Sunday, October 28, 2012

Of Wheels and Wails

The streets of Morristown NJ last were crowded with goblins, vampires, and other costumed revelers getting in their hijinks before Hurricane Sandy arrives tomorrow and lingers to dampen Halloween proper. The real mayhem, however, was inside: the NJRD (New Jersey Roller Derby), Morristown’s newest team, took on the Hartford Wailers in a bout that was rough-and-tumble even by the usual standards of derby. I didn’t attend NJRD’s previous away-game in Hartford (ending in a Hartford win), but was told by one team member that it, too, had been particularly raucous; so, both teams were primed for last night’s rematch.

In its very first match last April against the JSRG (Jersey Shore Roller Girls), the NJRD had shown itself to be spirited but lacking a depth of experienced skaters. That since has been corrected by honing its own talent and also by picking up skaters with experience from other teams (e.g. Maulin Rouge and Naughty Nessa). Even with team captain and key skater Pixie Bust on the sidelines with a knee injury, the NJRD had effective jammers and blockers to spare.

The bout began with #44 Maulin Rouge picking up the first points for Morristown. Maulin continued to be a major asset throughout the bout. A series of lead jammer positions built up a lead for the NJRD early in the first half. #10 Miss USAHole at one point slipped past the lead jammer to pick up 4 points for Morristown. Nevertheless, Hartford, through fierce blocking restrained the NJRD score while their own jammers (notably Diesel N’Gin and Monkey Brains) consistently won points of their own. Aided by well-timed power jams Hartford briefly nudged one point ahead. The first half ended with a negligible 96/95 lead for Morristown.

The pre-game and halftime band from The School of Rock was particularly good, and the Halloween costume contest was pleasant fun.

Usually, the intensity picks up in the second half, but in this case there was not more it could increase. In both halves, hits by both sides were as hard and aggressive as in any bout I’ve seen. All the skaters (special note to #12 Gunz, Miss USAHole, and Bloody Shannonigans) deserve credit for getting back on their skates after being taken down hard, and sometimes till go on to score points in the jam. Blockers piled up on several occasions. Effective blocking by both sides prevented a series of alternating power jams from delivering a commanding lead to either team. However, Morristown blocking kept Hartford from taking full advantage of few timely power jams, and the NJRD built up a point lead. The whistle blew with a final score of 237/195, win for NJRD.

It was a bruising and exciting bout. Perhaps on the next rematch, I’ll make the trek to Hartford.

(Note: for derby terminology and rules, see )

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