BALLWIN, MO — In the fifth place game of the 2012 MRDA Championships tournament, bottom seed #8 Mass Malestrom continued a surprising and impressive weekend but could only stay in the ring with #5 seed Puget Sound for about 40 minutes before Puget took control in the final third of play. Mass Malestrom was down by just 5 points at the half, but Puget Sound ended up retaining their opening seeding by solidly winning 221-137. The Malestrom improved on their original seeding by two, starting as the 8 seed but finishing sixth in the tournament.
The game started a bit oddly as both the Malestrom’s Wes Turn and Puget Sound’s Chuck Hendrick were boxed early in the first jam on track cuts — the full length jam went to Puget Sound as Ryrod and Quadzilla worked over Wes. However, the jam saw Hendrick back in the box as he attempted to jump a fallen Wes, and it was 5-4 Puget after two minutes.
Mass Malestrom’s No Big Deal took advantage of the remainder of the power jam — and Hendrick went right back into the box for Puget Sound on a forearm out of the box. Not only did that leave Mass Malestrom with a surprising early lead at 22-5, it also left Hendrick with three box trips in the first 5 minutes of the game.
That was as big as the Malestrom’s lead ever got, but they held on to it for the majority of the half. After a pair of scoreless jams, Puget Sound finally got back on the board behind a 10-3 from Thunderstruck; next, PSOD’s Quadzilla and the Malestrom’s Wes Turn got locked in a jammer battle away from the pack for awhile that Quadzilla won as he eventually dropped Wes and accelerated to snatch 4-0. The Puget comeback continued with 2-0 to Speed Dealer, making it a one-pass game at 25-21 with 19 minutes in the first half.
Puget was dominating lead jammer status after the first two jams, but with Mass jammers usually managing to break pack not too far behind the Puget jammers, they were able to barely hang on to their lead at 29-28 with 16:25 left in the first half.
Just when it looked like Puget was poised to take it back on a lead jam call to Cory Pain, though, things changed dramatically when Puget Sound filled their box and left the Malestrom’s Burnt Reynolds on power jam against a 4-2 pack. At the end of that full-length, Mass had opened up a lead of 46-34. But next, Quadzilla, Geno Guerrero and Scott Slamilton battered Cilantro long enough for Ryrod to lap him in a 9-0 — that made it a one-pass game again at 46-43.
From there, Mass stubbornly hung on to a single- digit lead for five more narrow jams, but Quadzilla finally put Puget in front 54-49 with about 7 minutes to play in the half as his teammates handled Cilantro. Two jams later, it was Quadzilla as a blocker, assisted only by Stan Daside in a 4-2 pack favoring Mass Malestrom, holding back the Malestrom’s No Big Deal long enough for Speed Dealer to lap twice and make the score 64-52 Puget Sound with 4:18 in the half.
Going into the last jam of the half it was 68-58 — some spectacular defense against PSOD jammer Ryrod from Jack Hammerd, Speeder Parker, Deep In Cider along with some slick jammer moves from No Big Deal let NBD take 8, although a slightly delayed jam call allowed Ryrod to pick off 3. The half ended with the underdogs just 5 points down at 71-66.
Though Mass took lead on the second half opener, Puget Sound jammer Scott Slamilton won it 4-3 at the whistle with a smooth twirl to stay in bounds. The second jam was a huge crowd pleaser as Jack Hammerd and Stan DaSide went a full two minutes in a jam that once again saw the sizable Jack manage to navigate tiny slivers of track to pick up a lap on Stan and put Mass Malestrom in front again, 93-87.
Two jams later, nice defense from Bonus Jonas and Scott Slamilton kept the slippery No Big Deal locked up and Cory Pain changed the lead for the third time at 101-97 Puget Sound. The PNW crew opened it up a bit two more jams after that when Jack Hammerd was boxed while jamming against Quadzilla — following that one, Puget Sound had their largest lead at 127-97 with 21 minutes to play.
For the next few jams it appeared that the Malestrom’s charmed weekend was coming to an end as Puget won four jams in a row and only allowed points in the course of killing penalty time. With the score 150-103, the final nails in the coffin came as Mass Malestrom lost jammer Wes Turn to the box and only Jack Hammerd and Belgian Awful were out on the track to slow Ryrod. Ryrod dropped 17-0 and froze Wes in the box for Scott Slamilton to add 5 more. When that was all over, Puget Sound was up 172-103 with only about 13:30 to play.
The Malestrom’s last major opportunity came with ten minutes left when they started from a 185-105 disadvantage but Quadzilla in the box for a minute; however, Puget Sound’s, Ryrod, Scott Slamilton and Speed Dealer stepped up on defense and only allowed 2 points for Stryker in a 90 second jam.
With the score 185-107 and only 8 minutes to play, the rest of the bout was mainly for pride — though there was a scary moment for the Malestrom’s Speeder Parker with just about 3 minutes left when he went down awkwardly and had to helped off the track — though he’d return off skates for the congratulatory lap after game’s end with a wrapped ankle. On the scoreboard, Puget skated out as 221-137 winners.