Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Call it a Comeback: Rockits Retake Championship, 76-61

The perennial contenders of the MNRG intraleague get the gang back together (with some brand new faces) and pull off an upset against the newly-dangerous Dagger Dolls.

The Rockits are known for being up front about their skills on the track. Their athleticism speaks for itself every month of our home season at the Roy. Some of you may have seen a Rockit going about her business in the Twin Cities, wearing a "Rockits 2010-11: Don't Call It a Comeback" t-shirt. 

Nonetheless, Minnesota's favorite intergalactic rock stars of the flat track played a comeback show after being held scoreless for over ten minutes of the championship bout on Saturday. The Dagger Dolls had tamed the Rockits in the first half, but calm play by this year's Red Wall defense and some inspired jamming from the Rockits' newest jammer brought them back from the brink to take the championship by fifteen points.

Neither team could score in the opening minutes. The Rockits took the first two lead jams of the game, but neither Harmony Killerbruise nor Commander Nix could lap a single Dagger Doll player without the opposing jammer threatening to score as well. The Dagger Doll pack seemed to push their players through by sheer force of will. Fearlessly sprinting through Rockit opposition, Juke Boxx grabbed her team's first lead jam, but could not score when Rockit jammer Harmony recovered from a splintering block by Naughty Kitty and sprinted up. Juke called the jam. It took two more jams for the Dolls to finally score as co-captain Psycho Novia squeaked out two against Scarmen Hellectra.

Over the next five jams, the Dagger Dolls played tough, tight modern roller derby. They took four leads in six minutes, inching their way past the Rockits. The trio of Juke Boxx, Psycho Novia, and Killaman "Man Jar" Jaro served up the jams for the Dollies while their pack held the Rockits at bay just long enough to score two or four points. Whether it was Shiver Me Kimbers dropping Frau Scientits at just the right moment, Scootaloo delaying a jammer for a few precious seconds, or Tiki Torture beating down Rockits blockers, the Dolls seemed to have it all well in hand. Daggers up 12-0 with nine minutes left to play in the half.

The Rockits took a timeout. They were losing each jam by inches, but they hadn't yet scored.  No one had held the Rockits scoreless for so long. Also, what wasn't apparent from the stands was that both Frau Scientits and Harmony Killerbruise were quite ill through that game. The bench coaches were pulling out their hair working out how to fill the lines with two such veteran players not playing at 100%. Whatever they decided in that timeout didn't start working immediately; the Dolls took yet another lead jam as Man Jar found a gaping hole in the inside of Turn 4 and took that path to glory for the game's first grand slam. 

At last, Harmony Killerbruise found a route through on the next jam for the lead and seven points as the Rockits' blocking team at last found a way to stop Psycho Novia for a few laps of the track. Juke returned fire for three as second-year Dagger Doll Ova Achieva delayed Frau Scientits through the pack. Dolls 20 - Rockits 7.

With less than five minutes left in the half, Commander Nix skated to the jammer line for the Rockits. Man Jar took her place next to Mander, and the two sprinted forward. Nix took a big hit from Tiki Torture, recovered and got the lead. Man Jar, however, got hit with a track cut penalty as she struggled to beat the Rockit pack and went to the box halfway through the jam. Tiki and Hanna Belle Lector's attempts to stop Nix sent them to join Man Jar, and jubilant Rockits and their fans signaled "Minivan" (a shaking fist and a peace sign) to the players on the track. Nix - a Division I three-sport athlete - screamed through the pack as the Rockits cordoned off the remaining two Dolls. Nix scored twenty-five unanswered points - a rare quintuple slam - for the lead change.  32-20 Rockits.

The Dolls jetted back. Killaman Jaro returned to the jammer line and pinned opposing jammer Frau into the pack along with Tiki Torture to create enough space for the leggy Doll to score four, and Frau went out on a track cut. Ova Achieva used the resulting power jam to score eight, tying the score going into halftime, 32-32.

I remember sitting there a few jams into the first half thinking, "what if they hold us to zero?!". Mander's monster jam really busted it open and got some momentum for us. - Scarmen Hellectra, Rockit co-captain
We should have been behind by 25 at the half. - Soylent Mean, Rockit bench coach

Following the half, the Rockits' rear blocking monster Vuedoo Prodigy took a break from defense and went to the line against the Dolls' own rear specialist Juke Boxx and took the first lead of the second half. However, Juke flew past and dunked Vue into the audience, which sucked them both back into the pack. Vue got right back out and scored one point. Man Jar scored a quick four points as Naughty Kitty - so dominant in the front in this game - held off Patently Offensive. However, the canny Scarmen Hellectra broke through the pack for the next lead jam by taking a hit from Kitty and transferring its power into opposing jammer Juke Boxx. Juke toppled and Scar scored four. Tiki Torture opened the inside line for Man Jar, giving her the opportunity score four for yet ANOTHER lead change. 40-38, Dolls up with fourteen minutes left.

