D1S: #9 Denver Ices #8 Minnesota, 185-93

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SACRAMENTO, CA–Minnesota came out of the gate strong in the last bout of day two and kept the first ten minutes pretty close, but Denver’s trademark demoralizing defense kicked in thereafter. That ultimately stopped up Minnesota’s scoring and kept the Mile High Club in control of the game. Denver extended their all-time record over MNRG to 4-0 with a solid 189-93 win.

The first eight jams were split as far lead calls, with Denver taking the first four and Minnesota the next; that was reflected in an even scoreboard, 31-30 in Denver’s favour. The Mile High Club utilized a four jammer rotation but could stretch it to five, whereas MNRG struggled to find a successful 3rd for theirs. Slambda Phage’s powerful style seemed effective and Harmony Killerbruise’s footwork shone when she could get some speed, but Second Hand Smoke was the only other to get points. She was relied on more heavily in the pack, but that split focus may have contributed to her penalty trouble: six by the end of the first half.

Minnesota found themselves in a scoring drought for six jams while Denver put up many multi-pass jams, pushing their lead to 84-30. MNRG fought to put 19 more points on the board and took a 97-49 deficit to the break. Phage and Harmony were likely already feeling tired at this point, as they were relied upon heavily, but saw little offensive help in the pack. Anytime Denver didn’t come out on top, the passed the star to ensure a quick end to MNRG’s scoring.

Smoke sat out of most of the second half, while Diamond Rough played a majority of it, putting plenty of damage on Denver jammers. The two halves proved remarkably even from a points perspective–Denver outscored Minnesota 97-49 in the first half and 92-48 in the second–but it looked like the Mile High Club’s defence was even tighter in the second period as they cruised to a 189-93 win, securing a slot at Championships and, in the meantime, a date with Gotham.

The quick reaction times and solid teamwork Denver displayed tonight are going to be vital against the likes of Bonnie Thunders during the final bout tomorrow. Minnesota find themselves, for the second year in a row, fighting to secure not just third place at the tournament but a berth at Championships. Tomorrow’s match will be their second game in as many months against Rat City; when they met in August, Minnesota escaped with a 145-127 win–that close outcome and today’s shaky defeat could leave room for another upset tomorrow.

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