Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rockits and Dolls victorious!

Due to the worst weather that Minnesota has seen for twenty years, the Minnesota RollerGirls delayed their third home-season bout one day to allow fans and players alike to reach the Roy in safety. On Sunday December 12th, both the barnstorming Dagger Dolls and the Rockits’ enduring threat proved successful in their march to the championship on January 22nd.

We are going to depart from our normal format this month and give you a slightly different picture of these bouts as they unfolded. If you were unable to make these bouts, we hope this will give you a taste of what you missed.

Rockits v Garda Belts - first half

It’s red meets green at last. The Rockits have not been defeated by the Garda Belts in recent memory, and the Gardas are playing without their jammer-in-chief Suzie Smashbox tonight. And, as has been previously announced here, Rockit phenom Harmony Killerbruise has returned to the ranks of the Rockits. Could be a long night for the Gardas in green.

Start of the half (Rockits 0 - Gardas 0) It’s Betty LaRude and Coochie Coup pivoting with Cassie Rolle jamming against the returning Harmony Killerbruise. But it’s Cassie that takes that first lead by getting her hips just past the Rockit pivot. No points.

17 minutes to go (Rockits 9 - Gardas 2) The Rockits are starting well as their jammers pinball through the pack. Patently Offensive has taken four against the Gardas’ Rumblebee, while Commander Nix takes five. However, some good outside phalanxing of Rockit players (and Nix’s inattention at calling the jam) allows Cassie to score two.

14 minutes (Rockits 24 - 2) ROCKIT POWER JAM. Frau Scientits jams against Cassie Rolle. Cassie gets caught looking on a track cut and the Rockit blockers stop the pack short to allow their jammer a shot at scoring a ton of points. Frau starts orbiting the pack while the Gardas get compartmentalized. Triple grand slam.

12 minutes (Rockits 44 - 2) A strong-hipped escort by Citizen Pain on Rockit co-captain Scarmen Hellectra starts the jam out right for the Garda Belts, but they soon find themselves attempting to extricate their own Rumblebee out of the pack as Scar takes lead and scores a quadruple (!) slam.

10 minutes (Rockits 44 - 4) Harmony might be able to find her way through the finest defenses in the world, but she’s having trouble breaking past the Gardas faster than the fleet-footed Cassie Rolle. Cassie scores two.

6 minutes (Rockits 66 - 7) After a couple of ineffectual jams from both sides, the Rockits’ Commander Nix knocks it out of the Roy with an eighteen-point jam (opposing jammer Cassie Rolle) scores three.

5 minutes (Rockits 66 - 7) The Garda Belts’ Betty LaRude is stepping up as a woman-on-woman blocker tonight. Case in point in that previous jam: Commander Nix might have scored another 5-10 points had it not been for Betty stalking Nix for several laps of the track. She’s fitting in just fine to her new team and league.

3 minutes (Rockits 77 - 7) The Gardas can’t seem to work together on blocking the Rockit jammers tonight; everything big from the girls in green is all 1-on-1 hits. Harmony finally gets her first lead jam against Anita Spankston. And what do you know? It’s a POWER JAM as Anita gets called for the ubiquitous track cut. Har takes eleven and calls the jam before Anita returns to the track.

1 minute to go in the half (Rockits 86-8) and the Rockits keep it coming. Frau gets a lead off of positioning from the end of Anita’s power jam and scores before calling the jam. (And was that a late hit from Betty L on Frau after she called it off? Only the instant replay clock knows.)

Last jam of the half. Honeydew Felon and Coochie beat back Cassie Rolle’s forward movement as Harmony cracks a full Garda blocking group for the lead and ten points.

TWEEEET! (Rockits 96 - Gardas 8) It’s halftime. The Rockits are in full control as the Gardas - already smarting from the lack of their primary scorer at the jammer line - can’t seem to contain Rockit jammers long enough to score. Two bright spots: competent blocking from Garda defenders Citizen Pain, Rumblebee, and Betty LaRude and a lot of speed from Cassie Rolle. She’s being leaned on a lot tonight in Suzie Smashbox’s, and despite the score she appears to be a smart jamming option.

Dagger Dolls v Atomic Bombshells - first half

With the Rockits playing so well in the first half, the Atomic Bombshells are up against the wall. If they want to defend the Golden Skate, they must win now. This is going to be fought in the pack; both teams love to pass their jammers forward and provide the support to get them out front first. Watch for a lot of races.

No big announcements for either team. Bombshell co-captain Venus Thightrap is still out on injury leave, and looks to be so for several more months.

First jam of the bout (Dolls 14-0) It’s Bombshell Hurtrude Stein v Dagger Doll co-captain Psycho Novia. No surprise here, Trudy’s showed her stuff in the Bombshell/Garda bout, while Psycho’s been playing amazing roller derby for the past several months. Psycho Novia bounces through the Bombshells and gets that first lead jam. Fourteen unanswered points for the Dolls!

17 minutes to go (Dolls 27-0) Second-year Dagger Doll Killiman Jaro just barreled through danger with offensive blocker Angelfire clearing her way for another five. That’s on top of a couple of small Dolly-led jams.

15 minutes to go (Dolls 36-0) DOLLY POWER JAM. Bombshell rookie jammer Freeze Baby goes to the box after falling and tripping a Dolly (you have to fall small when you hit the concrete, and Freeze didn’t appear to meet the requirement), giving Dolly jammer Juke Boxx a chance to score unopposed. Lydia Punch, Barbie Brawl, and Tiki Torture keep the Bombshell defense strides away from the blocker, and Juke scores nine more points. The Bombshells have not yet scored this bout. That’s trouble.

14 minutes (Dolls 40-0) Atomic Bombshell timeout taken after Psycho Novia scores four. Opposing jammer L’exi-Cuter gets caught by a Dagger Doll outside phalanx scraping her into the outside, then by Shiver Me Kimbers.

13 minutes (Dolls 40-3) At last the Bombshells take points as Hurtrude Stein breaks through for three. The Bombshell defense has started finding their way. Plenty of time to make this up.

8 minutes (Dolls 44-7) The Bombshells are scoring lead jams, but their defense isn’t able to put enough of a block on the opposing jammer that they can score more than one or two points. The Dollys aren’t helping the Bombshells, either; Juke Boxx stovepiped L’exi-cuter right into Diamond Rough’s behind, keeping the 2009 MNRG Speed Demon winner from breaking the pack early.

7:30 to go. (Dolls 44-7) Killaman Jaro cougars (intentionally drawing the fourth minor) as Psycho Novia and Hurtrude Stein get set to jam.

5 minutes (Dolls 58-7) What handling of the jammer by the Dolly defense! After a minute of getting pounded by Juke Boxx, Hurtrude is just about to squeak by when Dolly front blocker Olga Oglethorpe skins her off the track. Meanwhile, Psycho Novia takes yet another lead jam and scores fourteen unanswered points.

3 minutes (Dolls 58-7) The packs are decreasing in size as accumulated minors begin to build up...we’ve just seen two jams where no points were scored. If the pack size is small overall, you won’t often see a big jam for either side.

1 minute to go (Dolls 73-7) DOLLY POWER JAM. Ova Achieva dons the jammer star for the Dolls and Freeze returns to the line for the ABS. The Bombshell jammer is first to the front, but is sent to the box for a penalty instead of receiving the lead jam. Ova instead finishes her first pass through the pack and puts the Dolls ahead by another fifteen points with a triple slam as her defensive line holds the Bombshells at a near standstill. It’s been five jams now since the Bombshells have scored.

Last jam of the half: make that six. Killaman Jaro gets the last lead of the half...and finally scores four points after getting blocked in the back of the pack for a couple of laps by Diamond Rough.

TWWEEEET! That’s halftime. While the Bratwurst Brothers hit the stage, the teams go to the back and work out second-half strategy. Fact is, the Dagger Doll defense - a multi-headed coalition of Dollies young and old - is playing a superb game. They’re pushing the opposing team aside to create a lane for the Dolly jammer to passed through, then snapping back and stinging the opposing scorer as soon as she tries to follow. This strategy is not based off a particular player; it’s practically the whole team pulling this off. You don’t keep the Atomic Bombshells to seven points over twenty minutes by having just one or two good players.

Rockits v Garda Belts - second half

96-8 is a near-insurmountable lead for the Gardas to overcome. The Rockits have to know that they have just about claimed a sixth consecutive trip to the championship bout; they just need to hold back the Garda jammers for twenty more minutes.

20 minutes t...WAIT WHAT!? John Maddening just announced our opponent for the huge Xcel Energy double-header with the Minnesota Swarm. Holy crap, it’s Madison! Our All-Stars will be taking on none other than the Dairyland Dolls on January 29th. We’ve won our last two bouts against Madison’s travel team, but this will be a close game and a hard challenge for our All-Stars. This is excellent news; Madison is our oldest foe, and there is a lot of history behind this matchup. Watch this space in upcoming weeks for a preview of the bout.

Back to the bout, now about to be in progress.

20 minutes to go (Rockits 96-8) DAMN, THAT WAS FAST. Harmony Killerbruise gets the lead jam in just under ten seconds, scores twelve, then is sent tumbling to the ground by Lola Blackenblue on a scoring pass. Har calls it, but Moto picks through the chaos and scores three points.

16 minutes (Rockits 108-12) Moto’s calm play starts a run by the Gardas. Rumblebee gains a scoreless lead, then Shiva Shankin’ leans through the pack for the next lead jam. She fearlessly tears straight into the Rockits with opposing jammer Commander Nix right behind her, scores one, and calls it.

14 minutes (Rockits 112-12) Harmony goes back to the line and gets shunted to the outside by the Garda rear guard. No matter; she recycles to the back, sprints through for the lead, and gains four points. Meanwhile, the Rockits can’t seem to get a good bead on Sintripetal Force.

12 minutes (Rockits 112-16) ...or Moto Fluzzi for that matter. The rookie Garda speeds for the front and strings them out to force an out-of-play lead jam. Moto comes back around for four. Sin and Moto are definitely earning those green jammer stars tonight.

11 minutes (Rockits 113-16) Now that’s some blocking. Citizen Pain (usually wearing the pivot stripe, not the jammer star) jams against Kit Shinkicker. Kit gets the lead off of a 20-foot out-of-play call, scores, but goes to the box on a penalty. POWER JAM...but Citi’s having problems breaking through the rear as Vuedoo Prodigy recycles the Garda repeatedly. Having enough of Vue’s shenanigans, Betty LaRude plants Vue into the seats, but still Citizen can’t advance. Vuedoo pops back up and blindsides Citi on the next turn. No points on the power jam.