Three lead changes in three jams...something had to break open. That something? Psycho Novia and her amazing Dolly pack. While Norah Torious and Juke Boxx held off Rockit Frau Scientits, Psycho lapped the pack for fourteen unanswered points. The Dolls looked like they could take a breath. 

However, Vuedoo Prodigy gambled in the next jam, taking the outside line of the first turn, and forced Man Jar to hit her from behind for a back block. Off to the penalty box for Killaman Jaro, and opposing jammer Commander Nix scored ten on the resulting power jam (Nix would go on to score over forty points, 35 of which came from power jams). The Rockits' ailing veteran Harmony Killerbruise scored eight as Rockit a sniffling Frau Scientits finally got a little of her own back by sticking Psycho Novia throughout the jam. That would be lead change #5. 

It would be the final change. After a jam in which both teams scored two each, Scarmen Hellectra scored four by exploiting a Dolly pack that was suddenly spending more time in the box than on the track. The Dolly blockers were making illegal hits in their rush to shut down the Red tide, and the refs were dinging them for their exploits. Following another multi-slam jam by Commander Nix, the Daggers were suddenly behind by fifteen with time for only three more jams.  Man Jar would score one more point before the end of the game, but the Dolls could not shut down either Patently Offensive or Commander Nix's advances through the pack so their jammer could make up the difference.

The jubilant, triumphant Rockits and their fans screamed their screams to the rafters of the Roy as Scarmen Hellectra and Pain Gretzky accepted the coveted Golden Skate for the women in red. For the fourth time, the Rockits have claimed the MNRG championship. Final score: 76-61.

With two veterans ailing and Scarmen Hellectra relatively ineffective as a jammer in this bout (Scar only scored eight points), the Rockits didn't use their usual set of core players to win the Skate. Instead, they relied on jamming from rookie Commander Nix for the bulk of their points as well as pack play by their younger players. Particularly of note was second-year Rockit Cookies and Scream, who consistently held off far more experienced skaters.

However, the play of the Rockits was by no means perfect; the Dolls executed a total shutdown of the Rockits scoring machine for the first third of the game. From fantastic front coverage by the agile tutu-ed veteran Scootaloo to the authoritative ass-kicking of Juke Boxx, the Dolls had answers for almost everything the Rockits could throw at them. The final factor to the win may have been penalties; hyper-aggressive play towards the end of the second half sent far too many Dolls to the box just as they needed them to hold off the Rockits' final assault.

14 Lead jams 
3 Power jams 
76 Points

D1 Commander Nix     5-8, 50 pts
75 Harmony Killerbruise     3-6, 15 pts
28 Scarmen Hellectra     2-4, 8 pts
281 Patently Offensive     3-5, 2 pts
LXIX Vuedoo Prodigy     1-1, 1 pt
23 Frau Scientits     0-5, 0 pts

15 Lead jams 
2 Power jams
61 Points

9 Killaman Jaro     8-12, 22 pts
109 Psycho Novia     4-8, 22 pts
711 Ova Achieva     1-2, 12 pts
A18 Juke Box     2-6, 3 pts
00 Naughty Kitty     0-1, 2 pts


Our Man Flip said...

I've watched the first jam of the 2nd period like 5 times now on the video. -Not because I needed to sort something out for stats, but because it was that entertaining. Juke vs Vuedoo: the most fascinating 1-0 jam you might ever see.

I remember watching the jam live in the Roy and thinking, "This is some amazing roller derby we have on display here."

Garrison Killer said...

I agree, Flip. I've tried to find 'intriguing jammer matchups' in the past several years, but this was the first one in MNRG matchups that actually grabbed me and made me want to see part two. Two fast, powerful blockers who normally hunt for jammers taking a turn at the line...with the implicit ability to engage at any point along the track.

MEDUSA and Juke look terrifying to jam against, if only because they might try to take you at any time.

Josh said...

I wish I could have seen the Dolls pull off the win to cap off their run this season. But it was a great season and that was some awesome derby on Saturday win or lose!

And I'll quickly forget that loss now that the all-star season is starting! :) It seems like Nationals was just yesterday and the home season was just a dream.

What a great line-up for the all-stars this season. I hope they waste no time getting to the level of play they ended on last season. It's crazy looking at the line-up. In addition to the strong team from last year, we have the addition of MEDUSA and Naughty Kitty and the return of Harmony...OH MY! I'll miss Suzie and HdF and I hope Venus can come back soon. These all-stars are going to be fun to watch!