For 2 teams, the dream of a championship would remain, for 2 it would end tonight. Would the Crazy Eights be able to keep their dreams of the perfect season and a 4-pete alive or would the Rushin’ Rollettes get their first win of the season and pull off a huge upset? Could the Shevil Knevils repeat last month’s clean game and win again, or was revenge on the minds of Maiden Milwaukee? No matter what team you cheer for it was sure to be jam-filled with excitement. The stakes don’t get much higher than this! Oh, I almost forgot to mention NEW RULES SET!!!
That’s right, the semi-finals were played under the newly-approved updated WFTDA rules set. While there were many pages of new rules and clarifications that the teams had to learn and figure out how to play within, the biggest impact was a goodbye to one-minute penalties, and a hello to 30-second penalties. The days of one minute-plus power jams are gone (well not technically, but they SHOULD now be rather rare). The All-Stars had already played several bouts under these rules and if they showed me anything, it’s that the scores would be lower, we would see more full-pack jams, and all in all the change would result in much more exciting roller derby. I am not one to gloat (well now that’s just a lie) but HECK YEAH, I WAS RIGHT! It was a great night of roller derby! Here is the rundown of how it happened:
Bout 1: Crazy Eights 169 – Rushin’ Rollettes 125
One month ago, the Eights hosted a beatdown of epic proportions. They doubled up on the Rollettes and beat them by 256-128 to finish the regular season 3-0, keeping their perfect season hopes alive. Let me tell you, that didn’t sit well with the Rollettes. They spent the last month training harder than ever and developing plans to recreate Bout #1 of the 2013 season. That night was the last time the Eights tasted the agony of defeat and it was at the hands of none other than the ladies from the other side of the Iron Curtain, the Rushin’ Rollettes.
Unfortunately for the Rollettes, this bout started out no different than any other Eights’ bout this year. The Eights came out fast and strong. Behind the jamming efforts of Latina Heat, EmFatale, and Zo-Tay the Eights took lead jammer in 8 of the first 11 jams to open up a 52-13 lead. The Eights followed up that start with another 9-0 jam to take a 61-13 lead with about 15 minutes left in the first half. After the slow start, the Rollettes were able to regroup and took lead jammer on 5 of the next 9 jams, but the Eights transitions between defense and offense never allowed the Rollettes to close the gap. With just over 2 minutes left in the half and down 58, the Rollettes finally forced Eights Jammer Lady Pulverizer into a penalty and the Power Jam was on. Rollettes Jammer Steamy “Don’t call me Dr. Dre” Wonder was able to make a very nice dent in the lead, but with only 30 seconds of a power play there is only so much a team can do. Instead of the days of 20-30 point swings in the score, she was only able to pull back 14. Ultimately, the Eights’ complete team effort was too much (in 25 First Half Jams the Rollettes scored more than 4 points just once, the Eights scored more than 4 points 7 times) and they took a 93-42 lead into the half.
Photo Credit: Bruce Berna
Now, 30 minutes was all that stood between the Eights and a trip to the Championship bout, but the Rollettes were not going to make it easy for them. Thanks to a secret phone call from Vladimir Putin himself (my sources are sketchy at best, but thats what happens when I sit behind the NSO’s and Announcers ) to boost the Rollettes’ spirits and change the mood on the track, the start of the second half was hardly one of celebration for the Eights and it was evident they had a fight on their hands. The Rollettes came out hitting hard and for 5 minutes were holding their own against the Eights, but in Jam 4 a Jammer Penalty by Steamy Wonder allowed Eights Jammer Latina Heat (first jammer to score more than 20 points in a jam under the new rules set) to open up the score and give the Eights a 121-50 lead. Eventually the lead was extended to 75 with just over 15 minutes left. But to their credit, the Rollettes did not give up. Three big jams by Steamy Wonder, Carrie A. Hacksaw, and Stryker/ChewBeca The Wrecka pulled the Rollettes back to 148-91 with 10 minutes left. While the lead was shrunk, it was not all bad news for the Eights. Eights Blocker Servin’ Justice may have had the hit of the year when she blocked a Rollettes Jammer so hard that it literally knocked the Star Panty right off her helmet. Some quick thinking by the Rollettes helped prevent it from causing penalties, but DAMN!!! The Rollettes continued their fight and pulled within 34 points. With 1:44 remaining the Eights turned to EmFatale to finish it off as she was able to gain lead jammer and run out the clock. At the end of the night the Eights took a hard fought 169-125 victory and a trip to the championship. For the Rollettes, they showed great improvement over the last month and will look to secure 3rd place and their first victory of the season next month.
