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!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Carolina returns; Angels and Devils to Dance

Carolina returns; Angels and Devils to Dance

Welcome back.

The doors will reopen at the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium for season 6 of Saint Paul's own Minnesota RollerGirls. If you've been following us over the summer, you'll know that the MNRG all-stars have been upping their game, travelling all over this nation to take on and take out our sister leagues. On the way, we've visited Michigan, Philadelphia, and even returned to Austin, where our dreams of our league began over five years ago. And to start this season off, we're bringing to you the first team that ever played the MNRG at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium...the fearsome, fantastic, phenomenal Carolina All-Stars.

Carolina came to the Roy four seasons ago in November of 2005 to throw down against a very young MNRG squad - and we made history by scoring the highest cumulative number of points ever in a full bout of roller derby. That record - a combined score of 410 points - was finally broken only five months ago when Texas demolished Oklahoma 451 to 8. Our bout against Carolina was much closer; when the dust settled, we had beaten Carolina's All-Stars 237-173. Two months later, we would travel to Carolina and be beaten in a much closer rematch - we fell to them 136-126. So to say there's a history between our two teams...well, that's sort of understating it.

With that history in mind, consider how our teams now stand. Minnesota just put on an amazing tournament - the Brawl of America was remarkable and we thank all of you that came out to see us and the nine teams that also competed. Put simply, our All-Stars did not have a great weekend. We fell to the North Central champion Windy City Rollers; we also lost a close one to our sister league across the river, the North Star Roller Girls, but we did defeat Michigan's Grand Raggidy Roller Girls. We placed ninth at the Brawl, and according to WFTDA's Q2 rankings, we are sixth in our region. That puts us in
about the center of the pack in the North Central.

Carolina, on the other hand, is currently ranked fourth and came in fifth at their own tournament in the East Region. Right now, the East is arguably the strongest of the four regions; Gotham, Philly, Boston, and Charm City (remember them?) all play there - and Carolina plays them regularly and has won some of those matches. With the exception of our bout against Windy City at the Brawl, Carolina represents the biggest team that we have ever faced on Roy concrete. We will have our hands full.

The rosters:

MNRG All-Stars

Coochie Coup
Harmony Killerbruise
Honeydew Felon
Jax Kvaas (Frau Scientits of the Rockits)
L'exi Cuter
Misfit Maiden
Mitzi Massacre (co-captain)
Psycho Novia
Scarmen Hellectra
Suzie Smashbox (co-captain)
Sweet Justice
Tiki Torture
Venus Thightrap
Vuedoo Prodigy

Carolina All-Stars

Kitty Crowbar
Daisy Rage
MC Fyte
Holly Wanna Crackya
Deviled Legs
Celia Fate
Roxxy Slide
Bianca O'Blivion
Shirley Temper
Elka Meano
Princess America
Maddat U

You'll notice a couple of very fresh faces; Psycho Novia and L'Exi-cuter were rookies last year, but we'll likely be seeing them putting on the jammer star and taking on Carolina's staff next to Suzie Smashbox, Mitzi Massacre, and Harmony Killerbruise. If the rosters for the Brawl and our Houston match are to be understood as the new norm, we may also be seeing Sweet Justice (co-captain for the Dagger Dolls) Misfit Maiden (Bombshell co-captain), and even back blocker extraordinaire Honeydew Felon take a turn at the jammer line.

In the pack, there's the usual wall of Rockit defense (Scarmen, Coochie Coup, Vuedoo, Honeydew, and Jax), but Carolina will see our players that wear orange, green, and pink as well. Tiki Torture is being called on to bring her fast, precise sweeping, while Venus Thightrap gets her first call in the home season to represent MNRG as an all-star. Watch for her near the front of the pack. Meantime, watch for her Bombshell teammates Mitzi, Misfit, and L'exi as front blockers. The MNRG has a habit of creating three-deep phalanxes that work in formation to entrap their prey, and the players will need to make those formations as sturdy as they can.

