Sunday, February 21, 2010

MNRG Finals outlook 2010: by the numbers

Two bouts remain in the Minnesota RollerGirls season.  The results from March's bout will determine who will compete to raise the coveted Golden Skate (currently held by back-to-back winners, the Rockits) and who will play for third.  Right now, no team has confirmed their berth in the season championships...though two teams definitely have the edge right now.

For those unaware, the MNRG send the top two teams forward to the finals.  In the case of a tie in W-L, the team with the top overall point differential (points scored on opponents - points allowed) gets the spot.  Looking only at the numbers - the win-loss record and the points, not the personalities or the relative strengths of the teams - this is what your MNRG home teams must do to secure a spot at the jammer line for April's championship match for the Golden Skate.

The teams:
1st: Atomic Bombshells (2-0) - point differential: +27
2nd: Rockits (1-1) - point differential: +73
3rd: Garda Belts (1-1) - point differential: -66
4th: Dagger Dolls (0-2) - point differential: -34

The bouts in March:
Atomic Bombshells v Garda Belts
Rockits v Dagger Dolls

The Atomic Bombshells:
The Atomic Bombshells must win or lose by less than 47 points to the Gardas.  That's all; the outcome of the Dagger Dolls/Rockits game does not deter their path to the championship at all.  A win or a small loss is all the Bombshells need to move forward.  In fact, if the Rockits lose, the Bombshells go matter the outcome of the ABS/GB match.

The Rockits:
The women in red had an appointment with defeat at the hands of the Bombshells, but a 75-point Rockit launch on the Gardas placed the Rockits well and above every other team in terms of point differential. To advance, the Rockitshave a simple formula for success; win that bout.  With one more win, the massive point differential carries them to the finals.

If they lose, things get a little more dicey.  Should the Gardas beat the Bombshells, the Rockits play in the third place bout.  If the reverse is true, the Rockits will still move forward...unless they are beaten by the Dolls by more than 54 points.

The Garda Belts:
The Gardas need a little more help.  To have a shot at advancement, they must win; their point differential will guarantee that they will be in third or worse place otherwise.  If the Rockits lose, the Gardas are in.  If the Rockits win, the Gardas must not just defeat the Bombshells, but beat them by 47 or more points.

The Dagger Dolls:
The Dollys need significant help to move forward, but they are not statistically out.  Dolly fans, here's the scenario you need to see your Dolls in the finals.  The ABS must win, and the Dollys must defeat the 54 or more points.  No other scenario will propel the Dolls forward.

As a bonus, here are your finals scenarios:
ABS win, Rockits win:
Bombshells v Rockits

ABS win, Dollys win by 53 or less:
Bombshells v Rockits

ABS win, Dollys win by 54 or more:
Bombshells v Dagger Dolls

Garda Belts win, Dolls win:
Bombshells v Garda Belts

Garda Belts win by 46 or less, Rockits win
Bombshells v Rockits

Gardas Belts win by 47 or more, Rockits win
Garda Belts v Rockits

So there you go, derby fans.  The cold, hard numbers.  Now, get your tickets to the March bout, dress in your team's colors, and cheer your head off.  The underdogs are fishing for upsets; make sure you see every jam.

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

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Atomic Bombshells defeat Dagger Dolls, 63-38

Sweet mercy, we sold out!  Thank you to all of the fans who joined us for Saturday's bout; we scanned 4723 tickets...but considering all of the children that come to our bouts that go unticketed, Roy staff, and MNRG volunteers, it's very likely that the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium played host to 5,000 women, men, and children!

The Atomic Bombshells entered this match with a 1-0 record; having narrowly defeated the Rockits in January, the Bombshells were looking for another win to firm up their championship berth in April.  The Dolls were a game behind after a nine-point defeat by the Garda Belts and needed this win to reasonably seek the berth.  With a three-game season before the finals, every point in every game counted...particularly in a season as close as this one.