9 minutes (Rockits 113-28) Kit returns to the track at the end of that power jam, only to get plastered by Shiva Shankin’. NSRG transfer Shiva has turned a lot of heads this season. She disrupts the opposing line with some smart knockouts, and the Gardas have this hard-hitting defensive threat in the middle of their defensive line. Garda jammer Cassie Rolle takes advantage of the chaos for twelve.

8 minutes (Rockits 134-28) The Gardas have no answer for the Rockits. Commander Nix and Killahertz (jamming for the first time in six years as a Rockit) both wind through a Garda pack caught looking.

3 minutes (Rockits 134-28) GARDA POWER JAM! Oh, this has potential. Betty LaRude forces a track cut on Frau, sending her to the box. Cassie’s got a minute to fly.

2 minutes to go (Rockits 134-28) Power jam over; the Rockits pace the Garda pack for the entire minute. Cassie can’t pass the back of the Rockit Red Wall defense until Frau screams through out of the box. I have a sense we’ll be seeing more Frau with the jammer star next month...

1:30 (Rockits 134-28) ANOTHER GARDA POWER JAM!! This time, Kit Shinkicker gets sent for back blocking, and opposing jammer Sintripetal Force cruises through the pack for the lead. Sin strings out the Rockit pack for five...and that’s the game!

TWWEET!!!!! Final score 134-33. With a 101 point point differential, the Rockits have now guaranteed a spot in the Championship bout. The teamwork and synchronized skating from the sparkly red pack was worlds away from their defeat at the hands of the Dolls last month. Meanwhile, the Gardas have some astounding players, but they are struggling as a pack. It’s as if they are unable to create their own zones of defense on the track; pockets of the pack that they own. They’re spending a lot of time reacting to each new formation, and it’s costing them.

Dagger Dolls v Atomic Bombshells second half

Dagger Dolls 77-7. That’s a seventy point lead. Not completely nuts...but if the Bombshells have a plan, they better use it fast. To win AND go to the finals, the Bombshells must outscore the Dolls by 148 points this half. I don’t believe that’s ever been done by a home team.

First jam of the half (Dagger Dolls 77 - Atomic Bombshells 7) Angelfire (Dagger Doll) and Hurtrude Stein (Bombshell) matches up at the jammer line, and both get stopped as they attempt to make the pass. Angelfire gets sent to the outside by Tara Skatesov; Tara keeps moving, Angelfire comes back seconds later. Trudy gets hit out by Tiki Torture, who runs backward to force Trudy to start the pack engagement all over again. Still, Trudy breaks through and gets the lead for four.

18 minutes (Dolls 77-11) Juke Boxx goes to the jammer line, sweeps through the pack for the lead, gets stopped for a second by Chinese Takeout, then charges ahead for a grand slam. Meanwhile (another Juke Boxx slam), Lizzy the Axe can’t seem to find a good path through (another Juke Boxx grand slam) as she keeps testing the Dagger defense (Juke Boxx scores a final four points in the slam).

14:40 (Dolls 96-11) Two jams later, Killaman “Man Jar” Jaro busts through the pack with Olga Oglethorpe opening a yard-wide lane on the outside. Man Jar shoots through for a triple slam while opposing jammer Freeze Baby can’t seem to pass that front pack of Dollies - Naughty Kitty, Olga, Scootaloo, and Tiki.

13 minutes (Dolls 111-11) Tiki, incidentally, is all over the pack this half. I can’t say whether it’s because it’s her birthday or just that she’s everywhere the opposing jammer is. Though it seems to be paying off, her hard hits are getting her into a little foul trouble.

12:45 (Dolls 111-15) Hurtrude Stein sneaks through the inside line for four as Angelfire gets shunted to the outside.

11 minutes (Dolls 117-24) Dagger Doll Barbie Brawl, seven year vet of the MNRG, goes to the line against Lizzy the Axe. Lizzy gets the lead jam for the Bombshells easy as you please, but it’s only some precise blocking from Chinese Takeout that keeps Barbie from stealing even more points against Lizzy’s lead. Lizzy takes nine, Barbie scores six.

8 minutes (Dolls 122-33) L’exi takes advantage of some errant attention on Skullateral Damage by Dolly rear blocker Tiki Torture to take the lead and nine points, but Tiki delays her on the second passing run to let Ova Achieva come in and score five.

7:30 (Dolls 122-33) SLOW PACK START. Only five seconds, but the Dolls get some advantage and it helps give Man Jar the lead and a double slam.

4:30 (Dolls 132-33) Dagger Doll jammer Scootaloo can’t bypass D, Tara, and L’exi as a jammer, gets caught looking on a track cut, and reports to the box (Bombshells' persistence on pushing that cut pays off). BOMBSHELL POWER JAM. However, their jammer Trudy gets launched to the inside by Tiki (Maybe she could have a birthday everyday?) and calls off the jam.

2:11 (Dolls 132-51) BOMBSHELL TIMEOUT. While we’re waiting, we’ll tell you that Lizzy the Axe just passed through the pack like it didn’t exist on this past jam (using the last of Scoot’s time in the box), and the Atomic Bombshells goated a Dagger Doll to force the remaining defenders in pink to stop hitting their jammer. Two Dagger Dolls don't notice and go to the box on out-of-play penalties, while Lizzy cleans up.

2:11 (Dolls 132-51) Still timeout. For a player who has left and re-entered the MNRG like Lizzy the Axe has, she’s astounding. She’s taken in all of the rule changes, moves like a woman ten years her younger, and is regularly one of the league’s top scorers.

2:10 (Dolls 132-51) We’re back on. 85-point difference means the Dolls have this game tied up, but the Bombshells are still playing full tilt. Now it’s Lizzy against Scootaloo, and Lizzy grabs one.

Last jam of the bout: (Dolls 132-52) L’exi v Man Jar, and Man Jar twists and jumps past a depleted Bombshell pack for a lead jam and four points!

Final score: 136-52

TWWWEEEET!! That’s time, and that means the Dagger Dolls have gone from worst to first in three months. With new captains, six new players, and veterans willing to try a new method of play and a new level of training, the Dagger Dolls have stormed the Roy and made it their own once again.

Their opponents? The Red Menace themselves...the Rockits. Last month, the Dolls handily defeated the Rockits, but now both teams are at full strength with Vuedoo Prodigy having returned from an ankle injury and Harmony Killerbruise re-entering the Rockits. This may be the best bout we’ve yet seen at the Roy. And meanwhile, the Garda Belts will take on the Bombshells for third-place honors.

We will see you on January 22nd in the new year to see the conclusion of this home season, and then we have four straight interleague bouts for you. Minnesota’s All-Stars will take on the Dairyland Dolls (Madison, WI’s own phenomenal All-Star team) the following week at the Xcel Energy Centre, and then it’s back to the Roy from February to April when we battle Tucson, Washington DC, and Indianapolis on our home track. 2010 was an amazing year for Minnesota derby; get ready for 2011!

Box scores (provided by Our Man Flip)
Garda Belts
Lead jams: 10
Power jams: 3

Cassie Rolle - 5-8, 19 pts
Moto Fluzzi - 1-3, 7 pts
Sintripetal Force - 2-6, 5 pts
Anita Spankston - 0-2, 1 pt
Shiva Shankin - 1-1, 1 pt
Rumblebee - 1-4, 0 pts

Lead Jams: 14
Powerjams: 2

Harmony Killerbruise - 4-7, 40 pts
Commander Nix - 2-4, 23 pts
Frau Scientits - 1-4, 23 pts
Patently Offensive - 3-4, 22 pts
Scarmen Hellectra - 2-2, 21 pts
Killahertz - 1-1, 4 pts
Kit Shinkicker - 1-3, 1 pt

Dagger Dolls
Lead jams: 15
Power jams: 5

Killaman Jaro - 5-6, 42 pts
Juke Boxx - 2-2, 33 pts
Psycho Novia - 5-6, 32 pts
Ova Achieva - 1-2, 19 pts
Barbie Brawl - 0-1, 5 pts
Angelfire - 2-4, 4 pts
Scootaloo - 1-4, 0 pts
Lydia Punch - 1-1, 0 pts
Naughty Kitty - 0-1, 0 pts

Atomic Bombshells
Lead Jams: 10
Powerjams: 2

Lizzy the Axe - 2-7, 25 pts
Hurtrude Stein - 4-7, 16 pts
L'exi-Cuter - 3-6, 8 pts
Freeze Baby - 1-5, 3 pts

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Preview for Land of 10,000 Aches

The Minnesota RollerGirls have brought their home team season to the halfway point; Saturday's third bout of the season will decide who goes forward this year to play for the league title...and who plays for third. The dominant Dagger Dolls have all but sewn up the a trip to the finals, but must face the second-place Atomic Bombshells before they can claim their spot. Meanwhile, the third-place Rockits must stop the Garda Belts from acting as spoilers as both attempt a last-minute run for a trip to the MNRG's championship finals.

Rockits v Garda Belts

Let's look at this bout in view of the standings.

Garda Belts: currently in 4th place.
Season thus far: 0-2
Point differential: -166
To advance: The Gardas must win and hope that the Dolls defeat the Bombshells. However, the Gardas will need to defeat the Rockits by sixty-eight points to bound into second place against the Dolls. The finals would then be Dolly v Garda. Any other scenario sends the Gardas to the third-place bout.

Rockits: currently in 3rd place.
Season thus far: 1-1
Point differential: -32
To advance: A slew of situations will bring the Rockits into the orbit of the Golden Skate.
  1. If the Rockits win and the Bombshells lose, the Rockits are in. Finals: Dolly v Rockit. The Rockits are in a strange position this year. If they lose, they can still make the playoffs. If they win, they can still come in third. Here's how it breaks down:
  2. If the Rockits lose and the Bombshells lose...and the Rockits' lose by 55 less points than the Bombshells lose, the Rockits are in. Finals: Dolly v Rockit.
  3. If the Rockits win and the Bombshells win...and the Rockits' win by 55 more points than the Bombshells do, the Rockits are in. Finals: Dolly v Rockit.
  4. If the Bombshells win enough to knock the Dolls into second by point differential, the Rockits can also go to the finals if they defeat the Gardas by enough to get past the Dolls' point differential as well. One such scenario would be a Bombshell win by 78 and a Rockit win by 131. Yes, two such blowouts would seem unlikely to us as well.
Now: to the bout.

