The MNRG Garda Belts took the game to the Dagger Dolls on April 3rd in a third-place bout that was rarely in doubt. The Gardas has long had a strong presence in the pack, but the surprise in this bout was the coming-out party for Cassie Rolle and the resurgence of Angelfire as a jammer after years of injury and rehab. With both sides of the Garda machine going, the women in green took the lead more than 75% of the time. The Dolls had their surges of excellence, but the Gardas took the day.
The Garda Belts stole an early march from the opening whistle. Garda co-captain Suzie Smashbox took the first lead after being denied by Doll blocker Shiver Me Kimbers. She recovered and returned to slash past Kimbers and Buffy the Vampire Skater. Garda blocker Tiki Torture delayed Killamon Jaro long enough for Suzie to score four. Garda rookie Cassie Rolle next took three as Hanna Belle Lector denied Psycho Novia, then Suzie Smashbox scored another four as Tiki cleared Sparkle Ninja from her path. Killamon Jaro stole two before Suzie called the jam. 11-2 Gardas after only four minutes.
Suzie, Cassie, and Garda veteran Angelfire pounded past the Dagger defense for ten more unanswered points in the next three jams. The quick runs gave the Dolls little chance to protect their own enough to take a lead. However, once the Garda scorer had burst through, the Dolls' attention turned to getting their own jammers through. This focus kept the Gardas from scoring more than four points at a time. However, Killamon Jaro fell hard amidst a jam and did not seem able to recover her stride. 21-2 Garda Belts.
Psycho Novia pushed through at last with a point for her Dolls on a three-point jam by Suzie Smashbox, but it was Sparkle Ninja who blasted past an illegal hit from Hanna Belle Lector and took the Dolls' first lead jam. Following a brief exchange of jammer penalties, both Ninja and Angelfire scored four. With eight minutes to go in the half, Suzie responded with a big grand slam-plus as her blockers knocked the rookie Doll Patently Offensive into her teammate Wonderbroad. Patently "Leo" almost broke out, but Garda co-captain Citizen Pain corralled her out of bounds, depositing her into the rear of the pack. With Wonderbroad's help, Leo broke the pack and kept Suzie from scoring more. 37-7 Gardas.
Cassie Rolle beat Sinaminn and Lydia Punch by jamming the outside line and accelerated past an attempted blindside from Lydia for four points for the Gardas, but then the Dolls came up big. Attacking Suzie Smashbox, Wonderbroad and Shiver Me Kimbers peeled off Gardas enough to clear the road for Psycho Novia. Psycho knifed through the pack, lapped them for five, and juked past a frustrated Suzie for an additional three points - effectively doubling the Dolly score, 41-15. After a rapid-fire duel between Angelfire (leaping over a teammate's leg for the lead) and Killamon Jaro, Buffy the Vampire Skater scored an unopposed grand slam for the Dolls to close the half from a power jam off of a star-wearing Tiki Torture. With half the game gone, the Gardas had a strong lead of 43-21.
Killamon Jaro and Suzie returned to the jammer line for the first jam of the second half. Jaro, as before, sped a little ahead to engage the pack but got caught in Garda green on the outside. Meanwhile, her teammates Wonderbroad and Shiver Me Kimbers attempted to delay Smashbox long enough for Jaro to loose herself from the pack. No such luck; KJ fell afoul of Citizen Pain's attention, and Suzie scored five. Cassie Rolle and Suzie took the next two leads, but did not score. Neither did Patently Offensive as she gained her team's second lead in the game with Angelfire mere paces behind her. Suzie finally got the scoreboard moving again with four points as she dodged a Doll pack that grew steadily more desperate to take down the Garda jammer. 52-21 Gardas with twelve to go.
The Dolls were running ragged. The next jam would be the third consecutive one in which the women in pink had two of their blockers cooling their heels in the penalty box...but it didn't appear to matter. Psycho Novia took to the jammer line and broke through the pack with a minor back-blocking violation, so she had no lead. Again, it didn't matter; suddenly, no one could touch #109...Psycho Novia lapped the pack as Wonderbroad waylaid opposing jammer Cassie Rolle for the full two minutes. Thirteen points for Psycho Novia, 52-34.
Suzie responded by taking four back in the next jam. Angelfire pushed the lead out even more by skirting the opposition while Punishmint Patty and Optimiss Crime descended on her opposing jammer. Angelfire flew back around, scored a grand slam and called off the jam. Suzie took her fifth lead of the half as her trailblazer Tiki Torture pushed Sparkle Ninja out of her way, allowing her to score one. 62-34 with six remaining. The Dolls needed a big score soon.
Patently Offensive delivered for her team, scoring a grand slam by leaning through the inside lane while Wonderbroad and Ova Achieva dealt with Cassie Rolle. However, while Killamon Jaro scored two in the next jam as well, it would be their last score until the final jam. After a scoreless jam, Suzie took her twelfth lead of the game (12-for-13 in all) and scored her final slam as Killamon Jaro attempted to take the outside, only to find Tiki Torture waiting. Jaro got hit with a penalty, and Suzie scored five.
With time for one last jam, Garda Belt coach Seamonster sent fan favorite Rumblebee to the jammer line to play unopposed. She had just gotten halfway through the pack when Sparkle Ninja ambushed the Garda veteran, tackling her from behind. The refs restrained Ninja and sent her to the locker room. The clock was restarted, and with so little time left, the game reached the end of regulation.
The Gardas appealed the decision, and the fans and Dagger Dolls alike loudly agreed. The refs pulled the clock back to three seconds, and one final jam began for Rumblebee against Patently Offensive for the Dollys. Rumblebee took the lead of that last jam. Both Leo and Rumblebee scored four. Gardas win, 74-45.
While it is difficult to speculate, Killamon Jaro's early injury probably had a significant effect on the score. The Dolls played Jaro in heavy rotation during the match, but her speed and agility seemed hampered after those initial couple of jams. That said, the Gardas played a beautiful game. They played rather short for this bout, so their reliance on one another's skill increased out of neccessity. What's more, Angelfire used that win to recement herself in the minds of the fans that she was no 'backup jammer' for the Gardas. Her pace and command of the track was a far cry from her earlier efforts in the year. In all, hell of a win for the women in green.
With the season at its end, both the Dollys and Gardas now have their work cut out for them. In six months, the season begins anew. What's more, the home season begins in October. Players and coaches have spoken of this and told this reporter that they feel the season is only half-done. Season seven - and another shot at the Golden Skate - awaits. We'll see you there.
91 Suzie Smashbox (12-13) 46 pts
c² Angelfire (4-6) 14 pts
350 Cassie Rolle (5-6) 10 pts
4x4 Rumblebee (1-2) 4 pts
H8U Tiki Torture (0-1) 0 pts
109 Psycho Novia (1-9) 22 pts
281 Patently Offensive (2-5) 9 pts
20 Buffy the Vampire Skater (0-2) 6 pts
9 Killaman Jaro (0-10) 4 pts
1111 Sparkle Ninja (1-2) 4 pts
Reporting from the exact geographical center of roller derby today,