The Dagger Dolls' second-year jammer Psycho Novia took her place at the jammer line against Bombshell Venus Thightrap.  Both shot into the pack, but Venus was able to wind her way through just a hair more quickly, scored two, and called off the jam just as Psycho was set to re-engage.  Venus' teammate L'exi Cuter jumped through a hipcheck from Dagger Doll blocker Sinaminn and grabbed the next lead.  Her opponent Sparkle Ninja attempted to slide through the inside to pass the final Bombshell blocker, Jocelyn D'Jewels, but Jewels shaved Sparkle just over the line.  Sparkle kept going, and the refs sent her to the box for major track-cutting.  L'exi laid on the speed and scored fifteen.  The Bombshell defensive line placed themselves forward in the next jam as Mae Gusta went unopposed.  In the following jam, after getting past a tough one-on-one with Shiver Me Kimbers, Venus again took the lead as the Bombshell defense slowed, trapping the majority of the Dollys outside of the pack engagement zone.  Continuing the unanswered streak, Mae scored another five; L'exi, four.  Over seven minutes, the Bombshells established a 26-0 lead with four straight lead jams.  The Dolls called a timeout.

Dagger Doll Scootaloo broke through the pack in the next jam, but Venus - just behind her - threaded through the Dolls cleanly, got the lead, and called it off.  L'exi fought against Doll blocker Wonderbroad for over half a lap of juking and weaving, but finally took the next lead.  Just as L'exi Cuter re-engaged the pack on the lapping run; however, she hit the braking Doll sweeper Buffy the Vampire Skater with a back block and got sent to the penalty box.  Meanwhile, L'exi's jamming opponent Psycho was just breaking through the pack with the aid of Wonderbroad and scored the Dolls' first eight points on the power jam.  Sparkle Ninja took to the line unopposed, but the Dolls' defensive work to bring her through backfired as a returning L'exi-cuter flashed out of the box to take the lead while her opponents tried to send Sparkle forward.  L'exi scored one.  27-8 Bombshells with seven to go.

Mae Gusta scored the eighth consecutive lead jam and four points despite hits from both Shiver Me Kimbers and Wonderbroad that forced her to re-engage the pack each time.  Skullateral Damage and Tara Skatesov held back her opponent while elsewhere in the pack, the referees expelled Misfit Maiden on a gross misconduct violation for shoving Dagger Doll Rollercat.  The expulsion may have knocked the Bombshells off their pace; though they earned the next two leads, neither Jocelyn D'Jewels nor L'exi Cuter could score against their opponents.  In fact, the Dollys grabbed six points in the chaos.  Killamon Jaro returned to the jammer line against Mae Gusta, and Killamon picked up the first lead for the Dollys with Buffy holding off Mae's advance and Shiv and Let Die providing interference for her jammer.  Psycho Novia finished out the half as lead for four points while her teammates fell upon L'exi Cuter amidst a depleted Bombshell pack.  L'exi went to the box twice in that jam, and finished out the half sitting down.

As time ran out in the first half, the Dolls had pulled within thirteen, 33-20 Bombshells.  Despite ten consecutive lead jams, the Bombshells had not yet been able to put up a large lead on their opponents.  However, they controlled the clock and held every jammer except one (Psycho Novia) to two points or less.

Psycho Novia wasted no time in taking the lead with L'exi-Cuter in the box, scooting past an illegal block from Mitzi Massacre outside the pack engagement zone.  Psycho chalked up seven unanswered points for the Dollys on the short pack.  Mae Gusta then beat an attempted escort out of play by Sinaminn for the lead while her Bombshell defenders mobbed Scootaloo; Mae scored a slam.  Psycho Novia responded by claiming another lead jam and scoring three before stopping short behind Diamond Rough and calling off the jam. 

