2, 4 pts
88 Jocelyn D'Jewels: 1-2, 3 pts
20 Buffy the Vampire Skater: 1-1, 2 pts
i4Ni Sweet Justice: 0-1, 1 pt
711 Ova Achieva: 0-5, 0 pts
36c Wonderbroad: 0-1, 0 pts

4x4 Rumblebee: 3-5, 13 pts
28 Scarmen Hellectra: 4-5, 11 pts
281 Patently Offensive: 3-7, 9 pts
47 Shady O'Dread: 2-4, 3 pts
II Hell N Ready: 0-1, 0 pts

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Minnesota takes on Sioux Falls; Forces of Evil go for 5-0

December in Minnesota.  The weather is bitterly cold, the music is disturbingly festive, and your Minnesota RollerGirls are preparing for the home season.  But before the Roy can be decked with red, green, pink, and orange, we have one last holiday treat for you.  This Saturday, the Minnesota All-Stars have invited the fightin' Roller Dollz of Sioux Falls to challenge us on our home track.  And while the women in blue take on the Dakotans, our final league mixer of the season brings one last battle of good versus evil.  Yes, titans will tussle as the Superheroes take on the Supervillains!  Keep reading, true believer, for all the details...

The Sioux Falls Rollerdollz are no young, fresh league with no idea what they're getting into.  Members of the Dollz have been attending MNRG bouts since 2006 - in fact, you've probably sat next to them on the sidelines.  Sioux Falls currently rolls with about twenty active players, so there's no four-team home season for them.  Instead, the Rollerdollz play against road teams like our Minnesota All-Stars or our recent rivals, the Hammer City Eh! Team.  In terms of WFTDA ranking, the Dollz are 14th in the North Central region (the MNRG are 9th).  That ranking may not stand for much longer; Sioux Falls just handily defeated the Naptown RollerGirls (ranked 12th) in October, 96-59.

The Rollerdollz are fully cognizant of modern derby tactics; they can change up speed, they understand the 20-foot rule, they even wall up.  Most intriguing is that the Rollerdollz seem to do a lot of jammer/pack coordination.  Many packs like to attack the opposing jammer; the Dollz seem to depend on their jammers' - particularly speedster Queen Elizabitch - speed to the front and therefore run heavy interference.  Now, that can work really well; if their jammers can beat their opponents, they'll take small drops of points over big blowout jams.  Most of their jammers seem to have some track presence as well; they call off jams just as their opponents re-engage.

Who will your MNRG All-Stars be putting up against Sioux Falls?  You'll see a little change-up to the roster for this bout; four players are being added.  Scarmen Hellectra, Coochie Coup, Citizen Pain, and Jax Kvaas will be sitting this one out.  In their place? Co-captain Mitzi Massacre returns, as does Abbie Mischief and Killahertz.  Of special note is Tara Skatesov of the Atomic Bombshells, making her All-Star debut. (see the bottom of the article for full lineups.)  

Here's what you want to watch for:
- The MNRG speedsters on fire.  If Sioux Falls likes racing, they'll get to go up against some of our best.  Suzie Smashbox, Harmony Killerbruise, Psycho Novia, and Lexi Cuter all had double-digit games against Hammer City.  Harmony alone scored sixty-three.  
- Rapid jams.  The MNRG All-Stars like to play at a quick pace; grab the lead, score some points, call off the jam.  We played 37 jams against Hammer City in an hour.  That's maybe a minute a jam when you factor in the reset between each jam.  Our players are moving in and out FAST.
- Pairing up.  If you haven't yet watched closely, start looking for our pack to make roving walls that either hold back opponents or pinch jammers and blockers to the sides, cracking the opposing pack with delay tactics.  In the sport of roller derby, a two-or-three person wall in formation can cause far more chaos than three single players.
- Jammers a-go-go.  Of the fourteen we are putting forward, only one - MNRG bouncer Diamond Rough - has not jammed in a public bout.  The team that Coach Dantigravity has chosen is heavy in jammer experience, so expect to see a wide array of players wearing the star.

This should be fun, folks.  Sioux Falls has been scouting us for three years now, and we're the most-highly ranked team that they've played since joining WFTDA.  They lost a squeaker against the Ohio Roller Girls (ranked 11th in the North Central); we're in their sights.  Come and see what they've got for us.

To round out the All-Star bout, we'll also be having one last league mixer.  Odd though it may sound, the Forces of Evil have a 4-0 record against the Forces of Good over the past two years of mixers, and we've got another fun one coming.  Can the Supervillains make it five?  You'll have to be there - complete with 'GOOD IS DUMB' signs - and find out.  Last month's mixer was a great match; the initial rookie jitters (and multiple foul problems) of October's bout was replaced with some great roller derby.  

