by Mark Sprain
You could have made a fair bet that no one was going to leave at the half time of last Saturday’s, April 25, KeyArena Championship bout between reigning champion Derby Liberation Front and the champs from two years ago, Grave Danger.
Three points separated the teams after thirty minutes of rugged skating with the defending champs ahead 70-67. All the weapons were out for both sides. It was war.
Intense it was. Grave Danger Coach Vito Ramon. Photo by Danny Ngan.
DLF only had 70 because Grave Danger blockers brought the same aggressive game they skated against DLF two weeks previously. In that bout, Grave Danger lead up to the final twelve seconds before a five point jam by DLF jammer Chocolate Coma (#90) cost them the win, 156-153.
Not much differentiates these two teams. With three jams left in the championship bout DLF was holding on 128-127. At that point DLF did what champs do and what they’ve done all season, move the game up a level. When the assumption is that you can’t skate any better, they find a way. The next two jams were their two highest scoring of the night — 14 by CC and 15 by Cynthia Bartok (#39). Grave Danger managed a total of four in those same jams.
Derby Liberation Front won the championship, 162-144. Grave Danger was so close that the anticipation for next season is already high.
Both coaches, Ho Chi Danh for DLF and Vito Ramon for Grave Danger, are masters at directing these low scoring, defensive battles. And both teams have the skaters to do it.
Coach Danh can deal any four blockers from his deck and expect the same coordinated wall. Tempura Tantrum (#99) wore the star in jam nine for Grave Danger but couldn’t collect any points as DLF put out a triangle directed by Punk ‘N Pie (#57) with WickedSlam (#94) and Dirty South (#87) on the other two points. Coach Vito answered with his own three sided defensive wall of Ponyo Knees (#81), Loco Chanel (#37) and Dee Cap Attack (#-1). Jill Nye the Science Guy (#655) scored two against that crew and called the jam.
DLF Coaches Ho Chi Danh and Ida Slapter, on their game all night.
Photo by Danny Ngan.
Jammers were dishing it out also. There was no mistaking jammer Cynthia Bartok’s intentions when she went full speed into the back of Tempura Tantrum, sending her sprawling loudly to the track. The DLF jammer probably figured that hit was worth the trip to the penalty box. Danger jammer Dee Cap Attack wrestled a lap with DLF blocker Raven Evergore (#49) in the same jam before making a scoring pass. Dee Cap had nine, Bartok collected 5 and it was still close at 61-58, DLF ahead.
Jammibal Corpse (#86) added another nine for DLF in the next jam, taking advantage of 5-3 and 5-2 power jams. Danger responded as the half closed with nine of their own, keeping within three at 70-67.
Considering the heavy hitting and determined play, penalties were not significant to the action. At the half DLF had 18, Grave Danger 13.
Grave Danger grabbed a brief lead in jam five of the second half when Stone Cold StunHer (#316) muscled her way through some hefty shoulders from The Kid (#19) and Raven for two five point passes. Bartok answered with four putting DLF back in front 88-84. That jam ended on a thunderous hit by Trouble Dutch (#2468) that sent Bartok smashing to the track and also flattened her own jammer, StunHer. Bartok spent some time with the medical folks after that hit, but skated again ten jams later.
Cynthia Bartok led all scorers in the Championship Bout with 51.
Rodger That crossed the track to block the DLF jammer, but crashed
and burned as Bartok avoided the wreckage. Photo by Danny Ngan.
KeyArena was filled for the Championship and Grudge matches. When Grave Danger went ahead 98-93 in jam six and held that lead for the next eight jams the noise from the supporters for each side was tremendous. Nasty Drew (#72) skated her first jam over that span for DLF, collecting nine points and closing the gap to 103-109. Coach Vito had one of his most veteran players, Tempura Tantrum, wear the star for the next jam. Coach Danh responded with a reliable scoring rookie, CC. The vet got eight, the rookie was shut out and Grave Danger added some breathing room, 117-103.
Jill Nye the Science Guy explained the science of gravity to two
Grave Danger blockers as she completes the scoring pass against a
couple more Grave Danger skaters, Rodger That and Ponyo Knees. Photo by
Then Bartok returned in jam 15 and DLF found that extra gear. She scored six as the champs took back the lead, 128-127. Grave Danger jammers spent part of the next two jams in the penalty box while DLF jammers exploded for 29 points and a commanding 157-131 advantage with 2:01 remaining in the bout.
Nehi Nightmare (#48) got 13 of her team leading 46 in the final jam, the most by a single Danger jammer in one jam all night. Jammibal Corpse made one pass for five, giving her team its finishing total of 162.
One advantage DLF exploited during the bout was its ability to continually have the lead jammer, doing so in over half the jams. Grave Danger took the lead about a third of the time.
DLF relied on a core of four jammers led by Cynthia Bartok with 51. Chocolate Coma and Jammibal Corpse each had 45 and Jill Nye the Science Guy grabbed 12. Nasty Drew, in her only jam, had 9.
Scoring for Grave Danger was spread over eight jammers, led by Nehi Nightmare with 46. Stone Cold StunHer had 31, Daisy Duke’m and Cat-a-ma-ram each had 18, J Killa, 15, Dee Cap Attack, 9, Tempura Tantrum, 4 and Trouble Dutch, 3.
Dee Cap Attack was selected by DLF as their Most Valuable Opponent. Grave Danger gave that honor to Punk ‘N Pie.
The fans are right, it can hurt sometimes. Grave Danger jammer
Nehi Nightmare started the bout with a sore back, not helped much by
the lack of mercy shown by DLF blockers Wicked Slam and Punk ‘N Pie.
Photo by Danny Ngan.