Minnesota RollerGirls’ Season 15 Semifinals Set the Stage for the Home-Team Championship

The regular 2018–2019 season of the Minnesota RollerGirls ended back in January on a frigid night, with the Rockits defeating the Dagger Dolls as expected and the Atomic Bombshells winning over the Garda Belts. In February, things couldn’t have been faster as four teams fought to survive in the fierce arena of rolling battle that is the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium. Here’s how the Survival of the Fastest semifinals went down.

JoJo Juk’Em coming in for a scoring pass during Survival of the Fastest.

Rockits vs. Dagger Dolls, First Half

In the first game of the night, the heavily favored Rockits—first seed coming out of the regular season—husbanded their effort through the first eight minutes of clock time. A tenacious defense on both sides kept the score close through six jams, sitting at 22–16 going into Jam 7.

By the end of Jam 7, however, the momentum had completely changed. A quick lead jam by Jacked Pipes over Little Rascal got the Rockits’ their first lead jammer status of the game as Pipes rolled off 20 points in 1:15 on her way to a 23-point jam, finishing it on her next pass with 15:45 to go in the half for a 39–22 score. Little Rascal, sitting in the penalty box at the start of Jam 8, faced off against Bri Zuss, with the veteran Rockit jammer quickly getting lead on the opposing team and rolling off four points of her own before Rascal forced the call-off; between jams, NexJen took the opportunity to tie her skate in the penalty box.

A line of five Rockits lead jams was only interrupted in Jam 10 by JoJo Juk’Em taking off her helmet cover, mistakenly believing that lead had been called for a penalized itchesbtrippin, who went to the box on a track cut. With two minutes, sturdy defensive play took over from flashy hit-and-quit offense to keep the two jammers to just 9 points for Jojo and 6 for itches, bringing the score to 53–29.

Jam 13 saw Thimbleberry Slam take back lead jammer for the Dagger Dolls over anne T. fascism, grabbing a quick single point, followed by Bri Zuss taking it back in Jam 14 for four. After a 3-point jam by Jojo Juk’Em, the Dolls, down 77–30, wisely took a time-out to settle their strategy for the last five minutes of the first period. During the time-out, Rockits Scarmen Hellectra, BerNasty, Whacks Poetic, Moose Def-initely (the next jam’s jammer) and MeshugEnough danced with Ms. ROCKITBOT on the track while their opponents planned and their bench made adjustments. The Dolls’ time-out did the trick, getting Shock Therapy a lead jam and stuffing Moose, giving Team Pink a badly needed 12–2 jam to chip the lead down to 77–42.

With 2:45 left in the first half of play, the Dolls had clawed their way back into the game but now had to play Jam 17 with itchesbtrippin against Jacked Pipes, and with Jackie in the lead, itches handed her star to Demoraliza to force a call-off after only a score of 4 for the Rockits. With an 11–0 Jam 18 by Rockits veteran Bri Zuss, the score at halftime was 94–42 in the favor of the veterans in red. Could the Dolls rally after such a dominating first half?

Halftime Score: Rockits lead, 94–42

Atomic Bombshells vs. Garda Belts, First Half

In their last regular-season matchup, the Bombshells and the Gardas had proven themselves evenly matched, with the lead changing back and forth during the game, so both teams were prepared for a spirited rematch. After the teams’ rollouts, the Bombshells started the game in excellent form. Peppers grabbed lead jam on Jam 1 against Switch Please, grabbing a quick four; Delilah Diamond returned the favor in Jam 2 and T-Wrecks in Jam 3.

Jam 4 brought to the line Homo Erratic for the Bombshells and Switch Please for the Gardas. Switch wasted no time running on her toe stops along the outside line, dropping to her wheels after lead jam was called with less than a second elapsed while Rat struggled against Gay of Reckoning on the inside for several seconds. With Rat trapped between a rotating wall of G-Reck, Blue Bear, and Crust Almighty, Switch took two scoring passes to put the Gardas up for the first time in the game, 12–8.

In the next jam, both jammers got out early with Delilah Diamond getting lead; to avoid risking her team’s early lead, Delilah called off the jam as they hit the back of the pack, adding only 1 point to the score. Ida Sockher added 3 more points, bringing the score to 16–8 and bringing up Peppers and Switch. A quick, inconclusive jam ended up with Peppers calling it off after getting out of the pack just before Switch, but Switch playing jammer defense against her.

In Jam 8, however, the strategic freezing of two Garda blockers in the box—Crust Almighty and Obscene Sheen, both veterans—backfired on the Bombshells, with La Víbora and Baller successfully holding T-Wrecks at bay for the critical seconds needed to free their teammates from the penalty box. Once free, Delilah Diamond rampaged through her first scoring pass, barely touched, and her second defeated Barbell Fett, Pitch Slap, and SugarBEATdown, sending captain Chocolate Pain to the penalty box on a direction of play penalty. C-Pain served her penalty and got back on the track but returned to the sin bin between jams on a forearm call.