It's tradition: This is the Rockits' sixth season in the league. They have never missed a trip to the finals; some of these women in red see that streak as big a point of pride as their three championship wins. One of those women?
Rockit returns home: This is great news. Those who follow roller derby on the national scene know that the MNRG's own Harmony Killerbruise recently left Minnesota for the milder climes of Olympia, WA and a spot on the travel team of 2009's WFTDA champion Oly Rollers. Harmony spent the summer and autumn months playing for Oly, but has now returned to Minnesota. More to the point, she has also returned to the MNRG and her beloved Rockits. Harmony has monstered speedsters as a pivot and scored as a jammer herself for years...and she returns to the Roy this Saturday. If you see her, be sure to welcome her back.
String those Rockits out: The first key to the Rockits' defeat by the Dagger Dolls was that the Dolls' jammers would absorb a hit, stay stable, and keep moving. The Rockit pack would stay so focused on capturing the scorer that they wouldn't notice their teammate behind them getting goated...which often led to a '20-foot' penalty as the Rockit defense left the engagement zone. It's not a complicated plan; just one that takes good execution.
She's only human; STOP HER!: The other part of the Dolly plan was placing a tenacious blocker in the back and playing the delay game on the opposing jammer. Both veterans and young Rockits alike - from Scarmen Hellectra to Commander Nix - found the back impenetrable as the back blockers teamed up on the jammer in question. There are many Gardas with the capability to stuff a good jammer; the back of the pack must rise to take them on.
Arise, Suzie Smashbox: We've often spoken in this space about the need for the Gardas to find a second or third jammer to score alongside Suzie Smashbox. Several Garda speedsters have stepped forward this year, while Suzie's been unable to score on jams at the level she might hope. This bout can still mean something for the overall standings; it is time for Suzie to rise to the occasion and lead this star-clad cadre into victory, showing the blazing speed and tenacity that kept her lapping out-of-state pack at Regionals. The Gardas must also escort their jammers past the Rockit walls, and those jammers must trust their defense.
Escort-sniping our specialty: Last year's Rockit/Garda Belt bout was marked by an unusual, successful strategy. Instead of double-teaming jammers Suzie, Angelfire (who played for the Gardas at the time), or Cassie Rolle, the Rockits chose to attack the strongest blockers on the Garda team. That meant blocking Tiki Torture, Citizen Pain, Anita Spankston, Hanna Belle Lector...anyone who could assist their jammer forwards. The strategm was frightfully effective. The idea still holds merit; watch for the Rockits to try to kill the Gardas' best blockers...and see if the Gardas let them.
Returning to the track: In addition to Harmony Killerbruise's return to the track, it is expected that rear blocker Vuedoo Prodigy will be back after an ankle injury at the WFTDA championships. Similarly, Ann E Briated will likely be playing again for the Garda Belts.

Now: to that other match.

Atomic Bombshells v Dagger Dolls:

Atomic Bombshells: currently in 2nd place
Season thus far: 1-1
Point differential: 22
To advance: For the Atomic Bombshells to have a chance at retaking the Golden Skate...they need a win and some help. The Bombshells will want to win and win big against the undefeated Dagger Dolls; no small order. A Rockit loss and a Bombshell victory will allow the ABS to defend the Golden Skate. Otherwise, the Bombshells must score as much as possible and leave it up to the variables mentioned earlier regarding the Rockits. They simply cannot let the Rockits overtake them on point differential.
The safety zone for the Bombshells is a win by 78 points. At that point, no one could keep the Bombshells from going forward. 

Dagger Dolls: currently in 1st place
Season thus far: 2-0
Point differential: 176
To advance: The Dagger Dolls are looking good right now. A win guarantees them their first trip to the finals since the fourth season (three years ago), but they will also move ahead as long as they do not lose by more than 77 points. At that point, the Rockits have a chance of advancing over the Dollies due to point differential (see above).

Something old, something new:: The Dagger Dolls are on a tear. The New Dolly Order is playing smart, hard, fast roller derby with enough heart that you can't help cheering for them while they're whupping your favorite team. The influx of...everyone new (seriously; all six new Dolls have played very well) has been a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Dagger Dolls.
However, it's been the Dolly vets that have surprised. They were always quite good, but something about this new season has converted all of that 'raw talent' into a remarkable machine. We can't say whether it's the new captains, a new training regimen, or just a moment of catharsis for the team...but it is marvelous to see in any case. Can they go undefeated to the championship bout? Well...
So clean, the jammer squeaks: There are two stats that should have Psycho Novia and Wonderbroad reflecting a bit late on Friday night. Atomic Bombshell jammers did not go to the penalty box a single time in the last bout. This is despite the fact that rookies jammed for half of the game: Hurtrude Stein only got three minors, while Freeze Baby blanked the penalty board over seven jams. Not bad.
The jam clock is atomic: In addition to the clean play, the ABS also managed to hold the jam clock for 2/3 of the bout. This didn't keep the Gardas from scoring (in fact, the Garda Belts scored fourteen of their forty-three points against ABS lead jams) from time to time, but the ability for the ABS to take control of the clock makes us remember last year's clock-hogging.
Stop that Psycho: the clear leader of the league in overall points and lead jams is none other than Doll co-captain Psycho Novia. Psycho's been saying that her ability to take the lead and score more than seven points per jam is due in great part to the coverage she's been getting from her blockers.  However, the Dolly jammer has clearly converted her All-Star season experience to the Roy track. If the Bombshells want to go forward, they will need to stop the Dolls scoring big. That means getting in Psycho's way.
Break the pack: Speaking of statistic that we track regularly is a blocker or pivot's ability to disallow points when she's in the pack. All of the top six pivot/blocker positions in terms of the ratio of points scored to points allowed are Dagger Dolls. That's hard to break; the best thing you can do is to attempt to knock out and trap Juke Boxx, Lydia Punch, Olga Ogilthorpe, Norah Torious, Naughty Kitty, and Tiki Torture (the five mentioned above) with track cutting and get them sent to the penalty box.
Speaking of which; credit where due. One of the great joys of watching this sport carefully is noticing certain players quietly wreaking havoc for their team. Can you identify #667 for the Dagger Dolls - the inimitable Shiver Me Kimbers, a third-year veteran? Find her and watch her. When Shiver Me Kimbers is in a pack, opposing jammers don't score. So far, packs that include Shiver have allowed eight points over two bouts.
Dame Not-appearing-in-this-bout: Madame de Stompadour of the Atomic Bombshells suffered a knee injury in the midst of the November bout. Stompy's out for the foreseeable future.

So. Bout night's coming. Two hot bouts...and we've got our beloved house polka band (the Bratwurst Brothers) cranking out the tunes at halftime. Our brosephs on the Twin Cities Terrors will be playing Queen of the Rink for your preshow entertainment. The first two hundred to arrive at the Roy (doors open at 6:30pm) will get a free t-shirt - and this month's design is by the legendary John Kovalic. They'll go fast...but they always do. As with every bout, posters will be for sale as well.

Station 4 will be our afterparty destination, and there are two reasons you need to be there. The Station is putting on a metal tribute night, and our All-Stars are continuing to recoup the cost of their trip to the WFTDA Championship by selling PBR and home-baked goodies. So go on over and donate to unimpoverish your favorite All-Stars.

One last note: something we can't let you go without knowing.

What? ANOTHER new player?: Fans of derby in the great state of Minnesota will be happy to learn that, yet again, a phenomenal player has decided to throw her lot in with the MNRG. So it is that the great green gorgon herself - Medusa - has joined our ranks. She's not expected to be drafted officially into a team until after the new year, but insiders suggest that she may exchange her Femme reds for something a little more Irish.

Enough words. See you there.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dolls stab Rockits; Bombshells bust Gardas

On Saturday, November 20th, MNRG fans were treated to a rare sight at the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium when the Dagger Dolls defeated the Rockits for the first time in almost five years of play, 87-43. Meanwhile, Atomic Bombshell fans had a great night as their own women in orange defeated the Garda Belts 77-43.

Dagger Dolls v Rockits

The Rockits started the bout with Patently "Leo" Offensive at the jammer line, skating against Psycho Novia. At the blast of the jammer whistle, Leo shot around the outside of the pack, took her first lead jam of the night, and scored four. Psycho stole one. Scarmen and Commander Nix took the next two jams for the Rockits as well, but their Rockit defensive staff could only keep the Dagger jammers at bay for so long. The two Rockits combined scored only four points to the Dolls' three. 8-4 Rockits up after four minutes of play.

Psycho scored the first lead (and two points) for her Dagger Dolls by forcing Rockit blockers out of the engagement zone with her fast pace. Opposing jammer Frau Scientits also snuck two under the radar before Psycho called it off.

Psycho Novia headed to the line again two jams later (Psycho wore the jammer star for 40% of the bout), this time against Scarmen Hellectra. Although both broke to the front of the pack within a lap, Scar got caught in a track-cutting trap on the inside while Psycho scored a lead and seven unanswered points. 13-10 Dolls with eleven left in the half.

Commander Nix regained the score lead for the Rockits almost immediately with a four-point jam, extended by two from another scoring run by Scarmen. The Dolls then scored four consecutive lead jams as they bust past a strung-out Rockit pack. It seemed the Dolls' defensive squad (particularly Naughty Kitty up front) found ways to separate the Rockit pack, giving their fast jammers the opportunity to go 1-on-1 with the Reds instead of getting walled off.

However, it was not until the last jam of the half that the Dolls went ahead. Psycho Novia got the lead jam and wound through Rockit opposition while Lydia Punch and Naughty Kitty alternately beat upon, booty-blocked, and recycled opposing jammer Commander Nix to the back for a full two minutes. Psycho scored twelve points to bring the first half to a close, Dagger Dolls 35 - Rockits 28.

Psycho and Nix picked it right back up after the break. Nix again fell prey to the Dolly defense; this time to Juke Boxx and Tiki Torture holding the rear line and recycling the rookie Rockit. Psycho scored fourteen unanswered points. The Dolls increased their lead to thirty as Dolly co-captain Wonderbroad opened the way for Killaman Jaro to score four, then Juke orbited the outside to take a lead, swinging inside to jump past Coochie Coup to complete a grand slam (that's a five-point jam). Dolls up 58-28.

Scarmen took the Rockits' first lead of the half as Killahertz peeled off Tiki Torture in the rear; Scar swept past and scored one, but Killaman found a hole in the following jam and put up a grand slam in response. The Dolls attempted to widen the lead further by putting Naughty Kitty at the line against Frau Scientits, but Frau snaked through the Doll line for four while Scar booty-hammered Kitty into submission.

The game seemed to shift in the following jam; despite the Rockits keeping Psycho Novia to two points on a power jam, the women in red could not seem to catch a break against the Dolly threat. Scarmen scored two while jamming against Juke Boxx, but Trixie Whipsum got sent out of the game for an intentional low block. Commander Nix pulled a lead jam, but could only score two before getting cut off by Hanna Belle Lector and the Doll pack. 69-37 Dolls up with seven minutes left.

Frau Scientits brought the Rockits as close as they would get to a victory with a grand slam, but the rest of the game was all Dagger Doll superiority. Naughty Kitty scored nine points on a power jam, barely changing course as she broke past a Rockit pack strung out like a snake. Kitty finally got called on a track cut, but opposing jammer Patently Offensive got recycled to the back of the pack repeatedly by Tiki Torture. Even in the final jam - where Rockit co-captain Scarmen Hellectra picked up the lead - Juke Boxx snuck behind her and stole two points before Scar scored one and called off the jam. The crowd erupted with the win.

