Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The blue-hued Babes run through the Paulas in the season’s first of three mixer bouts.
With the competition for the Golden Skate trophy decided, the players of the MNRG took their team colors off…and replaced them with flannel and blue for last Saturday’s mixer between the “Paula Bunyans” and the “Babes”. Those not directly involved in the All-Star game against the Tucson Saddletramps played their first of three mixer bouts in this fantastic homage to our friends in Northern Minnesota.
Here’s how that bout went down.
First half:
The Introduction of the Paula Bunyans:  Well, if you’re going to honor the spirit of the legend of Paul Bunyan, you might as well pick your mascot well. The Twin Cities Terrors’ own man-beast, the Killsbury Doughboy, leads a pack of women in cutoffs and plaid flannel onto the track of the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium. The Paulas are being captained tonight by Rumblebee and Scootaloo.
The Introduction of the Babes: After the Paulas’ boutfits, the Babes are something of a letdown. They’ve all got sky-blue shirts with the ad-hoc team’s logo (as well as Manny Shovitz of the TC Terrors as their cowbell-ringing mascot). At least, that looked like all. Speaking with co-captain Lizzy the Axe before the bout, I learned that the t-shirts were bought by the players sight unseen with Smurf-tastic names developed by “Lizzy the Ox”. The announcers are calling the players by their Ox names - Betty LaOx, Sintripetal Ox, Ox-ie Rotten - I wonder how long they’ll be able to keep the naming scheme without giggling. Ova Ox-chieva is co-captaining with Lizzy.
The Countdown: I’m not precisely sure how we got polar explorer Ann Bancroft to count down to the start of our mixer bout (I suspect it’s due to her foundation being this year’s charity that we’ve chosen to sponsor) but it’s an honor to have her begin our February bout in style. She appears to be wearing some sort of jersey as well.
...and we’re off! AND A BABE POWER JAM ALREADY. Lizzy the Ox busts past Madame de Stompadour to get the first lead of the game. The Paulas’ jammer Lydia Punch goes to the box after getting messed with by the Babes’ Shiva in the back. Stompy also heads to the Gram’s Kitchen for a minute, and Lizzy scores ten quick points.
19:00 Babes 10 - Paulas 0: The Babes’ other co-captain Ova Ox-chieva gets nine as her teammate Wonder-Ox (you’ll excuse me if I revert back to their normal names for the remainder of the bout) holds back Lydia Punch as the Paula returns from the penalty box.
16:30 Babes 19 - Paulas 0: In a nice bit of blocking artistry, Icepack kept Ova from scoring more in that last jam by matching her stride for stride and sitting on her for about half a lap.
16:00 Babes 19 - Paulas 0: Nice. Lizzy the Axe jams against Scootaloo and takes the fourth straight lead for the Babes. The jammer rotation in blue has untangled themselves from the pack nicely so far, but Scootaloo still sneaks in for four points before Lizzy can call the jam
14:00 Babes 23 - Paulas 4: There was a little discussion between the refs and the Paulas about who should be in the box. Unfortunately, that screwed up the lineup and the Paula Bunyans are playing a blocker short.
13:30: Babes 23 - Paulas 4: That loss of a blocker probably fed this BABE POWER JAM! Ova gets the fifth lead in a row for the Babes as Cookies n’ Scream gets sent to the box. Ova gets bounced off the track by Lydia Punch, comes back in to score five, and calls off the jam before Cookies can re-emerge from the box. All in a jam’s work.
12:00: Babes 28 - Paulas 4: That might have been a miscalculation. Cookie sprints out of the box as the next jam begins and gets the lead. Flora Flipabitch escorts Cookies through the pack for four. Trippy (SIntripetal Force) steals two before the jam is called.
