by Jim Almy
Roller derby fans who included in their holiday festivities last Saturday’s Rat City Rollergirls Home Teams for the Holidays event at the Rat’s Nest got a great preview of gifts to come. Only these packages can’t be opened until January 10th when Rat City kicks off its 2015 season with home team bouts in KeyArena.
Going to be hard to wait.
The teams skating last week were essentially the same make up as the teams you’ll see when the season starts. One or two players may be added, a couple might drop out, but the sharp skating and thunderous blocking that rattled the Nest all evening augers a great season to come. The night consisted of four 30-minute bouts, loser out, winner advancing to the night’s championship. Holiday fun began with the Jingle Bell Rockets (Throttle Rockets) taking the track against Your Worst Nightmare…Before Christmas (Grave Danger).
Is Grave Danger back? Could be, after their opening win, 93-64. Are the Throttle Rockets poised to challenge this coming season? Could be, after they skated close most of the bout, gave as good as they got from the Nightmare. Somebody whom we know is definitely back is Grave Danger jammer Nehi Nightmare, The diminutive scorer, skating as Notta ELF, piled up 49 of her team’s 93 points in the opening bout. She took a half lap lead in the first jam behind Santa’s Stache, I-Ponyo Gifts and Tem-purumpumpumpum (not going to type that name again, we’ll just call her Tem), and scored a quick five points, putting her team up 5-0. Trailing as they entered jam six 15-7 Rockets’ jammer Shocking Stuffer earned her team its only lead of the night, piling up 18 points to jump ahead 25-23. After that it was Your Worst Nightmare’s superior line play against struggling Jingle Bell Rockets’ jammers as the bout slowly got away from them. The Rockets were shut out in eleven of the bout’s 23 jams.
In the second bout of the night the Nutcrackers, whom you might have recognized as the Sockit Wenches, outscored E.L.F. 104-86. E.L.F. looked a lot like the defending Rat City champs, Derby Liberation Front (D.L.F.) from last season, except that they ended the evening 0-2, leaving the question of are they back for a repeat championship awaiting more track time to resolve. But E.L.F. got one win that rarely comes their way when Coach Ho Ho Ho Chi Danh challenged a cutting call in jam three. He suggested to the officials that Nutcrackers jammer Oh! Trolla-la-la-la had cut the track but was not called for it. After a melding of the great minds of the officials Oh! Trolla etc. was sent to the penalty box for cutting, and possibly for the name she had pick to skate under. Leading 6-0 but now short 4-5 in a power jam the Nutcrackers were worked over by E.L.F. blockers Jolly Botts, Terror Swift and Weewah u a Meowy Xmas. Jammer Thumper Skull made three passes and the Elves went up 13-6.
That lead, their only of the bout, quickly disappeared. Two jams later Wreck the Halls wrecked the E.L.F. line instead, opening scoring lanes left and right for jammer Winter SNO.M.G. She collected 19 points and it was back in the Nutcrackers’ favor, 29-21. Slaughter Claus added 11 more points in jam seven before E.L.F. blocker Julie Ann Bruise crushed her with a brutal hip block, sending Claus to the deck and stopping the jam. Winter SNO.M.G. led all scorers in that bout with 43. Slaughter Claus had 32. Cindy Boo Hoo tallied 38 for E.L.F. Her scoring was significant as she added 22 points in the final jam, changing a 40 point lead to 18.
Whatever scoring difficulties E.L.F. had in their opening bout against the Nutcrackers carried over into bout three when the losers of the first two matches skated against each other. That bout ended with the Jingle Bell Rockets ahead 117-46. The line and pivot play of You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out, Batteries Required, Slay Bell Ringer and Reinbeer was too much for the Elves’ jammers, though E.L.F. blocker Jolly Botts showed that she’s going to have a great year. In jam nine she fully occupied three Rockets blockers for most of a lap, stopping their moves, rolling in front of their feints and cutting off their paths until the whistle blew.
Are the Sockit Wenches back? Could be interesting. In the winner’s bout those Nutcrackers skated thump for thump against Your Worst Nightmare…Before Christmas, falling by two 87-85.
Worst Nightmare put out one impenetrable line after another with Cat-a-ma-RumBalls, Santa’s Stache, Ho Ho Chanel, StunHerKlaas, Duke D. Hauls and Gelty Pressure. Nutcrackers jammers followed blockers Slaughter Claus, Clobberin’ Nuts, Moe Presents and Fra-Gee-Lay, scoring regularly against those Nightmare lines. Notta ELF had another strong set of jams, finishing with 36 points. The Nutcrackers unwrapped a scoring present of their own with OH! Trolla etc. collecting nearly half of her team’s points with 40.
Close most of the way with neither team more than a few points ahead Worst Nightmare entered jam 15 with under five minutes left in the bout leading 80-55. Then the Nutcrackers, taking advantage of a brief 5-2 power jam in their favor, escorted Oh! Trolla etc. to 20 points while jammer J Killington managed two before a cutting call made her just another nightmare in the sin bin. Now it was 82-75. With 2:51 on the clock Nutcracker jammer Sugarplum Cherry took aim at Nightmare blocker Santa’s Stache, rudely separated her from the track and completed a five point pass. She called the jam, her team behind 82-80.
I-Ponyo Gifts scored only five points all night for Your Worst Nightmare, but they were the most critical and came in the last jam of the night. But the Nutcrackers could only manage to add five to their total also, though Winter SNO.M.G. was soooo close at the end, battling Nightmare blockers StunHerKlaas and Tempura with everything she had to get those final two points. Not to be on that night, but the Nutcrackers not to be overlooked as the new season opens.