Final score: Dagger Dolls 87 - Rockits 43

Atomic Bombshells v Garda Belts

Lizzy the Axe busted out of the pack first to take the bout's initial lead jam as her captain Diamond Rough repeatedly stabbed into Garda jammer Suzie Smashbox with sharp shoulders. Lizzy scored one. In the next jam, second-year Garda Belt Cassie Rolle flew to the front of the pack first (cutting the track past a Bombshell) as ABS rookie Freeze Baby's forward movement was arrested by Shiva Shankin' and Anita Spankston. Freeze Baby finally bust through, took the lead, and called the jam...but Cassie still scored two.

Hurtrude Stein took her first lead as a Minnesota RollerGirl and scored a point, busting past a stalking Shiva. Lizzy followed up with a fast four point jam, but Cassie Rolle returned fire by stealing two points just a jam later. Catching up to lead jammer Freeze Baby, Cassie deked around two Bombshells just as Shiva's sharp hit shivved Freeze. 6-4 Bombshells up after six minutes.

L'exi-cuter then took advantage of a major track cut by Suzie Smashbox to score a double grand-slam; it might have been more, but Garda Belt blocker Glam Slam went all-in on a low block in the rear, stopping L'exi from causing more damage. Hurtrude (called 'Trudy' by her team) then skated through danger for the lead and another three points. No Garda had yet taken a lead.

Suzie broke the lead streak by getting to the front first after picking herself up from a Skullateral Damage/Diamond Rough double-team, but called it off before she could re-engage the pack. Cassie, too, scored a lead as Garda rookie Wolfe Bite booty-blocked ABS jammer Freeze Baby for an entire lap, but couldn't score. Suzie got her team's third lead of the game, but couldn't outpace her opponent...and ended the jam. The lead jam then shifted to Trudy and the Bombshells; Hurtrude scored four unanswered points.

The Gardas did not score after Cassie's point-steal in the sixth minute until the Bombshells' foul troubles caught up with them. The women in orange were sent to the box...almost en masse and triggered a blocker cascade. A 'cascade' can occur when more than two blockers go to the box at the same time. If there's no room in the penalty box, the blocker returns into play until there's an empty chair...and then, that player must return to the penalty box. Four Bombshell blockers went to the box over two jams. Surprisingly, the Bombshells kept their heads, only allowing the Gardas to bleed off eight points off of some superb jamming from Suzie Smashbox.

The Bombshells were ahead 24-12 with three minutes remaining before halftime. They kept the Gardas from catching another lead jam in the half with the assistance of attentive blocking by Tara Skatesov, Supersonik, Skully, and the rest of the Bombshell defense. Suzie did score two before the end of the half, but the Bombshells put up eleven more. 35-14 at halftime.

The Atomic Bombshells wasted no time re-establishing their dominant play in the second period. Hurtrude Stein pulled a grand slam against Rumblebee, and Lizzy the Axe sped through a Garda Belt defense that was skating far ahead of the pack for seven points. Skullateral stopped a top-gear Suzie charge on the outside just before the Garda star burst through the pack, which have Skully's jammer L'exi-Cuter time to take the lead for a point. Freeze Baby capped the first five minutes with a lead jam, but Anita Spankston - co-captain of the Gardas - stomped on her scoring pass before Freeze could re-engage. 48-17, Bombshells up.

After weathering an ABS onslaught of seven straight lead jams, the Gardas kept the Bombshells from scoring for the next six. Suzie wore the jammer star for four of those six (scoring eleven points), but Cassie Rolle put up four as well in that period. Shiva Shankin', Anita, and Citizen Pain all held up would-be Bombshell scorers, but another cascade of Bombshells to the penalty box also put the Gardas in the driver's seat. Also, a high-speed diving mistake from Madame de Stompadour of the Bombshells sent the second-year veteran out of the game. Bombshells 48 - 33 with seven minutes remaining.

Hurtrude staunched the bleeding with a grand slam-plus, but Trudy would have difficulty two jams later as Shiva Shankin' kept her from passing long enough for Moto Fluzzi to take the lead jam. With three minutes remaining, Suzie Smashbox went to the line against Lizzy the Axe. Suzie lept from the line, bust past the first Bombshell, and attempted to squeeze below and between an ABS wall to break through for the lead. She misjudged the line, got called on a low block, got sent to the box...and Lizzy hit the afterburners for twenty unanswered points on the power jam. Suzie burst out of the penalty box the following jam and scored three, but the point difference was now forty.

The Gardas fought to the end. Moto Fluzzi stole five points on a Freeze Baby jam as the Gardas contained the rookie Bombshell, and the Gardas called for a timeout just before time expired to set up ne last jam. Hurtrude Stein scored the final lead and called it off before the Gardas could score any further.

Final score: 77-43.

The Dolls now have a near-lock on a berth for the championship and will face the Atomic Bombshells in December. The Rockits will play the Garda Belts. We will see you then! Box scores:
(provided by MNRG's statistics team)

Dagger Dolls
Lead jams: 13
Power Jams: 4

Psycho Novia - 7-10 LJs, 49 pts
Killaman Jaro - 3-7 LJs, 15 pts
Juke Boxx - 2-5 LJs, 14 pts
Naughty Kitty - 1-3 LJs, 9 pts
Scootaloo - 0-1 LJs, 0 pts

Lead jams: 12
Power Jams: 2

Frau Scientits - 2-5 LJs, 16 pts
Commander Nix - 3-7 LJs, 11 pts
Scarmen Hellectra - 5-7 LJs, 9 pts
Patently Offensive - 2-7 LJs, 7 pts

Garda Belts
Lead jams: 11
Power Jams: 0

Suzie Smashbox - 8-18 LJs, 24 pts
Cassie Rolle - 2-6 LJs, 12 pts
Moto Fluzzi - 1-6 LJs, 5 pts
Dropkick Donna - 0-1 LJs, 2 pts 
Rumblebee - 0-1 LJs, 0 pts

Atomic Bombshells
Lead jams: 21
Power Jams: 2

Lizzy the Axe - 4-8 LJs, 33pts
Hurtrude Stein - 7-9 LJs, 25 pts
L'exi-cuter - 4-7 LJs, 13 pts
Freeze Baby - 6-7 LJs, 6 pts 
Jocelyn D' Jewels - 0-1 LJs, 0 pts

- Garrison Killer

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bleeder of the Pack preview

The four home teams of the Minnesota RollerGirls return to the legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium this Saturday at 7:30pm. The Dagger Dolls and the Rockits have each scored an early march on the trek to the finals; now the Rockits and the Dolls will play for a near-lock in the Championship bout as they meet on the flat track. Likewise, both the reigning champions Atomic Bombshells and Garda Belts need a win this weekend to stay in reasonable contention for the January finals.

Atomic Bombshells vs Garda Belts:
Last year, the Bombshells took this bout by playing an uncharacteristically defensive game (67-42). The Bombshell pack holed up Suzie Smashbox and kept her to under forty points, while Mae Gusta and Venus Thightrap combined to score sixty.

It'll be a different game this time. Here's why:
  • We have a Thightrap down: Yeah, this is a little heartbreaking. Days before the MNRG All-Star trip to Chicago, Venus went down with a ligament tear. She skated against Charm City in the tournament, but Venus - one of MNRG's honest-to-goodness triple threats - was not at the top of her game. She's out for the foreseeable future. We also lost Mae Gusta this summer...but L'exi-cuter remains. The jammer threat for the ABS will likely revolve around the Canadienne speedster, but it might also be some rookie's night to shine; Hurtrude Stein, Smoka Hontas, and Freeze Baby have all been trying out the Bombshell jammer star. That's not to mention Lizzy the Axe's confident resurgence at the jammer line in October's match against the Rockits.
  • Garda scorers a-plenty: We've been waiting for the Gardas to put forward some jammers that can work off their defensive play. Looks like Cassie Rolle, Sintripetal Force, and transfer Shiva Shank'n have stepped up and may be regularly jamming alongside the Garda jammer Suzie Smashbox. This is fantastic news; the Gardas may finally have the jamming problem under control.
  • The pack that remains: The outcome of this match will come down to how well one pack can stay on the track. Both teams had their foul troubles in October, and several players came within a foul or two of being sent out of the game. That's an unsustainable solution, particularly because many of those same players come in jam after jam as key members of the pack. In the forty-minute match that we play, a team cannot give up so egregious a pack advantage. The team that keeps their head on the track will take this game.
  • POWER JAM: There's one stat that may be troubling for Garda fans. Garda jammers went to the box six times in the bout against the Dagger Dolls and over a third of their jams were affected by their jammer in the box. As always, no jammer on the track means that the team cannot score. What's worse for the Gardas is that this year's Bombshells have showed a strong ability to capitalize on the power jam. Every time an opposing jammer went to the box in their match against the Rockits, the Bombshells scored at least ten on the opportunity - often much more. For the Gardas to succeed, their jammers must not get caught up in the penalty net.
Likely to play:
Atomic Bombshells
BOOMbay Safire
Bully Jean
Chinese Take-Out
Diamond Rough (Co-Captain)
Flora Flipabitch
Freeze Baby
Hurtrude Stein
Jocelyn D' Jewels
Lizzy the Axe
Madame de Stompadour
Mitzi Massacre
Smoka Hontas
Skullateral Damage
Tara Skatesov
Venus Thightrap (Co-Captain - expected to bench coach)

Garda Belts
Anita Spankston (Co-Captain)
BethAnne Destruction
Betty LaRude
Cassie Rolle
Citizen Pain (Co-Captain)
DieAnne Isis
Dropkick Donna
Glam Slam
Lola Blackenblue
Moto Fluzzy
Rita Rawkus
Shiva Shank'n
Sintripetal Force
Stacy Wreckt
Suzie Smashbox
Wolf Bite

