OHIO GAINS EXPERIENCE IN INTERNATIONAL PLAY AT ROYAL BRAWL
While short rosters proved an extra hurdle in Ohio’s path to victory over Memorial Day weekend, both the All Stars and Gang Green challenged themselves and found other successes on the track at the Royal Brawl invitational in Guelph, ON, Canada. Endurance training paid off as skaters played in as many as five games over two days, and utilizing newer talent on both teams allowed for creativity in shifting roles and pack dynamics.
SATURDAY: ROYAL CITY AND E-VILLE
Gang Green opened the action at the Victoria Road Recreation Centre on Saturday morning against the Royal City Rum Rollers (Guelph, ON, CA). While obtaining lead less often than they would have liked in the first half, Ohio jammers chased down their opponents, forcing short jams and quick call offs. Birch Slap picked up the first lead of the game, but double jammer penalties and a subsequent power start allowed the Royal City B team to quickly open a 32-point lead. Avocado ToeStop, Kegel Scout, and Belle A. Trix clumped up to contain Harley Twin while Just Jane grabbed lead status and the first four points for Gang Green. After a successful official review halfway through the first period landed the Rum Rollers jammer in the penalty box, Jane Goodfall made a 9-0 gain on the power start to give Ohio a needed boost. Birch Slap and Belle A. Trix continued to assault the Rum Rollers defense, and sharp line awareness helped Just Jane and Vyles force the opposing jammer into a track cut as halftime approached.
Birch Slap snapped up lead and four clean points to begin the second half, but as penalties piled up on both benches in jam 6, the Rum Rollers tipped over the 200-point mark. LGBTease quickly picked up lead status in jam 9, which kicked off a series of fast-paced jams and jammer foot races. While a rear tripod of Gang Green blockers locked down Beater Parker, Birch Slap fought her way out of the pack for points. Despite being at a 4-2 disadvantage, Avocado ToeStop and LGBTease stymied the Royal City jammer at the start of jam 13 long enough for Jane Goodfall to grab lead. Gang Green continued swinging with their newfound momentum, obtaining lead jammer status in 4 out of 7 remaining jams. Sliding around the pack on the outside on back-to-back scoring passes, Belle A. Trix posted 12 final points. A single scoring pass for the Rum Rollers in the last jam sealed their 315-71 win over the Ohio visitors.
Immediately following the B game, the (51) Ohio Roller Derby All Stars took the track for a first-ever pairing against the (47) E-Ville Roller Derby E-ville Dead (Edmonton, AB). The matchup proved challenging for Ohio as they adjusted to a swift and hard-hitting rotation of Canadian jammers, but gave them opportunities for bold moves. Stepping up in their first charter-level game, Belle A. Trix, Birch Slap, and Jane Goodfall provided depth in the Ohio jammer rotation along with seasoned pivot Betty T. KayO. Capitalizing on power jams when possible, the All Stars eked out handfuls of points and worked to narrow the differential in the second half. Ultimately unable to reach the lead set by the E-Ville Dead early in the game, Ohio suffered a 111-325 defeat.
After a few hours to rest and recuperate, Ohio geared up once more for an 8 p.m. game against the (59) Royal City Brute Leggers, a highly anticipated rematch after the last-second Ohio victory last May. Running up the outside on her toe stops, Paige Bleed picked up lead status in jam 2 and scored the first four points for Ohio; Birch Slap followed up with a 10-point gain on a power jam, pushing the All Stars into the lead. Ziggy Scardust retook the lead for Royal City in the following jam, but Bigg Rigg ate into it in jam 5 with 2 speedy points of her own. Ill-timed penalties on Ohio skaters allowed the Brute Leggers to expand their lead to 16 points, and on-the-fly changes to lineups forced the All Stars to adjust their game play accordingly. Amy Spears cleared an opening for Birch Slap to chase down the Royal City jammer and speed past her opponents untouched on a scoring pass. Aiming to rake in as many points as possible, both teams opted to run jams long; Belle A. Trix, Betty T. KayO, and Bigg Rigg scooped up a combined 23 points, nearly doubling the score. Paige Bleed and Kelsey Khaos stalled Ziggy Scardust, then Sarah Sexton drew her into a track cut penalty to provide a power start. With a fake to the inside and a sharp cut to the out, Bigg Rigg easily picked up lead jammer and 5 points while KloverKill and Amy Spears stopped the Royal City jammer. A power jam allowed the Brute Leggers to expand their lead to 100-59, but Ohio had a few tricks ready, deploying a star pass off the start to catch them off guard and amping up defense to hold them to an 18-point gain in the last 4 minutes of the first period. A two-minute jam full of penalties resulted in a halftime score of 59-128 in favor of Royal City.
