25 March 2012

Bout Recap: Twin City Riot vs. Lumber Jills

Yesterday, under drizzly skies, we made a 2.5-hour trek into the north country, up to Plattsburgh, New York. We were there to see the Lumber Jills host the Twin City Riot, and we expected it to be a good game. The Jills have a nice venue and a great sound system, so we could hear every word uttered by the fabulous, flannel-clad announcers, Rock Thudson and Malcolm Sex (and the fact that Flocci heard "wood chip toss" as "Wichita" had nothing to do with the sound quality or Rock's diction). We expected a few GMDD folks to be around, since their home base is just across the lake, but it ended up feeling like every time we turned around, there was another Dame. We definitely felt at home!

The last time we saw these two teams together, back in July, the score was pretty close, but the overall feel was kind of messy, and we thought that perhaps with better refs, this bout would be a bit smoother, especially since we noticed Doomsday and Darkness Visible, two of our favorite zebras, on the way in.

Well, the first half went smoothly, at least. The Jills took an early and decisive lead, and never let go. The Riot only managed to get lead jammer in six jams, despite fielding jammers who have been superstars in other bouts. (We're starting to wonder what effect coaching has on game outcomes, now that we've seen some skaters play for multiple teams with dramatically different results.) There weren't many power jams in the first half, but there were a couple of natural grand slams (when one jammer laps the other without the other being in the box) that made things interesting. The half ended with the Jills leading 84-32, and we wondered if the Riot would get enough of a pep talk during halftime to close the gap.

It almost seemed like our prayers were answered as the Riot got lead jammer in the first three jams of the second half, but they only added three points to their score, and then things went downhill. The skating got sloppy, the penalties got crazy, there were power jams and false starts and official time outs all over the place... it was rough. The Jills used power jams to strengthen their lead, and the Riot, despite scoring twice as many points in the second half as in the first, lost ground in all but a handful of jams. With less than a minute left on the clock, the Riot's Livid Loquita was ejected for excessive penalties, and there were several other skaters who would have followed her if the game had been a few minutes longer. When the dust settled, the Jills had spanked the Riot, 161-95.

Name of the Bout: Titsy Normous #36F (Lumber Jills)
Special Meritorious Service: Short Circuit, for venturing out onto the track during warmup to tape down a loose floorboard.

19 March 2012

The One Where Johnny Bash Writes Something

Minutes before the start of the Dames' home bout in February, we were accosted by Blitzkrieg Blondie. She was not the first Dame to graciously find a moment for Flocci and me before the beginning of the night, but was by far the most excited. We were informed to watch for some tricks up their green and gold sleeves.

And we were not disappointed.

Grade A Fancy has elevated the scrum start to an art form. Usually a 50/50 proposition at best, it was used consistently and to devastating effect against Rhode Island and Hudson Valley. Teamwork between blockers was uniformly excellent. And we welcomed newcomers to the green jersey, Dykotomous Free and Track Infection.

Yet, the Brawlers had their own set of surprises. We noticed a dramtic improvement in the skills of several of the Brawlers, especially Snow Fury. Her dedication is evident as her skills continued to blossom in this Saturday's match. By the end of this year, I can see her being a very intimidating jammer. Looking back, I wish we had noticed Brokeback Jac more in the Rock Coast bout. She put in an impressive performance against the ZomB Squad in March.

I must admit that, after years of derby fandom, February's after-party was my first. Hanging out with the Dames off-track was great fun even if several were difficult to recognize without helmets, pads, and war paint. As always, Miss DairyAir and Cajun Crusher were more than generous with their time. Chats with Nancy Nightmare, Terminate-Her, Pope John Maul, Rock Thudson, Blitzkrieg Blondie, and others were also highlights of the evening.

We are looking forward to next month's bout and possibly the return to skates for two of our favorites, Annie Cockledoux and Strawburied Jam.

...Johnny Bash

18 March 2012

Bout Recap: GMDD vs. Hudson Valley Horrors

It makes rules geeks like us very happy when, before a game, the refs get together with the coaches and go over the basics. It seems that Ref Doomsday has gotten so tired of having to explain to irate coaches why he didn't let their jammers call off the jam by patting themselves in the ribs that he's gone, as the businessfolk say, proactive. Before both of last night's bouts, he had a little infield meeting with all the refs and coaches, and we saw him demonstrating the ways a jam could and could not be called off. He probably covered some other rules, too, but we were way up in the bleachers and our long-distance lip-reading skills need work.

Bout 1: Black Ice Brawlers vs. ZomB Squad

The first bout of the night got off to a quick start. Snatch McKraken grabbed an easy 4-0 jam for the Brawlers, and the scores never got closer than that for the rest of the bout. About halfway through the first half, with the Brawlers leading 34-11, Johnny noticed that there hadn't been a power jam yet. Sure enough, the next jam saw the ZomB jammer Dodge Charger go to the box, leaving Snatch McKraken free to increase the Brawlers' lead to 55-11. Dodge compensated for her penalty in the next jam by doing a mini apex jump while Brawlers jammer Veggie Mighty was hung up on the outside, and while it only got the ZomB Squad four points, it was an impressive bit of skating.

If you've watched tournament-level roller derby, you know that bench coaches will keep an eye on the penalty board to see if any of their upcoming jammers are running a little heavy on minors. They'll send a jammer in as a blocker a jam ahead, intentionally out of position, so she can get her fourth minor, serve her time in the box, and be penalty-free when she puts on the star. The Brawlers, for whatever reason, don't do this. ZomB jammer Hitz'n Glamour enjoyed a power jam when Brawlers jammer Highway rAubry picked up her fourth minor on her initial pass. There was enough room in the score that it didn't affect the outcome of the game, but it was still a strategic mistake.

The Brawlers spent the second half holding a roughly 70-point lead over the ZomB Squad, taking advantage of power jams and showing how much their blocking skills have improved over the last season. The ZomB Squad rocked a few power jams of their own, most notably Dodge Charger's 23-point jam halfway through the period, but it wasn't enough to catch the Brawlers. The game ended with the Brawlers winning 178-101, and we wondered if the A-teams' bout would mirror this one.

Name of the Bout: S. Scar Go #00 (HVH)

Bout 2: Grade A Fancy vs. Hudson Valley Horrors

We heard the Dames buzzing about how, according to Flat Track Stats, they needed to beat the Horrors by a 3-1 margin to keep their ranking from falling. It turns out they needn't have worried.

This bout is best covered by the numbers. The Horrors didn't score until jam 7, and then didn't score again until jam 22, when they racked up nearly half the points they'd score in the entire game. The Fancy scored almost 100 points in the second half, while the Horrors scored just 14. The Fancy had lead jammer status in over 80% of the jams. The Horrors had only 12 scoring jams in the 47-jam game.

Aside from that, there's not a whole lot to say about this game. The Fancy have improved their blocking and teamwork dramatically since this time last year, and they had much less box time than they did in their last game. The Horrors skated well, but were out of their league.

The final score was 194-48.

Names of the Bout: Pin-Up Ghoul #B17 (HVH) and Ref Peter Rabid #88mph (HVH)