BALLWIN, MO — In the first elimination game of the 2012 MRDA championship tournament, #6 Portland (who had lost to #3 New York earlier) faced off against bottom seed Mass Malestrom (who had lost to top seed Your Mom in the tournament opener). It was easily the closest game of the weekend on the scoreboard, featuring 7 lead changes, and came down to a dramatic final series of jams — including an extraordinarily lucky break for Portland that ended up not being enough to take the win. The bottom seeded Malestrom ended Portland’s weekend early with the first seeding upset of the tournament with a 12 point win, 169-157.
The Mass Malestrom’s win gives them a shot at 5th place tomorrow against the winner of Puget Sound / Dallas.
Portland took the opening jam on a classic 4-0 hit and quit, but on the followup Mass Malestrom’s Cilantro took advantage of tough defense from his blocker Jack Hammerd to pick up two laps on Tommy Gun. That jam ended early on injury when Gun took an apparent hit to the face and stayed down for about a minute; when he was helped off, the score stood at 13-4 Malestrom early. A Portland 4-0 was sandwiched between two 0-0 frames, keeping the score low at 13-8 with five minutes gone — but Portland took the lead back on a Bustin Morenose 8-0, and kept things going on a series of single-pass wins that moved things to 19-13 Portland early.
The underdog fans popped for a slick jam from the Malestrom’s Wes Turn, though, who took lead and ducked very low under an attempted Don Juan takeout for a 4-0. That made it a very narrow game a 19-17 Portland about ten minutes in, and Mass Malestrom had the advantage on the first power jam of the game there. However, Bleed Em and Reap, Bangers and Stache, the Determinator and Blitzkrieg put up an excellent defensive stand and the Malestrom’s Cilantro could only pick up 2 points in a full minute of unopposed time.
However, that did tie the game at 19-19. The next jam went a little oddly as the Malestrom’s No Big Deal and Portland’s Bustin Morenose hit the pack simultaneously and NBD apparently tried to call off the jam to avoid being scored on. But Bustin was boxed on a back block and NBD didn’t get the call off — he’d fight his way through for 5 and then called it anyway, not realizing he was on power jam. It worked out fine for the Malestrom, though, as Stryker took the rest of the power jam and scored 23-0. Portland called their first timeout with the score 47-19 Malestrom and with 15:51 to play in the first half.
The timeout seemed to work for Portland, as back to back wins narrowed it to 47-32 Malestrom. After a 2-0 to the Malestrom, some timely jammer defense from Portland’s Bustin’ Morenose drew a fourth minor on opposing number Wes Turn. Bustin ran up 14 in power jam, making it 49-46 with 10:04 left in the first half.
That jam ended with just a little bit of time left on Wes Turn’s penalty — just enough for him to take lead and 5-0 as Portland missed both his exit from the box and his return from the pack. It was an 8 point game there as Malestrom bench coach Hayley Contagious called their first timeout.
Portland’s compact Don Juan the Deviskater took the jam star next and created the fourth lead change of the game with a big 14 point jam, making it 60-54 Portland. They extended that lead to 25 by the end of the half at 97-72 — a sequence which saw a jam end on injury to key Malestrom blocker Jack Hammer’d, down with a dislocated thumb.
Jack was back for the second half, though, with most of the forearm and hand taped up. The first jam of the second half went 0-0, but next up Portland got bitten by a procedural penalty when their jammer Don Juan lost his jammer star and illegally skated clockwise to retrieve it, buying himself a box trip. Stryker responded by following good blocking from Peter Rottentail and Smiteochondria for a 19-0 that made it just a 6 point game at 97-91 Portland. In more bad news for the 6 seed, that jam also saw Portland’s double-threat Shreddy Mercury foul out with over 26 minutes still left to play.
9-0 to Portland’s Bustin Morenose on a very light pack opened up that lead a bit to 106-91 — but two jams later, it was the Malestrom’s Cilantro getting a power jam opportunity on a 4-2 pack favoring his team. Things got even worse for Portland as their jammer Bustin was boxed again on a track cut almost as soon as he returned; the jam created the fifth lead change, putting the Mass Malestrom up 119-106 with nearly another full minute of unopposed time to work with. No Big Deal scrambled for 16-0 next, and suddenly his team had a bit of a cushion at 135-106 with 21:06 left.
Three jammer penalties against Portland in the middle ten minutes of the half — two on the same jam to a highly displeased Bustin Morenose — made it possible for the Malestrom to hold on to most of their advantage. Entering the final ten minutes of the game, it was 148-127 Malestrom.
Portland finally got a power jam of their own when they badly needed it, as Cilantro re-entered incorrectly as Malestrom jammer after being sent flying out of bounds by Portland’s Carpe Demon. Bleed Em and Reap’s key 20-zip made it just a 1 point game at 148-147 Malestrom with under 7 to play.
Seemingly realizing their final chance was at hand, Portland’s Determinator, Demolition Man, Speed Bump and Blitzkrieg brutalized Cilantro, dumping him to the floor over and over — but in the full length jam, Portland only picked up 4-0. That was enough to create the sixth lead change of the game, though — 151-148 Portland with 4:16 on the game clock. Portland’s Bustin Morenose fouled out of the game at that point.
Equally problematic for Portland was the fact that they started the next jam on the wrong side of a 4-2 pack situation — Wes Turn swept through for a barely molested 10-0 for the game’s 7th lead and final lead change at 158-151 with three minutes to play.
Apparently not satisfied with the amount of drama so far, Mass Malestrom jammed their big blocker Jack Hammer’d, with his thumb still taped up from the first-half injury — and he delivered with a critical, slick 7-3 that moved the score to 165-154 and the clock to 1:30. Though Portland got lead jammer on the next jam, Mass won it 4-3 — and Portland got a major break when their jammer apparently lost his helmet cover late in the jam but managed to call it off before the ref rescinded lead jammer status. That left Portland down 169-157 with 0:44 to play — but luckily able to field a jammer in the next frame.
Portland took lead on that one, but was forced to call it early at 0-0 as their jammer was reabsorbed into the pack. They called time with 15 seconds on the clock to take one last shot at it — but when the Malestrom’s Wes Turn raced around the outside of turn 2 to take lead, it was just a matter of time. Malestrom called it off as soon as period time expired to hang on to the 12 point victory, 169-157.