Rockits vs Dagger Dolls:
We could tell you more about the last meeting between the DDs and the Red Menace than the score (Rockits 129 - Dolls 37), but that'd be a bit ridiculous. The Rockits are - as ever - playing very well this year...but this year's Dolls are a whole new story, one that defies comparison with last season's 0-4 record for the women in pink. The Dolls stopped their losing streak (eleven straight losses) with a stunning win against the Gardas (168-36) in October and they have every indication that they are CHARGING after the Skate this year. Will they run headlong into the Rockits? Read on.
  • The Battle of the packs: Consider this. The core of the Rockit pack have been playing together for at least four years. Think about that for a second. In a sport as young as ours, these women have stuck together and play together like few other home teams. And then. Here come the Dagger Dolls. Unlauded, frustrated, on a multi-year losing streak...yet they contain the Gardas and keep them under forty. The defensive pack now has this new Dolly blood as well as the old...Tiki Torture's mouthy, awesome play linking up and killing alongside Dagger Doll stalwart Norah Torious. Madison transfer Juke Boxx now keeps the back of the pack clean with Shiver Me Kimbers, while Wonderbroad and Naughty Kitty hold the front.
    It's like someone just added PBR to some secret powder - poof! Instant pack threat. Like the old one, built off of Dolls of the past, but able to execute just that much better. The Dolls appear to have both chosen well with their drafts and have integrated their transfers quickly. The question is whether the New Dolly Order will hold against the Rockits' long experience of working together.
  • Vue's bad day: Another injury that it is our sad duty to report. Vuedoo Prodigy's ankle gave out an hour before the qualifying bout against Charm in Chicago. She tried very hard to skate it out, but she had to be scratched from the roster at the very last minute. As of this writing, we are uncertain as to Vuedoo's state, but she is not expected to skate this bout. Now, here's the thing. Vue was last year's league-wide MVP. She skated more jams in this season's first bout than any of her teammates, and she's part of the terrifying Rockit rear blocker duo (along with Honeydew Felon) that's stymied opposing jammers for years. With Vue out of the back for this bout, Honeydew Felon and other Rockit blockers will have to continue to take on additional rear patrol duties. This injury leaves a hole - how big depends on the Rockits' ability to fill it.
  • Battle in the back: Dagger Doll jammers Psycho Novia, Juke Boxx, Man Jar, Angelfire, Lydia Punch, and Scootaloo all scored double-digits in the October bout. The Dolls are as deep as ever in terms of their jammer depth, but now they are getting the protection they need to score big. Meanwhile, the Rockits' rookie jamming marvel Commander Nicks and Rockit co-captain Scarmen Hellectra had huge 30+ point games and former Dagger Doll Patently Offensive performed in the clutch to win the game for the Reds against the Bombshells. Watch for the Doll defense to gun for their former teammate; while 'Leo' parted amicably with the DDs, there's a long tradition of Dolls showing their former members some extra attention on the track. The jammer matchups will be intense. Not only will each jam be a mad dash to the front, both teams field blockers that can play simultaneous offense/defense. The jammers will have very little time to use the lanes that their teammates clear before a fresh opposing blocker gets in their way.
Expected to play:
Commander Nicks
Coochie Coup
Cookies 'n Scream
Frau Scientits
Honeydew Felon
Kit Shinkicker
Konceal'n Kari
Pain Gretzky (Co-Captain)
Patently Offensive
Salvador Brawlie
Scarmen Hellectra (Co-Captain)
Trixie Whipsum
Wanda Wreckonwith

Dagger Dolls
Barbie Brawl
Gogo Galore
Hanna Belle Lector
Juke Boxx
Killaman Jaro
Lydia Punch
Naughty Kitty
Norah Torious
Norwegian Mafia
Olga Ogilthorpe
Ova Achieva
Psycho Novia (Co-Captain)
Shiver Me Kimbers
Tiki Torture
Wonderbroad (Co-Captain)

Last, important thing to note. Afterparty is at Station 4! Now, go get your tickets. As always, first 200 people in the door get a free t-shirt. Go on...get there early! What else is there to do on a Saturday afternoon? And...well, I'm forbidden to talk about that other thing. Just show up. You won't be sorry.

Reporting from the exact geographic center of roller derby,
-Garrison Killer

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dolls hold Gardas to under forty; Rockits return in season opener

The Minnesota RollerGirls opened their home season at the legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium this past Saturday. We began this season in a different manner than previous years at the Roy. Flipping the season on its head, the home teams have hit the track first, meaning our reigning champion Atomic Bombshells took on the Rockits in their first bout as the Dagger Dolls challenged the Garda Belts.

Rockits v Atomic Bombshells

Let's set the stage. The Atomic Bombshells entered into this bout having won their last two bouts against the Rockits. A jammer triumvirate led by L'exi-Cuter bested the core Rockit defense more than 60% of the time (and indeed, L'exi went 10 for 10 on lead jams against the Rockits in their first bout last season). On the ABS defense, Mitzi Massacre, Misfit Maiden, Diamond Rough, and Tara Skatesov created space for their jammers to thrive, then clanged the door shut on the Rockits. Harmony Killerbruise played heavily into the Rockit offense last season, but with her departure the team had no single dominant jammer. The loss of Mae Gusta and Misfit Maiden also left the Bombshells with some significant gaps in their defense as they entered this game, but the Rockits gained one blocker to their core blocking staff as Frau Scientits returned this season to the track.

The Rockits scored three new players from the MNRG boot camp program to supplement this year's ranks. The Bombshells chose four as well - three fresh players and one transfer (Smoka Hontas) from Angel City. In years past, the rookies had several months to tame their new skills for the league. The new season's schedule changes that so that it is each team's responsibility to quickly bring their teams up to speed - as the fight for ranking begins in October, not January.

The Rockits wasted no time in showing off their first draft pick - Commander Nix - by putting her at the jammer line against L'exi-Cuter for the first jam of the season. The Commander came around the outside of the pack and took the first lead with L'exi right behind. The Bombshell line stormed the front of the pack to escape the incoming Rockit rookie, but Commander Nix got in and got two to L'exi's one. Rockit captain Scarmen Hellectra took the next lead, slicing through danger and scoring a fast four on her opponent Lizzy the Axe. Patently "Leo" Offensive (formerly a Dagger Doll) scored another lead for the women in red by breaking through a Bombshell pack made short by an early penalty to Madame de Stompadour. With Leo's teammate Trixxie Whipsum diverting the pack, the Rockit also scored four points. Abbie Mischief made it four consecutive lead jams, scoring four as well. 14-1 with fifteen remaining.

The Bombshells staunched the bleeding in these early jams by getting their jammer through only moments after the Rockit caught the lead. They picked up their first shot at a counterattack when Commander Nix got sent to the box. Bombshell jammer Freeze Baby forced her way through a tightly-skating Rockit pack and started sprinting. Freeze made three scoring passes in thirty seconds for fourteen points as the Bombshell pack goated Rockit Vuedoo Prodigy to keep the Rockits from trying to keeping pace with Freeze.

Now, 'goating' is fast becoming a common strategy in modern derby, so let me explain this one. When jammers fight and skate their way through a pack, the blockers trying to stop them can only impede their progress when they're in 'the pack'. In the most basic terms, a pack is where the most skaters from both teams happen to be. When a jammer is in a power jam opportunity (where the opposing jammer is in the penalty box), the opposing team will often try to keep pace with the jammer on the track; doing so keeps that player from passing and scoring points. The team with the power jam will often try to peel off one of those players in flight and hold them well behind the rest of their team. Doing so establishes 'the pack' (the refs say, "Here is where the most players from both teams are on the track! THE PACK IS HERE!") This behavior, called 'trapping' or 'goating', puts those other players out of play; they can't engage the jammer who's speeding and they so they have to skate back to where the pack is. While that chaos ensues, a quickly-moving player can get five or ten or fifteen points. Got it? Good! The Bombshells goated Vuedoo; on with the game!

Freeze called off the jam with Commander Nix still sitting in the box. Lizzy the Axe then took the lead and another nine points. However, Nix was so impatient to return to the track from the penalty box that she skated half of the length of the track to get behind the pack. She broke through and scored four of her own before Lizzy could call off the jam. The Bombshells nonetheless took the lead, 23-18. Rockits took a timeout.

Atomic Bombshell co-captain Venus Thightrap then scored her first point of the night, besting a Rockit defense larger than her own. In the next jam, neither Scarmen nor L'exi-Cuter could take the lead. However, as the jam entered into its second minute, L'exi found ways to score by juking past Frau Scientits and Honeydew...and Diamond Rough held up Scar long enough to force a foul on the Rockit captain. L'exi scored nineteen points to Scar's two in the ensuing power jam, and Lizzy the Axe scored four more during the final seconds of Scar's penalty box trip. As the Bombshells built their lead to 25 (46-21) with nine remaining, the women in orange called for a timeout.

Returning to the track for her second jam, Freeze Baby grabbed the lead and four points by once again busting up the pack in front of her. With her the half-century mark, Lizzy played against the Rockits' Commander Nix. Vuedoo Prodigy and Killahertz began a pattern of recycling Lizzy to the back of the pack which eventually led to Lizzy's getting caught by a major track cut. Commander Nix took advantage of the power jam for twenty while her team opened space on the track. 50-41 Bombshells still ahead.

The bout took a serious turn two jams later when Abbie Mischief jammed against Venus Thightrap. Venus called off the jam after scrabbling through Rockit defense for four as Abbie came in to start scoring. However, the conclusion of a hit as the jam completed went very badly indeed, as Diamond Rough sent Abbie across the track line. Abbie's fall to the concrete floor broke her leg in two places. We expect Abbie to return, and we wish her well in her recovery.

The bout quickly reset, and Commander Nix took the next lead (scoring four) as fellow Rockits rookie Salvador Brawlie stopped L'exi from breaking through the pack. With one last jam in the half and ten points separating the teams, Scarmen Hellectra caused a lead change with a twenty-point power jam off of a mistake from ABS jammer Freeze Baby as the Rockits pack goated Diamond Rough, then CleoSPLATra to break down the ABS pack's ability to hit. And so at halftime, the Rockits took the lead, 65-55.

The Bombshell's first half of the season did not quite have the punch of the championship team of season six. Whether it was the Rockit pack holding back jamming monsters like Venus and L'exi, or the red jammers busting past the dangerous Bombshell defense, the Bombshells struggled to get their jammer out front first. Because of that, they scored very few points outside of power jams and couldn't quite keep up with the scoring of the Rockits.

The women in red continued to apply pressure for the first five minutes of the second half. Commander Nix, Frau Scientits (in on the jamming rotation in place of Abbie Mischief), Leo, and Scar scored eleven unanswered points over four jams while the core Rockit staff attacked the Bombshell jammers to distraction. Frau monstered up as front blocker, trapping ABS jammers behind her long enough for Vuedoo and Killahertz to recycle and deposit the player behind the pack.

L'exi-cuter and the Bombshells finally stopped the bleeding with four points, but at some cost. L'exi went to the box, and Commander Nix began a jam with a full pack of defenders, and only two Bombshells on the track - the position the derby world has taken to calling the 'minivan' (named for the position of power that kids have on a road trip when there's five in the back and just two parents in the front). Nix and the women in red took control and brought the score to 90-59.

