26 August 2012

Bout Recap: HARD vs Strong Island

It's such a thrill bringing newcomers to their very first roller derby bouts and seeing what happens. After a few months of persistence, Flocci finally managed to get four of her friends to come to HARD's game last night, and the results were exciting: two with mild interest, one with moderate interest, and one superfan. Watching the superfan's transition over the course of the game was a trip -- he wasn't quite sure what was going on for the first few jams, but with some explanations and a few more jams worth of viewing experience, he got the hang of it in no time, and was cheering himself hoarse in every single jam. It was beautiful.

It helped, of course, that the bout was a good one. And not just average good, really good. We've said it before, but HARD really has their act together, so the logistics were smooth, and they invited a team that's very similar in skill level, so the bout was a nail-biter (which was super-exciting for the fresh meat fans). HARD and Strong Island first met two months ago, and HARD walked away from that bout with a very close win, so Strong Island probably had visions of getting their own win this time around. HARD, of course, had other ideas.

The first half was close, and a lot of fun to watch. Both teams use power jams extremely well, there were no slow-start jams, and both teams skate fairly clean, so there weren't a ton of penalties. Hartford's Wailers started things off with 20 points in the first two jams, and then Strong Island started nibbling away at that lead and took it for their own in jam 9. The Wailers snatched it back in the next jam, and it bounced back and forth every other jam for a little while. The next-to-last jam, which ended with about a minute left on the clock, saw the score tied at 64, and despite Strong Island getting lead jammer in the final jam, the Wailers took a tenuous 67-66 lead to wrap up the half.

The halftime pep talk clearly energized HARD, and they came screaming into the second half with a 28-point power jam. At one point during that power jam, there was only one Strong Island blocker left in the pack, and there wasn't much she could do but watch Hartford's jammer sail past again and again. By jam 2, the Wailers had hit the century mark and established a comfortable 32-point lead that only got bigger as the period progressed. Strong Island was relying on one or two jammers, who, by this point in the game, were exhausted, while the Wailers had three or four to choose from, and it really made a difference in who got lead jammer and how well power jams were used. The Wailers ended up with a decisive 203-118 win over Strong Island, giving the girls from New York one more reason to train hard and come back with some new moves next time.

We'd like to give a huge shout-out to the reffing crew for this bout, all of whom were very clear with their calls, making it easier for both seasoned veterans and derby virgins to follow along. There were fewer disputed calls, fewer and shorter official time outs, and it was a more enjoyable game as a whole. Thank you, zebras!

Name of the Bout: Ann T. Virus #24pt (SIDR)