Going into Jam 9 with a one-blocker disadvantage, Homo Erratic took a lead jam on Switch Please and traded 4-point passes between the two tall jammers, bringing the scores up to 48–20 at the midway point of the first period. In the box at the end of the jam, Anita Spankston grabbed a placard declaring herself “Not Guilty.” We believe you, Spanky, but the refs don’t!

Racing out of the pack after a delay of game charged to Garda Belts captain Crust Almighty, Peppers got lead and took 4 points before going to the penalty box on a track cut for 30 seconds. A second track cut froze Peppers in the box between jams, giving the Gardas a power start in Jam 11. Three jams of strong skating had brought the Bombshells up to 30–58 with just over 10 minutes to go.

In Jam 13, with just five minutes to go and a lead of 93–42, Switch Please earned a rare back-block penalty and 30 seconds to sit and contemplate her actions, leaving the Bombshells’ T-Wrecks with 30 seconds of scoring time, but the veteran Garda blockers killed the penalty for Switch, who returned to the track with enough time to bring her team past the century mark. A star pass from T-Wrecks to pivot Madame De Stompadour brought the Bombshells up to 8 on the jam for a total score of 105–50 at just over 3:30 before the half. Peppers followed up with a lead jam but only scored 2 for the Bombshells, bringing them up to 52.

In Jam 16 and the final jam of the half, Switch drew another jammer penalty moments after being whistled lead jammer, ending the half on a two-minute jam starting with Homo Erratic’s power jam and into halftime, a monster 24-point jam by Rat, answered by only 12 by Switch, brought the halftime score to Garda Belts 125, Atomic Bombshells 76.

Would the Bombshells have enough juice to come back in the second and force a third consecutive championship game with the Rockits? Find out soon!

Halftime Score: Garda Belts lead, 125–76

Rockits vs. Dagger Dolls, Second Half

Returning to the track after the Purple Funk Metropolis halftime show, the Rockits and Dolls took the track with the Dolls in second by a hair over 50 points. But for at least one jam, it looked as though things might be different for the Dolls in this half, with itchesbtrippin grabbing a quick lead and 4 points in the first jam and holding the Rockits off. The next few minutes would tell a different story, however, as no lead was gained in the next two jams, rolling five precious minutes off the game clock that the Dolls could ill afford to spend against their veteran opponents. Worse for the Dolls’ Little Rascal, she started Jam 4 in the box after a jammer penalty in Jam 3, jamming against Rockit veteran Jacked Pipes, who burst out on the jam-starting whistle to take lead jam before passing the pivot line.

With several lengthy jams in a row, the Rockits expertly rolled off five and a half more minutes with just three jams, padding their score out to a 145–60 lead with consecutive lead jams and expert blocking. Jacked Pipes, Jojo Juk’Em, and anne T. fascism each rolled off jams of at least a minute. Jam 7 saw a rarity, as 14-season veteran MeshugEnough came out with the jammer star and got lead jammer, but Whoopsie Daisy got out as well, managing to close a 145–60 gap to bring the game score up to 155–72 with 12 minutes remaining in regulation time.

At 8 minutes remaining in the game, the Dolls sent Kung POW Bitchin’, Val Kyrie, and pivot Demoraliza to the line, supporting jammer itchesbtrippin (with blocker Pretty Rackless in the box) against Rockits veterans. Bri Zuss easily took lead, and itches went to the box with a track cut (twice!) during this jam to put the Dagger Dolls down by 90 with 6 minutes to play.

With the game firmly out of reach for the Dolls, Rockit anne T. fascism put an exclamation point on a stellar night by racking up 17 for her team to put them in sight of the double-century mark. The Dagger Dolls froze the clock, using one of their two remaining time-outs with 3:47 to go in the game. Jam 12 saw Jojo Juk’Em put the Rockits over 200 points.

With 55 seconds remaining and Demoraliza thinking about what sins one woman could commit in a single jam to strand her in the penalty box, NextJen finished strong, scoring another 4 points and calling off the last jam as time expired.

Final Score: Rockits 208, Dagger Dolls 85

Atomic Bombshells vs. Garda Belts, Second Half

Coming out of halftime, with the championship game on the line, the Atomic Bombshells—a great second-half team—sent Peppers to the line for the first jam. She immediately got lead jam, while Delilah Diamond struggled against the tough, disciplined wall of Diamond Rough, Chocolate Pain, and Homo Erratic. Diamond got out of the pack just past turn 2, limiting the Bombshells’ initial run to just four points. After a pair of inconclusive hit-and-quit jams, the Bombshells took the first double-digit lead jam of the half on the skates of Peppers, as she took two and a half scoring passes for 10 points to 4 for Delilah Diamond.

