Thin Air Throw Down
The big stories of last weekend came from a mile up, courtesy of the Thin Air Throw Down. Windy City and Gotham Girls both travelled to Denver to play each other and both home-town teams.
As expected, Gotham dominated proceedings. They beat Rocky 246-64, Windy 274-77 and Denver 241-124, showing little evidence of any rinkrust from the off-season or any particular hangovers from their unexpectedly close Champs games back in November.
Less expected were Rocky Mountain’s performances. They welcomed Sweet Mary Pain and Alpha Q. Up to their roster after the two had been missing from Rocky’s trip to the UK — but they did not look the stronger for it. In fact the opposite could be argued; in the Windy City game Rocky’s jammers gave up a combined 17 jammer penalties (to Windy’s 8) with the two returning stars to blame for most of them. To put that in context, Rocky got 17 jammer penalties during that trip across the pond — but across three games. Windy also played a disciplined game, especially in the pack, and the only wonder was that their margin of victory wasn’t bigger.
Denver seem to debut new jammers and combinations in almost every sanctioned bout these days; this weekend was no exception. Kit Dezellem (nÃ©e Kamilla Bloodspilla) made her MHC debut in the line-up alongside fellow ex-Pikes Peak skater and longstanding MHC jammer Amanda Sharpless, as well as Urrk’n Martin and last year’s breakthroughs Bucsek and Wilhelm. In fact, against Gotham, Denver did not field any of their three most experienced jammers: Sharpless and Martin were rested for that game, while Julie Adams didn’t feature during any of the weekend’s games.
Buscek in particular stepped up against Windy; her personal points differential was the majority of Denver’s 237-135 margin.
One other point of interest to come through Denver’s play this weekend was their use of star passes; these were notable and effective when deployed with jammers in trouble. In the Windy game in particular this was an effective strategy for them in limiting the damage in jams they were losing and stopping a bad jam becoming a truly damaging one.
There is one final thing that became public this weekend that will have an impact on the rest of Denver’s season: Shaina Serelson is leaving, and moving to Portland, where she intends to skate with Rose City.
Windy’s weekend was somewhat mixed, but a pretty solid start to the business end of their 2014 season. They underperformed against a Denver team they would have been hoping to get close to, performed roughly to expectation against Gotham, then outperformed Rocky in a disciplined showing.
They also had some newer All-Stars skating and making an impact — The Jamburglar with the star and Smarty McFly both stood out and will provide some extra options for Windy as the year progresses.
Colorado also featured another tournament at the weekend on a somewhat grander scale.
Junction City swept all before them to take the Mayday Mayhem title. While the team — with a fresh core of ex-Wasatch skaters ably supported by league veterans — will almost certainly not be making it to playoffs of any kind this year thanks to the lowliness of the opposition they’ve been playing, they will be moving up the rankings and be ones to watch for playoff contention in 2015.
Atlanta paid a visit to Ohio, and laid the hurt on a rebuilding home team 261-117. Atlanta then took on Toronto in a hangover bout on the Sunday, beating the Canadians 214-110. These results seemed to be very much in line with their 2013 performances and are unlikely to have much of a ranking impact — but both Ohio and Toronto have been inconsistent this year, so not much can really be drawn from these results.
Steel City’s 146-136 win over Toronto improves their record to 4-2 on the year. This serves to help secure their mid-D1 position and show that’s where they belong, on current form.
A 184-130 win for Jet City over the tumbling Sacred City helped secure their now-inevitable division one tournament spot this year. Sacred lost 444-58 against Rat City the day before too–results which combine to make their grasp on a D1 playoff spot ever more tenuous.