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.

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