In addition to seeing our newest crop of rookies in action, fans get a chance to see some intrateam matchups.  Unless you travel to some of our exhibitions against starting leagues, you just don't get a chance to see these rivalries in the normal season.  Here's a few that jump to the eye:
- Dagger Dolls: Candi Pain and Sweet Justice v Barbie Brawl and Sinaminn 
- Atomic Bombshells: 2009 favorite rookie Jocelyn D'Jewels v wily veteran Hell N Ready
- Rockits: vet jammer Trixie Whipsum v the remarkable Pain Gretzky
- Garda Belts: Optimiss Crime v Lola Blackenblue

What else do you need to know?  Free t-shirts to the early arrivals (get there early!), the ever-fantastic E.L.nO. playing us through halftime, and the Station 4 afterparty.  Doors open at 6:30pm or shortly before. Bouts begin at 7:30pm.  And need I remind you...SUPERHEROES ON SKATES.  Nuff said?

-Garrison Killer

Sioux Falls Rollerdollz
C - Pain Maker
A - Betsy Wrecksie

Dusty Bibles
Fully OZomatic
Hollicidal Maniac
Julia Wild
Lady Biohazard
Lilly KillKill
Ltl Wicked
N. Nita Meds
Red Thunder

Minnesota RollerGirls All-Stars
C - Suzie Smashbox
A - Mitzi Massacre
Abbie Mischief
Diamond Rough
Harmony Killerbruise
Honeydew Felon
Lexi Cuter
Misfit Maiden
Psycho Novia
Tara Skatesov
Tiki Torture
Venus Thightrap
Vuedoo Prodigy

Super Heroes
Buffy the Vampire Skater #20
Candi Pain #666
DamnzelSly #46
DieAnne Isis #49
Double D. Fense #38
Gogo Galore #14
Ice Pack #45
Jocelyn D' Jewels #88
Killaman Jaro #9
Lola Blackenblue #32
Lydia Punch #789
MeshugEnough #54
Norwegian Mafia #24
Ova Achieva #711
Punish-mint Patty #100
Rollercat #17
Shiver Me Kimbers #667
Supersonik! #7of9
Sweet Justice #i4ni
Trixie Whipsum #6
Wonderbroad #36C

Super Villains
AliSin Chains #286
Barbie Brawl #007
BOOMbay Safire #976
Cookies 'n Scream #525
Chinese Take Out #1.00
Flora Flipabitch #4
Hell N Ready #II
Konceal'N Kari #945
Little Tornado #511
Norah Torious #76
Optimiss Crime #0110
Pain Gretzky #1337
Patently Offensive #281
Shiv & Let Die #67
Sinaminn #977
Shady O'Dread #47
Skullateral Damage #74
Stacy Wreckt #240
Trinity Knox #8
Wanda Wreckonwith #80

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hammer Gets Nailed; MNRG 195, Hammer City 46

Hammer Gets Nailed; MNRG 195, Hammer City 46

The MNRG all-stars treated their fans to an hour-long highlight reel on Saturday night.  Minnesota's finest took to the track and placed the The Hammer City 'Eh! Team' between an unrelenting jammer staff and an irrepressible defense that laid seige to most of the Canadiennes' scorers. On a night that could yet spawn countless youtube videos, Minnesota defeated Hammer City by a point margin of 149 points.

Despite the remarkable differential, Hammer City made every MNRG fan's heart race just a little bit as they took the first two jams and six points against a Minnesota team slow to respond against an unknown threat.  HCRG's Carla Coma overcame a strong challenge from Tiki Torture on the initial pass for two before calling off the jam.  Carla's teammate Vicadoom grabbed the next lead and four after besting MNRG pivot Venus Thightrap at the far edge of the front straightaway.

Harmony Killerbruise then blasted past against HCRG's Cut Off.  Beginning a lead jam streak that would stretch over ten minutes, Killerbruise blasted through that Eh! Team pack for a clinical four points.  Psycho Novia claimed another four as Carla Coma became acquainted with Jax Kvaas and the Minnesota pack.  Minnesota took the lead, 9-6 with five minutes gone.

After Suzie Smashbox withstood a brutal incision from Hawkeye Fierce and scored two, L'exi Cuter stepped to the line against Cut Off. It's hard to say whether the young Minnesotan actually looked up at the scoreboard and said, "Double it," under her breath...but that's what she did, and more besides. As Hammer City split their attention between L'exi and attempting to break an impregnable MNRG pack locked around Cut Off (who eventually was sent out on a penalty), L'exi Cuter took advantage and scored fourteen points on the power jam. Harmony used the remaining time unopposed to score five in the following jam. 30-6.

Psycho Novia continued that run with a remarkable, straight-up triple slam against Hammer City's Mean Little Mama, and Suzie took another four while Vuedoo Prodigy ran interference against Eh! Team's pivot Bitchslap Barbie.  Minnesota up 49-6.  With fifteen to play in the half and a 43-point advantage, Hammer City was clearly having problems both holding back the Minnesota offense as well as recovering rapidly from the takedowns it received.  Minnesota's veteran staff used both of these facts to their scoring advantage, knocking down players so that the jammers could speed past to take quick, riskless points.

HCRG's Vicadoom stopped the bleeding with three points for Hammer City as L'exi got caught up by Dicey.  Cut Off led the next jam, but Harmony Killerbruise snuck through the pack for four unanswered points as Cut Off skated behind the pack, futilely looking for a line through.  Psycho Novia followed Harmony's example as she scored four to Carla Coma's lead jam for one.  L'exi returned with another double slam, and suddenly the point advantage was over fifty; Minnesota 67-10 with eight remaining. 

