Minnesota RollerGirls Kick Off the Season with Planet of the Skates

We are in October, which means it was time to return to the hallowed and legendary halls of the Roy Wilkins Auditorium for the Minnesota RollerGirls season-opening mini tournament on October 13, 2018! For this bout, Sugar BEATdown’s husband, Swedish Meatbrawl, takes over as track maintenance engineer Wet Spot 3.0, as 2.0 takes a welcome vacation. Welcome to the track, Wet Spot 3.0!

Where there might be an ambiguity, “bout” refers to the event as a whole, “game” to the individual competitions that make up the bout.

The 17 members of the Garda Belts roller derby team skating on a flat roller derby track. Ida Sockher in the lead carries a green flag, Switch Please in the back riding a broomstick.

The Garda Belts roll out for their first game against the Atomic Bombshells.

Bout 1: Rockits vs. Dagger Dolls

This game showcased the differences between a team that has had a mostly stable lineup for the last two years and a team whose lineup has been in constant flux since 2015. While the Dolls played very well, the Rockits’ communication game was just that much better, and that developed a game-long trend: the Rockits got far more lead jams, fewer penalties, and more hit-outs, and they simply played like skaters who have been together for years. The Dolls led for only one jam early on, with itchesbtrippin taking a quick four after her team held Rockits jammer (and former Dagger Doll) Jacked Pipes to a single point in the first jam; 23 points by Pipes in Jam 5 put the game away for good. Doll itchesbtrippin had the best showing against the Rockits in the first half of the game, getting two lead jams out of her first three appearances to put 8 of the Dolls’ only 13 points in the first 12.5 minutes on the board.

An official timeout froze the clock for a couple of minutes at 10:35 while the officials made sure that penalties and points lined up and, just before Jam 10, brought out a Minnesota RollerGirls tradition for the first time this young season: the dance-off. Jammers Jojo Juk’Em and Little Rascal did the Hustle! The respective walls got down! BerNasty busted some moves with team mascot Ms. Rockitbot!

In Jam 12, itchesbtrippin went to the penalty box on a track cut, giving the Rockits an insurmountable lead of 77–21 with 6 minutes and 48 seconds to play in the game, but the Dolls were not without some surprises in the waning minutes of the game, scoring 4 with amazing Shock Therapy footwork.

In the game’s final jam, Dagger Dolls rookie Little Rascal got lead jammer—and then lost it on a track cut in her first scoring pass, resulting in a two-minute jam in which Rascal scored 10 to 20 for Jojo, bringing the game to a close.

Jam of the Game: Jam 19. Bonus derby is always a lot of fun, and with neither jammer able to call off the jam, it went to the natural conclusion, a minute and a half after the end of regulation. Unlike many two-minute jams, neither jammer ended up grinding fruitlessly against the other team’s wall, resulting in a tense race between Rascal and Jojo for those final points.

Final Score: Rockits 110, Dagger Dolls 41. In roller derby we often say that the final score doesn’t always reflect the competitiveness of the game on the track, and it was definitely true in this game. While the veteran Rockit jammers often were able to call off the jam before the Dolls scored any points at all, resulting in an apparent blowout, the Dolls played very well and pressured the Rockits effectively. This game truly was a competition of youth and skill against age and experience; and while age and experience won, youth and skill certainly got their licks in.

Bout 2: Atomic Bombshells vs. Garda Belts

The Bombshells raced out to an early lead, scoring 12 in the first two jams before the Gardas could respond with a 4-point Switch Please jam, putting themselves on the board in Jam 3. At the seven-minute mark the Bombshells were up 23–17. This would set the stage for the entire game, with the two teams neck and neck or close to it for virtually the entire 25 minutes.

In Jam 9, Homo Erratic and Switch Please went head to head. Rat earned lead jam after a Diamond Rough tap-out knocked Switch into the ref lane. Switch quickly got out afterward, and the jammer-on-jammer action ended relatively inconclusively, with Rat scoring 3 points before calling it off.

Second-year Garda Belt Delilah Diamond, on the line for the first time in the game, quickly sailed through the Bombshells wall on her initial pass during Jam 11. Out of the entire game, only in this jam did any skater on either team make it look easy, as Di made scoring pass after scoring pass, earning a lead change at 11:48 and then putting up 10 more points before time expired.

Just as things were looking up for the Gardas, however, disaster struck and Jam 12 was cut short after just five seconds as a bad fall by Garda Belts rookie RamPaige resulted in her exiting the track with an injured wrist. She did not return during the bout and afterwards showed off a newly casted arm on Facebook. Get well soon, RamPaige!

In Jam 14, tiny but mighty Bombshells second-year skater T-Wrecks charged back, bringing the Bombshells back in the lead 54–50 on a 6-point jam. The T-rex may have had tiny and useless arms, but T-Wrecks’s are powerful enough to gather in all those points.

