Skate Odyssey: Helsinki Shells Stockholm, 203-168

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GENT, BELGIUM–The last time Stockholm and Helsinki met it came down to the last jam and Stockholm escaped with a narrow win in April. This time it looked at half time like the top-seeded Swedes might run away with it against the eighth seeds–but it was the Finnish All-Star Ninja Turtles that ended 203-168 winners.

Mad Maloony and Heli Runteli faced off to start the bout, and when Maloony hit the box on a cut it looked like Helsinki might open up a big lead early on. But Runteli didn’t manage to get lead until after Maloony was standing thanks to attention from Only and Swede Hurt in the Stockholm pack, and she was limited to four points.

Juana La Loca erased that deficit in jam two and gave Stockholm a 8-4 lead. Two hit-and-quit jams for the Finns snuck them into an 11-10 lead. Suominen and Linda then laid hit after hit on Maloony as Fisu extended the Helsinki lead with an 11-0 jam. Helsinki were haemorrhaging players, however, which meant they just weren’t able to maintain their points advantage for long. It fell to Kat Strator to retake the lead–but by the time she had done that, it was Stockholm who had a numerical disadvantage.

A 4-0 for Fisu restored the Finns’ lead before Maloony put Stockholm back in front. That jam became all the sweeter for the Swedes when they saw Mirkulli heading to the box just as the lead-changing points went up on the board–and by the time it finished they held a 45-25 lead at the halfway mark of the first period.

Another powerjam followed–much to the upset of the Helsinki bench–as Runteli was boxed on a cut after a hit on the straightaway. It was 60-25 after that jam when an official review from Helsinki failed to spring Runteli. Fisu hit the box three jams later to let Juana return to play and make the lead 50. She looked to have cut her way right back to the box just as soon as she was released–but her jam ref was overruled right when she sat down in the penalty box.

Mirkkuli put up Helsinki’s first points since their opening salvo as Helsinki looked to be regaining their compusure. When she hit the box on a cut two jams later it looked like they might lose it again, but stout defence limited the scoring. Stockholm did pass the century mark in the next jam. A scrappy jam saw both teams get points on the board, before a hit-and-quit 4-0 for Fisu made it 109-51 at the half.

A major cut on Mirkkuli in the opening jam of the second period ensured they didn’t carry the momentum from that morale-boosting final jam. Stockholm used that to put up 20, but swiftly ran into pack penalty problems. With only one blocker to help her, Maloony could only really watch as Deadbeat Debbie and Fisu clawed Helsinki back into the bout, before Mirkkuli and Runteli decided to get in on the action as Helsinki’s walls tightened around Stockholm’s jammers.

That frustrated Juana La Loca enough to persuade her to pass the star to Only–but that simply resulted in a box trip for violation of star passing procedure. Only then threw the helmet cover into the box just before the jam expired–and got an illegal procedure major of her own for her trouble. That jam left Stockholm with jammer and pivot boxed, and a very precarious 135-121 lead to defend with 20 minutes to go.

Runteli took the star and grabbed a quick five before calling it with Juana standing in the box wearing the star. Mirrkuli brought the game to within a point of the Finns. Juana managed to stop the rot for Stockholm just in time as she got the first lead call in 8 jams for the Swedes, and put up a 4-0 to boot.

Maloony couldn’t build on that though–she was boxed on a low block after a boxed apex jump. Deadbeat Debbie then pushed Helsinki into a 143-141 lead just as the clock ticked past 15 minutes.

Runteli and Maloony both hit the box in the very next jam–and the upshot of that was a one-point game in favour of Helsinki, and Juana lining up unopposed with 12:10 remaining, her team 147-146 behind. She had just pushed Stockholm into a four-point lead when Runteli escaped from the box, and called it as Runteli raced past her. But the lead just couldn’t last. Winehouse cut her way to the box next time out and Mirkkuli shrugged off the attentions of Swede Hurt and Bess Irv Cold to make it 158-151, with Winehouse still cooling her heels.

The lead was 20 when both jammers hit the box in jam 18–but more significant was Kix Deville fouling out mid-jam, and the two minutes that burned off the clock. That left Helsinki leading 184-159, with 4:41 remaining, and a two-woman advantage on the bench.

Successive lead calls in the final few minutes kept the game very much in Helsinki’s control. When Mirkkuli got lead with less than 90 seconds on the period clock Helsinki sensed victory–and a box trip for Polygamy Winehouse removed all doubt. Even a major cut on Mirkkuli wasn’t enough for Stockholm–the Finns took the win 203-168.

Helsinki proceed to a semifinal against Tiger Bay tomorrow at 1.30 p.m. CEST; Stockholm find themselves in the consolation bracket against the winner of Linconshire and Crime City at 6p.m. CEST.

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