Rushing in swinging and exploiting a handful of power jams, the Brute Leggers held Ohio scoreless over the first 6 jams of the second half while posting 48 points. Bigg Rigg sliced through the pack for the first All Stars lead status and gathered 13 points while Princess Punch picked up a penalty. Juking on her toe stops and changing directions too quickly for her opponents to follow, Birch Slap charged forward for 8 more points. A foul out further complicated things for Ohio, but they carried on, sneaking out for points and grinding defense to a halt. Jane Goodfall picked up lead and 3 points after fighting a tangle of Brute Leggers at the front of the pack; a slew of blocker penalties didn’t make life easier for either jammer in jam 14, as it took most of the jam for lead status to be awarded. Quickly snagging lead, Jane Goodfall hugged the outside line for points while Kelsey Khaos landed huge hits on Royal City players. One last two-minute jam ended the game at 106-287.
SUNDAY: QUEEN CITY AND NORTH STAR
Returning to the track first thing Sunday morning for their second game, Gang Green faced off against Queen City Roller Girls Subzero Sirens (Buffalo, NY) in a rematch from last year. The two teams wrestled over an early game lead; the Sirens posted the first 2 points of the game, but Belle A. Trix tore through the pack with fire for 4 points and a lead change in jam two. A subsequent power jam gave Queen City time to switch the lead back in their favor; LGBTease then grabbed lead while Foxy Force knocked the opposing jammer out of bounds. As the Sirens jammer headed to the penalty box, Belle A. Trix shoved Just Jane clear of the pack and into lead status for 5 points. On the power start, BrussKnuckles, Higgs Bosom, Kegel Scout, and rookie Lei D. KickAsh overwhelmed their opponents with offense to try to spring their jammer. Jane Goodfall scooped up lead status on another power start and gave Gang Green a 21-20 lead as Vyles swept blockers out of the way with devastating hits. Queen City overtook the Ohio B team in the following jam and began slowly prying open a more formidable lead, though Gang Green utilized star passes to minimize the damage. Belle A. Trix secured lead and zipped around the track untouched on a scoring pass while Birch Slap, BrussKnuckles, Foxy Force, and Sarah Sexton rotated as a unit, working Ferga-Vicious line to line. As the clock ticked down to halftime, Jane Goodfall and Belle A. Trix ran away on power jams to post a combined 17 points, bringing the score to 65-109.
Gang Green began the second period with fast, loose jamming; though unsuccessful in obtaining lead until jam 5, Birch Slap had no trouble ducking under Queen City defenders while Sheepskate and LGBTease focused on defense, and dipped out of an attempted hit by Ferga-Vicious in hot pursuit. Rolling with the momentum, Gang Green picked up lead jammer status in 6 straight jams and hauled in 45 points. While both jammers started jam 12 in the penalty box, Jane Goodfall earned lead upon returning, lapping the opposing jammer on a scoring pass. Continued jammer penalties for both teams stretched jams to their limit and allowed jammers to match points. A team timeout with 3 seconds on the game clock permitted one final jam and 9 points for Gang Green, bringing them short, 175-259.
Ohio’s final game of the weekend – and the fifth in under thirty hours for “swing” skaters Belle A. Trix, Birch Slap, Jane Goodfall, Sarah Sexton, and Vyles – took place early Sunday afternoon and set up another rematch, this time against (69) North Star. Bigg Rigg quickly opened a 5-0 lead for the All Stars, then North Star stole that lead with a 9-4 gain in jam 3. Three points for Ohio boosted them back on top, 13-12, but it would be the last time they held the lead in the competition. While driving open their lead with single scoring passes, North Star also held Ohio scoreless for several early jams, but Pain Train forced Annaconda out of bounds before taking a star pass and spinning backwards around opponents for points at the jam-ending whistle. A few multi-scoring-pass jams allowed North Star to climb further out of Ohio’s reach, but a team timeout to reset gave the All Stars a scoring boost. Betty T. KayO and BrussKnuckles ran out the half, snagging lead with the aid of perfectly timed offense by Lora “Outa My” Wayman and Pain Train.
Down 47-147 at halftime and unlikely to rebound, Ohio focused on minimizing the damage and denying points in the second half. Knocked out of bounds, BrussKnuckles sprinted past recycling blockers, then jumped and spun through a sliver of track to avoid a final hit, stay in bounds, and pick up lead and 11 points. Bigg Rigg ducked under defending hips to sneak into lead jammer status, finding 9 points while Betty T. KayO, Wayman, Paige Bleed, and Kelsey Khaos held hard against both the North Star jammer and constant offense. North Star called a timeout to interrupt Ohio’s energy, but Wayman used their blockers against their jammer while Rigg raced around the track for a 26-7 gain. A quick sprint by Paige Bleed forced North Star to call off jam 14 while scraping up a single point for Ohio. BrussKnuckles did heavy lifting in two of the last four jams, earning 29 points by speeding line to line and faking defenders into overcommitting to one line; clearing the last opposing blocker as the final four whistles blew, she brought the total to 157-269.
Ohio Roller Derby returns home to the Ohio Expo Center on Saturday, June 9th for games against Dub City (West Palm Beach, FL) and the Steel Beamers of Steel City Roller Derby (Pittsburgh, PA). Tickets available now at http://ohiorollerderby.com/tickets
Photo by Joe Mac.