10:00: Babes 30 - Paulas 8:  Madame de Stompadour looks like she’s going to get the lead as she passes turn 4, beating Lizzy the Axe to the front, then WHAM. Babe (and Rockit) rookie Salvador Brawlie gets under Stompy’s center of gravity and drops a calculated low-block to hold off the Paula. Salvador happily goes to the box for that professional-looking penalty, and Lizzy scores three.
9:00: Babes 33 - Paulas 8: Rumblebee walks through a pack short of Babes - there’s been no lack of blockers going to the box - and gets the lead. She scores two, but sneaky Ova steals one point.
8:30: Babes 34 - Paulas 10: The Paulas have only gotten two lead jams this half thus far and neither lead kept the Babes from scoring. That could spell trouble. It’s very difficult for a team to succeed if they don’t deny the opposing jammers.
8:00: Babes 34 - Paulas 10: BABE POWER JAM #3! Paula jammer Lydia Punch gets sent to the box for a major track cut, and Patently Offensive springs into action. With Glam Slam making space, “Leo” scores fifteen unanswered points. Lydia stands at the end of the jam as the whistle blows and head backs to the bench.
OFFICIAL TIMEOUT AND ANOTHER BABE POWER JAM! Oh dear. Lydia apparently left the box too early (you have to serve your entire minute in the box, so you can’t leave even a few seconds before your time is up), and is being sent back to serve another minute of penalty. Paulas will go jammer-less when the game resumes.
4:00: Babes 54 - Paulas 10: Lizzy just scored five points and called the jam, stranding Lydia in the box to start yet another jam. Ova gets the lead after getting stalked through the pack by Skullateral Damage. When Lydia returns to the track, the Babes’ Wonderbroad delays her for most of the jam. Neither player scores; great work in terms of blocking from both teams.
2:00 Babes 54 - Paulas 10: BABE PJ #5? This time, it’s Freeze Baby for the Paulas that get caught on a back block. Sintripetal speeds through the front of the pack, and the Paulas try to accelerate so that she can’t come back around. Nothing doing; Glam Slam moves up the pack and knocks CleoSPLATra out of the advancing Paula phalanx. That forces the Paulas to slow down, and Trippy scores nine.
HALFTIME: Babes 63 - Paulas 10: Right now, it’s simple mathematics. This half had twelve jams. That’s about five minutes of the clock taken up by players coming on and off the track. Of the remaining fifteen minutes, the Paula jammers spent another five minutes in the box. It’s hard to score when you’re only eligible to put up points for half of the jam.  That said, both teams are working like it was still the home team season to stop opposing jammers. The Babes are just a little bit better thus far. They’ve also taken full advantage of the power jams. 53 of the Babes’ 63 points in the first half have been scored while a Paula jammer was entering, within, or exiting the penalty box.
Second half:
We’re back! Babes 63 - Paulas 10: Hurtrude Stein leads off for the Paulas. It’s ‘Trudy’s second jam of the game; she nabs her first lead. However, it’s opposing jammer Ova Achieva that scores a point amidst the chaos on the track.
19:00: Babes 64 - Paulas 10: That’s more like it. Freeze gets the lead for the Paulas, careens around the track, gets around the Babes’ Shiva Shank’n’, and scores four unanswered points. That’s the first time that the Paulas have scored unanswered points on a lead jam.
17:30: Babes 64 - Paulas 14: Madame de Stompadour misses grabbing the lead against Lizzy the Axe for a second time by inches. This time, it’s Betty LaRude that cuts into Stompy’s forward advance. That’s five straight lead jams for Lizzy, but only scores one due to Hurtude Stein’s stopping her on the lapping pass.
15:00: Babes 66 - Paulas 14: PAULA POWER JAM! After another one-point jam by the Babes, Kit Shinkicker comes to the line for the Paulas against long-time MNRG pivot Pain Gretzky. Pain knocks her down just as she was about to leave the pack, but Kit recovers and takes the lead. Seconds later, Pain Gretzky goes to the box, and Kit streaks past the pack for five. Shiva Shank’n drops her to the floor on the second lapping run, but Kit gets back up AGAIN and finishes a second lapping run.