Things became no more comfortable for Hammer City.  Over the last four jams of the half, Hammer City scored only one more point as Carla Coma and Cut Off both found themselves behind a grim wall of MNRG blockers.  Whether the booty-blocks from Scarmen Hellectra, Tiki's aggressive hunting, or Venus Thightrap's control of the front, Hammer City spent the bulk of their time just getting their jammer through the pack. Does anyone doubt the power of a good defensive pack? Suzie Smashbox - with five minutes remaining in the half - used that blocking advantage to score nineteen points - a near-quadruple jam without the benefit of lead or power jam.  At the half, Minnesota had taken a nigh-insurmountable lead, 94-11.

Harmony Killerbruise and Carla Coma returned from halftime and took to the line.  Carla Coma grabbed the lead and a fast two points with Harmony hot on her heels before calling the jam.  Psycho Novia returned fire with a four-point, low-to-the-ground jam while Citizen Pain and Misfit Maiden took care of her opponent Vicadoom.  It's worth noting that Misfit was having the time of her life attempting to psyche out Hammer City; whenever she started the pack as back blocker, she just turned around, stared like a dead woman at the opposing jammer, and smiled like she wanted her spleen...and then shot forward into the pack on the first whistle.  98-13 Minnesota.

With only three minutes gone in the second half, Suzie Smashbox scored Minnesota's fifth double-digit jam against Hammer City.  Those sorts of numbers are extremely difficult to come back from...and the Eh! Team's troubles worsened as Vicadoom tangled with Diamond Rough.  After getting her clock cleaned by a rough ride to the outside, Vicadoom was sent to the penalty box on a back block - and Harmony just accelerated.  QUADRUPLE SLAM - 20 points. 136-13.

Hammer City got two on the next jam as Cut Off took the lead.  The Eh! Team got a second lead as Carla Coma jammed against Tiki Torture (normally a back blocker), but without scoring.  L'exi responded with four, and Harmony scored ten more off by watching the pack from afar for openings as she well as two Diamond-assisted whips.  Fifteen to go, Minnesota 150-18, with Harmony scoring thirty in the previous two jams. 

The rest of the game continued in much the same way; Hammer City would gain a lead (often Carla Coma, who confounded the Minnesota pack with speed and an ability to turn on a dime), but the opposing Minnesota jammer would soon beat the Canadian pack and limit Hammer City to 2-4 points.  The Eh! Team could not find a way to stop or delay a Minnesota jammer.  In fact, Hammer City only lapped a jammer once in fifty-eight jame, early in the first half.  Individuals of the HCRG pack - Suffrette, Dicey, Hawkeye Fierce - all found ways to stick MNRG, but the MNRG would then clear the way to get the player through.  Just as Hammer City scored their first jam of more than four points, time expired on the clock and the teams exchanged handslaps and respect as the Roy crowd cheered.  Final score 195-46. 

The Minnesota RollerGirls' next bout will be against Sioux Falls at the Roy on December 19th.  See you there!

Your bonus stats (provided by MNRG statistics...preliminary numbers):

75 Harmony Killerbruise   7-9, 63 pts
91 Suzie Smashbox        3-6, 39 pts
187 L'exi Cuter                4-9, 38 pts
109 Psycho Novia            3-6, 29 pts
55 Venus Thightrap         1-1, 8 pts
25 Honeydew Felon         0-2, 8 pts
313 Misfit Maiden            0-2, 7 pts
H8U Tiki Torture              1-2, 3 pts

621 Carla Coma              7-13, 24 pts
420 Vicadoom                6-12, 12 pts
706 Cut Off                     2-11, 10 pts
0 Mean Little Mama         0-1, 0 pts

(3-6 means 'three lead jams of six' - special thanks to Our Man Flip for these quick stats!)

Pizza Luce player of the game: Diamond Rough

Robbers stick it to the Woman - 81-56

Robbers stick it to the Woman - 81-56

It was a bout of Cops and Robbers for the first match of November's MNRG event at the Roy, and Buffy the Vampire Skater - retired ex-captain of the Atomic Bombshells - scored first blood for the bad guys against the Cop called Sweet Justice in this league mixer.  Buffy took the lead as her teammate Tara Skatesov dumped Hell N Ready to the ground; Buffy passed Hell N and another cop for two on the jam.  Killaman Jaro continued the Robbers' ascent by scoring two while fellow Robber Killahertz held back her opponent Rumblebee.  Quick two jams, but the link up between robber defense and offense got the team off to a good start. 6-0 Robbers.

Anita Spankston and the Cops responded in kind as Anita took a whip to bypass Candi Pain's front blocking for four points.  Woman-in-blue Shady O'Dread jumped in for another two off of a power play as Robber jammer Killahertz back-blocked her way into a visit to the penalty box.  Sweet Justice continued the run by the Cops for two, but allowed her opponent Scootaloo to score before calling off the jam. 12-10 Robbers with ten minutes left.