The Carolina defense also plays the wall game; their pack likes playing with a buddy (two walls, front and back) and when a defender is lost, they can be slow to sew up that hole. On the other hand, they're calm under pressure and don't often lose track of the location of the pack when a front blocker heads out to cut off the jammer before they start sprinting. As to that jamming, Carolina is bringing two of their best to Saturday's match - Holly Wanna Crackya and Princess America. Now, the Princess is a very skilled jammer who consistently puts great numbers up; Holly has a remarkable facility to accelerate through half the pack, pop her head up, work out a brand new line, and shoot through the remainder of the defenders. It's going to a lot of fun to see our tremendous blocking line take on such talented players.

If you want to watch for signs that Minnesota is doing well against Carolina, here are a few things to watch for (other than the score, of course):

1) Minnesota staying out of the penalty box. We've had many problems this summer with our players heading to the box at exactly the wrong time. There are a number of ways that our team can work through foul trouble as long as the overall number is low. If two or three of our players head to the box every jam, we're going to have difficulty putting up enough defense to stop Carolina's best.
2) Communication. Watch for our women in blue pointing, yelling, and using anything this side of semaphore flags to let each other know what's going on around them.
3) A few stuffs by our blockers in the first few jams. If we can find ways early to stop their jammers' movement through the pack (even if they don't have to pick themselves off the ground), it's a good indication that we've got their number.

We would love to see every face out there painted in MNRG blue, every torso beclad in All-star colors, all holding signs and cheering like the force of nature that you MNRG fans are during the home season. These players are some of the very best we've seen at the Roy, and we want every edge we can get to take on this team...including the homecourt advantage that you bring us every month.

One last note: this may very well be the last bout for All-Star Harmony Killerbruise; Harmony is heading west to Washington this fall. If you have an opportunity, stop her and thank her for her years at the pivot and jammer line for the Rockits and the All-Stars.

Angels v Devils:

It's our second year of experimenting with theme bouts. We enjoyed putting on last year's 'Disco v Punk' and 'Pirates v Zombies' bouts so much that we decided to do it again this year. This first bout will bring out the best and the worst of our skaters as the Angelic Hosts take on the Denizens from the Depths of the Grave.

The rosters:


AliSin Chains (rookie)
Cassie Rolle (rookie)
DamnzelSly (rookie)
Killaman Jaro (rookie)
Little Tornado (rookie)
Ova Achieva (rookie)
Rollercat (rookie - reserves last year)
Stacy Wreckt (rookie)
Abbie Mischief
Anita Spankston
Candi Pain
Flora Flipabitch
Gogo Galore
Hell N Ready
Optimiss Crime
Pain Gretzky
Rita Rawkus
Shady O'Dread
Sparkle Ninja
Tara Skatesov (captain)
Trinity Knox
Bonnie Rotten (inactive)
Eve L Hazard (inactive)
Rolls Wilder (inactive)


BOOMbay Safire (rookie)
Cookies 'n Scream (rookie)
Double D.Fense (rookie)
IcePack (rookie - reserves last year)
Konceal N' Kari (rookie)
Madame de Stompadour (rookie)
Norwegian Mafia (rookie)
Patently Offensive (rookie)
Wanda Wreckonwith (rookie - reserves last year)
Barbie Brawl
Demora Liza
Diamond Rough
DieAnn Isis
Mae Gusta (co-captain)
Norah Torious (co-captain)
Punishmint Patty
Shiv & Let Die
Shiver Me Kimbers
Trixxie Whipsum
Betty Bruiser (inactive)
Lydia Punch (inactive)
Velvet Hammer (inactive)

It's very difficult to handicap these matches. Many players from the past, present, and future of MNRG get involved - for now, notice the new set of rookies that we've brought on this year (and check out the updates to the MNRG website to find out a bit more about them).

Enough has been written, folks. We'll have recaps a couple of days after, but they're nothing like that feeling of opening day, screaming your lungs out with mini donuts and PBR in hand. See you this weekend!


Writing for the MNRG,
-Garrison Killer