With more Bombshells in the box than Rockits, ABS jammer Venus Thightrap caught Coochie Coup out in the front of the pack and took the lead. Scar burst through soon after, but Venus did not call the jam as she broke through for the initial scoring run. Normally, that's a risky maneuver because you risk the opposing jammer scoring just as many points as you...but it appeared to be the right decision, as Scar scored one point and was then sent to the penalty box. Venus scored fourteen more points on the ensuing power jam. 91-77 Rockits up with ten to go. The Rockits hurriedly took a time out to reboot.

Scarmen Hellectra took the next lead as the front Rockits again walled off the ABS jammer, holding her for Vuedoo Prodigy to waterfall in and drop the Bombshell like a rock. Scar scored a slam, and Commander Nix stole two from lead jammer L'exi in the next jam as the Bombshell attempted to call it off. Scar returned in as jammer, but got sent out to the box for a back block. The Rockits started playing keepaway (or as it's called, "Kittens in the box") by skating just ahead of the Bombshells, keeping the orange blockers between them and the ABS jammer. Venus wisely called off the jam. With Scar in the box, Bombshell jammer Freeze Baby grabbed a double slam. It was almost saved by Scarmen Hellectra returning from the box, but an errant penalty in a no-pack situation sent her right back to the box. The jam got called, and L'exi came in to harvest another ten points from the power jam. 98-97 with three to play.

Nix scored the lead for the following jam as Frau held up her opponent Lizzy, but the veteran Bombshell jammer snuck through nonetheless to score two to Nix's three. Vuedoo Prodigy and Venus could not score in the next jam, and so a final timeout was taken by the Bombshells to work out the last two minutes (with 41 seconds remaining, there was little doubt that this would be the final jam). The Rockits put up recent acquisition Patently Offensive against L'exi-Cuter. The packs of both teams bristled with All-Stars. Hard-hitting Diamond Rough and Tara Skatesov went in for the Bombshells; the Rockit pack filled up with the core Red Wall defense. The first whistle blew, and the Rockit blockers moved slowly off the line to milk time. Finally, the jammers were off, and Leo broke ahead past Diamond...but not with the lead jam. Had L'exi been able to break the Rockit wall successfully, she could have gone woman-on-woman against Leo for points. However, the Reds trapped the Bombshell jammer, knocking her down and sending her to the back of the pack for the remainder of the jam. Leo scored a straight double slam and took the day for the Rockits. Final score: 111-99 with the Rockits scoring the first win.

Lead Jams: 15

D1 Commander Nix 6-9, 43 pts
28 Scarmen Hellectra 5-11, 35 pts
281 Patently Offensive 3-4, 19 pts
318 Abbie Mischief 1-3, 4 pts
23 Frau Scientits 0-1, 10 pts
LXIX Vuedoo Prodigy 0-1, 0 pts

Lead Jams: 12

187 L'exi-cuter 3-11, 35 pts
0054 Freeze Baby 3-4, 27 pts
55 Venus Thightrap 4-7, 22 pts
41 Lizzy the Axe 2-7, 15 pts

Dagger Dolls vs Garda Belts
We never really felt the game was in the bag. I kept looking at the scoreboard thinking "Is this enough?... okay now is this enough?" We have seen the MNRG Allstars pull off some huge comebacks, so we just continued to play our best. I couldn't relax, even after the game; it seemed surreal.
-Wonderbroad, Dagger Doll co-captain

Huge changes came to both the Garda Belts and the Dagger Dolls over the summer. Angelfire, Tiki Torture, and Hanna Belle Lector all jumped to the Dolls from the Gardas. In addition, the pink girls took in Olga Oglethorpe and Naughty Kitty, former co-captains of the North Star home team Delta Delta well as Juke Boxx, a rookie standout of Madison's Dairyland Dolls. The effect of these transfers cannot be underestimated. Between the six new players and new co-captains Psycho Novia and Wonderbroad, the team has been revitalized...but it had not lost its hard-hitting edge. Besides Psycho and Wonnie, many other veteran Dollys have skated with a renewed purpose: returning the Golden Skate to the Dagger Dolls and more immediately ending the eleven-game losting streak plaguing the women in pink.

Though the Gardas lost Angel, Tiki, and Hanna to the Dolls, the losses gave them more space to add new players to their ranks. The Gardas Belts drafted seven players this year and brought back former Garda Ann E Briated to their fold. Whether the exuberance of Dropkick Donna, the wily experience of Betty LaRude, or the fresh speed of draftee Sintripetal Force, the Gardas tested the new blood to find a new balance of speed and power against the Dolls.

The bout began very much like other Dagger Doll/Garda Belt bouts - with Psycho Novia and Suzie Smashbox taking the first jamming shift of the game. As the first whistle blew, it was plain that something had changed. Dagger Dolls old and new came up to receive Suzie and send her hurtling to the ground while Psycho found a seam and broke through for the lead. Suzie attempted to scrabble past Wonderbroad and Naughty Kitty, but received a forearm penalty for her effort and was sent to the box. Psycho scored seventeen unanswered points.

Killaman 'Man Jar' Jaro went to the line unopposed while Suzie waited out her penalty, but Man Jar's attempt to jump past several players through the track's second apex met with failure as Garda transfer Betty LaRude sent a player into the jammer mid-air, forcing a misconduct foul. To the box went Man-Jar, and in came Suzie. Due to Citizen Pain's clever baiting of the Doll front line out of the engagement zone, Suzie scored a double slam. 17-10 Dollys up.

The Dolls put Juke Boxx (newly-transferred from Madison's Dairyland Dolls) at the jammer line against Shiva Shankin' (also new, formerly of the North Stars) in Garda green. The Doll pack separated the Gardas left and right, creating a valley for the 'Sconnie sprinter to burst through and take the lead. The opening collapsed, and Shiva had little luck in making her way through the valley of the Dolls. Barbie Brawl forced a track cut on Shiva, sending her to the box. Juke scored fourteen on the power jam.

With Shiva still in the box, Psycho took the lead and scored another nine. Tiki Torture opened the door for the second scoring pass by knocking several of her former Garda teammates aside with a single hit. Killaman scored another ten as Olga Oglethorpe and Lydia Punch held up Suzie Smashbox, setting up their teammates to knock down the mighty Garda jammer. Angelfire - another transfer from the Garda bench - scored a quick three against her former team. 53-14 Dollys up with eight to go in the half.

Longtime Dolly troublemaker Scootaloo then put on the star and used the chaos created by Rumblebee tripping her (sending 'bee to the box for the first of two times in that jam alone) to break through the pack for yet another Dolly lead. Scoots scored thirteen, and the Gardas called for a timeout.

Suzie got the best of the Doll pack in the next jam, scoring four to Juke Boxx's three despite an enthusiastic block to the inside on the initial pass by Dagger Doll Barbie Brawl. Barbie's captain Psycho then blew through open space created by Tiki Torture's bulldozing of the Garda pack to take the next lead and a double slam. Garda jammers Cassie Rolle and Moto Fluzzi grabbed eight points in the final two jams of the half, but both Man Jar and Angelfire found ways through, bringing the score to 92-26 as the halftime whistle blew.

It was clear already at the half that this year's Dollys had a new plan of action. For many seasons, the Dagger Dolls have had extraordinarily fast jammers but few players ready to protect them from opposing defenders. This year, that has changed. The draft picks, mixed with a revitalized Dolly old guard, were superbly holding the Gardas back. You really couldn't just point at one or two players for their effort; everyone was contributing. Amazing play from the Dolls, and another half remained.

After a no-score opening jam from Suzie and Juke, Psycho Novia went to the line against Sintripetal Force for the Gardas. The first whistle blew, and former Garda Belt (now a Dagger Doll) Hanna Belle Lector cleared the road for Psycho by hacksawing several of her former teammates to the ground. Psycho knifed through the fallen pack to get the lead as Sintripetal Force cut the track and got sent to the penalty box. Psycho blasted through for fifteen more points on the power jam as Dolls parted the Gardas to make space for their jammer, then called the jam before Sin could stand up from her penalty. 107-26 Dollys.

With Sin in the box along with two other Gardas, a blocking Juke Boxx came up from Citizen Pain's blind spot and knocked her into the other Garda remaining on the an unopposed Killaman Jaro an open floor to take the lead and score ten points. Sintripetal came out, but another penalty forced her back to the box for the start of the next jam. This left both jammers in, waiting for the start of the next jam. Killaman Jaro stood up as the track passed and slinked through the pack, scoring seven more for the Dolls before Sin returned, took the lead, and called off the jam. 124-29 Dollys with thirteen left.

Suzie scored a lead jam next against Juke Boxx...and with a belt whip from Garda co-captain Citizen Pain took three unanswered points before calling the jam. Any Garda momentum got cut short by the Dolls as Psycho raced through a disorganized green defense for the lead, slicing past her front two - Norah Torious and Tiki Torture. Tiki and the Dolly veteran Norah worked a two-wall waterfall (i.e. skating together and trading off hits on the Garda jammer) on Psycho's opposing jammer. Psycho scored fourteen unanswered points. 138-32 Dollys with eight left.

The Gardas continued to lose steam. Doll jammer Angelfire took the next lead and scored three as she called the jam, only to be caught by a late hit from former teammate Rumblebee. Juke Boxx scored another lead as she took on Suzie Smashbox yet again. This time, Naughty Kitty and Tiki Torture sent Suzie reeling while Juke orbited the pack, scoring nine. The Gardas tried Sintripetal Force. Sin took the lead, snuck through the pack (skating where Tiki and Norah Torious weren't looking), and scored two.

That would be the last chance for the Gardas to score. Both Suzie Smashbox and Cassie Rolle went to the box over the next two jams, giving Lydia Punch and Scootaloo - both vet Dollys - the opportunity to score in this cathartic win for the Dagger Dolls. Final score: 168-36. The Dolly losing streak has been shattered. Bombshells and Rockits...get ready for the new Dolly regime.

Lead Jams: 6

91 Suzie Smashbox 3-9, 21 pts
850cc Moto Fluzzi 0-1, 8 pts
1.618 Sintripetal Force 2-5, 5 pts
350 Cassie Rolle 1-5, 2 pts
10-72 ShivaShankn 0-3, 0 pts

Lead Jams: 17

109 Psycho Novia 5-5, 64 pts
9 Killaman Jaro 2-5, 37 pts
A18 Juke Boxx 3-6, 26 pts
FU Scootaloo 2-2, 16 pts
789 Lydia Punch 1-1, 15 pts
c² Angelfire 3-3, 10 pts
711 Ova Acheiva 1-1, 0 pts

Monday, October 11, 2010

Return of the RollerGirls: Season Seven preview

Only days remain before the doors of the Legendary Roy Wilkins swings open. Only days remain before the fans return, rocking the orange and red and green and pink. Only days before rookies put their newfound skills on the line. Days before the Minnesota RollerGirls begin anew the fight for the Golden Skate.

