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.