Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Garda Belts beat back Dolly assault, 59-50

Last year's bottom-ranked Dagger Dolls took on the Garda Belts, (2009 runners-up), for this first bout of the new home season. There was expectation that this would be a high-scoring game as a bevy of Dolly speedsters took on Suzie Smashbox. It really was anything but that. Although the teams had less than five practices before this bout as the Dolls and as the Gardas, the close scores and the heavy reliance on delaying the jammer instead of knocking her out denoted a bout fought between two strong packs instead of a battle of star-wearing skaters.

After months of playing with one another on the MNRG All-Stars, Dolly #109 (Psycho Novia) skated next to her opponent Suzie Smashbox and took her stance at the jammer line. The jammers threw themselves forward, but Suzie boxed up Psycho's momentum for just a moment...then fled through that pack. Suzie broke through with a minor penalty keeping her from the all-important call of 'lead jammer' and began her lapping run even as Psycho first passed Tiki Torture. The Garda blocker Tiki paced the young Doll through the pack and recycled herself up front as part of a wall with Citizen Pain to engage Psycho again. Psycho finally jinked past Citi and Tiki, took the lead, and called off the jam, but Suzie scored a grand slam. Good start for the women in green, and fellow Garda Belt Rumblebee took the next lead and scored one before rookie AliSin Chains boxed her up. 6-0 Gardas.

After a quick three-point jam by Suzie Smashbox, Psycho Novia found a clear line and screamed through to cheers in the stands for five in the next jam as Gogo Galore contained Anita Spankston. Gogo gave her teammate the interference through the pack that she needed to take the lead. Gardas ahead after five minutes, 9-5.

Suzie repeated her momentum-squeezing trick on Doll rookie Patently Offensive; again, Suzie did not take the lead but depended on her speed to carry her through to the scoring pass. It almost didn't work; Patently got the lead, but only some miscommunication regarding the jam by the refs gained the Gardas a point. Psycho Novia scored her third lead jam in a row, just as jammer Rumblebee fell prey to a back-blocking trap set by Candi Pain. Novia could not advance through to the scoring pass, so called off the jam to pass the power jam to a fresh player. Dolly jammer Sparkle Ninja could not break through the Garda pack as Rumblebee emerged from her penalty, calling the jam as soon as she secured the lead to bring Suzie back to the jammer line.

Hoping to score more for the Gardas, Suzie was instead sent to the box while Scootaloo took another five to tie the game, 10-10 with 8 to go. Suzie was joined by Stacy Wrekt, leaving the Garda Belt defense a bit bare. Unfortunately for Psycho, the core Garda blockers of this match delayed the Doll for twenty seconds...almost enough for Suzie to take the lead as came out of the box. Psycho bust past and called off the jam with Suzie breathing down her neck.

Suzie then poodled herself...

poodle: v. the act of sending a jammer to the track as a blocker and telling her to standing in front of the pivot line, deliberately taking a false-start minor penalty. Performed by jammers to acquire a fourth minor penalty and a visit to the penalty box to clear out their minors before they go to the jammer line. Similar to: lancing a boil.

Suzie then poodled herself as Buffy the Vampire Skater and Rumblebee went to the jammer line. Buffy took the lead for four and called the jam with Suzie still in the box, the Gardas sent up rookie Cassie Rolle against Psycho Novia. Cassie skated like a natural, using Tiki and Citizen Pain's interference-running to score three points. 14-13 Dolls. Sparkle Ninja fairly exploded from the line and took lead while Rumblebee was sent to the penalty box...but it took 'bee a full fifteen seconds to realize what was happening and enter the box, giving Ninja the chance to reengage the pack even before Rumblebee sat down (a penalty does not start until the player is seated). Sparkle took advantage of this for eleven. With 'Bee still in the box, Doll rookie Killaman Jaro grabbed the lead and three more points as time expired for the half, Dolls ahead 28-13.

Three power jams kept the Gardas from scoring for a quarter of the first half, and the Dolls bled every moment of those opportunities to score points. For the Gardas, this was surely disappointing; they were being outled 9-4 by the Dolls, Suzie had only scored five points in the entire half...yet they were only behind by fifteen.

The fortunes of the Garda Belts changed immediately as they returned from halftime. Suzie did not struggle a whit as she bypassed the Dolls and gained speed for the scoring pass, taking a double slam while her opponent banged again and again into a rough Garda line. Sparkle Ninja responded with eight as her Dolly pack handled Anita hard enough to force a visit to the penalty box...but Sparkle Ninja popped Anita out of the box with a penalty of her own - as only one jammer can sit in the box at a time, Anita returned to the track for the end of the jam.

Suzie took advantage of the Garda power jam as Citizen Pain and Tiki Torture shoved open gaps in the Dolly wall. In her zeal to re-enter at the conclusion of her penalty, Sparkle Ninja re-entered the track into the thick of the automatic major penalty. With Ninja in for another minute, Suzie returned immediately to the jammer line and scored ten despite bouncing off the rock-strong Doll rookie Killaman Jaro. Tiki - so dominant in this match as a troubleshooter - shoved Jaro aside and let Suzie through. Sparkle returned to the track but did not score. Anita added to the lead with a grand slam on the Dolls, and the Gardas retook the lead, 49-36. Her opponent - Patently Offensive - was sent to the penalty box.

This would be the third penalty in four jams for the Dolls, tearing apart any ability the Dolls had to hold back the Gardas; a derby team is always at a strong disadvantage when their jammer is in the box.  The Gardas charged ahead 24-0 amidst those four jams. Patently Offensive tore from the box in the following jam against Suzie Smashbox, holding the all-star Garda to one point while scoring one herself. With 7:30 to go, the Dolls had fallen behind by thirteen.

Suzie poodled again while Sparkle Ninja and Anita Spankston flew from the jammer line. With the help of Shiver Me Kimbers, Ninja blasted past adversity and brought her team back to within four...but the jam had gone long enough that Suzie had completed her trip to the penalty box. With a clean slate for minors, Suzie jammed against Scootaloo. Scootaloo, held up by Tiki Torture and Citizen Pain, could not crack the pack while Suzie scored nine unanswered points. With time for two more jams, Psycho Novia returned fire on the Gardas with four unaswered points to give the Dolls a shot at the win. However, the final Dolly jammer - Buffy the Vampire Skater - could not bypass the phenomenal Tiki Torture in time to beat Suzie for the lead. As time expired, Suzie called off the jam and gave the Garda Belts their first win, 59-50.

The Gardas came back to score 46 points in the second half to the Dolls' 22...just enough to make the difference. Neither team had a strong advantage on the other, and both teams fell prey to power jams throughout the match. However, while the Garda pack kept a lid on the Dagger Doll jammers during those minutes of unopposed jamming, the Doll pack was unable to stop Suzie Smashbox's power jams...particularly when she had blocker assistance from Citizen Pain, Tiki Torture, Hanna Belle Lector, and Punish Mint Patty. Suzie appears to rely on her teammates for much more than a belt whip these days, and it seems that the Garda defense is going to continue to be very difficult to defeat. Rockits, Bombshells...take note.

91 Suzie Smashbox 7-11, 50 pts
18 Anita Spankston 1-3, 5 pts
350 Cassie Rolle 0-1, 3 pts
4x4 Rumblebee 2-8, 1 pt

1111 Sparkle Ninja 3-7, 28 pts
109 Psycho Novia 6-7, 9 pts
FU Scootaloo 1-3, 5 pts
20 Buffy the Vampire Skater 1-2, 4 pts
9 Killaman Jaro 0-1, 3 pts
281 Patently Offensive 1-3, 1 pt

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