Hitting the road together for the first time in 2019, the Ohio Roller Derby All Stars and Gang Green hopped across the Ohio River to Pittsburgh for a pair of scrappy, hard-fought games against longtime opponents Steel City Roller Derby, scratching out late-game victories in both matchups.
ALL STARS SQUEAK PAST STEEL HURTIN’, 181-167
Unceasing back-and-forth battle and a total of ten lead changes kept both teams on their toes for the entire sixty minutes of gameplay, but the final moments saw Ohio narrowly edging out their opponents.
Catch Mikachu nicked the first point of the contest; two lead changes followed in as many jams, with Jane, Literally squeezing out of the pack for a 9-0 gain as a Steel Hurtin’ blocker picked up the first pack penalty. After swapping scoring passes for several minutes, Banana Jamma tied the score at 18-all despite strong triangulation from the Ohio defense; River Kyx then tipped the scales in favor of the home squad. Belle A. Trix took full advantage of a two-minute jam, edging through on toe stops for 8 points, but the Hurtin’ retaliated with back-to-back shutout jams, exploiting a depleted Ohio wall to widen their lead to 31-60. A team timeout allowed the All Stars to reset mentally and physically; Amy Spears opened space for Bigg Rigg to pick up lead jammer status and 4 uncontested points on a power opportunity in jam 16, and Mikachu then zipped through the pack on a power start for a 7-3 improvement. Jane, Literally found a quick lead in jam 19 and sprinted up the outside untouched while Chainsaw and Kelsey Khaos left no room for the Hurtin’ jammer, bringing Ohio within 20 points of retaking the lead, but two consecutive power jams at the end of the period allowed Steel City to rake in 24 points to Ohio’s 9 for a halftime differential of 68-101.
Returning to the track with adjusted plans, the All Stars opened the second half swinging. Mikachu raced away from opposing blockers for 11 uncontested points on a power jam; the Hurtin’ earned lead in the following jam, but opted to run it long, allowing Jane, Literally to sneak past their defense for a 12-8 gain. Returning to the line, Mikachu was awarded another power opportunity along with lead status and picked up 10 clean points to bring the score to 102-109. Lara Del Rage, Kelsey Khaos, and KloverKill stalled the Steel City jammer on an initial pass for 35 seconds before they picked up lead status; taking a star pass and pushing through difficult defense, Chainsaw posted 9 points. Birch Slap scooped up lead status and 8 points on a power opportunity in jam 29, tipping Ohio into a short-lived 119-118 lead; three more lead changes followed over the next three jams, with Steel City eventually opening a 126-134 gap. A power start looked promising for the All Stars, but they were denied the opportunity as Steel City won an official review to get a track cut penalty on their jammer overturned. Undaunted, Ohio turned up the heat; in the midst of a clustered pack, Chainsaw escaped backwards on one foot and racked up 12 points while KloverKill thwarted the opposing jammer. Jane, Literally charged through the pack on a 12-0 run to retake the lead once more; Flux Decapitator stole it back in the following jam, 154-156. With less than four minutes on the game clock, Betty T. KayO and Chainsaw took turns reabsorbing the Hurtin’ jammer at the front of the pack, and Bigg Rigg zigzagged into lead jammer status to shove Ohio into the lead for the final time. Clinging to a 4-point lead with just seconds remaining, the All Stars locked down their defense on a lead Hurtin’ jammer, eventually drawing them into a track cut penalty and allowing Mikachu to run out the jam clock for a 181-167 victory.
Unofficial lead status gain, jamming, and scoring for Ohio were: Catch Mikachu (6-14, 44 pts); Bigg Rigg (8-14, 35 pts); Jane, Literally (4-10, 60 pts); Birch Slap (1-4, 12 pts); Belle A. Trix (0-1, 8 pts); Smash Panda (0-1, 0 pts); Betty T. KayO (0-1 [1 star pass], 0 pts); and Chainsaw (0-3 [3 star passes], 22 pts).
Unofficial lead status gain, jamming, and scoring for Steel City were: Geleskie (2-9, 43 pts); River Kyx (8-13, 58 pts); Banana Jamma (3-9, 23 pts); Flux Decapitator (9-13, 40 pts); and Dakota Slamming (0-1 [1 star pass], 3 pts).
GANG GREEN BESTS BEAMERS, 170-160
While the Steel Beamers managed to maintain a narrow lead for much of the contest, quick-footed jamming and well-timed offense in the late game helped Gang Green emerge victorious.
The home squad snuck onto the board first, but Smash Panda posted the first points for Gang Green in jam two to give them an early lead. While the defense forced the opposing jammer to pass the star, TactiGal stole lead status and doubled the lead; the Beamers fired back with consecutive shutout jams, clawing their way to a precarious lead that they fought to widen over the next several minutes of play. Kegel Scout forced the Beamers’ jammer to reset well behind the pack while Smash Panda nabbed lead and a 15-point gain on a two-minute jam; a power opportunity in jam 13 provided time for Birch Slap to post an 11-0 gain, bringing Gang Green within one point of the Beamers, 43-44. Steel City fought to pull away; Belle A. Trix briefly retook a 54-52 lead for Ohio with an 8-0 jam, but it was short-lived, as Missy Helliot found room for a 20-point jam that gave the Beamers their largest lead of the game, 58-72. Multiple timeouts for injuries led to scoreless jams and slowed momentum to a crawl before a string of penalties allowed both teams to make major progress in jam 22, with Gang Green emerging slightly ahead with a 20-16 gain.
Taking a tip from the first game of the evening, Gang Green returned from halftime fired up and ready to turn the tables; sitting at 86-103, they fought to chip away at the Beamers’ lead, holding them scoreless in the first four jams of the second period. Baby Kakes shut down an attempted apex jump to prevent a scoring pass, and Jane, Literally then stalled the Beamers’ jammer to allow Birch Slap to eke out 4 quick points. Swapping single scoring passes each jam, the score crept higher on both sides until jam 35, when Belle A. Trix called the jam to freeze the opposing jammer in the penalty box. Birch Slap capitalized on the subsequent power start for 8 unmatched points, bringing Gang Green within 10 points of the lead, 113-123. Speedy jamming quelled scoring entirely for two jams before the Ohio skaters honed their focus to destroy the minimal differential. Running with a power opportunity, Birch Slap harvested 14 points and pushed the score to 136-137 while TactiGal, Foxy Force, and Avocado ToeStop prevented the Beamers’ jammer from completing an initial pass on their return from the box. Jane, Literally dashed up the inside line, immediately earning lead jammer status and finally hoisting Gang Green to a 150-149 lead. The Beamers yanked it away with 4 points of their own in the following jam, but Baby Kakes stymied the pivot-turned-jammer and forced a penalty in jam 50 while Jane, Literally juked through the pack for 12 tidy points and a 164-156 lead. One final power jam gave Belle A. Trix plenty of room to snag lead jammer status and run out the period clock for a 170-160 win.
Unofficial lead status gain, jamming, and scoring for Gang Green were: Belle A. Trix (6-13, 25 pts); Smash Panda (3-8, 43 pts); Birch Slap (8-12, 54 pts); TactiGal (1-6, 8 pts); Jane, Literally (3-5, 29 pts); Ka-Pouch! (1-8, 7 pts); Baby Kakes (0-1 [1 star pass], 4 pts); and Lara Del Rage (0-1 [1 star pass], 0 pts).
Jamming for the Steel Beamers were Missy Helliot, EarthQuayke, Kace O. DaMondazae, and Pushy Riot (detailed jammer statistics unavailable at time of publication).
Photos courtesy of Ed Schmidt Photography.