Seven minutes into the second half, it felt like the Dolls had fallen into a good rhythm, outscoring the Bombshells 22-7 over the last eight jams.  The Bombshells still had the lead (38-30), but the game seemed to be falling to the Dagger Dolls.  L'exi Cuter found her center on the next jam against Killamon Jaro and broke past the Dolly front line for the lead, visibly yelling, "FINALLY!" and scored four points in a very fast jam.  Bombshell Mae Gusta matched her teammate for the next jam, breaking past Doll Buffy the Vampire Skater in the back while opposing jammer Psycho got peeled off the track on a block from Tara Skatesov.  L'exi returned for another two as she circumnavigated the outside of the Dolly pack with enough speed to take the lead.  In three jams, the Bombshell lead more than doubled. 48-30 with nine to go.

Norah Torious stomped on Bombshell Venus Thightrap's attempt to take the fourth consecutive lead, with Psycho grabbing three points to Venus' two.  L'exi took the outside of the track a second time, leaving the Dolls no choice but to attempt to arrest her progress by divebombing her.  They missed, and L'exi picked up nine off of a power jam.  Wonderbroad and Candi Pain made walls to stop Killamon Jaro and Psycho Novia's opponents in the following two jams, but the two Dolly jammers could not score with their leads.  With three minutes left, Venus Thightrap scored one before being taken down by Shiver Me Kimbers, and Psycho Novia scored a final five for her team as the clock ran down. However, track-cutting would send Psycho to the box one final time, and L'exi scored three as Diamond Rough--protecting her jammer from the best Doll sweeper of the game--launched Buffy the Vampire Skater into the air.  Final score: 63-38. 

Psycho Novia was the sole scorer for the Dagger Dolls in the second half; the Dolls have a month to find more jammers to duel against five double-digit-scoring Rockits.  Meanwhile, the Bombshell triad appears to continue to thrive with a mixture of staying away from the pack (in L'exi's case, speeding around it) and using their pack's defensive screens.  The Bombshells continue to place a higher regard on sending their player through first, which may help explain their lower winning margins; if all you're looking to do is control the clock and score a little, the opposing team will get chances to take the simply appears that the Bombshells make sure that doesn't happen.

The importance of the back blocker--that woman who awaits the jammer as they engage the pack--played a heavy role in this bout.  Whether it was Buffy the Vampire Skater's stuffing the Bombshell Three (Venus, L'exi, and Mae) in the first half, or the palpable wariness of Dolly scorers for Diamond Rough's strong hits throughout, a strong 'sweeper' position continues to be one of the most powerful players on the Roy track.    It is also worth noting that the Bombshells played a sparser lineup this month, yet still kept their streak alive; they are at four consecutive wins.

The Bombshells are now in first place, but have not yet guaranteed a spot in the championship bout; a win by the Rockits AND the Bombshells losing by over 47 to the Garda Belts would send them to the third-place bout in April.  Any other scenario sends them forward to play for the Golden Skate.

187 L'exi-Cuter (8-13) 38 pts
456 Mae Gusta (4-6) 20 pts
55 Venus Thightrap (3-5) 5 pts
88 Jocelyn D'Jewels (1-1) 0 pts

109 Psycho Novia (6-11) 34 pts
FU Scootaloo (0-5) 2 pts
9 Killaman Jaro (2-4) 2 pts
1111 Sparkle Ninja (1-5) 0 pts

Rockits take Gardas 118-35

Sweet mercy, we sold out!  Thank you to all of the fans who joined us for Saturday's bout; we scanned 4723 tickets...but considering all of the children that come to our bouts that go unticketed, Roy staff, and MNRG volunteers, it's very likely that the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium played host to 5,000 women, men, and children!

The extent to which this matchup was anticipated could not be underestimated.  With the Gardas a game ahead of the Rockits at the start of the bout, the Gardas had an opportunity to shut the Rockits out of the season championship for the first time since the women in red rose from the ashes of the first season's Silver Bullets.  Couple that with their sixty-point defeat at the hands of the Rockits in the last season championship, and you really have all of the elements for a classic grudge match.

