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 approached...as 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