NIAGARA FALLS, NY — In a very long-awaited rematch of a 155-155 tie game in June, the North Central’s top two seeds, 1NC Windy City and 2NC Minnesota, met in what was also a repeat of the 2011 tournament final. While the score wasn’t a tie this time, the game proved to be every bit as evenly matched as it was earlier in the year. Minnesota narrowly led for all but one jam in the first half, Windy City led for all but one jam in the second half, and the game came down to a last-minute showdown that featured a pinch jam from Windy City rookie KonichiWOW. In the end, Windy City claimed their 4th North Central title in a row and remained undefeated in North Central play by winning a 165-153 thriller.
The action got underway with a very tight scrum start, with Kola Loka taking lead but also going to the box on her first scoring pass. However, Windy City got a huge break as Minnesota jammer Harmony Killerbruise had skate trouble and was forced to pass to dedicated blocker Diamond Rough; she eventually broke pack but Windy won the jam 9-2.
L’exi Cuter got Minnesota four points closer on the second jam; another jammer penalty on Windy City, this time to Jackie Daniels, allowed Medusa to put Minnesota in front with a hard-fought 20-0. Five minutes in, Windy City was in a 26-9 hole.
Windy blockers Sargentina and Ol’ Drrty Go Go locked up Harmony Killerbruise long enough for Kola Loka to get five points to a new score of 26-14 next, where the score would remain through two 0-0 jams called by the trailing jammer.
Harmony Killerbruise was forced into a very early track cut on the next jam by an avalanche of Windy City blockers, giving Ska Face some power jam time, but Ska Face cut track herself after two scoring pass — that jam ended up also equal at 10-10. With 18:18 to play, the score was 36-24.
L’exi Cuter started unopposed next, but was facing a 4-2 Windy City pack and lost the jam 7-3 even though she held lead; next, it was Jackie Daniels’ turn to lose a jam while holding lead jammer. That 2-0 made the score 41-31 Minnesota with 15:30 in the half.
Minnesota won the next two jams narrowly to extend the lead to 49-31, but WCR blockers Yvette Yourmaker and Sargentina dominated Minnesota jammer Medusa long enough for Windy City jammer Ska Face to score 12-0 and make it a seven point game at 49-43 with 11:43 to play.
A 3-2 pack advantage for Minnesota sprung Harmony Killerbruise for a 4-0 with offensive help from Juke Boxx and Diamond Rough — on the next, Kola Loka scored all 4 but waited too long to call, allowing L’exi Cuter to equalize with 4 of her own. In additional unfortunate news for WCR, blocker Phoebe Fi Fo Fum hip checked L’exi Cuter to the floor a moment after the fourth whistle, drawing an illegal procedure major for a late hit. Windy City was in blocker penalty trouble there, with only two on the track and Phoebe in the queue for the box. It was 57-47 there.
Even with the light Windy pack, Phoebe and Ruth Enasia successfully got a lead jammer call for Varla Vendetta, though she had to call it at 0-0. Blocker penalty trouble continued to hamper Windy, as they were reduced to just Jackie Daniels as a sole blocker momentarily on the next jam, and that one would go 9-0 Minnesota, taking the score to 66-47 with about 6 minutes in the half.
Kola Loka took a chaotic 9-0 next, narrowing it to 66-56 Minnesota, and Windy City finally got four blockers on the floor on the followup — but Varla Vendetta cut her way to the box as Windy jammer. A solid penalty kill by KonichiWOW, Bork Bork Bork and Jackie Daniels held Minnesota’s Medusa to 10 points, but that gave Minnesota a 20 point lead at 76-56 with about two minutes left in the half.
That was the largest lead that Minnesota held in the game, and was erased on the last two jams of the game. Sargentina and Ruth Enasia beat on Juke Boxx long enough for Kola Loka to get another 9-0, and Jackie Daniels tore up the track as Windy’s next jammer, ripping a game-changing 19-0 that ended the half with Windy City taking the lead for the first time in the game, 84-76.
The second half started with Windy City still working from a backed-up penalty box, with KonichiWOW and Ruth Enasia as the WCR pack and KonichiWOW in the box queue — however, Lex’i Cuter waited oddly long to call after getting lead, allowing Kola Loka to win the jam 12-10 after a tough battle with Naughty Kitty. Things continued to work out in Windy’s favor on the next jam as Medusa went to the penalty box as Minnesota jammer; Ska Face busted a 17-0 and gave Windy City their biggest lead of the game at 113-86.
Tiki Torture, Juke Boxx and Hurtude Stein helped Harmony Killerbruise to a 4-0 for Minnesota’s first jam win of the half; the next jam started with a 2-2 pack and Varla Vendetta and L’exi Cuter as jammers. The Minnesota duo of Buzz Tightrear and and Diamond Rough got L’exi lead but couldn’t get her points, and it went 0-0.
The teams traded single-pass wins for the next three jams, moving the score to 119-93 with 20 minutes to play — but Kola Loka picked up a box trip on a major back block. Bork Bork Bork and KonichiWOW found themselves as the only WCR blockers, but were eventually joined by Ol Drrty Go Go out of the box — the three combined on a key penalty kill to only allow 9 points to Second Hand Smoke.
Still, that got Minnesota closer at 119-102, and they won the next jam 4-0 as Diamond Rough and Juke Boxx dropped the hammer on WCR jammer Ska Face. It was 119-106 with 17 to play.
Kola Loka somehow found slivers of daylight to answer with 4-0 of her own on the next; Varla Vendetta snuck her way through to a 9-4 with Medusa grabbing her 4 right at the last second. With WCR’s lead 22 points at 132-110, Minnesota called their first timeout.
Windy stayed strong after the short break, blanking Minnesota for three jams on a 4-0, 0-0 5-0 sequence. That gave Windy City their largest lead of the game at 34 points, 144-110.
Suddenly, though, Minnesota counterpunched with a quick flurry of their own — 4-0, 4-0, 5-0 — and followed up with a crowd-exploding 15-0 haymaker from Harmony Killerbruise. MNRG blockers Diamond Rough, Juke Boxx and Tiki Torture relentlessly pounded a trapped Jackie Daniels; that made it a three point game at 144-141 with 5:45 showing on the clock.
After a Windy timeout, hometown heroine KonichiWOW went out for her first jam of the game next, but a 4-0 jam to Second Hand Smoke put the lead back in Minnesota hands for the first and only time in the half, 145-144.
With Minnesota on a 35-0 run, Athena DeCrime battled her way to a desperately needed 9-0 jam win for Windy City as Ruth Enasia, Jackie Daniels, Ol Drrty Go Go and Sargentina locked up Medusa. Jackie Daniels got lead next and tacked on one more, giving Windy City a nine point lead at 154-145. Minnesota called their second timeout with just 1:58 left on the game clock.
WCR put out KonichiWOW to jam against Second Hand Smoke, with Minnesota holding a 4-3 pack advantage — and when KonichiWOW claimed lead jammer, it was just a question of whether Windy City would be able to keep KonichiWOW on the track and in front of SHS for a minute and 58 seconds. The Minnesota pack of Medusa, Diamond Rough and Scarmen Hellectra made life very hard on K-Wow as the WCR pack was reduced to just two — but K-Wow battled to a 11-8 jam win and had a key defensive stop of her own, blocking SHS out of bounds just as she was about to pass her late in the jam. When it was over, there was no time left on the clock for Minnesota to call their remaining timeout, and Windy City had once again proved themselves unbeatable in the region.