12:30: Babes 66 - Paulas 24: That’s the first multislam and first power jam for the Paulas all game. Kit had a couple of good jams earlier this season; hope to see more in the next couple of months.
12:00: Babes 66 - Paulas 24: Lizzy the Axe gets her sixth lead jam of the bout, but almost gets toppled as Ann E Briated, toppled by a Babe hit, grabs for Lizzy’s legs as she falls on Turn 4. Lizzy gets well ahead of that and scores two. Freeze Baby steals four for the Paulas.
11:00: Babes 68 - Paulas 28: Skullateral Damage is playing some sweet, smart All-Star derby in the midst of the mixer. Babe jammer Barbie Brawl grabs the lead, but Skully shoots in front of her and sucks her right back into the pack as Hurtrude Stein charges ahead for the Paulas. Barbie’s forced to call the jam.
8:00: Babes 71 - Paulas 30: AND BABE POWER JAM #6: Well, crap. The Paula Bunyans seemed like they might have a little bit of a comeback, but the Babes just took another power jam. Lizzy goes 7-for-7 on lead jams and takes three points before calling off the jam and stranding opposing jammer Cookies n’ Scream in the box.
7:00: Babes 74 - Paulas 30: Yup. This seems to be the go-ahead for the Babes. Sintripetal Force gets another lead and scores five as Babe blocker Bully Jean gives her jammer an assist. That’s five lead jams in a row for the women with crazy ox-names plastered on their back.
5:00: Babes 79 - Paulas 30: Hurtrude Stein breaks that lead jammer streak as she busts past the Babes (including an imposing Shiva Shank’n as opposing jammer) and scores three. Shiva nonetheless nabs four as well.
1:00: Babes 88 - Paulas 37: The late hunt for points continues. Rumblebee snared the lead and four points against Patently Offensive. With almost fifty point separating the two teams, the jammers are playing like it was a five-point game. Shiva scores two, and Freeze - only a stride or two behind - scores one.
PAULA TIMEOUT. The Paulas demand one more jam and stop the clock with seconds left to go. Looks like it’s Hurtrude Stein getting the honors for the Paulas, while Salvador Brawlie puts on the jammer star.
Seconds to go: Babes 90 - Paulas 38: It’s Trudy with the last lead, weaving in and out of danger while Brawlie absorbs a hard hit from Paula blocker Smoka Hontas.
FINAL: Babes 90 - Paulas 43.
The Paulas had a much better second half as they got the jammer penalties under control, but the Babes’ use of a concentrated jammer staff may have made the difference in this bout. Ova and Lizzy appear to have selected four strong scoring threats to build their offense around, then went to others as the game went more in their favor. 
The Paula blocker group had a very powerful core. Skullateral Damage, Icepack, Hurtrude Stein, and Scootaloo in particular all came up big for the women in flannel. However, that run of five power jams in the first half couldn’t be overcome. Next month, we’ll be seeing the Hunters taking on the Hipsters. It’s Embarrass, MN vs Northeast Minneapolis, people…be there.
90 Points
19 Lead Jams
6 Power jams
41 Lizzy the Axe (7-7) 28 pts
1.618 Sintripetal Force (4-5) 20 pts
281 Patently Offensive (3-5) 20 pts
711 Ova Achieva (3-5)16 pts
10-72 Shiva Shank’n (1-2) 6 pts
OO7 Barbie Brawl (1-1) 0 pts
1337 Pain Gretzky (0-1) 0 pts
5:00 Salvador Brawlie (0-1) 0 pts
Paula Bunyans
43 Points
8 Lead jams
1 Power jam
44 Kit Shinkicker (1-1) 10 pts
0054 Freeze Baby (1-4) 9 pts
727 Hurtrude Stein (3-5) 8 pts
4x4 Rumblebee (2-4) 8 pts
525 Cookies n’ Scream (1-4) 4 pts
FU Scootaloo (0-1) 4 pts
789 Lydia Punch (0-5) 0 pts
1764 Madame de Stompadour (0-2) 0 pts
18 Anita Spankston (0-1) 0 pts
Reporting from the exact geographical center of roller derby,
-Garrison Killer

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

MNRG All-Stars bust up Tucson, 161-52

The Saddletramps gave an early scare to the MNRG All-Stars by capturing the first two jams, but Minnesota soon powered through to put up a commanding sixty-point lead by halftime. Led by a consistent blocking staff and three standout jammers, the MNRG won by over a hundred points with not a single power jam to assist them.
