Ohio Opens 2013 With a Tripleheader
On March 9th the Ohio Roller Girls will kick off their 2013 home season with a triple-header as they welcome the Burning River Roller Girls (Cleveland, OH) and the Bleeding Heartland Rollergirls (Bloomington, IN). The festivities will kick off at 3:00 p.m. as the OHRG All Stars compete against the Burning River All Stars in the first of three bouts. That battle of the charter teams will be followed by Gang Green’s first bout of the season as they take on Bleeding Heartland’s Code Blue Assassins. The final leg of the trilogy will feature a hard-hitting, fast-paced bout as OHRG All Stars again take the track, this time against Bleeding Heartland’s all-star team, the Flatliners.
The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) is going to look a little different this year than it has in the past. New playoff formats and rule changes were put into effect following the 2012 Championship tournament in order to allow teams the off-season to become acclimated. Regarding the rule changes, the most important one the fans and skaters will have to get used to is that there are no longer minor penalties during gameplay. In the old rule set, a skater would be sent to the penalty box when she picked up a major penalty or an accumulation of four minor penalties. Starting in 2013, minor penalties are no longer called. In the bouts played thus far, this change has allowed for more physical game play by jammers and blockers alike.
WFTDA has also tweaked how teams advance to the divisional playoffs. Up until this year, the four regions (North Central, South Central, West, and East) would each send their top ten teams to the regional playoffs. From there, the top three from each region would advance to championships. Starting in 2013, the four regions have been eliminated. The WFTDA will begin to use a mathematical formula in order to rank teams as they play throughout the season. At season’s end, the top 40 teams will advance to one of four playoff locations, regardless of their prior regional affiliation. The top 40 teams will then be ranked using an S-curve much like the format that is used for March Madness during college basketball playoffs. The top three teams out of each of the four playoff locations will then play at championships. Eliminating the four regions will encourage teams to play others ranked in close proximity to them, rather than playing sub-par competition just to secure a tally mark in the win column.
In the first bout of the afternoon, the Ohio Roller Girls will lace up their skates against the Burning River Roller Girls. Although only 120 miles separate these two squads, they have only competed against one another three times, with Ohio coming out the victors in all three occasions. They first met in 2008 when Ohio pulled out an 86-85 victory, the closest bout ever in the history of Ohio’s league. Ohio then followed that win with two more victories, 166-86 in 2011 and 166-68 in 2012, to earn the trifecta against the ladies from Cleveland. Burning River finished 2012 with a 4-6 record, which left them ranked 17th out of 39 teams in what was the North Central region last year. Looking to rebuild this year, Burning River currently sits at 1-0 after a win against the Twin City Derby Girls (189-145) in February. Ohio appears to be one of Burning River’s stiffest competitors this season, as BRRG has games against Bleeding Heartland, DC Rollergirls, Dutchland, Tallahassee, Ft. Wayne, Demolition City, Queen City, and NEO remaining on their schedule. The Ohio Roller Girls are coming off their best season ever, a 4th place finish in the former North Central region and one spot short of their first ever trip to the championship tournament. In 2012 OHRG set two WFTDA records during their improbable run during the season: the most bouts played in a season (25), and the most victories in a season (21, which eclipsed the previous record of 20 victories set by Montreal). Last year, OHRG went 20-1 during the regular season, then scored an upset victory as they defeated Arch Rival (St. Louis, MO) in the first round of the regional playoffs 142-132. Following the Arch Rival win, Ohio nearly scored one of the biggest upsets ever in the North Central as they fought Windy City (Chicago, IL) to the very end before coming up short 187-135. OHRG then ran into a motivated and talented Naptown (Indianapolis, IN) team who soundly defeated the girls from Columbus 222-86 to earn Naptown a second consecutive trip to championships. Including a post-season loss to Detroit (159-129) that counts toward their 2013 record, the Ohio Roller Girls have lost three consecutive bouts, something they haven’t done since losing five in a row back in 2010 (Grand Raggidy, Naptown twice, Nashville, and Omaha). Ohio will be looking to recapture the success they had during last year’s season as they try to put their first tally mark in the victory column during their home opener against Burning River. OHRG All Stars, led by captain Phoenix Bunz, remains veteran-heavy with the returning Amy Spears, Kitty Liquorbottom, HellionBoi, Pippi RipYourStockings, and Bratislava Bruiser. The addition of second year skater The Smacktivist to the jammer rotation will add a touch of depth to Ohio’s rotation.