The Robbers looked ready to light a new fuse as rookie Killaman Jaro grabbed a lead from opposing jammer Abbie Mischief.  Robber Konceal N Kari gave her scorer a glorious whip into a lapping run...but 'Jaro got sent to the klink on what appeared to be a track cut as she came off the whip.  This gave Cop jammer Abbie the moment she needed to explode from the pack.  The all-star jammer scored a double-slam-plus for 14 points on that power jam, and the coppers took the lead 24-15 with six minutes left in the half. 

In the next jam, Rookie Robber Ova Achieva broke through the pack without the lead and scored four before falling afoul of the penalty box herself; her opponent CleoSPLATra grabbed only two after a slight miscommunication between the veteran and the ref staff.  While Ova cooled her heels, Shiv and Let Die attempted to juke her way through the pack, only to be launched through the air at turn 3 by Tara Skatesov into the appreciative crowd.  While the Cops attempted to get Shiv past Tara, Rita Rawkus, and Buffy, Ova Achieva stole out of the penalty box and shot through the pack twice for five.  The lead change - off of a seven-point jam - came two jams later as Ova again burst through a short-staffed Cop roster - a yeoman's work from the rookie!  With that, the Robbers were up by five at the half, 31-26.

Robber blocker Tara Skatesov donned the jammer star at the start of the second half and took the lead despite a hard elbow from Anita Spankston.  Tara shook it off and scored five, but allowed Rumblebee to score before calling off the jam.  Tara gave the star to rookie Patently Offensive for the next jam, who sped past the pack and began accelerating.  She wasn't quite able to stop in time as she reengaged for the lapping pass -  hurtling into the Cops line instead of through it - but still was able to grab four for her team.  Trixie Whipsum jammed against Sweet Justice; Cop blocker Alisin Chains attempted to keep Trixie back with some booty-blocking, but the wily veteran bypassed her and was able to score one.  40-29 Robbers after five minutes of the 2nd half.

Tara Skatesov took the next lead and found nothing but clear track, scoring fourteen on the jam.  In her zeal for scoring, opposing jammer Anita was able to grab four before getting mugged by Robber co-captain Shiver Me Kimbers.  Patently Offensive added more kerosene to the fire with a four point jam as she took a fast outside line for the lead while Abbie Mischief got caught up by Flora Flipabitch, Rollercat, and Trinity Knox.

The Cops got their last major push as Robber jammer Whipsum got sent to the box.  Shiv and Let Die, then Abbie Mischief both scored on the power jam opportunity...but some superb blocking from Robbers Sinaminn and Optimiss Crime kept Abbie occupied while Trixie returned from the box for four points.  After a quick scoreless jam, Anita Spankston grabbed a fast four for the Cops, bringing the score to 65-50, Robbers up by fifteen with five to go.

Tara next scored her second double-slam of the game while Sinaminn, then Shiver Me Kimbers dropped Abbie Mischief into No Man's Land outside the turns.  Rumblebee scored four jamming against Patently Offensive, but the young Robber still stole two points.  Trixie Whipsum finished off the bout in a power jam for four off of a mistimed hit by CleoSPLATra while waiting for the jammer whistle to blow. The crowd went wild as the Robbers held up the MNRG tradition of the bad guys winning in league mixers. Zombies, punk rock (punk bad?  Really?), devils, and robbers have all succeeded; will the Supervillains make it 5-for-5 in December?  You'll just have to be there to see it.  Final score: 81-56.

Your bonus stats (provided by MNRG statistics...preliminary numbers):

Lead scorers - Robbers:
Tara Skatesov - 29 points over 3 jams
Ova Achieva - 16 points over 3 jams
Patently Offensive - 10 points over 3 jams

Lead scorers - Cops:
Abbie Mischief - 24 points over 4 jams
Anita Spankston - 12 points over 3 jams
Rumblebee -  7 points over 6 jams

Pizza Luce player of the game: Tara Skatesov

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wheel Bite preview - Hammer time.

For a team with as many miles on the track as the Minnesota RollerGirls - a league that has brought so many road teams to the Roy...where else to go but international?  On Saturday the 21st of November, your hometown MNRG All-Stars take on the 'Eh! Team' of Hamilton, Ontario.  Hammer City invades Minnesota, folks...and it's time to see how we play against a foreign power.

Here's what we know about this league:
Hammer City began playing in 2006 and currently have an active roster of about thirty players over two intraleague teams (in comparison, the MNRG numbers about seventy for this season). The league's no stranger to the road; Hammer City teams have competed in two tournaments and the Eh! Team has played teams across the nation in 'unofficial' bouts (that is, not sanctioned by WFTDA, our sport's umbrella organization.)  They became members of WFTDA in 2009 and are looking to play as many leagues as they can within our association.  Who better to play than the MNRG, one of WFTDA's founding leagues?

So this weekend, Hammer City will send their All-Stars...the 'Eh! Team' to the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium.  They'll be fielding fourteen players:

The HCRG Eh! Team:
Bitchslap Barbie #-98 (captain)
Vicadoom #4:20 (co-captain)
Perky Set #pi
Judge Jodie# 67
Mean Little Mama #0
Torinado #8
Snuffette #882
Eduskating Rita #2009
Carla Coma #621
Dicey #905
Cut Off #706
Little Red Rollerhood #7
Miss Carriage #33 1/3
Hawkeye Fierce #4077

Watch for jammer Carla Coma to find paths on the inside of the turns; she's got that ability to keep her head under pressure and keep her skates just within the track as she speeds through the apex of the corners.  If you're a fan of those single-skate high-risk jams, I'm pretty sure that you're going to like her style.  She and HCRG co-captain Vicadoom also share some lateral agility; they'll be the ones moving from side to side on the straightaways, looking for a path through MNRG blockers.  Oh yes, and the jammers of Hammer City are fast - their pack plays at a slower pace, but Carla Coma, Vicadoom, and Dicey all have some rockets built into those quads.