The MNRG began their All-Star stand at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium by hosting the Tucson Saddletramps this past Saturday. The Tramps come from the of the US’ fast-growing flat track community. They’re ranked ninth in the powerful western region of the WFTDA and were known in 2010 for good fundamentals, strong blocking at the front…and a few problems with getting into foul trouble.
The MNRG might have been a little surprised, then, when no Saddletramp jammer went to the box over the sixty minutes of play. This meant that Minnesota had to score every point while an opposing jammer competed on the track. Further, Tucson blockers Sunni Sideup, Kosma Nauti, and Pixie Axe fought the Minnesota threat through every inch of the pack…not just at the top. Minnesota - fresh off their decisive defeat of Madison’s Dairyland Dolls - were ready for the challenge.
Tucson took the first two lead jams. Tramp jammer Bianka Trohl took advantage of Helen Wheels and Pixie Axe’s delay tactics on Minnesota’s Scarmen Hellectra and scored the first two points of the game. However, neither Bianka (nor Sami Automatic in the following jam) could call it off before the MNRG jammer lapped a Saddletramp for a point. MEDUSA - the MNRG’s lead scorer from last week’s Madison bout at the Xcel Energy Center - flew next from the line, used the clear outside lane of Turn 1 and 2 to accelerate past the entire pack, and took Minnesota’s first lead. Bianka Trohl attempted to follow her, but the MNRG’s Jax Kvaas threw herself into Trohl’s way and held back the Tucson jammer long enough for MEDUSA to score four. Minnesota went ahead, 7-4.
Sami Automatic shot back with a two-point jam, but Harmony Killerbruise skated the same outside line used by ‘DUSA to knock four past the Tramps. Tucson’s brutal rear blocker Pixie Axe put on the jammer star and scored four against Minnesota’s L’exi-Cuter. MEDUSA grabbed her second lead jam and got two points, but her gentle call of the jam under the Roy’s lower lights meant that the refs could not see her signal until after opposing jammer Myna stole two points.
18-year-old Lindsey Loblow took the next lead as Pinky McLovin’ frustrated L’exi-Cuter’s pace for crucial seconds.  However, L’exi recovered and broke the pack while Minnesota’s blockers accelerated. Tucson struggled throughout the game to block at Minnesota’s top speed, and it was no different here. By keeping Lindsey’s own blockers between Minnesota’s defense and the Tucson jammer, Lindsey had to pick her way through her own pack to score three points. Meanwhile, L’exi caught up and scored three as well. MNRG 16 - Tucson 15.
Up until this point, Tucson had been holding its own. Organized blocking on the straightaways had held the MNRG long enough to allow blockers Bea Hayve and Pixie Axe to knock Minnesota jammers off the track.  However, Minnesota began to find the chinks in the Tramps’ blocking strategy. L’exi-Cuter used the outside lane to take her first lead jam of the game and score nine. MEDUSA used her blocking staff’s goating of a Tucson blocker to grab four points on a 20-foot violation. Though Myna N Possession and Bianka Trohl each got four points in the last fifteen minutes of the first half, the Tramps couldn’t break through the MNRG fast enough to score regularly. The Minnesota defense owned the track.
