by Jim Almy
It was come back city in the first half for the Throttle Rockets in last Sunday’s second bout as the Rat City Rollergirls league opened its eleventh season in KeyArena.
Then it was come back city in the second half for their opponents, last year’s champions Derby Liberation Front.
The TRs closed a deficit of 35 points to lead at half time, 99-89. Then DLF had to erase a 37 point gap in the final thirty minutes to get the win. Their 210-159 victory included a second half in which they doubled up on the TRs, out-scoring them 121-60.
Maybe it just took a half for DLF to get their skating legs under them. There are only two players on this year’s team that you could find on the opening day roster from a year ago. Coach Ho Chi Danh said that he has been scrambling for players and only recently had enough to run a full scrimmage.
But the team of pick-ups, move-ups and transfers he’s assembled are not exactly inexperienced, quickly demonstrating that the way the game is skated hasn’t changed for the Liberators.
It was 10-10 after jam three, most notable for the opening round of high blocks and forearms that would stamp this bout with 81 penalties, a couple ejections, and one or two mini-wars that became their own bout-long epics.
DLF jammer (and captain) Jill Nye, the Science Guy (#655) and TR blocker, pivot and general enforcer Missile America (#321) began their chest to chest battle in jam four. Missile America, who could have turned down the role of Wonder Woman for not being up to her toughness standards, planted her tall frame firmly in Jill Nye’s path. Missile’s shoulders are wide enough that jammers can see nothing but skin whichever side they try to pass on but Jill, who could have auditioned for the role of Marshawn Lynch, wasn’t interested in going around anyway. It was a profound collision, a monumental shoving match until Jill got Missile far enough down the track to break the pack. The DLF jammer won round one, scoring 9 points. She would end the bout with 38. Missile America would end the bout with seven penalties and an early exit from the track.
Scoring for both sides came in dribbles and drabs with the exception of jam six. DLF jammer Cynthia Bartok (#39), who led all scorers for all teams on Sunday with 96, exploded for 28 in that frame. DLF enjoyed a brief 4-3 power jam edge but that didn’t account for Bartok’s scoring spree. She just took the lead quickly and out maneuvered TR blockers Scarlet Fever (#104), Muad ‘Dibs (#1816) and Liberty Bell Ringer (#76) on every pass. That put the reigning champs up 48-21.
DLF continued to inch ahead. They put jammer Terror Swift (#86) on the track against a couple TR veterans, captains Parker Eyeout (#070) and Deva (#509). Parker brings her own brand or terror to opposing jammers. It comes cat-quick. On Terror’s second passing attempt Parker came out of nowhere on a crush and recycle mission for the surprised jammer. Half a lap later Parker bounced her completely off the court again. Terror managed five points in that jam. Parker saved ten more.
Near the end of the half the TRs were on the better side of two power jams. While DLF blockers Cynthia Bartok, Thumper Skull (#83) and Raven Evergore (#49) were sitting, TR jammer Ethel Vermin (#77) made four passes for 20 points. Her team now trailed by six, 89-83. Liberty Bell Ringer added another 14 in the final jam when the TRs were once again on the plus side of a 5-2 power jam. Down 35 early in the bout, they went into the half ahead by ten, 99-89.
There were plenty of whistles on both sides. At 1:26 left in the bout DLF had 38 and the Throttle Rockets 43. The hitch came from when those calls were made.
Two power jams at the end of the first half helped the TRs gain their lead. DLF had the same opportunity in jam 13 of the second half. A power jam in their advantage, 5-2, helped Terror Swift (that and her own sweet inside move on Parker Eyeout) to ten points and put DLF back in the lead, 158-151.
Cynthia Bartok added 26 more two jams later, destroying TR blocker Khaos Theory (#13) in the process. Jill Nye finished the final jam with 18 more DLF points. Over the final five jams DLF scored 62, the TRs had 8. Bartok and Parker worked each other over again during that stretch and not with beauty bumps either. Plenty of forearms and shoulders were thrown. Both went to the sin bin. Bartok came back in with 30 seconds left in jam 16, picked jammer Ethel Vermin as her new target, and left the track with foul seven.
“The bout definitely had some ups and downs,” said Throttle Rockets Coach Lexi Luthor. “We had some great moments, like when we came back from a 30 point deficit to a 40 point lead. Ethel, Liberty and Missile did a great job jamming tonight! Some of our newbies, like Gazelle (Gazelle from Hell) did an amazing job of blocking. Parker was awesome. Our penalties were definitely an issue tonight and we will work on that. We may have lost the battle tonight but we still plan to win the war!”
Coach Danh said that Derby Liberation Front, “…came out and played the way we are capable of. The team just reset at the half and came back with a ton of heart.” He said that he switched up some jammers during the break and advised his team that they can’t react to the penalties coming at them.
He pointed out Raven Evergore and Wicked Slam (#94) as having great games. Wicked is new to DLF this year after skating four years in Port Angeles.
“The return of Kamikaze Kim was huge for us,” Dahn added. “Is showed that she is still the smartest, toughest player in the game.”
Cynthia Bartok had 96 points for DLF. Jill Nye, 38, CC, 20, Terror Swift, 20, Thumper Skull, 14, Wreck N Shrew, 14, and Raven Evergore, 8. Ethel Vermin led the Throttle Rockets scorers with 62. Liberty Bell Ringer had 35, Shock Therapy, 27, Xena, 25, and Missile America, 10.
DLF selected Throttle Rockets skater Liberty Bell Ringer as their Most Valuable Opponent. The TRs gave that honor to DLF skater Jill Nye, the Science Guy.