Jam 7 saw a rare sight: Madame De Stompadour, normally a blocker, took the jammer star for the Atomic Bombshells. Jamming like a wrecking ball, she scored 7 points, bringing the Bombshells over the century mark. In Jam 9, Peppers and Switch Please, two of the best jammers of Season 15, faced off. Switch, using some of her trademark off-the-line jammer offense, knocked Peppers out of bounds and forced a recycle, getting lead. But Peppers managed to score more points than Switch, who called off the jam after Peppers’s second scoring pass, giving the Bombshells an 8–7 lead on that jam.

At the end of Jam 10, the Garda Belts took a team time-out to have a quick strategy session, having been outscored by the Bombshells 50–35 in the first half of the period. They sent Switch Please back to the track, once again lining up against Homo Erratic. Paired track cuts against the jammers led to Rat sitting in the box across to Jam 12, with Delilah Diamond on the line for the Gardas.

This didn’t stop Rat from getting lead jammer out of the box, with Delilah close on her heels in Jam 14. With time grinding down, however, the Bombshells had only closed to 34 points of the lead. Not insurmountable, but difficult. During the final six minutes, the Gardas successfully held off the surging Bombshells through a series of quick hit-and-quit lead jams, making the ticking clock and 30-second setup times the Bombshells’ worst enemy in the game. The Gardas’ killing a penalty in Jam 15 largely closed the door.

Saving the best for last, Homo Erratic and Switch Please faced each other one last time in Jam 18, and though Rat gained lead early and scored more often, there was too much of a deficit to make up in that last jam; Switch didn’t disappoint the Gardas’ fans either, scoring 14 points to the Bombshells’ 24. The Bombshells fought hard and never ran out of heart, but in the end, they ran out of time.

But what a comeback. Though it fell short, the Bombshells’ rebound from a daunting point differential at halftime was a valiant effort. The team in orange may have fallen short of the championship game this year, with a Golden Skate threepeat in recent history, and even with a great deal of personnel turnover in the last year, but they are still a force to be reckoned with in the Minnesota RollerGirls.

The Garda Belts have been underdogs all season long. Losing two of three in the home season, they were seen before the game as facing long odds, their only win coming against a Dagger Dolls team that has had even more turnover in the last two years than they did. But they put the Bombshells firmly in the rearview mirror early in the first half, and though the Bombshells made up much of the point deficit in the second half, the Gardas did what they had to in order to pull out the win.

Final Score: Garda Belts 202, Atomic Bombshells 182

What’s Next: Skate Like UCare League Championships (March 30, 2019)

March 30’s home-team championship will see Rockits vs. Garda Belts and Atomic Bombshells vs. Dagger Dolls with a special preshow scrimmage by the Minnesota RollerGirls Frostbite!

Preshow: The Minnesota RollerGirls Frostbite juniors team will be skating the preshow. Whitney Houston once sang that the children are our future, and these young skaters, after a year of training, are ready to show their skills in an intramural scrimmage. Be early and see the future!

Rockits: The Rockits have their most difficult task ahead of them, believe it or not. While they’ve defeated the Garda Belts in both of their meetings this season, the final game is where it all comes down, and the Rockits have been there two times in the last three years and come away empty-handed both times. Will it be third time the charm for them? With possibly more than half the team, including former DebuTaunts BerNasty, NextJen, and Hater Tot, taking their final skate-out on March 30, it’s do-or-die time for a lot of veteran Rockits!

Garda Belts: The Gardas can taste this championship. They have risen from serious cross-season turnover and a December drubbing by the Rockits to return to the championship game for the third time in five years. After taking it in 2014 and missing on the final jam in 2016, they have their best shot in years—but it’s a shot that goes through the most experienced and disciplined team in the league. Conventional wisdom has the Gardas finishing second, but this unconventional incarnation of the Garda Belts, including former Rockit Obscene Sheen, may just have some surprises in hand.

Atomic Bombshells: While they may have come up short in their comeback against the surging Gardas in the semifinal game, the Bombshells are absolutely a force in this league. They may have a reputation as the “mom friends” of the RollerGirls, but there is nothing soft about them, and they may well be more than the Dagger Dolls can handle. This will be the last game for Bombshell fan favorite Diamond Rough.

Dagger Dolls: Unquestionably underdogs. Always fighting. Zero for the year, the Dolls are looking to face down long odds and eke out a win in this third-place game to avoid a second consecutive last-place finish. Look to second-year teammates and All-Stars like itchesbtrippin and Esmerhellda for on-track leadership, with veterans like Kung Pow Bitchen, transfer Thimbleberry Slam, and rookies like Val Kyrie, Pretty Rackless, Quentin Tearintoyou, and Ollie Obliterate providing muscle and speed.

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