Thursday, December 31, 2009

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.

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