The Gardas sent out Suzie Smashbox as opening jammer, while the Rockits put forward Vuedoo Prodigy.   Suzie glanced past the pack for the lead, while Vuedoo went out of her way to get around Garda Belt enforcer Tiki Torture; on the back turn, Vue cut the track passing the final blocker and got sent to the box for the bout's first power jam.  Suzie scored five and trapped Vue in the box by calling off the jam.  The Gardas played Angelfire for her first official jam of the season following a lengthy recovery from injury, but Vue emerged from the box, got low on her skates, and took the lead.  Angelfire flew right behind her, and Vue cut her passing run too close as she passed one Garda and called off the jam...but before the call was acknowledged by the refs, Angelfire passed for four.  9-2 Gardas with seventeen left.

The Gardas continued their normal rotation of Suzie every other jam; Suzie returned against Rockit blocker/jammer double-threat Scarmen Hellectra.  Suzie found a narrow line through the inside of a turn for the lead while Scarmen Hellectra pounded past Tiki Torture, each scoring one.  Harmony Killerbruise took her first turn as jammer against Garda rookie Cassie Rolle.  Cassie passed through most of the pack before encountering trouble at the front.  Several of her teammates came forward to assist, giving Harmony a moment to catch the Garda Belt pack looking and scored four.  Suzie responded with three points off of a power jam and trapped opponent Abbie Mischief in the penalty box for the following jam.  Angelfire charged off the jammer line unopposed and scored two as Rolls Wilder screened out the Rockits by tossing Optimiss Crime into them.  After a jam to rest, Abbie slammed Garda Belt Cassie Rolle, who could not progress past Vuedoo Prodigy or the wiry Rockit blocker Killahertz.  Abbie's slam brought the Rockits within three, 15-12.

Harmony Killerbruise next took the lead jam against Suzie Smashbox, who got stopped by a rotating pack of Rockit blockers. In the midst of the melee, Suzie got called out for back-blocking and Harmony started accelerating.  The Rockits captured Damnzelsly in their midst and stomped on their brakes, leaving Tiki Torture, Rumblebee, and Citizen Pain well ahead of the pack.  The Rockits had created a stationary pack which most of the Gardas were far away from - well beyond the twenty-foot engagement zone.  Harmony blazed around the track, picking up eighteen points whilst her opponents could not legally touch her.  Abbie Mischief grabbed five more in the following jam, while Suzie scored three (though Suzie would return to the penalty box on accumulation of minors).  Harmony grabbed the lead and another two points while the Rockits mobbed Garda blocker Tiki Torture.  Vuedoo Prodigy got knocked through the inside of Turn 1 and 2 as the Garda front line attempted to send her to the penalty box on a forced track-cut...but Vue kept her head and dropped to the ground, letting the Gardas pass her so that she could reestablish herself from the back of the pack and take the lead...which she did for nine points as the first half ended, 46-19. 

The Gardas controlled the opening minutes as the Rockits made some simple errors and could not find their way past the formidable Garda front four.  Harmony's triple slam-plus (and the cunning of Coochie Coup and Scarmen Hellectra, who appeared to set up the trap) flipped the game on its head, while two consecutive penalties by Suzie Smashbox allowed the Rockits to re-establish their game.  The first half saw Rockits employing an unusual tactic: Contain strong Garda blockers instead of picking off newer players while the Rockits jammer is in the pack.  The strategy appeared to work; players like Tiki, Hanna Belle, and Citizen Pain had limited movement during much of the game.