The home season is starting for reals, folks. Though many have been playing and practicing as part of the All-Star team since the season ended, most of our players returned in August and started to pick up the teams where they left off. The thing is, between our upcoming trip to the Championship tournament and the twenty new women in our league (not to mention the newly-formed Debut-Taunt farm league), we have made a massive leap forward that's difficult to quantify with stats and a naming of names.

Since so much has happened, we thought that we should ask the team's captains a bit about their players as we begin our seventh season. This is a preview of the four teams of the Minnesota RollerGirls from the women who run them. Some had a lot to say; some have decided to let their skills do the talking on Saturday. Read on.

Atomic Bombshells: Co-captains - Venus Thightrap and Diamond Rough

Could you introduce your rookies to us? The Bombshells were fortunate this year to draft not only very talented skaters but individuals who have an eagerness to learn strategy and fit very well on our team.
Bully Jean - goes by "Bully" or "Jeano". Current Bombshells have noted “She will be a serious blocking force. She has great attitude, dedication and learns fast. Very positive, wants to learn, really works hard.”
Freeze Baby - goes by "Freeze". One word comes to mind when I think of Freeze - Perseverance. This woman never gives up and is always fighting her way through the pack. This summer Bombshells said that Freeze was already “Very good – very agile, quick and clever."
Hurtrude Stein - goes by "Trudy". Her quiet demeanor belies her desire to lay outopponents. She hits hard and we look forward to seeing how her strength can power through opponents during a jam. This summer, Bombshells told us “She’s a power house!” and that she is “Very confident on her skates”.
Smoka Hontas - goes by "Smoka". This woman has a glare that could kill and has the derby skills to back it up. We are very thankful she came to us from Angel City [Los Angeles]. Look for her both blocking and jamming this season. During the summer, many Bombshells noted that she “clearly brings derby skill and experience."

What decisions led to your team's second team championship last season? In the words of biggest little fan, Mini Skatesov, the desire to “smoosh” our opponents! We decided as a team last year that we would not let the Rockits win and we accomplished that - twice! The captains at the time, Mitzi Massacre and Misfit Maiden, trained us to think faster, skate harder and be more strategic in game play. We were fortunate to have the endurance and talent to skate with much less than a full-roster. It was our year for the Golden Skate and we were very pleased to have been able to take it home on April 4th.

Every couple of years, the Bombshells rewrite the book on themselves. I see new captains and a new bench coach. Is this a rebuilding season? While we might have lost a few wonderful players this year - Mae Gusta and Misfit Maiden – there are many great things happening for the Atomic Bombshells. We have been fortunate to have retired skaters return - Lizzy the Axe, CleoSPLATra, and Flora Flipabitch. BOOMbay Safire is skating again and injury free! Retired ref Rocky will be bench coaching. We have a full roster this season and many of our skaters have improved greatly over the course of the summer! Our team is getting stronger and smarter every day. Many Bombshells are on the All-Star team and have brought back to us a wealth of talent and knowledge (and an MNRG trip to the WFTDA Championships). Other skaters spent the summer assisting the new recruits at bootcamp. And, while we changed the leadership roles this year, Mitzi Massacre is still bringing her skills and wisdom to the track. If you want the two most fierce and intense captains, the Bombshells have them. But, that being said, D.Rough and I balance each other very well and try to make sure the Bombshells are having a really great time while working their butts off.

In essence, we are still very much the same team we were before - tight-knit, full of joy and we never give up. We sincerely enjoy spending time together outside of derby and support each other in our personal lives. We trust each other on the track and we know we have each other’s backs. When teams enjoy being together both on and off the track, it shows when you play and it's a skill you can't teach or practice - it just happens. We're just a very fortunate to have a team where our personalities mesh well with one another. This is really the driving force behind what makes the Atomic Bombshells so good at what we do - we want to succeed together and have a vested interest in each other.

Additional thoughts on the upcoming game? The Golden skate has had a fabulous summer, traveling the midwest and seeing the world. We hope to keep the Championship title with orange and have a blast doing it. While the Rockits are pretty, strong, and we like the way some of them yell, we will be doing all we can as a team to go for the win.

Dagger Dolls: Co-captains - Psycho Novia and Wonderbroad

Could you introduce your new players to us? Juke Boxx- formerly a member of the Mad Rollin' Dolls (Madison, WI), played for the Vaudville Vixons (home team), and the Dairyland Dolls (Traveling Team). Currently a member of the MNRG All-Stars.
Naughty Kitty- formerly a member of the North Star Roller Girls (Minneapolis, MN), captain of Delta Delta Di (NSRG home team) and played for the Supernovas (NSRG travelling team). Currently a member the MNRG All-Stars.
Olga Ogilthorpe- formerly a member of the North Star Roller Girls (Minneapolis, MN), captain of Delta Delta Di (NSRG home team) and played for the Supernovas (NSRG travelling team).
[editor's note: let's not also forget Angelfire, Tiki Torture, and Hanna Belle Lector, formerly of the Garda Belts and members of the MNRG All-Stars.]

How is the team adjusting to having so many new players with so much previous experience? Well, we really only picked [the MNRG rookies] because they are all hot blondes and look great in pink (all of their former home teams are pink). So they fit in just fine!

The big question - the Dolls are on a 0-11 run. What changes this year to break the losing streak? We're not going to give away our secrets, silly.

Garda Belts: Co-captains - Citizen Pain and Anita Spankston

Could you introduce your rookies to us? I've been really impressed with all of our rookies this year and we are really happy to have our newest Gardas. These athletes have been quick to learn, hard working and are salivating to get the season started with our first bout. Their fresh enthusiasm has really brought this team together in great ways.

The Freshest of meat: Moto Fluzzi, Sintripetal Force and Wolfe Bite. All three of these Gardas have really impressed me with their focus, determination, and general skill set. Keep an eye on them throughout the season cause they are quickly shedding their rookie skin.

Familiar faces in the derby world: Not totally new to derby, former refs Dropkick Donna and Glam Slam are ready to be inside the track boundaries and kick some booty - Green style. They know the game well and they are ready to put it into action.

Familiar with playing derby: Shiva Shakin and Betty LaRude are amazing! We are confident in them and we know that we can rely on them to see what needs to be done, Garda style.

The Gardas have not yet won the Skate in the league's history. Is this the Gardas' year? Every year is the Garda's year! We work hard to do our absolute best and then even better so there is NO denying that were are out there to win and play to do so. We play with heart and fight until the end so of course it's our year!

When a fan thinks, 'Garda Belt', what sort of play on the track do you hope she thinks of? Owning the track with dedicated, sharp and solid play. Throughout the seasons we've been known to be very good at defense but you can't solely rely on that. We're ready to play our game the way we want to control it and make the others beg for it to be over!

The Rockits: Co-captains - Scarmen Hellectra and Pain Gretzky

Could you introduce your rookies to us? Commander Nix: this wily speedster was the top rookie pick. Already an amazing jammer, look for her wearing the star.
Kit Shinkicker: versatile and fiery, this blocker / jammer is a true double threat. She soaks up strategy like a sponge.
Salvador Brawlie: we've been scouting out this tenacious up-and-comer since day one. She has the passion and never gives up, no matter what position she takes on.
Rockits would also like to welcome former Dagger Doll Patently Offensive to the team. We always thought she'd look good in sparkly red.

The Atomic Bombshells figured you out last year, why won't the other two teams? The Rockits have never really had any secret strategies. We've just always been the team that shows up to practice all the time so our teamwork is tight. We like to run tough practices and work our tails off. Really, our only plan is to play the game better and faster than the rest.

You lost Harmony, our top point scorer. How will you evolve to make up for that? Losing Harmony is a big deal, yes. It would be pretty rad indeed if she could spontaneously moved back to MN. Ha! Rockit pipe dreams. But...I think our bench is deeper now than it ever was before. A few seasons back, we essentially had a two jammer rotation. Now, over half the team can be called upon to jam at any time. We intend to keep teaching all of the great drills that Harmony dreamed up. And, we like to use the phrase "what the CRAP!" because it makes us feel as though Harmony is still skating with us.

Why are the Rockits rad? Cake, gummi bears, turtles, chickens. Also, "that's what she said".

There's only one more thing you need to know: this Saturday, the MNRG champion Atomic Bombshells  take on the Rockits.  This grudge match will determine an early advantage for one of these teams on the path to the Golden Skate.  These two teams have won the MNRG league trophy for five of our six seasons; be assured - they'll leave everything on the track to get this win. 

Meanwhile, the Garda Belts and the Dagger Dolls start this season anew.  This will be a game that will make you rethink everything you understood about the Dollies and the women in Green.  Trust us; you do not want to miss this bout.  Both the Gardas and the Dolls have been playing teams outside of the Twin Cities as a run-up to this bout; they are confident about their teams, and they are ready to amaze their fans.

You've heard from the players. Get your tickets. We will see you at the Roy.

Reporting from the exact geographical center of derby today,
-Garrison Killer

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

No Cinderellas Here: Minnesota's road to the Finals (part 3)

Minnesota fan: "There's three minutes left in the game.  Plenty of time for Minnesota to bollocks it up."
Madison fan: "Yes, but that's just as much time for Madison to lose it as well."
- Media riser, Thunda on the Tundra, MNRG ahead 119-93

On Day 2, a lightly-hungover, jubilant team of travelling MNRG fans began amassing for Minnesota's next bout.  Minnesota fans on Friday had consisted of friends and family of the league, the North Star Rollergirls of Minneapolis (we likewise cheered our lungs out for them in their four games), and the Twin Cities Terrors.  

However, as Day Two began, MNRG season ticket holders, members of the newly-minted MNRG Debut-Taunts, and even fans who had just heard about the upset victory all hunted each other out to join us in All-Star blue and brown.  They made the trip to see the MNRG compete against its fiercest rival, Madison's Dairyland Dolls, for a shot at #1 in the Midwest and an automatic invitation to the Championship tournament in November.  

With the semi-finals at stake, the MNRG kept it simple after the win over Detroit.  The team had celebrated quietly at a local Italian restaurant, then most players turned in early.  Coach Dan opted for the same fourteen that we had played the previous night.

Madison significantly changed up their team from Friday's victory over the North Stars.  Madison elected to put in players that had played Minnesota in the past and brought in Allie Gator, Dolly Pardon Me, and Jenny Knoxville.  They also put added to the roster L'il Miss Behavin', a remarkable jammer newly called up to the road team.

Madison's method is to bide its time and to delay their opponents on the track until the other team makes mistakes and goes to the box.  At that point, the Dairyland Dolls become a convoy, delivering jammers down the track come hell or high water.  Their packs are also more fluid than our own, allowing them to hit a jammer, then recycle back to the front where they can hit the jammer again.  However, that fluidity comes at the cost of stopping power; a player that is tough enough will break through such a pack with assistance from her blockers.