Their blocking staff seems to prefer a woman-on-woman defense in the back; watch for HCRG sweepers to go divebombing for our jammers all game long.  From the limited amount of tape we've been able to acquire, it seems that the front of the pack likes to work in pairs; Miss Carriage and Dicey look pretty tight up there, as do some of their other front blockers.

Also...Hammer City's blockers seem to like placing themselves as a unit in the front of the pack.  Now, this can be a useful tactic, and let me tell you why.  Say you've got two jammers coming around to make their scoring pass at about the same time; if your blockers are up front, your jammer can start scoring on your opponent's blockers before the other jammer can even put a point up.  There are downsides; the last blocker in such a pack can get slowed up and caught amidst the opponent's blocking staff.  If the opponent's team hits the breaks, your blockers are suddenly out of the pack - that amorphous location where both teams have the most players.  If you're out of the pack, you suddenly have a bunch of players who can't block without getting a trip to the penalty box.  The other problem?  Your jammer had better be mighty sure of herself; with no interference from your own blockers, it's just your jammer against your opponent's entire defensive line.

Clearly, the 'Eh! Team' should be a fun team to play against.  They've certainly had their opportunity to play other teams - Hammer City has travelled to Chicago, played against Madison's B-team (Team Unicorn), and have even played against up-and-comer Steel City (Pittsburgh). Hammer City's been getting ready for this match; their heads are probably full of ways to try to confound your own MNRG All-Stars.

The MNRG All-Stars:
Citizen Pain #F16
Coochie Coup #333
Diamond Rough #1837
Harmony Killerbruise #75
Honeydew Felon #25
Jax Kvaas #23
Lexi Cuter #187
Misfit Maiden #313

Psycho Novia #109
Scarmen Hellectra #28
Suzie Smashbox #91
Tiki Torture #H8U
Venus Thightrap #55
Vuedoo Prodigy #69

Couple of changes from the Carolina bout.  Sweet Justice is rumored to be working hard with her hometeam for January and has stepped aside for the fourth quarter, while All-Star co-captain Mitzi Massacre is bench coaching this bout.  This leaves two gaps to be filled on the roster.  Returning to the track is Garda Belt co-captain Citizen Pain, who'll likely be taking up her usual, frightfully-competent spot in the blocking staff. She'll be joined by last year's MNRG most improved player - Diamond Rough.  Watch for this ex-rugby player and fan favorite to be giving Hammer City a ride off the track.

What can we expect from our players?  It's hard to say.  Certainly, we'll be seeing Suzie Smashbox and Harmony shooting for points as well as the younger L'exi Cuter and Psycho Novia.  Novia and L'exi have each had one excellent game over the past few bouts; if both start scoring grand slams against Hammer City...well, it'll be hard for the Hamilton-based Canadiennes to catch up.

As before, our All-Stars will likely partner up to try to corner the players to the sides of the track.  We've been getting a lot of great results from isolating jammers from their blocking staff, either to then send a sweeper like Vuedoo or Honeydew to knock them out, or to just waste enough time that the jammer cannot score.

Also of note:

- If either team opens up a significant lead, watch for the play to start getting weird.  Slow packs off the whistle, clockwise skating, you'll know it when you see it.  Many of us watched the roller derby nationals via the Derby News Network this past weekend, and no one would be surprised to see the teams trying out some of the winning tactics from the tournament.  Incidentally, congratulations to the Oly Rollers of Olympia, WA - the newly-crowned champions of women's flat track roller derby.
- Watch that pack.  Everyone loves a jammer, but it's the blockers out there that make it hard for the opposing side to score.  October's victory against Carolina came about because MNRG's defensive line stopped Princess America and Holly Wanna Crackya, not simply because L'exi, Harmony, and Suzie had great games.  Even when our defensive lines were cracking because of penaltiy issues, the MNRG blockers kept the Carolina jammers to five points or less for every jam of the second half.  Blockers - and the pivots who sit on jammers in front and call plays - win games.

