Sunday, December 9, 2012

Valley of the Dolls

Last night’s interleague roller derby match between The Corporal Punishers of the Jerzey Derby Brigade and the Happy Valley Dolls of SCAR (State College Area Rollers) took place on the Punishers’ home track in Morristown, NJ. The bout originally had been planned for last month, but a little incident called Hurricane Sandy knocked out power to much of Morristown and made many roads impassable, so the match was rescheduled. About the only good thing to come from that storm was this late-season bout. It was a spirited and knock-about contest from start to finish.

I last saw SCAR skate several months ago when they defeated Skyland in a double-header bout, and knew they would be hard competition for MorristownThe Punishers and the Dolls are both experienced teams, with no obvious great advantage or weakness on either side. This rough equality was evident in the first half. #80 Kyssing Kaos scored the first points for the Dolls in the opening jam. #1203 Hits Spaniola put the Punishers on the Board in the third. For the first 25 minutes of the 30-minute first-half, the scores were rarely more than two points apart, with the lead teetering back and forth between the two teams. The blocking was especially fierce and well-organized on both sides, with hits and pile-ups of a sort one rarely sees this early in a game. The Punishers frequently rushed the start of jams by creating a no-pack (this releases the jammers), showing confidence in their jammers to use the full two-minutes of a jam effectively. The Dolls countered by forming formidable walls of blockers, and frequently taking down Punisher jammers, with #69 Danni Savage hitting particularly hard. Doom Hilda marshaled the Punisher blockers.

Outstanding jammers for the Dolls were Kyssing Kaos and Queen Guillotine. One strength of the Punishers is a depth of competent jammers. Heinz Catchup had an especially good night, but Hits Spaniola, Maggie Kyllanfall, Brass Muscles, CaliforniKate, and Doom Hilda all added points at critical moments. The break for the Punishers came in the last minutes of the first half when penalty calls against the Dolls allowed them to rack up points in power jams. Heinz Catchup scored four grand slams (if I counted correctly), raising the Punishers’ lead to 81-51 at the end of the first half.

Twenty minutes (and five Irish bagpipers) later, the second half began. The Punishers built on their lead, again assisted by the penalty box. (All aggressive skaters spend time in the penalty box, but sometimes the temporary loss of a key skater is decisive.) The Dolls responded by stiffening an already tough defense, taking down Beast Witherspoon repeatedly in one power jam, though this didn’t stop her from pushing through the pack and scoring points. The packs were a very rough-and-tumble place to be for skaters of both teams, with pile-ups and downed skaters common. Heinz Catchup and Maggie Kyllanfall both managed to scoot through some very unlikely holes in the pack, however. The Dolls continued to add points throughout the second half, but they weren’t enough to keep up; the Punishers had the momentum and built a strong lead into a commanding one. In the final jam of the bout, Doom Hilda took lead jammer position; both she and Queen Guillotine racked up points, but Doom expanded the Punishers’ already insurmountable lead.

The bout ended 247-114 in favor of the Punishers. Queen Guillotine was chosen MVP for the Dolls and Doom Hilda for Morristown.

All in all, it was lively match. While it’s always fun to see the home team win, the bout clearly could have been very different had the penalties been reversed and momentum shifted the other way. I’m sure the Happy Valley Dolls are aiming at that different outcome in 2013. I plan to be rinkside.

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