In the second half, neither Vuedoo Prodigy nor Suzie Smashbox could take the lead in the first jam, but Suzie Smashbox re-engaged the pack first.  Garda veteran Hanna Belle Lector gave Suzie a sweet armwhip, but she telegraphed the move, allowing Honeydew Felon to intercept Suzie and knock her out of bounds.  Suzie scored three points before being sent to the penalty box, and the Rockits attempted a second slowdown, trapping Punish Mint Patty to establish a slow pack.  The veteran Patty would have none of that and shouldered her way out to start the pack moving again.  Vue nonetheless scored fourteen.  Narrowly avoiding a transformative block from Optimiss Crime, Harmony Killerbruise took the unopposed lead and withstood an illegal hit from Rumblebee to take nine unanswered points.  Tiki Torture and Trixie Whipsum dueled next, and though Trixie took the lead and four points, Tiki broke past several Rockit blockers eager to drop the hard-hitting Garda Belt and earned three points of her own.  Rockits 73, Gardas 25 with twelve remaining.

Harmony returned to the line to jam against Angelfire.  Angling around the outside, Harmony took the lead and started to accelerate as Angelfire got sent to the box.  Nipping just out of range of Garda Belt Stacy Wrekt, Harmony re-engaged the pack and took another hit from Rumblebee, who received her third major...but did nothing to stop Harmony's advance.  Angelfire came back out and accidentally tripped a Rockit as she moved through Turn 4.  Angelfire returned to the penalty box, and Harmony completed a triple slam.  Vuedoo Prodigy then took the fourth consecutive lead for the Rockits, but could only score three before Rumblebee grabbed Scarmen Hellectra's legs and got sent out for gross misconduct (said Scarmen Hellectra after the bout, "My leg suddenly got heavy, so I looked down and saw a Garda Belt attached to it...") 91-25 Rockits.

Rockits jammer Trixie took the next lead as Suzie Smashbox got called for a back block to some lusty boos from the sellout crowd. Trixie gained five before going herself to the penalty box; Suzie took two.  Angelfire took advantage of Trixie's position and slipped through a small hole opened by Garda screens to get four in the next jam.  Suzie Smashbox continued the Gardas' minor rally, taking four points as her teammate Cassie Rolle took a hit for the team from Trinity Knox while her captain slipped by.  The final three jams continued the steady pace of the Rockit jammers; both Scarmen Hellectra and Harmony scored ten each while blockers Konceal N Kari, Icepack, and Pain Gretzky rotated through the front to provide enough interference to deny Angelfire passage.  Angelfire went to the box twice in those two jams, but scored eight in the last jam.  At the end of regulation, the Rockits scored a needed win against the Garda Belts.  With the score 118-35, the Rockits are now in second place on the basis of point differential.

The Gardas had significant penalty issues in the half; Garda jammers spent almost six minutes in the penalty box, allowing their opponents ample opportunity to build up the lead.  What's more, every single Rockit jammer scored in the double digits in this bout.  The Rockits also allowed only one jammer - Angelfire - to score more than five points in a single jam.  They seemed to have the Garda back blockers rolled up in red cotton for part of the game, giving their scorers the opportunity to keep their speed unchecked as they hit the front of the pack

The Rockits will play the Dagger Dolls on March 6th, while the Gardas must take on the unbeaten Atomic Bombshells.

91 Suzie Smashbox (6-11) 24 pts
c² Angelfire (3-8) 16 pts
H8U Tiki Torture (0-1) 3 pts
350 Cassie Rolle (0-2) 0 pts
4x4 Rumblebee (0-1) 0 pts

75 Harmony Killerbruise (6-7) 58 pts
LXIX Vuedoo Prodigy (3-5) 28 pts
6 Trixxie Whipsum (2-4) 11 pts
28 Scarmen Hellectra (1-3) 11 pts
318 Abbie Mischief (1-4) 10 pts

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Season Six, Bout Five recaplet (experimental)

Attention regular readers (not for publication):
- this is not the full recap.   The DNN has asked for shorter recaplets for publication in a very defined style in the weekly 'weekend in review'.  We're giving it a shot for the rest of the season and we'll see if we like it.
- I look forward to feedback on this.  Not used to being so terse and making some snap judgements on a forty-minute match before I've heard the tape.  Twenty-four hour turnaround is a bit weird.

