The Brewcity Bruisers are back!!! It has been an amazing 8 seasons up until now, and season 9 promises to be the best yet. With a fresh group of new rookies together with returning seasoned vets and fan favorites, we are looking at possibly the most talented group of skaters ever. And with that, it means the action is faster, the hits harder, and the fancy footwork even tighter. Now, if the new scoreboard in the UW-Milwaukee Panthers Arena (aka The Cell, its just so much easier to say and type) would have cooperated…but when it comes to the Bruisers a little technical difficulty can’t slow down the action (except when it did, but more on that later).
Our first two bouts of the season continued a BCB tradition with a rematch of the 3rd place and championship bouts from last season. 2015 started with the Shevil Knevils taking on the Rushin’ Rollettes in our opener, followed by the rematch of the 2014 championship bout between the Crazy 8’s and Maiden Milwaukee. Would all the teams deliver? Could either of these bouts top last season’s overtime championship bout? And ultimately, which teams would get off on the right foot and keep their hopes of an undefeated season alive? All those questions were answered, but not without a little bit of drama.
Bout #1: Shevil Knevils 208 – Rushin’ Rollettes 181
One of the biggest aspects of derby that I focused on last year was the importance of momentum, and this bout sure had a lot of it. Using a jammer rotation of Skittle, Kayci “Scooter” Gallion, and Jessie Flames, the Shevils were able to jump out to a very quick 23-5 lead after just 6 jams and seemed poised to keep that going. But at the end of Jam 6, the Rollettes called for an official review where it was determined that Skittle had in fact committed a penalty and would start the next jam in the penalty box. That sort of break was exactly what the Rollettes needed to get back in the bout.
The Rollettes, using 5 different jammers, won lead jammer in the next 5 jams and were able to take a 45-32 lead at about the halfway point of the 1st half. After a jammer penalty by Skittle at the end of that run, the Shevils turned to one of their amazing rookies, Jessie Flames, to try and get momentum back on their side. It was Jam 12 that turned the tide back towards the Shevils. It may have only been a 4-0 jam, but it was the start of 6 jams out of which the Shevils took lead jam 5 times. In the only jam of that stretch that the Shevils failed to get lead, they managed to force two jammer penalties on Rollettes’ jammer Irish Vixen. With this little run, the Shevils took a 85-72 lead with just over 6 minutes left in the half, and then things got weird.
Jam 18 saw one of the most unusual situations you will ever see in derby. The Rollettes failed to get a jammer on the track in time and the Shevils were basically given 2 minutes of free jamming. Jessie Flames and Thrash Mama worked together to get 20 points in those 2 minutes and opened things up to a 105-72 lead. After a few more jams, and jammer penalties (damn those jammer penalties; there were 12 total between the two teams!), the half ended with the Shevils up 124-89 and 30 minutes away from getting the first win of 2015.
Back from the break, it was clear that the Rollettes were not happy with the way the 1st half ended. They came out a ball of fire and won the first four jams of the 2nd half. That allowed them to close things up to 124-108, but while being the lead jammer in the 4th jam Steamy Wonder had a wheel fall off and had to call off the jam a little early. Under normal circumstances that could take a skater out of action for awhile, but there must have been some super mechanic on the Rollettes bench because Steamy was back jamming again in less than 10 minutes. And she came back in a huge way.
Jam 10 of the 2nd half saw Steamy make a huge return, take lead jammer, and score a 9-0 jam. WIth that, the Rollettes were suddenly back in the lead 141-138 with just 18 minutes remaining. In the first 12 minutes of the second half (closer to 20 minutes in real time due to the scoreboard freezing up at one point) the Rollettes outscored the Shevils 52-14. The next 8 minutes saw some great back-and-forth action, with the teams switching lead several times and setting up a 166-155 Rollettes lead with just 10 minutes to go. Earlier in the week, I had made it very clear that the teams that were going to win were going to be the ones who controlled their emotions best and mentally took over at the key moments.
The last 10 minutes proved this to be incredibly true. Over the last 5 jams, the Shevils were able to keep it together and only get 3 penalties (2 blocker and 1 jammer, respectively). The Rollettes, however, had 4 blocker penalties and 3 jammer penalties. That just made things too hard for the Rollettes; trailing 177-174 and with only two jams left, the Shevils turned to Scooter and Skittle to try and bring home the win. Scooter was able to take a huge 15-0 run on the second to last jam and Skittle finished it up by taking lead in the last jam to run out the clock and secure a 208-181 win for the Shevils.
MVP Jammer: Scooter – This was one of those bouts where there wasn’t just one jammer who really stood out, but in the biggest moment it was Scooter who took full advantage. Over her last 4 jams, the Shevils outscored the Rollettes 26-7 (including the second to last jam that really decided the bout).
MVP Blocker: Grace Killy – Having only watched Killy as she came back from an injury last season, I can honestly say this was the most complete bout I’ve seen her skate. She had great control of her packs, consistently making key offensive blocks that allowed her jammers to take as little abuse as possible.
