On Sunday morning we headed towards the hometown of the Rats: Seattle. Naturally we were able to leave Vancouver only after the obligatory road toll -adventure. It had become customary to our car pool, so we were quite ok with it…
The next step was crossing the border to the great US and A. We got them convinced that we are not coming to steal their ladies or play roller derby as a profession. Fair enough.
On the first game day we arrived to the Rats nest around 5 PM, and it turned out that we had missed the floor testing time. This meant that we were able to test our wheels only at the warm up, but none of us were too stressed about it. Then the Rats told us they were going to play in their light coloured shirts, which had been our plan us well. This caused us more stress, since all our players didn’t have the darker shirts with them. No worries, we changed to green shirts, and for those players who didn’t have the green ones, we improvised shirts from the old, baggy ones with a black marker and some imagination. Problem solved.
In the warm up we really tested the floor. Like really really. At times the hockey stop was basically a suicide, and in other places the worn sports court didn’t offer any grip and made several players kneel down.
Game 1: Wrecking ball hits and pivot line starts
When the first game started, we realised that the Rats hit hard, and as their speciality they offered a tough, wrecking ball -like shoulder hit. This didn’t slow our jammers too much, but we felt it heavily in our faces. Another thing that required some adjusting was the pivot line starts: the opponent kept forcing our blockers towards the pivot line, creating thus an old school “high way start” for both jammers. After some initial stickiness we got a hold of the game, and it turned out to be one of our fastest and penalty heaviest games in a while.
The leads were shared quite equally in the first period, and in the second period we managed to keep Rats pointless for six jams in a row, so we were not giving the points for free. The final score was 256-128.
Game 2: Tense atmosphere in the sanctioned game
On the second day our team seemed to be more excited about the sports court even though it had seemed so difficult yesterday. More than few of our players claimed to totally dominate the sports court (editors note: this is the nice way to say what they said). The difference to yesterdays scrimmage-like game was huge: instead of slowly appearing referees and a bit surprisingly starting game we had serious faces and electricity in the air. This was justified, since this would be a WFTDA sanctioned game. Our opponent seemed tense and there was more audience.
After the first jam the score was 12-12, and after the third jam it was 12-22 for the Turtles! The crowd cheered when the Rats nailed their hits and booed to our success -the atmosphere was really explosive!
We had learned from yesterday, and took back the control of the starts by forcing the Rats back to the jammer line. The physical and aggressive game soon proved what Rats were made of, and Rats gained the lead in front of their home audience. The game ended in similar numbers: 235-130.
After the game our tired but happy lot returned to the hotel to tape their wounds. Raivo and Pygmi hunted down a box of Corona, which was served in a local hot tub, and combined to hot-cold-hot -treatments. The biggest cheers got the “complimentary bucket” offered by the Rats. Raivo soon adopted the actual bucket to herself (it is free bucket, you see). Bucket full of good mood and travel snacks we headed towards Eugene and the Big O Tournament.
Text: Taru Saxelin