BUT WAIT...there's more.  We never just have one bout at the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium.  Our series of league mixers continue this month with a little game of cops and robbers:

The Cops:
Abbie Mischief
AliSin Chains
Anita Spankston
Bonnie Rotten
Cassie Rolle
Cookies 'n Scream
DieAnne Isis (captain)
Double D Fense
Gogo Galore
Hell N Ready
Norwegian Mafia
Rumblebee (captain)
Shady O'Dread
Shiv and Let Die
Stacy Wrekt 
Sweet Justice
Wanda Wreckonwith

Boombay Safire
Buffy the Vampire Skater
Candi Pain
Flora Flipabitch
Ice Pack
Killamon Jaro
Konceal and Kari
'Lil Tornado
Lola Blackenblue
Optimiss Crime
Ova Achieva
Patently Offensive
Rita Rawkus
Shiver Me Kimbers (captain)
Skullerateral Damage
Tara Skatesov
Trinity Knox
Trixie Whipsum
Wonderbroad (captain)

So.  Teams comprised of the players from the MNRG's past, present, and future - mashed up like a rickroll beaten by a sack of potatoes - take on each other.  Garda against Garda, veteran against veteran, [noun] versus [exactly the same noun] (you've seen this construction before, haven't you?). As in the previous mixer, it's hard to work out how this game will go down, but it might come down to how the rookies will be used. The October bout's Angels put together a more rookie-centric series of lines (that's derby jargon for the group of five players in a jam) than the Devils, and that may have been one reason that the forces of darkness overtook the folks with the halos.

That said, there's some great new players to keep an eye on.  Dagger Doll Patently Offensive had a tremendous debut in October.  Her speed-skating background showed as she raced for Devil points throughout the bout; the Dolls must be pleased about their new acquisition.  So, too, must the Gardas for Damnzelsly - though she had relatively few moments to play, we got to see some remarkable blocking precision from the new girl in green. And there's more to come; we've just met our newest players - plenty of time to find favorites amidst '09 rookies.

In short, derby.  Season six continues.  Join us on Saturday; in addition to everything we've laid out for you just now, we'll be bringing the Bratwurst Brothers for halftime, the Saint Paul Bouncing Team for a little preshow entertainment, and an afterparty at O'Gara's. We will see you there!

Reporting from where all the women are strong, all the men are accessories, and all the children turn left,
-Garrison Killer, MNRG sidelines reporter

Friday, October 23, 2009

Devils down Angels 88-48

The Minnesota RollerGirls recruit their newest members in the heat of June.  As summer's heat passes, these recruits get drafted and begin working with the four teams...but in years past that left months before a new player would be seen at the Roy.  Last year, we began running league mixers to show off the rookies and get everyone back in front of the Roy crowd from the very first bout.  As an opener to each All-Star bout this year, we're starting up the mixers again.  This month: a frothy concoction of roller Angels and derby Devils.

After the introduction of over fifty players for the two teams - names of veterans, rookies, and retired skaters of old - the whistles blew and co-captains for their respective teams Mae Gusta (Devils) and Tara Skatesov (Angels) sped off the jammer line. Mae took the first lead of the MNRG's sixth season with a fast run through the inside of the back straightaway, while Tara got held back by Demora Liza and Shiver Me Kimbers.  Tara got held back just enough so that Mae could get a full five points. 

Sparkle Ninja (Angels) and Dieann Isis (Devils) then took to the line.  The refs called Ninja on a false start minor (and therefore could not become lead jammer) but shot through the pack nonetheless.  Isis finally also busted through without taking the lead, but could only gather three points against Sparkle Ninja's 13. Devil (and Dagger Doll) rookie Patently Offensive then grabbed her first MNRG jammer lead against the Angels' Anita Spankston, who fell afoul of Devil sweeper Diamond Rough. P.O. grabbed eight points, then ran straight into an Angel from behind and got sent out on back-blocking.  Anita found her footing and took four points of her own. Angels up 17-16 with twelve to go.

Angel rookie Killaman Jaro went to the line unopposed while Patently finished out her penalty.  However, by the time that Killaman's road had been cleared by her teammate Damnzelsly, Patently Offensive had already left the box and stolen the lead.  Both players scored two.  Shady O'Dread got the first Angel lead and grabbed two points as her opponent - Abbie Mischief - got waylaid by Rollercat.  However, Shady then got sent to the box along with two other Angels, giving Abbie (an All-Star when not wearing the wings) a massive opening to score a triple slam against an Angel-depleted pack.  The Devils took the lead (33-21) with nine left on the clock.

Trixie Whipsum - Rockit of seasons past - took an unopposed lead getting past Candi Pain and Flora Flipabitch.  However, Shady came out of the box, broke out of the pack and got past her; both scored two.  Rumblebee got the Devils' fifth lead jam, took an inside line unhindered by Angels and added five. Angel Tara Skatesov got the next lead and took a bit of a risk as she allowed her jam to continue as her opponent Patently Offensive went past.  The gamble paid off; P.O. got sent to the box after passing only one Angel, while Tara scored eight on the power jam.  She might have scored more; Tara called for her team to strand the Devils past the twenty foot point of engagement, but the team couldn't execute quickly enough for the jammer to capitalize. 41-31 Devils with three to go.

With Patently Offensive still in the box, Killaman Jaro started unopposed, and took a beautiful belt-assisted whip off of Angel blocker Little Tornado.  However, she still lost the lead to a faster Offensive, who scored ten. Devils captain Mae Gusta finished the half off with another double slam; the Devils ahead 61-32.

Retired Bombshell Betty Bruiser put on the jammer horns for the Devils against Sparkle Ninja to begin the second half. Betty broke the pack first, but Sparkle got the clean lead and called it off before Betty could start lapping.  Rumblebee next had a brilliant run for the Devils; she found space on the inside to clear through for the lead and withstood some fierce hits (including an illegal one from Angel rookie Alisin Chains) to score nine before the end of the jam. 