Rockits Take Out Garda Belts 118-43

This rematch of last year's season championship (Rockits won 92-31) began with the Gardas holding a small lead from fast-moving jammers Suzie Smashbox and Angelfire.  The Garda defensive machine - led by lone-wolf Tiki Torture and co-captain Citizen Pain - held the Rockits to just 12 points in the first twelve minutes (15-12 Gardas).
That changed when Suzie Smashbox went to the box, giving Rockit Harmony Killerbruise a power jam opportunity.  Noting the advanced position of the Garda pack, the Rockits trapped a Garda and halted.  Harmony started sprinting and the Gardas in front found themselves well ahead of the halted pack, unable to engage Harmony.  Harmony sped for eighteen and the lead change (30-18 Rockits).  Suzie returned to the box the following jam, and the Rockits took over. By the end of the half, Rockits had increased their lead, 46-19.

The Rockits continued to take every advantage given to them by the Garda Belts in the remainder.  Garda jammers sat in the box seven minutes of twenty during the second half, and in only three jams in the second half did the Garda girls in green have a pivot in for the full jam.  Garda veteran Rumblebee was expelled after four major fouls in the first ten minutes.  The Rockits effectively doubled their score during those ten minutes, 91-25 Rockits...including another triple slam from lead point-scorer Harmony Killerbruise (58 points, 5 for 7).

As the clock ran down, Suzie Smashbox and Angelfire grabbed the Gardas' only three leads of the half, but even those jams could not consistently break past a superb Rockit line.  Final score: 118-43 Rockits.  The Rockits are now in second place in the league with one game to go; Garda Belts fall to third.

Atomic Bombshells Befuddle Dagger Dolls 63-38

The Atomic Bombshells began the first half with ten straight lead jams and kept the Dagger Dolls scoreless until the 8th minute when Dolly jammer Psycho Novia took advantage of a power jam off of L'exi-Cuter and scored eight.  26-8 Bombshells with ten to go.

Following that jam, the Doll defensive front--led by Shiver Me Kimbers and Wonderbroad--held the Bombshells to only eight more points until the end of the first half's final whistle while their scorers led the last two jams and scored twelve more.  The refs also took Bombshell co-captain Misfit Maiden out of the game on a gross misconduct violation to the vehement boos of the fans.  Bombshells ahead at the half, 33-20 Bombshells.

The second half was far more even in terms of lead jams (in fact, the Dolls went slightly ahead with leads), but the Dolly jammers could not break through the pack quickly enough to keep the opposing jammer from nipping at their heels.  Psycho Novia led an early rally, scoring ten over the first three jams, but the Dolls did not score again until the eleventh minute of the twenty-minute half as their jammers slammed into a constantly-recycling wall.  At that point, the Bombshells had increased their lead to 48-30.  Dolly jammers appeared to balk at the very thought of trying to break past Bombshell blockers Diamond Rough and Tara Skatesov, while Bombshell jammers patiently added to their score by fours and fives.  The game finally cracked open when L'exi scored nine on a power jam late in the second half (she led the game with 36 points overall while Psycho scored 30), and the Dolls simply could not recover.  63-38 Atomic Bombshells with the win and an near-lock on a ticket to the season championship in April. 

For more analysis, visit in the upcoming week for the full recap.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Season 6, Bout 2 preview

On Saturday, diehard Minnesota RollerGirls fans and newcomers alike will rush the doors of the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium to watch the next step in the evolution of derby in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Our first home bout rocked the derby world as the Rockits - reigning two-time champions - were laid low by the Atomic Bombshells. The Rockits must now win Saturday's bout - a repeat match of last year's season championship against the Garda Belts - to control their destiny. The Dagger Dolls are in a similar fix; their nine-point loss to the Gardas in January means that they must win against a transformed Bombshell team to have a strong chance to acquire the Golden Skate. We'll talk more on the win-loss situation in a moment, but let's look at Saturday's games.