What I noticed about Madison was that they looked worried, they were convincing themselves that they were going to win.  We had beat Detroit, it was THEY who had everything to lose and we only had something to gain.  Not only that, we had two shots at it (shots a Championships). But golly gee, we wanted it on the first try!
- Diamond Rough, excerpt from online interview, 9/24/2010

The players of both teams hit the track moments after the Windy City Rollers polished off Cincy's Black Sheep.  The first several jams were skirmishes of attrition.  Suzie scored the first two points, but Behavin' took back the two in the following jam.  After two scoreless jams where our jammers were on each other's heels, Suzie scored again...only to get matched the following jam by Dairyland veteran Mouse.  Five minutes in, we were tied yet again, 10-10.

The next jam gave Madison their first shot at making hay from the power jam. The DDs' Darling Nikki got the power off of a track-cutting L’exi-cuter.  This is precisely the moment where Minnesota in the past would lose it and send blocker after blocker to the box.  
Not so in this bout.  Nikki still scored fifteen points to L’exi’s four as Madison knocked out MNRG blockers, but when the next jammers came to the line, only one blocker from Minnesota sat in the box.  Moments later, Psycho Novia caught a track-cutting penalty and allowed Madison to score 24 points over two jams.  Still, Minnesota’s blockers stood, blocked, and stayed out of trouble.  Madison up 50-15.

Madison scored only once more in the half as the MNRG sent no more jammers to the box over that period.  The flipside of the power jam strategy is that clean-playing scorers are difficult to score off of.  Meanwhile, Minnesota began to build the comeback.  Tiki, Diamond Rough, and the rest of the MNRG pack cleared jammers going through rough packs to bypass DD monsters like Chop Suzzy and and Vicious Van Gogo.  Not a lot, mind you…just enough to score two or three points each time.

Vuedoo Prodigy and Juke Boxx also shepherded and bothered Madison jammers, even forcing DD rookie L’il Miss Behavin’ into two penalties of her own…from which we scored eighteen points.  At the half, Minnesota had come back a bit, but Madison’s two big jams kept them ahead.  59-38.

Madison began the second half with Jewels of Denile beating a pack and scoring one against a pack with MNRG advantage.  Suzie Smashbox responded by breaking past Darling Nikki and Chop Suzzy on the initial passfor four.   Jewels returned to the line, only to be sent to the box…giving Minnesota’s scorers a minute against a short-handed Madison pack.  True to Madison's ability to delay during the power jam, MNRG could only coax ten points over two jams from that opportunnity.  A couple of jams later, Minnesota were closing in, 66-56 with 20 left.

Minnesota's Scarmen Hellectra stepped to the line, picked her way through traffic, and took the next lead jam.  Her opponent, Miss Behavin’, could not get through the pack for love or money as ex-Dairyland Doll Juke Boxx and the rest of the MNRG defense stuffed her repeatedly.  Scar scored seventeen points in that jam; each scoring pass sent the audience cheering madly with approval, hitting a lusty high as the score spelled out the lead change (83-66) with eighteen minutes remained on the clock.  

Madison captain Vicious Van Gogo tried to lead her team out of this rough patch in the next jam, but could only score one point amidst a flurry of defensive activity from MNRG.  L’exi then bust out a nine point jam, and things began to look pretty good for Minnesota. 89-67 with twelve to play. 

We reverted to our old, penalty-taking ways for just a moment, and that moment of panic almost killed our win.  Killamon Jaro came out and got hit with a major track cut.  We lost our cool for that power jam, and Minnesota defenders hit the penalty box as we over-extended and attempted to stop the scoring tide.  That nightmare minute of Man-Jar and the pack in the box cost us our entire lead as Mouse and Behavin’ each scored 13 points over the course of two jams. 93-92 Madison with the lead change.

We charged right back in.  Vuedoo Prodigy, Tara Skatesov, and Diamond Rough opened the pack’s gate for L’exi-cuter to give her the lead, then snapped it shut on Darling Nikki.  Like Scar’s earlier jam against Behavin', this was no power jam; Minnesota merely held Nikki from passing through the pack for three whole passes of L’exi.

Miss Behavin’ lined up against MNRG triple-threat Venus Thightrap.  Behavin’ – getting called on a track cut – gave Minnesota another chance to widen the gap, and Venus fairly threw herself through the pack for an easy triple slam as her teammates screeched the pack to a near halt.  

At the very end of the jam, Venus got called on a track cut. Mouse came up for Madison unopposed. 119-93 with time for perhaps two more jams.  Mouse roared on that track, scoring fourteen unopposed, but the MNRG crowd roared back as Venus came out of the penalty box…only to recoil as she was sent right back in for another violation. 

Madison took a timeout and brought Captain Vicious out to jam one more time.  Meanwhile, Minnesota put the fastest pack out that they could muster – L’exi, Suzie, and Scar (with Juke in the box) – and sped as the whistle blew.  That speed saved Minnesota as we faced the power jam; once Vicious broke through the pack, Minnesota’s pack almost kept up with her lapping passes, making it difficult for Madison to do much within the pack besides keep up.  The pace kept Madison occupied when Venus re-emerged – and then Vicious went to the box.  With forty seconds left on the jam clock, Venus kept moving, intent on the final prize. Madison had nothing left. 

Minnesota’s fans counted down the clock, and when it expired, eyes went to Venus coming around that final corner.  Body low, she skated through that last whistle with a look of jubilation.  As the countdown finished, the skaters sailed into a monkey pile of army and aqua-clad women on the track, and then there was nothing but embraces, high-fives, and smiles between the fans and their team.  The Minnesota RollerGirls were heading to the big dance in Chicago…and they would play the Windy City Rollers tomorrow for the North Central regional trophy.

The next afternoon, Coach Dan brought together everyone for a meeting several hours before the tournament bout while Omaha and Arch Rival played for ninth (Omaha caught on to the Arch Rival slowpack game, defeated their strategy, and easily won).  Dan replaced Venus (having torn a pec the previous night) with Jax "Frau Scientits" Kvaas.   The team conferred for some time.  

Meanwhile at the site of the Regionals, fans continued to stream in.  Friends who had laughed and said, "Maybe if they make the finals..." made good on their word and showed up clad in army and aqua colors.  As the new blood joined the throng of Minnesota Nice at the edge of the track, we gathered to watch our friends on the North Stars defeat the host league, Brewcity, for 7th place.  Once the victorious NS Supernovas returned, a number of men and women split off to plan a little reception for the MNRG All-Stars to be ready for the championship bout.


As Minnesota rounded the corners - being named off to the crowd by famed announcer and MNRG Voice of Reason John Maddening - the gaggle of MNRG fans raised their shirts and proudly displayed 'MN ROLLERGIRLS!!' spelled across their bellies to the audience and players on the track (all cracking smiles).  Sports fans had come at last to roller derby.

The first four jams were ours, and for seven glorious minutes we were unstoppable queens of the rink.  Suzie, L'exi, Scar, and Psycho put fifteen unanswered points on the board as our defense, delighted to learn that Chicago was human, gleefully held back WCR jammers long enough for us to score.

The first concern came when Varla Vendetta - the smiling, fist-pumping, crowd-pleasing beast of Chicago - came to the track against Suzie Smashbox.  Varla picked up the lead, but both received their first trips to the box within fifteen seconds of one another.  As they returned to the track, Suzie could not find a path around WCR's Go-Go Hatchet and Sargentina,while Varla scored fourteen points unanswered points.  In one jam, we had almost lost the lead.  In the next, Jackie Daniels (formerly of Grand Raggidy) scored five against L'exi-Cuter. 19-15 WCR with nineteen to play in the half.

We did our best to hold them back, but it was as if Chicago had scouted our game in those opening minutes.  Their jammers found ways to break through weaknesses in the rear of the pack, where our defensive players traditionally worked alone to take down opposing scorers.  As in previous bouts, Chicago executed at a speed and level of dynamic play that we were not yet prepared for.  We scored three more times in that half, leaving us behind Chicago, 73-24.   The problems of this bout couldn't be laid at the feet on any one single jammer or defender.  We were playing clean and making relatively few technical mistakes; Chicago simply owned the shape of the game over that half.

We fought back.  Noticing the problems in the back of the pack, we tried to adjust our game to move our pack front-to-back, laying in wait up top, then descending the length of the pack to attack.  That adjustment did not go smoothly time; our defense began taking many trips to the  penalty box, and Chicago went on a scoring bender off of the pack advantage.  Shocka Conduit scored two double slams in the opening minutes of the second half, and Athena DeCrime got one.

After a 43-1 point spree by WCR over the first twelve minutes, Suzie started the game rolling again for Minnesota against Athena DeCrime.  Despite a heavy Chicago pack advantage, Athena was sent to the penalty box, and Suzie took the lead and the power jam opportunity.  Chicago's pack tried to run away, but Suzie's sprinting power would not be denied...even going so far as to duck under the arms of two WCR players to pass.  Double slam.  117-35, Windy City up.

With seventeen minutes left on the clock, the effort of bridging a 78-point gap seemed insurmountable...yet we were not yet ready to leave the track.  We sent no more jammers to the box and used a rotation of Scarmen, Suzie, L'exi-cuter, and Killamon Jaro to steal points against the WCR lines.  If we were not to win this bout, we would at least throw our jammers against the best in the Midwest and figure out how to play at this higher level.

We had a good run over those last fifteen minutes.  Chicago only scored fifteen points for the rest of the game, in part due to WCR jammers Ruth Enasia and Athena DeCrime being caught in the penalty box for six consecutive jams, in part because the WCR defense was starting to panic at the loss of their scorers.  The missteps led to more blocker penalties and several jams with the pack advantage to Minnesota.  We scored 48 points on the WCR team, but this was not enough to overcome Chicago.

When the smoke cleared and the final whistle was blown, the Windy City Rollers rightfully won the day and the North Central Regional championship, 132-83.  Hell of a game.  We can't wait to take them on again.

The Minnesota RollerGirls have been rebuilding this team of All-Stars for a year now.  We've said good-bye to players like Misfit Maiden and Harmony Killerbruise and welcomed a new crop of rookies and veterans to its ranks.  We've torn out what we could not use and strengthened the core of our team.  And so...we played one hell of a tournament as a capstone to this rebuilding effort, and we now face the greatest challenge yet.

In November, the MNRG All-Stars travel to Chicago to take on eleven other teams that, like us, are the fastest, the baddest, and the best in the world.  We know of five opponents so far; the next six will be decided over the next two weekends.  We want you there. Join our travelling army of Minnesota Nice.  Let's give 'em a bout that they'll not soon forget.

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

[Thanks to Geoffrey Saucer of the Mad Rollin' Dolls staff for assistance with the Dolls report and the 'Sconnie refreshments.]