Angel Killaman Jaro grabbed the next lead as the refs sent opposing jammer Velvet Hammer (formerly of the Atomic Bombshells) to the box.  Killaman scored two before getting called out for track-cutting just as the jam expired.  Because both jammers were either serving time or heading to the box as time expired, both stayed in with Velvet able to leave as the next jam began.  Velvet broke right through the pack and scored three for the Devils before getting forced out by Candi and cutting back in...a fourth minor penalty for Velvet, which meant another trip to the box.  Killaman returned to the track when Velvet sat down, picked up the lead, but could not score.  After eight minutes in the half, the Devils' margin had increased to almost forty. 73-34 Devils.

Shiver Me Kimbers and Shady O'Dread then stepped to the line for their teams; through a knotty set of penalty calls involving a massive pileup in which neither jammer fell small (giving both a penalty), and a second subsequent penalty for both within two minutes, both jammers ended up keeping the jammer stars, but starting the next jam from the penalty box.  Kimbers took the next lead quickly as she raced from the box and called off the jam.

The fouls settled down as Sparkle Ninja and the Devils' Betty Bruiser returned to the line.  Betty grabbed a great whip off of Demora for the lead, but the Sparkly One was right behind her.  The Angels' Candi blocked in Betty, who called off the jam before Sparkle could advance.  The Angels started scoring again in the next two jams as jammers Tara and Anita grabbed points and their Angelic cohorts Rolls Wilder and Bonnie Rotten stymied their opponents. 

With only a minute to go, the score stood at 73-48 with the Devils in the lead, so the Angels sent back Sparkle Ninja to the jammer line to play against Mae Gusta for a last roll of the dice.  The Devils had not scored for ten minutes; it seemed that momentum was on the Angels' side...but it was not to be.  Sparkle slammed into Diamond Rough while Mae made her dizzying course through the Angel pack for the lead.  Mae pulled a triple slam off before she called the jam - final score 88-48 Devils over Angels.

The frequent use of rookie players appeared to sap the strength of the Angels, particularly when All-Stars like Candi Pain and Tara Skatesov would call a play and the team couldn't quite respond in time.  That said, newly-minted Dagger Doll Rollercat and Garda Belt rookie Damnzelsly put some great hits on the Devils as Angel defense.  As for the Devils, some good play - their packs were tight with Mae, Norah Torious, and Diamond squeezing the Angels out of play...and amidst some great Devil jams, the rookie Patently Offensive got off to an impressive start.  Congratulations to the diabolical horde for overthrowing the Roy.  Thank you for joining us and we'll see you next month!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Minnesota takes out Carolina in season opener, 105-69

Minnesota v Carolina

In the beginning of flat-track derby, the original, 'v1.0' rules of our governing body didn't even exist.  Get a player from those days over a beer, and you'll hear about how the two teams would hash out the ruleset between them only hours before the bout was played.  Minnesota and Carolina played one of the very first interleague bouts of the modern derby era at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium in November 2005.  That match is an interesting footnote in the record books (237 MNRG - 173 CRG) as the second-highest bout recorded in overall points scored ever.  More importantly, it was with great delight that it was announced that Carolina's All-Stars would kick off the MNRG season.

On paper, this looked like a bit of a mismatch.  In WFTDA's East region, Carolina is ranked fourth and came through their tournament in fifth place.  Minnesota is ranked sixth in the North Central region and won only their last match against Grand Raggidy to place ninth.  What's more, Carolina sent a strong staff to Saint Paul; eleven of the fourteen players on the track this weekend were part of Carolina's tournament crew for Eastern Regionals.  Minnesota switched out Hanna Belle Lector for Scarmen Hellectra, but kept the remainder of the MNRG-Chicago staff from the Brawl of America together.

Suzie Smashbox (co-captain of MNRG) sped through pressure from Carolina's Princess America to take the first lead against Holly Wanna Crackya.  While Holly dueled with woman-on-woman specialist Tiki Torture, Suzie scored five and called off the jam.  MNRG all-star rookie L'exi-cuter got hung up by a stretched-out Carolina pack (it's a tactic called 'bridging') while Carolina's MVP DVS took the next lead for six.  MNRG jammer Harmony Killerbruise returned the favor with a textbook grand slam-plus that went unanswered from her opponent Princess America - thanks to Minnesota's three-deep walling of the Carolina fan favorite. All of that action was packed into five minutes of play, and Minnesota had the lead 13-5.

After two scoreless jams, L'exi Cuter took the lead and scored five as she caught Kitty Crowbar trying to engage outside the pack.   Holly Wanna Crackya then crashed through a light pack and scored five as Minnesota's blocking staff's minor fouls caught up.  DVS followed up for three against Psycho Novia, but the next three jams were Minnesota's for eight points.  Minnesota's back walls and pivot (particularly Venus Thightrap) ably handled Carolina's jammers.  Deviled Leggs broke the MNRG jammer streak by forcing 20 feet on Mitzi Massacre and Misfit Maiden to score three.

