16 July 2012

Bout Recap: HARD July Double-Header

Howdy, derby fans! Sorry for the posting hiatus. We've had some changes in both geography and staff, which means we've had to leave our beloved Green Mountain Derby Dames behind. However, we've picked up a new home team, and there was a bout just a few nights ago that we'd love to tell you about.

Connecticut has a couple of roller derby leagues, but none of them served the Greater Hartford area... until recently. This is the first competitive season for Hartford Area Roller Derby (HARD), and they're getting into the game with a tremendous amount of dedication and spirit. For such a young team, they have a lot of skating skills and strategy, and they have the organizational skills to pull a bout together pretty seamlessly.

Saturday night saw HARD's third home game of the season, and it was an action-packed double-header. HARD's bout venue, Nomad's Adventure Quest, is bright and spacious, but the sound system leaves something to be desired -- the announcers, while lovely, were inaudible. But that's okay, because we could see both the action and the scoreboard with no trouble.

Bout 1: Hartford Wailers vs. New Jersey Roller Derby

The local zebras have, shall we say, a unique reffing style. It's subtle. It's understated. It's a little unnerving if you're not used to it. It's also very forgiving. There were several times where we missed our beloved Ref Doomsday and his obsession with the rulebook, but at least these refs were consistent in their laxity.

The Wailers and NJRD are well-matched teams, and they kept the points coming pretty consistently throughout the game, usually staying within 20 points and making up at least some of the difference within a jam or two. There were a few too many jams that started with the pack at the jammer line (doesn't anybody love the pivot line anymore?), but the strategies beyond that were well-used. There were 3- and 4-walls, pack speed control, whips of all sorts, forced no-pack situations to help jammers... all of the stuff that makes derby fun to watch.

There were also, unfortunately, some time- and score-keeping issues that interrupted the flow of the game now and then, but given that this was HARD's third official bout at this venue, and they were plugging into an existing scoreboard system, some snags are understandable.

The first half wrapped up with the score tied at 98 points, and then New Jersey got one heck of a peptalk during halftime. They came screaming into the second half, grabbing the lead in the first jam and never letting go. They used a couple of power jams to good effect and got very good at grabbing lead jammer status, increasing a 4-point lead to a solid 36 points by the final whistle. When all was said and done, New Jersey beat the Wailers 198-162.

Name of the Bout: Jersey Buryher #6 (HARD)

Bout 2: Beat City Bedrockers vs. Red Bank Roller Vixens

With just 30 jams, total, this was one of the easiest games to watch from a scoring perspective. It was also a lot of fun, with tight scores and good strategies. Red Bank got lead jammer more than half the time, and more than half of the power jams, but the Bedrockers did more with what they had. Which is not to say that Red Bank didn't put up one heck of a fight -- there were 7 lead changes in the game, 4 of them consecutive at the start of the second half.

The unique thing about this bout was that, while the first half had a lead jammer declared in every jam, the second half had no lead jammer for about a third of the jams. Normally we watch the refs to see what minor penalty a jammer incurred on her way through the pack, but these refs don't roll that way, so we were left in the dark most of the time.

The Bedrockers won out in that string of lead changes early in the second half, and spent the rest of the game chiseling away at a comfortable lead. In the end, they wrapped up the game with a 160-139 win over Red Bank, and they did it in style.

Name of the Bout: Rinky Tuscadero #7 (RBRV)