In the second bout of the afternoon, Ohio’s Gang Green will take the track as they host Bleeding Heartland’s Code Blue Assassins. Last season, Gang Green had arguably one of the best seasons ever, posting a record of 13-3. More importantly, their three losses were by a combined 27 points, so they were very close to running the table to an undefeated season. Unfortunately for Gang Green, one of those losses came at the hands of the Bleeding Heartland Code Blue Assassins 102-108, during an away game in Bloomington. This will be Gang Green’s second bout of the season as they lost to Detroit’s Motor City Disassembly Line in October 118-155; however, it will be the Code Blue Assassins’ fifth bout of their 2013 campaign. The Code Blue Assassins are currently 2-2 this season with victories against the Ft. Wayne SWAT Team (Ft. Wayne, IN) 212-130 and the Grand Raggidy G-Rap Attack (Grand Rapids, MI) 164-161. Their two losses came against very good competition in the Charm City Junkyard Dolls (Baltimore, MD) 148-296 and Nashville (Nashville, TN) 111-212. Gang Green will feature a core of returning players like Pearl Rogi, Paige Bleed, Bigg Rigg, Blitz Lemon, and Angla Vyle. They will however have to replace last years’ leading scorer, The Smacktivist, as she has been promoted to play exclusively with Ohio’s charter team. One skater to keep your eye on will be Elektra Magneto, a new addition to Gang Green. Elektra Magneto is an exciting transfer skater from NEO (Akron, OH) who can play in both the pack and as a jammer. Elektra adds a different dynamic to Gang Green as her teammates voted her team captain in her first full year with the team.
The third and final bout of the evening will once again feature the OHRG All Stars, this time as they compete against the Bleeding Heartland Flatliners. Hailing out of Bloomington, Indiana, the Flatliners are a team positioned to make a lot of noise in WFTDA this season. Getting better with each season, the Bleeding Heartland Rollergirls finished 2012 with a record of 2-7, but finished 11th in last year’s North Central, one position away from making their first ever trip to the regional playoffs. Their high rank was mainly attributed to their strength of schedule, not necessarily their win-loss record. With the sour taste of just missing the playoffs last season, the Bleeding Heartland Flatliners have started 2013 with a fury of action, having played three bouts in a three week timespan. With a record of 2-1, the Flatliners posted victories against Ft. Wayne (180-117) and Old Capitol City (320-74). Bleeding Heartland was so dominant during their victory over Old Capitol City that during the first period of play, the Flatliners rattled off scoring runs of 75-0 and 86-0. Jammers Nuck L. Sammie scored 111 points and Kaka Caliente added 94 of her own during the onslaught. The Flatliners’ only loss came to Naptown (211-85), in a game where the bout was still relatively close at halftime before Bleeding Heartland ran out of gas midway through the second period due to Naptown’s frantic pack pace. Bleeding Heartland will add one additional bout to their repertoire before their bout against Ohio as they take on the Cincinnati Rollergirls on March 2nd in Indiana. The Flatliners truly appear to be a team headed in the right direction if their season to date is any indication on how the rest of 2013 will look. Bleeding Heartland is led by jammers Nuck L. Sammie, Kaka Caliente, and Terror D’Bits. . Their pack will be anchored by blockers Manda Runyon, Shock ‘n’ Roll, Bobbi McGuillotine, and Shifty McGee. Ohio has never lost to the Flatliners; however, their 3-0 record against Bleeding Heartland has been close, winning by only 67 points cumulatively over those three bouts. These two teams first played in 2010 when Ohio was victorious 97-67. They played again in 2011 when Ohio again took the “W” 120-108, and made it 3-0 in 2012 after posting a 25 point win, 115-90, in a bout that literally came down to the final jam. The physicality and style of play by both Ohio and Bleeding Heartland are so similar, which has resulted in three closely contested bouts between these interstate rivals.
The Ohio Roller Girls have committed themselves to playing the best of the best in 2013. Ohio already has bouts scheduled against the Philly Roller Girls, the Charm City Roller Girls, and the Atlanta Rollergirls, all three of which finished in the top 12 in the world last season. Additionally, OHRG has scheduled upcoming bouts against 10 teams that appeared in their respective regional playoffs last year.
With this much competition this season, OHRG is excited to see you at to the Lausche Building on the Ohio State Fairgrounds on March 9th to show your support as they off their 2013 home season. The Ohio Roller Girls have also partnered up with the American Heart Association for this triple-header, and fans will also have the opportunity to purchase a special ticket with the extra proceeds going to the American Heart Association.
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Photo by Dorn Byg.