The Atomic Bombshells (1-0) v the Dagger Dolls (0-1)

Fresh from their victorious confrontation against the Rockits, it is the Atomic Bombshells who have the advantage. As has been stated before, many of our Bombshells benefited greatly from summer conditioning playing with the All-Stars, and now the nimble orange stars must take on some of the fastest jammers and hardest hitters on eight wheels...the Dagger Dolls. The Dolls had a similar upswell of awesome from the summer season, but narrowly fell to the Gardas. Both January games were won or lost by less than ten points, a testament to how close the four teams are to one another in skill.

If you're new to the game or couldn't make it to the first home bout, I recommend you watch for the following:

- Both teams have jammers who can consistently break past the pack and hold control of the clock. In the last bout, Bombshell L'exi-Cuter went 10 for 10 on lead jams, Venus Thightrap went 3 for 4, Mae Gusta 3 for 5, and the Dagger Dolls' Psycho Novia went 6 for 7.
- Amidst the heavy point scoring of the Bombshells (a combined 73 points from the three just mentioned), it's easy to miss the efforts of Psycho. She doesn't often take chances, and her attention to the opposing jammer is without peer. If she's gotten the lead, she will shut down the jam the moment that her opponent is in contention to score, even if she's only gotten a couple of points. That sort of tight control assisted in keeping the Gardas to a score of fifty-nine. The Bombshells struggled a bit more with this in the last game, occasionally allowing the canny Rockits to sneak from behind and burst through, evening or besting the lead jammer's point differential.
- Sinaminn was greatly missed in the first bout; now freshly back from derby and vacation abroad, we'll see even more ferocity from the Dagger Doll front.
- If you're a stats wonk, it's hard not to notice the efforts of the Bombshells' second-year veteran jammer, L'exi-Cuter. In her ten lead jams, against the best that the Rockits' red walls had to offer, she scored slightly more than half of the Bombshells' points (43 of 78). In a forty-minute match, L'exi scored a rare offensive double-double; double-digit score and double-digit lead jams. L'exi doesn't just find space on the track...she establishes it and defends it as she speeds through the pack.
- The Dagger Doll defense didn't just do ok in the January bout; they were able to hold every jammer outside of Suzie Smashbox to five points or less. When you're dealing with vets like Rumblebee and Anita Spankston, that's pretty damn impressive. Watch for Sinaminn and Candi Pain to escort players to the outside of turns every chance they get, and Shiver Me Kimbers and Wonderbroad to send Bombshells tumbling through the inside to draw cutting penalties.
- Sparkle Ninja might argue this, but she had a remarkable game against the Garda Belts. While only jamming 3 for 7, she scored 28 of the Dolls' 50 points. She might have scored more; Sparkle got rocked by a bad decision to re-enter the pack after a penalty as a jammer before the pack had passed, sending her right back to the box in a key moment of the second half. Sparkle Ninja is a fast, ruthless threat as a jammer and a blocker; Bombshell fans, don't expect her to give your team the same opportunity.
- We at last get to see the rookie Bombshell Madame de Stompadour skate. Stompadour, last seen by the public during the Brawl of America winning a Queen of the Rink crown, has finally worked through an early-season injury. Best to her in her season debut, as well as to her teammate BOOMbay Safire, now out for the rest of the season after a freak injury in practice. BOOM...get well, dammit.
- Umm. Don't know how else to put this. Dagger Dude. Keytars rule.
- No jammer works alone, and it was clear that Bombshells were repeating to themselves, "I will take care of my jammer..." before the January bout for weeks. No team seems more concentrated on watching their jammers' back than the Bombshells. Whether Flora's front blocking, Skullateral Damage's presence of mind, or Diamond Rough's holding entire blocking lines inside, the Bombshells are shifting away from a strategy of sticking the opposing jammer and towards getting that lead jam and control of the clock.