Bout #2: Crazy Eights 194 – Maiden Milwaukee 116
Season 8 ended with possibly the greatest roller derby bout in Brewcity Bruisers history, and many fans (including yours truly) could not wait for the rematch. Both teams brought back a majority of their team, added some very exciting rookies, and even showcased a couple of former skaters coming back after a couple of years away. On paper, this bout had all the makings for an instant classic. Unfortunately for all those in attendance, some key injuries to the Maidens made this rematch an uphill battle before it even began. But, like all things Brewcity, a team with a good fight always has a chance.
The bout started just like so many over the past two years as Eights jammer Latina Heat got lead jam and took a very quick 3-0 lead. After a quick 2-1 jam for the Maidens, jam 3 saw the Eights bring veteran Sharkira to the line to go head to head with the Maidens rookie jammer Karma Suture. Under the best of circumstances, a skater’s first jam is going to get the nerves going; jamming against an All-Stars jammer and looking over at an Eights wall led by another BCB All-Star, The Other White Meat, is a tall task for anyone! Sharkira and the Eights were able to hold Karma Suture back for 90 seconds before making her initial pass, but she still was able to get 2 points and the respect of so many for her constant fight. The Eights had a 23-4 lead at this point and were able to keep the spread at about 20 points until Jam 10.
Karma Suture lined up again, but this time it was against Eights rookie Schoolhouse Rock (it’s pretty crazy, but the best Schoolhouse Rock! of all time, “I’m Just a Bill”, is from 1974). A jammer penalty against Schoolhouse Rock allowed Karma Suture to get lead and a 9-0 jam for the Maidens. One jam later, Maiden Frank Hurt’r took a 4-0 jam over Eight Zo-Tay and the Eights’ lead was down to 33-25 with about 15 minutes left in the half. The Eights responded to the change in momentum quickly, with Sharkira taking a 4-0 jam followed immediately by Latina Heat taking a 15-0 jam and opening the lead back up to 52-25. The teams traded lead jams for the next bit, but then things got weird, again.
With about 7 minutes left, the Eights had a 58-35 lead and were looking to close out the first half in style. The Maidens were keeping it close (which is half the battle against the Eights) and were looking to close up before the half. But over the last 3 jams of the first half, it was hard to tell which team wanted to take full advantage of their chances. By my count there were 4 jammer penalties and 12 blocker penalties in these 3 jams. While I spoke to a couple of officials at halftime, even they said, “Yeah it got a little crazy there.” It sure did! With neither team able to take advantage of the other team’s mistakes, the Eights took a 80-55 lead into the break.
One of the keys to beating the Eights is finding a way to keep things close and not let them go on one of their patented runs. Unfortunately for the Maidens, the Eights started the 2nd half on one of those runs. Led by jams from Latina Heat, Zo-Tay, Sharkira, Schoolhouse Rock and D’Amanda Beating, the Eights went on a 42-8 run and opened things up to a comfortable 122-63 lead with just 20 minutes remaining in the bout. After Frank Hurt’r and Zo-Tay had another of their memorable jams (words don’t even begin to describe the fun these two were having out there with their “little hands”), the Eights regrouped with a timeout and looked to finalize their efforts towards their record 10th win in a row.
The Eights did just that as they took lead jammer status in 10 of the final 14 jams and were able to claim a 194-116 win. Even with the win, though, there were definitely some areas that were a bit surprising. The Eights unofficially had 37 total penalties to the Maidens’ 31, and the fact that they were able to overcome that really showcases the depth of the Eights. Also, the Eights did not even put Em Fatale up as a jammer the whole bout, and she was the 2012 Jammer of the Year. All in all, it was a great night of action, and it’s only going to get better as the season progresses.
MVP Jammer: Sharkira – One of the most important things when jamming is just being rock solid and putting your team in the best position to win, whether you are lead jammer or not. As a jammer, Sharkira outscored her Maiden counterpart 65-23 for the whole bout and an astonishing 33-3 in the 2nd half.
MVP Blocker: The Other White Meat – This was an incredibly difficult decision, as so many of the Eights blockers were just outstanding all night. But I really feel that The Other White Meat made it incredibly difficult for the Maidens jammers she faced, especially in the first half, and was part of numerous jams in which it took over 90 seconds for the Maidens jammer to complete her initial pass.
Please be sure to join us for Bout Night #2 of the 2015 Season on Friday, February 20th at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena as the Crazy Eights look to extend their winning streak to 11 bouts as they take on the Shevil Knevils. And in the other bout, we have two teams looking to avoid that dreaded 0-2 start as both the Rushin’ Rollettes and Maiden Milwaukee look to bounce back from bout night #1 defeats. If that isn’t reason enough to get your butts in the seats, I highly encourage everyone to come out and help us celebrate the amazing career of a BCB original and a fan favorite, Servin’ Justice, as she laces up her skates for the last time.
- Chad “C-Rob” Robinson