The Gardas took their final lead of the game in Jam 16 by Switch Please, 59–56, followed up by Lazy Susan taking the lead back for good in the following jam, 64–62. With the last five minutes of the game and a matchup with the Rockits in the game for the Gilded Steak in the offing, the Bombshells chipped up points wherever they could. In Jam 19, they went over the final point total of the Gardas, 73–67. With only two minutes left, Peppers and Switch took the line for their respective teams in a classic matchup of smol versus tol, with Switch taking lead jammer. Unable to significantly capitalize on her advantage, Switch called it off with only 1:20 left on the clock, completing one scoring pass and getting the Gardas’ last 4 points of the game. In Jam 22, the final jam of the game, Garda veteran Ida Sockher went to the penalty box with only 22 seconds remaining in regulation, allowing Bombshell rookie jammer Lazy Susan the opportunity to take 6 additional points and call off the jam before she could get back in the game, freezing the final score at 79 to 71.

And with that, the stage was set for the second half of the bout, with the Bombshells to play the Rockits for the coveted Gilded Steak, and the Garda Belts playing the Dagger Dolls for third place.

Jam of the Game: Jam 11. Second-year Garda Belt jammer Delilah Diamond’s impressive 20-point power jam against second-year Bombshell Wheelie Nelson set the stage for an incredibly tense and exciting second half of the period.

Final Score: Atomic Bombshells 79, Garda Belts 71

Bout 3: Third-Place Game

Coming back from halftime, the rested Dagger Dolls came in against the Garda Belts for a tense third-place game. Since nobody likes to finish the mini tournament without a win, even if the games in Bout 1 don’t count for season standings, both teams had a lot on the line, and they played their hearts out for 25 minutes. To start the game, Shock Therapy got out for her first lead jam in the first jam against Switch Please and scored 4 points before calling it off, keeping Switch from scoring at all.

Over the first nine minutes of the game, the Dolls got a series of lead jammers, with the Gardas scoring only occasionally, including a perfect run of seven Dagger Doll leads in seven jams over the first seven minutes, until Garda Belt veteran Ida Sockher got her team’s first lead jam with 17:14 left in the period and subsequently their first 3 points against rookie (and former Violent Femme) Val Kyrie. At 11:30, in Jam 12, Switch Please followed it up with only the team’s second lead jam, and their first major point-scoring run, racking up 14 with BB-SK8 on the line for the Dollies. (BB-SK8 passed the star to Thimbleberry Slam during the jam, and T-Slam scored 4 before Switch called it off.)

For the final seven minutes, the Gardas chipped away at the Dagger Dolls lead, and if they had gotten a second half, they would have been in good position to follow up after halftime. During the final jam, Switch Please didn’t quite receive lead jammer status despite getting out first. She did, however, score her team’s last 4 points.

In the end, the Dolls took away their first win of the season (and their first home win since Season 13), capitalizing on opportunities given to put away the Gardas 74–61.

Jam of the Game: While no jam was individually crucial due to the Dolls leading from end to end, Jam 2 was an excellent jam by the Dolls’ top jammer of this bout, All-Star itchesbtrippin.

Final Score: Dagger Dolls 74, Garda Belts 61

Bout 4: Mini Tournament Gilded Steak Championship

Some of the defining moments of the last three seasons have come in games between Orange and Red. The Bombshells are looking this season to prove that even with major turnover they can continue their winning ways, racking up Ws and Golden Skate trophies. The Rockits are looking to seal the deal that they started two seasons ago and take the Golden Skate, which they last hoisted in 2011. The Gilded Steak victor in three of the last four seasons, the Rockits have come in second in three of those four seasons as well.

For almost half of the game, however, the Rockits put in a great deal of effort with very little to show for it as the Bombshells dominated the first five jams of the game by a score of 57–9. Jam 6 turned out to be a critical turning point as Jacked Pipes of the Rockits blasted out to lead jammer before Turn 1 on a jammer penalty to Bombshells rookie Velvet Wench. Pipes, who last season committed a pivotal penalty in the championship game, capitalized on Velvet’s misfortune, turning in a monster 18–0 jam to bring the Rockits within striking distance. In Jams 7 and 8, the Rockits were outscored merely 6–1.

Jams 9 through 12 saw the Rockits chip away at the Bombshells lead, getting within 30 with less than eight minutes to play. Yet with eight minutes to play, Team Red was still down a daunting 20 points. Chipping the lead down to only 76–72 into the 17th jam, Pipes gave the Rockits the lead at 98–79 by the end of that jam. The Bombshells, however, would not go down without a fight, scoring another 4 in the next and final jam. Despite losing the Gilded Steak in the last two jams, the Bombshells fought to the end and reminded everyone that after winning the Golden Skate three years in a row, they are not a team to be taken lightly.

Jam of the Game: Unquestionably, the most important jam of this game was Jam 17, which put the Rockits over the top after struggling for the entire game to get back into a competitive position. If the Rockits can put together big jams like that at critical moments, they have a huge chance of finally winning the Golden Skate after seven years.

Final Score: Rockits 112, Atomic Bombshells 83. The Rockits take the Gilded Steak for the second year in a row.

Bout 1 Injury Report: Moose Def-initely (leg), Oh Geez! (leg). RamPaige (wrist)

Minnesota RollerGirls Team Rankings, Flat Track Stats

All four home teams are ranked by Flat Track Stats in North America and in the USA.

  • Rockits: 0–0, 89th
  • Atomic Bombshells: 0–0, 125th
  • Dagger Dolls: 0–0, 143rd
  • Garda Belts: 0–0, 149th

The Roy is the place to be—at least once a month! The next Minnesota RollerGirls bout is Feel the Win in Your Hair on November 17, 2018.

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