Bout 2: Maiden Milwaukee 213 – Shevil Knevils 118
Photo Credit: Bruce Berna
Last month the Shevils secured the #2 seed with a big 181-149 win over Maiden Milwaukee. While that result mattered very little to the semi-final matchups, it had to be a major confidence boost for the Shevils coming into this rematch. But the Maidens also had plenty of motivation as veteran Rejected Seoul made her return tonight, and the impact was very clear from the beginning. It didn’t take long to see which team would rule the night and secure their place with the Eights in the championship bout.
From the first whistle it was clear that this night would belong to the Maidens. A Jammer Penalty in the very first jam by Shevils Jammer Gynomite allowed the Maidens to take a 10-0 lead and they never looked back. Between great blocking from the Maidens blockers and a very strong jammer rotation of Super Hera (What, no cape during warm-up? Speaking of warm-ups, what was up with the Maidens new intro music?), Stormin’ DaCastle and Thunderpants! the Maidens opened up a comfortable 51-22 lead within the first 15 minutes. Sensing an opportunity to really put a hurting on the Shevils the Maidens turned to triple threat skater Frank Hurt’r (you would think by now I could spell it without looking it up) to jam for the first time in the bout. Aided by a Jammer Penalty by Shevil Jammer Scooter, Frank went on a 14-0 jam and opened the score up to 65-22. Sensing the chance at the championship slipping away, the Shevils used the first of their timeouts to stop the bleeding. The timeout worked to perfection as the Shevils won lead jammer on the next four jams and brought the lead back to 79-41 with seven minutes left in the half. Unfortunately momentum went away quickly as Maiden’s Stormin’ DaCastle scored a huge 15-0 jam, but it swung right back the Shevils way as a Jammer Penalty by Thunderpants! allowed the Shevils to have their own 17-0 jam. With momentum all over the place, the last jam of the half was set up to really help one of the teams feel good about heading into the second half. That last jam belonged to Super Hera and the Maidens. A big 14-0 jam meant the Maidens took a 104-58 lead into the break.
Ending the half on such a high note, the Maidens seemed to be in good shape for a win and an advancement into the championship, but someone forgot to tell the Shevils about that. Behind Jammers Scooter, Insane Clown, and Skittle the Shevils won 7 of the first 9 jams to start the half and closed to 108-79 with just over 20 minutes left. As quickly as it looked like the Shevils were ready to mount the big comeback, however, the Maidens put down their foot and squashed the uprising. It was like watching a big Evel Knievel jump from back in the day and then just before he was about to land a giant wall was put up in front of him. Now he crashed plenty on his own, but the Maidens probably played the best 20 minutes of roller derby of any team all season. And not only was the action on the track great, the coaching strategy was top notch. In addition to winning lead jammer in 10 of the last 11 jams, the Maidens began to run down the clock with over 12 minutes remaining. By continuing to win lead jammer and draining the clock the Shevils were left to watch the Maidens pull away to a victory. At the end, a 105-39 run over the last 20 minutes secured the Maidens’ place in the championship and a match with the Eights.
With the Championship Bout matchups now set, everyone needs to fill The Cell on May 10th to see if the Eights can complete the 4-pete, or whether the Maidens will spoil their party and win their first League Championship. And don’t forget the grudge match for 3rd Place between the Shevils and the Rollettes! Both are guaranteed to be exciting and we can expect all four teams to leave everything they have on the track.