Squeezing in a jam-packed travel weekend between home games, the Ohio Roller Derby All Stars again made the trip to St. Charles, Missouri, to participate in the third annual Skate to Thrill Invitational. Their debut at the tournament in 2016 resulted in a tough first-game loss to No Coast Derby Girls, a last-minute upset over Houston Roller Derby, and a sound victory against the Chicago Outfit. This year, (35) Ohio found themselves rematched against (49) Houston and (34) No Coast on day one, with a third game against the (89) Killamazoo Derby Darlins to round out the weekend.
REINED IN BY HOUSTON, 203-259
While Ohio’s season revved up earlier than usual this year, the first game of the weekend was also the first for Houston since WFTDA Division 2 Playoffs last August. Despite the early hour, Houston came out swinging, outscoring Ohio 2-1 over the first twenty minutes of play. Pain Train, Gorges Curves, and Blitz Lemon were undeterred, amassing 34 points over 4 jams; down 82-104 with 5 minutes remaining in the period, a successful official review by Ohio resulted in the expulsion of a Houston skater and a pack advantage. Struggling with penalties for much of the half, Ohio still minimized Houston’s gains, with Paige Bleed and captain Bigg Rigg holding the opposing jammer to just 5 points on a full two-minute jam.
Trailing 82-117 at the start of the second period, Ohio took aim at a comeback, increasing defensive pressure and jamming speed. Zee “Loraine Acid” Gulertekin wedged open a hole, allowing Val Holla to escape the pack on the Houston jammer’s heels for a 20-16 gain in Ohio’s favor. Two jams later, Chainsaw, Betty T. KayO, and Blitz Lemon slowed the pack to a crawl, forcing the opposing jammer out of bounds as soon as she obtained lead; meanwhile, Gorges Curves racked up 12 points, clearing a scoring pass on a 360° spin while her blockers held Houston to just 2 points for the jam. A star pass to Lora “Outa My” Wayman during a power jam allowed Ohio to match points, and Gorges found time for 5 scoring passes and 22 points the following jam, bringing the score to 142-188 with just over 15 minutes to play. Slayer Moon snagged lead for Houston; unfazed by a short pack, BrussKnuckles & Betty T. KayO found defensive success together, sending the jammer out of bounds with ease, but a 20-8 boost for Houston inched the lead farther from Ohio’s reach. Precise defense forced Houston to call the jam while Lemon matched 4 points, then Val grabbed lead and made a quick scoring pass on a power jam opportunity before calling it with Houston’s jammer in the box to provide a much-needed power start. Spinning around the front defender for lead status, Gorges posted a 12-4 jam with offensive assistance from Lemon. With under four minutes remaining, Val easily snapped up lead and racked up 12 more points while Chainsaw and Acid punished Houston’s jammer for the entirety of the jam. Changing roles, Betty took the star and gave Houston’s jammer a run for her points in the final jam, eking out 8 points for a 203-259 final.
CLOSING OUT NO COAST, 199-169
Ohio’s second game of the tournament marked their third meeting with No Coast in less than a year: at Skate to Thrill 2016, a higher-ranked No Coast swamped Ohio 261-125, but a rematch in the consolation bracket at Division 1 Playoffs in September gave Ohio their first-ever win over the Nebraska team, 227-188. Having not played since that game and drawing a later first game in the Skate to Thrill bracket, No Coast took the track with fresh legs, but Ohio had recovered quickly from their morning loss and were eager to change momentum.
Starting with speed, Gorges forced a 0-0 jam to kick off the contest, though No Coast managed to find 2 points in the second jam. Slammerhead and Acid stalled the pack long enough for Pain Train to grab lead, then sprint through two scoring passes for 8 points and the first lead change of the game. No Coast was unable to capitalize on a power jam, as Chainsaw executed tough solo defense on their jammer before drawing her into a penalty. Ohio took advantage of loose defense on their own power opportunity for a 12-3 gain before their scoring stalled for two jams. Quickly gaining a 4-2 pack advantage, No Coast nabbed lead and 10 points, tying the score at 33-33 before losing their jammer to the penalty box, giving Pain Train time for 9 points. Ohio continued to experience high blocker penalties, but another No Coast jammer penalty allowed the All Stars to further widen their lead and post 15 points. Well-timed solo offense from Bigg Rigg and Amy Spears aided in quick 4 point gains, while Kelsey Khaos held the opposing jammer at the rear of the pack. With 5 minutes in the half, Gorges found no opposition as she charged up the inside for lead status and 9 fast points, but No Coast obtained lead in back-to-back jams for a 13-point gain. A pair of points in the final seconds gave Ohio a narrow 76-70 lead going into halftime.
The opening minutes of the second period looked hopeful for Ohio as Val Holla cleared the pack on an apex jump to score 4 points, but No Coast turned up the heat with a 19-point jam, finally retaking the lead. Lemon grabbed 5 points as the opposing jammer was assessed a low block penalty and gave Ohio a power start; multiple jammer penalties provided a second one that allowed Val to rake in 14 uncontested points. Hard defense stymied the No Coast jammer as Pain Train further erased their lead, inching up to a 133-139 deficit before Gorges Curves posted an 8-0 jam for a 141-139 Ohio lead. Making use of four power jam opportunities, Val, Lemon, and Gorges racked up a combined 58 points in the last five jams, blowing open a 199-169 final score.
SWIFT SILENCE OF KILLAMAZOO, 375-83
Killamazoo started their competitive season in February this year, and a 25-point loss to Grand Raggidy seemed promisingly close, as did their 207-254 first-game loss to E-Ville Roller Derby at Skate to Thrill. Ohio held an undefeated record against the Kill Stars, however–four sanctioned games over the last six years, the most recent in July 2016, when they ran away with a 380-46 victory. Killamazoo found themselves unable to challenge that record as Ohio’s jammers rapidly created a 112-23 over the first thirteen jams. Unbeatable defense allowed only a handful of points for the Kill Stars, while Ohio outscored them 5-1 during the remainder of the period for a halftime score of 172-35. Killamazoo found some success in stopping the point bleed in the second half, but Ohio outscored their own first period points, posting an impressive 203 points while holding their opponents to a 48-point gain for a sound 375-83 victory.
Representing the Ohio Roller Derby All Stars at Skate to Thrill were: Pain Train, Paige Bleed, Lora “Outa My” Wayman, Amy Spears, Kelsey Khaos, Bigg Rigg, Chainsaw, Val Holla, Slammerhead, Blitz Lemon, Betty T. KayO, BrussKnuckles, Zee “Loraine Acid” Gulertekin, and Gorges Curves.
Special thanks to contributors Kitty Liquorbottom and Slayna Scully.
Photo by Mr. McWheely