The refs sent Leggs to the box for minors, only to be sent out after her opponent Suzie Smashbox was sent in - and then seconds later returned once Suzie was clear.  Minnesota started working the penalty clock.  Leggs got trapped in the box over the next two jams, then finally emerged on fire but could not score.  With L'Exi well past the pack, Leggs got caught up in the full brunt of the Minnesota defense.  L'exi scored nine on that jam, and with one other scoring run, Minnesota continued to hold an appreciable lead 39-16 with eight on the clock.

Holly then brought Carolina right back into the game; off of more MNRG foul trouble, Holly shot through a depleted pack for eight, but allowed three from Harmony Killerbruise.  Carolina's Pinkslip then scored nine, and the CRG bench - smelling blood as the MNRG continued to draw fouls - sent Holly Wanna Crackya back out and Holly put up her biggest jam of the night...a triple slam.  These jams were the first three where Carolina had taken more than a single scoring run in a jam in the entire game and gave Carolina the lead. A final lead jam for Suzie brought the game to halftime, 48-46 Carollina.

Except for Carolina's late scoring run, Minnesota appeared to have control over the game.  However, the problems with the MNRG's defense and their foul trouble mounted throughout the period.  It gave Carolina an opportunity to come out and resume control of the game.  That said, of the four jammers scoring double digits in the first half, only one - Holly Wanna Crackya - played for Carolina.

The second half began just about where the previous half ended; with two players in the penalty box, the MNRG could not stop Holly Wanna Crackya from inching up Carolina's lead for four.  L'exi Cuter got Minnesota back on the right track by passing Princess America on the lapping pass whilst Princess attempted to booty block the young MNRG all-star back into the pack.  Princess called off the jam; Harmony and MNRG Misfit Maiden - normally a blocker - followed up with two lead jams for seven points in all.  53-52 Minnesota as the home team retook the lead with twenty-five to go.

Suzie Smashbox returned to the line against Carolina's Pinkslip as Kitty Crowbar cleared her minors.  Suzie grabbed twelve points while Pinkslip got rocked in the Minnesota back by Sweet Justice and Tiki Torture.  L'exi outsped Holly Wanna Crackya to get the next lead and sat on the Carolina veteran for almost a minute before calling the jam. 65-52 Minnesota.

L'Exi's lead made it four leads in a row for Minnesota...but Carolina broke the streak and began their major run as Minnesota re-entered into a sustained case of foul trouble.  For six jams, Carolina took the lead and beseiged the home team...but despite having a two-short pack for almost all of seven minutes, Minnesota never gave up more than five points per jam.  The difference can be seen by the way that Minnesota's defense almost gave up on the opposing jammer and just helped their own get through the pack while short.  And so - despite six lead jams in a row and a lot of excellent back-wall contact from Carolina's Maddat U and Shirley Temper - Carolina came back within only two.  66-64 Minnesota with fifteen left.

From there on, it was Minnesota all the way.  The MNRG began their own six lead-jam streak as L'exi Cuter took four points while jamming against Celia Fate.  Carolina's jammers began to not take the lead as they broke the packs, and Minnesota capitalized on that by taking lead after them and denying their opponents the ability to score.  Suzie Smashbox double-slammed Carolina as Princess America went to the box, and L'exi used the remaining power jam time to score nine of her own as she bent around the Carolina pack.  Minnesota front blocker Venus Thightrap capped off a fantastic match as she continued to trouble Princess America's resurgence from the box.

Minnesota finished their lead jam streak with five minutes to go and two textbook quick jams to bring the score to 95-65.  Carolina finally pulled a lead via Kitty Crowbar as DVS tossed a player into jammer L'exi-Cuter's way.  It seemed that Holly Wanna Crackya might also get a lead in the next jam, but MC Fyte went down on the front straightaway before she could start advancing.  End of jam.  Suzie Smashbox finished out the match with a double slam, and the crowd emptied onto the track for victory laps, high-fives, and hugs everywhere.  Final score 105-69.

After a disappointing start of the '09-'10 season at the Brawl of America, the Minnesota RollerGirls appear to have worked out some of their biggest issues.  Carolina had a very strong team - Maddat U, Celia Fate, and DVS all had a good night amidst the Carolina pack, but they couldn't quite work out how to stop Suzie, L'exi, and Harmony Killerbruise.  It seemed like Minnesota's blockers created paths for their scorers, and the jammers executed through those gaps again and again. Carolina also had a scoring problem - of the six jammers they put to the line, only one - Holly Wanna Crackya - scored double-digits.

We should particularly point out MNRG's pivot Venus Thightrap. She put on the pivot cover fifteen times and averaged a points per jam of 2.60 - her packs allowed 13 points for Carolina and scored 52 for MNRG.

It's still not all roses for Minnesota; the MNRG's players are still having long stretches where many players get sent to the box; one particularly horrifying moment for Minnesota fans came in the second half when two defenders skidded into the box just as the other two were standing up.  Those seven minutes in the second half where Carolina got six lead jams could have been disastrous.  Yet somehow, the defense bided its time and kept the opponents to single-lap gains. 

Minnesota's next match on November 21st will bring Hamilton, ON's Hammer City Roller Girls for Minnesota's first international bout - with a league mixer pitting Cops vs Robbers as the first match.  We'll see you there!