That defense earned the MNRG All-Stars a gorgeous jam late in the first half. MEDUSA took the lead off of a 4-3 pack advantage and lapped the Tramps four times while Tara Skatesov, Diamond Rough, Scarmen Hellectra and Tiki Torture took turns recycling Ferocious Oxide. Fast jamming and stunning jammer management kept Minnesota ahead as the halftime whistle blew. 83-23.
Play resumed and Minnesota took the first four leads of the second half. Coochie Coup pasted a last Saddletramp blocker to give Psycho a clear lane. Vuedoo Prodigy guarded the top of the apex, anticipating Lindsey Loblow’s escape on a path to glory. Showcase blocks were everywhere. The MNRG thought they had Tucson where they wanted them.
Or maybe not. Myna N Possession scored an unpowered thirteen points* while her teammates Sunni Sideup, Pinky McLovin’, and Kosma Nauti mobbed Harmony Killerbruise. In one jam, Myna erased the run-up of points that the MNRG had made in the previous five minutes. MNRG up 97-36 with twenty-three minutes left to go.
That would be Tucson’s last lead jam and last score for the next fifteen minutes. Minnesota’s jammers kept finding an opening, exploiting it, scoring a handful of points, and calling off the jam…each in a minute or less. Minnesota seemed more concerned about controlling the jam clock and putting a few unanswered points on the board each jam than actually stopping the Tucson jammer for a long period. The MNRG scored thirteen jams in a row without allowing the other team a single point.
The fast-jam, “hit-it-and-quit-it” tactic is incredibly effective. Controlling the clock will almost always net a team points as long as they don’t let the other team score. What’s more, a rapid fire run of jams strands opposing blockers in the box for multiple jams (a player’s penalty timer only runs while a jam is in progress, after all). The quick succession of jams stranded Kosma Nauti and Pixie Axe in the box for a good portion of the second period; Kosma was in and out of the box over the course of seven jams without ever returning to the bench. Finally, rapid-fire jams eat up the clock. There’s thirty seconds of clock time lost at the end of every jam. It’s far safer when you are ahead to simply call off a jam and let no one score for those thirty seconds while the packs rotate in and out. The MNRG milked almost seven minutes off the clock through hit-it-and-quit-it tactics this period. Minnesota took a commanding lead of 149-36.
Sami Automatic started Tucson scoring again by stealing a point from a L’exi-Cuter lead jam, but Myna N Possession gave the Saddletramps their final two scoring runs. With four jams left in the half, MEDUSA became the first jammer in the entire game to go to the penalty box, called on a back-blocking major. Myna started the power jam’s lapping run, only to be gored by Tara Skatesov so hard that she had to call off her jam so she could catch her breath. However, Myna returned three jams later and scored another thirteen points for her Saddletramps to close the Tramps’ game out.
Final score: 161-52
Box scores:
MNRG All-Stars
161 Points
31 Lead Jams
0 Power jams
13 MEDUSA (10-11) 59 pts
187 L’exi-Cuter (8-10) 44 pts
75 Harmony Killerbruise (7-12) 32 pts
109 Psycho Novia (5-9) 21 pts
28 Scarmen Hellextra (1-2) 5 pts
Tucson Saddletramps
52 Points
13 Lead jams
2 Power jams
18 Myna N. Possession (4-11) 34 pts
11 Bianka Trohl (3-9) 6 pts
22 Sami Automatic (4-12) 5 pts
33 Pixie Axe (1-2) 4 pts
5 Lindsey Loblow (1-7) 3 pts
26 Ferocious Oxide (0-3) 0 pts

* unpowered scoring: When one scores a large number of points in a single jam, it is often due to a ‘power jam,’ where the opposing jammer goes to the penalty box and the scoring team can devote its entire energy to getting their jammer through. An ‘unpowered score’ denotes a team whose blockers can both hold back the opposing jammer while at the same time create space for their own jammer to break through the pack.