The Garda Belts (1-0) v the Rockits (0-1)

The fifth season championship grudge match is days away, and the fans of the women in green must be counting the hours. The Gardas were soundly defeated by a dominant Rockit defense (92-31 in the championship), but it is a new year and both teams have evolved into something very unlike last year's rosters.

Let's get the discussion of Suzie Smashbox out of the way. Suzie put up fifty of the fifty-nine points that won the game against the Dagger Dolls. She puts on the star every other jam. No team in the league depends on a single jammer more than the Gardas. The Rockits have found ways in the past to shut that lightning-fast woman down, but it all comes down to keeping her from hitting that mind-searing top gear of hers. What's worse for those attempting to contain that speed, it appears that her blockers are investing a lot of time to get her through the denser packs of this season...not to repeatedly beat upon the baldly obvious, but any player wanting to hold back Suzie is going to have Tiki harassing her every single foot of the track.

And this bout, it looks like the jammer cavalry is arriving in force. MNRG cofounder (and damn fine jammer) Rolls Wilder will be lacing up against the Rockits, Angelfire is back from an injury sustained while playing a Mid-Iowan league, and will almost certainly be putting her speed to work. With Rumblebee, Cassie Rolle, and Anita Spankston in play as well, we may see a lot of sharing of that star...and that might be smart; the Rockit defense that held Suzie to under thirty points in the 2009 championship is largely intact.

Harmony Killerbruise? #2 overall scorer in the 2009 season? Still wearing Rockit red. Harmony, Abbie Mischief, and Scarmen Hellectra all scored double-digits in their losing bout against the Bombshells. Although Scarmen plays blocker for the All-Stars, we may see more of this woman at the jammer line come Saturday...although Scar's speed might be more useful in blocking Suzie and Rumblebee through the pack. There is also a sizable risk of Harmony pulling one-shot jamming tactics like her much-lauded negative pass on the Sioux Falls Rollerdollz in December. If Suzie is the speed queen of the MNRG, Harmony leads the league in strategic jamming. In a one-on-one situation - outside of the 20 foot engagement zone of the pack - Killerbruise is to be feared.

If I haven't gotten this across well enough, I think we're going to see a much more even match than last year. The Garda Belts have a remarkably deep blocking staff; Tiki Torture, Hanna Belle Lector, and co-captain Citizen Pain all have the skill and the endurance to play roller derby at the speed of the Rockits, and they will be joined in kind by Garda ne'er-do-wells Angelfire (the Gardas would be foolish to keep her as a pure jammer if she's got her stamina back) and Optimiss Crime. The Rockits are full of surprises, but January saw them still working out their sixth-season style. Stay tuned, folks. This one's going to be fun. close, let's look at the win-loss situation. it sits, if both the Bombshells and the Gardas win their respective game on Saturday, it will be Orange versus Green for the Golden Skate. (A Rockit fan out there just fainted, and we apologize to her family.) If either the Rockits or the Dagger Dolls lose again, that team will be out of the running to play for the championship.

If both win? Folks, if the Rockits and the Dollys win, the March bout may be the most exciting home game bout we've ever had...the winners of each game in March (Rockit/Dolls and ABS/Gardas) would play for the Golden Skate. Any of the four teams could move forward.

Oh, and one last thing. It is possible for a team to win two out of three games and still not advance if three teams do it. If teams end with the same win/loss record, the decision of who goes forward to the season championship is made on overall point-differential throughout the season. Got that? Good. Because it took me two hours and a protractor to get it all straight.

We will see you Saturday, folks. Tickets are selling fast...the fastest I've seen for ages. This season is shaping up to be the best yet. Don't miss a single hit.

Writing from where all the women are strong, all the men are accessories, and all the children turn left,

-Garrison Killer