BALLWIN, MO — For the first 25 minutes of the third-place game of the MRDA Championship tournament, it looked as if #4 seed Magic City had completely solved one of the toughest teams in derby, the #3 New York Shock Exchange, as they’d held them to under 18 points while putting up 84. But in the final 35 minutes, New York refused to accept Magic City’s script — and Magic City repeatedly shot themselves in the foot with absolutely crippling jammer penalties. NYSE scored 141 of their 199 points as a result of Magic City’s 10 jammer penalties, and came back from a 66 point first-half deficit to win by 42, 199-157.
In the early going, it was clear that Magic City had learned from their 2011 loss to New York and had a specific game plan for countering their style. While the first two Magic City bouts against Puget Sound and Your Mom had been considerably more kinetic and violent, Magic City came into this bout looking to grind New York jammers to a crawl rather than beat them to a pulp. Most jams were marked by a New York jammer struggling to inch a Magic City clump of three forward, but Magic City was very effective at both anchoring each other and breaking away to string out the pack as far as possible.
Magic City opened up with a classic statement jam — Jeremy Strecker took lead on Ladies Knight and then turned around to slowly reabsorb Knight into the pack. Once Knight was caught again, Strecker took off and scored a quick 4-0 to give Magic City the first lead. But that advantage didn’t last another minute and Jonny Wical went to the box as Magic City jammer. NYSE’s passive offense only created 10 points for Jonathan R against a crew of Heath Frazier, Derek Calkins and Christopher Smith, but it did put NYSE in the lead after two frames, 10-4.
Magic City came back on the next three jams, again with some very effective slow and grinding defense led by Frazier and Calkins. With 22:25 left in the half, Strecker put his team in the lead with a 10-0 as Frazier and Calkins were joined by TJ Binkley in stuffing Jonathan R, and Magic City was up 17-10 before a lengthy track maintenance official timeout that stretched out over five minutes.
When action finally resumed, New York lost jammer Ladies Knight to the penalty box during a very slow scrum start, but effective defense from Starsky, Ace of Skates, T Stop Tornado and Willervine eventually caused Magic City jammer Jonny Wical to concede after just 2 points.
However, action ground to a halt again on an official timeout immediately afterwards for a spectator’s medical emergency in the stands; once that was resolved, Magic City got back to business in a big way, holding Ladies Knight in the pack long enough for Strecker to rack 11 points before Knight could finally get himself declared lead jammer and call it off. When Mike Cowart added 4 more unanswered points next, MCM was looking very good at 34-10 with 18 minutes left in the half.
That lead grew to 42-10 before New York finally caught a break — Chris Smith was boxed as Magic City jammer when he attempted to step over a fallen Willervine and ended up knocking him back to the ground. Ronnie Mako could only get 3 points out of the first side of the power jam; Abe Drinkin took 5 on the other side and made the new score 42-18 Magic City with 13:30 in the half.
But following the power jam advantage, New York got completely shut down for the next eight minutes. A huge natural jam with about 9 minutes left in the half for Magic City’s Hunter Collins while NYSE jammer Starsky was ground down put Magic City up by an overwhelming 84-18, after which New York called a timeout to talk it over. Whatever they discussed clearly changed the bout entirely, as New York outscored Magic City 181-73 for the rest of the game.
The comeback started with New York breaking their scoring drought two jams later — and Magic City gave them a bit of a hand by giving them their third power jam opportunity soon after that. Jonathan R ran it for the full two minutes and picked up a desperately needed 24-0 run while Mike Cowart watched from the box, making it a much more manageable deficit at 84-51. That margin stayed at 33 points for the last couple of jams in the half, as the teams hit the break with the score 91-58.
Coming into the second half, both teams had major penalty box problems — the first jam started with 2 in the box for each team and then the second jam saw both jammers go to the box almost simultaneously during their opening passes. However, Magic City’s penalty problems very quickly proved far more debilitating. Magic City’s jammer Mike Cowart jumped the gun on standing up from his seat when his opposing number joined him, and was given an extra minute on illegal procedure. NYSE took advantage, rolling up 15-0 and putting New York right back in a game they were in danger of getting blown out of, 91-73.
Things kept going badly for Magic City on the followup when jammer Hunter Collins was boxed early, and Ladies Knight piled on with an extra 15-0. New York was within a single pass at 91-88, and Magic City lost their jammer for the fourth time in a row while Jonathan R ran rampant through Calkins, Strecker and Chris Smith for yet another 15-0. With 22:12 to play, Magic City called timeout, having seen a 84-18 lead somehow turn into a 103-91 deficit.
Two jams later, with the score 106-95, there was a frightening moment as NYSE blocker Ace of Skates went down very hard and stayed down — and before the jam was called on injury, was accidentally skated into by Magic City lead jammer Strecker. Skates was able to eventually get up under his own power, with the previous jam having gone 4-0 to Magic City.
NYSE answered with an equal jam to make the score 110-99 with 20 minutes to play — and yet again Magic City was handcuffed by a jammer penalty, this time to Collins. Ladies Knight bulled his way Magic City defense for a 22-0 and New York had their biggest lead of the game at 132-99. Two jams later, Magic City committed their ninth jammer penalty as Jonny Wical cut on the outside — though Ladies Knight did not realize it and called it off at 0-0. Abe Drinkin’ managed to take 10-0 on the other side of the advantage against more slow Magic City defense, and it was 142-104 with 13:17 to play as Magic City called timeout.
Once they managed to keep their jammer on the track for more than a few jams, though, Magic City started to put together a comeback. With 8 minutes to play they’d narrowed it to 145-124, but three lead jam calls in a row, featuring some solid pack work from a recovered Ace of Skates, Filthy McNasty, Jefferee and Abe Drinkin, allowed New York to open it back to to 157-124 with 5 minutes left on the game clock.
Fittingly, the nail in the coffin came one jam later as the result of Magic City’s 10th jammer penalty of the game. Mike Cowart was boxed on a crowd-displeasing low block call, and Jonathan R’s 22-0 put it out of reach for Magic City at 183-131 with just 1:17 left to play.
Magic City kept fighting to the last second, with MCM ace (and eventual tournament MVP jammer) Jeremy Strecker having one of his most electrifying jams of the weekend in a lost cause as he weaved and jumped his way to a full-length 26-16 finishing jam over Ladies Knight. When time expired, though, it was the New York team getting to celebrate the biggest comeback of the week on a 199-157 final.