by Jim Almy
You can lead these skaters by nearly 30 at the half.
You can take their best shot but still pile up points, inch ahead, go into the break with a bit of breathing room.
But at some point in the bout you’re going to look up and see Derby Liberation Front coming at you with fire in their eyes, lightening in their skates and a tidal wave of attitude that says, ” not here, not tonight.”
For sure not last Saturday night when Grave Danger gave the defending league champions a titanic battle for 28 jams, held on tenaciously for ten more, and lost a narrow Rat City Rollergirls bout by six, 165-159. The final jams had the sellout Rat’s Nest crowd all standing, screaming support for their favorite team and living and dying with every point.
Last year’s league champs, DLF, are 3-0 early into this season. Their win Saturday over a Grave Danger team that is every bit the battler they were two seasons ago when they were best in the league doesn’t just speak to how good DLF has become, it says volumes about the higher level of play all four teams are putting on the track this season.
Grave Danger pivot StunHer (#316) set up a nice triangle with blockers Tempura Tantrum (#99) and Muffstache (#17), shutting out DLF jammer Jill Nye the Science Guy (#655) in the opening jam. 9-0 Danger. More solid defense and DLF was still scoreless after two jams, 11-0. Enter Thumper Skull (#83) as a DLF jammer in jam three. StunHer and fellow Danger blocker Ponyo Knees (#81) were just swinging doors for Thumper Skull, who muscled through the Danger line for 19 points, serving notice that there’s everybody else, and there’s DLF. It helped their cause that Wicked Slam (#94) toyed with Danger jammer Daisy Duke’m (#909), recycling her at will and keeping her in the pack until just 12 seconds remained in the jam.
Grave Danger has jammer Nehi Nightmare (#48), who finished the night with 84 points, 50 in the first half. They also have J Killa (#425) who had 23 of her total 31 in the first half. DLF worked hard to find a solution to that scoring duo, but someone had torn the answer sheet out of their first half playbook and so the lead, which they did hold at 19-11 after three jams, slowly drifted away. It wasn’t just Nehi slashing for 14 here and 16 there or Killa adding 14 in one jam, it was continuous pressure on DLF jammers by Danger blockers Loco Chanel (#37) and Aalto Ego (#43), Keri Watson (#39) and Trouble Dutch (#2468), that kept the champs penned in.
There was a 28 point margin in Danger’s favor at the half, 103-75.
It increased to 38 when Nehi Nightmare added ten points at the opening of the second half. Danger took advantage of a 3-5 power jam with DLF jammer Thumper Skull and blocker Wicked Slam both in the penalty box for a good part of the jam. But Wicked Slam came back with 15 one jam later, starting the next chapter of a great defensive epic authored by both teams.
Points began to be hard to find. They came in 3′s and 4′s and 0′s from jam to jam. Danger blockers Dee Cap Attack (#-1) and Cat-a-ma-ram (#10), along with most of the crew listed above, put the clamps on DLF jammers until jam six when Thumper Skull, who had 63 points for the bout, raced for 14, closing the margin to 130-116. Grave Danger responded by giving up 4 points and three shutouts in the next four jams while adding to their lead, now 139-120.
DLF Coach Ho Chi Danh commented early in the season on how hard it was for him to put a team together, how he had scrambled to get enough players to even hold a scrimmage and how he was coaching new and inexperienced skaters. After last Saturday you might guess that that story line has run out. In jam eleven, trailing by that 19 point margin outlined above, the DLF coach inserted a new jammer, Chocolate Coma (#90) who also goes by CC and who skated last season in Tacoma. She looks young, she probably is young, but she jams like she’s been doing it for a couple decades.
She scored 24 points, giving DLF the lead when you would least wish them to have it, late in the bout, 144-139. CC became lead jammer 19 seconds in, crashed through all five Danger skaters for five quick points, then used uncommon strength and agility to force openings or wait in her approach until the defenders left a sliver of space which she would either slice through or slide around.
Nehi Nightmare came back a jam later with nine as Grave Danger retook the lead, 148-144, with ten minutes left in the bout.
The five points DLF jammer Terror Swift (#86) scored in the second half were the five that gave her team a one point lead, putting them back ahead in jam 13, 149-148. The Rat’s Nest was bedlam. Talking to your seat mate was useless as they couldn’t have understood a word being said. Nehi Nightmare flipped that one point margin back in the Danger’s favor with a two point jam, her team now leading 150-149.
Back came jammer CC, who didn’t take the lead until 1:14 into jam 15, then scored 8 while Grave Danger was shut out. The teams traded points for the final three jams, Thumper and CC scored four each, Nehi and StunHer added five and four. DLF picked up win #3, 165-159. The nest may be empty today, but I suspect the seats are still buzzing.
DLF selected StunHer from Grave Danger as their Most Valuable Opponent. Grave Danger gave that honor to DLF’s Kamikaze Kim.
Nehi Nightmare led all scorers on all teams for the night with 84 points. Other Grave Danger scoring came from J Killa with 31, StunHer, 20, Tempura Tantrum, 9, Cat-a-ma-ram, 5, Daisy Duke’m, 4, Aalto Ego, 3 and Dee Cap Attack, 3. DLF was led by Thumper Skull with 63. Additional scoring came from jammers CC, 36, Terror Swift, 26, Wreck N Shrew, 18, Cynthia Bartok, 15, Erma Gerd, 4, and Jill Nye the Science Guy, 3.
Grave Danger will look to get back on the winner’s side when they take on the winless Socket Wenches at the Rat’s Nest on Saturday, March 7. DLF will put its undefeated record up against the 2-1 Throttle Rockets the same night.