Denver Roller Derby (#2) vs. London Rollergirls (#3)
With their berths to the 2017 International WFTDA Championships Philadelphia assured, Game 12 at the 2017 International WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs Malmö pitted Denver Roller Derby of Denver, Colorado, U. S. (#2, WFTDA #5) against the London Roller Girls of London, United Kingdom (#5, WFTDA #7). The two teams had faced off once before in tournament play in 2013. At that game, Denver narrowly defeated London, 234-210. The win was by a much wider margin this time around, but the victor was the same: Denver came out on top over London Brawling, 214-102.
The final point spread belied the rough-and-tumble play that started at the first whistle. Denver blockers came out of the gate as Brawn Swanson, Akers and Garton refused to give an inch to London jammer AnDracula. By the third jam, Denver held London scoreless, putting up 11 points. Not to be outdone, however, Rogue Runner grabbed London’s first lead jammer status of the game in jam four and picked up five points. London blocker Arocha held Denver jammer Wilhelm, at the start of jam five, but Wilhelm’s fast footwork and ability to skate low allowed her to grab lead. The scoreboard stayed within reach for London for the first half of the period, as blocker Gaz, Black and Igwe worked to hold Denver blockers to minimal point gains.
Penalty troubles looked problematic for London at one point when jammer Rogue Runner had only two blockers on the track. Rogue shrugged off the disadvantage, though, and grabbed lead. Quick stepping by Denver jammer Klein allowed only a two-point gain. Jam nine resulted in no lead status to either jammer, as Wilhelm got out of the pack with a no pass, no penalty, and Trisha Smackanawa removed the star cover. That longer jam helped London turn the corner, and put the team on a bit of run, scoring 14 points in the three successive jams. Defense remained stalwart for both teams, but Denver edged the London Brawling out of 45 points as London went scoreless in jams 12-17. Denver jammer Gypin found space to pass the pack with a large apex jump, clearing all four points and denying Trisha Smackinawa any points.
Following Denver’s 45-point run, London called its first timeout with almost eight minutes left on the period clock. The brief chat helped the team staunch Denver’s run, as Jack Attack made her first appearance as jammer for London; she put up two points, followed by Rogue Runner’s nine. The score with 5:17 left to play was 76-32 in favor of Denver. London called an official review to request a back block call on Denver jammer Gypin, but the no call stood, and London did not retain its review for the period.
The period ended with London making steady, small point grabs aided by pivot Davidson who transitioned seamlessly from offense to defense while also keeping an eye on pack definition. Rogue Runner picked up 13 points in the penultimate jam of the period, followed by eight from Jack Attack. The final momentum that swung in London’s favor put the Brawling within 44 points of London, 97-53 at the half.
Hopes for a London comeback were quickly quieted as Denver jammer scored 15 in the second period’s opening jam while Rogue Runner sat in the penalty box. Two jams later, London pivot-turned-jammer Kid Block committed a forearm penalty, which also resulted in zero points for London. The drought didn’t last long, though, as Denver’s Gypin picked up back-to-back penalties — a high block and a back block — , giving Kid Block a chance to come out of the penalty box and score 10. Rogue Runner followed Block’s run with 12 of her own points. After the fifth jam, however, things went sour for London jammers as Denver blockers locked in their defense and jammers continued to make point gains, both small and large.
From jams six to 19, London scored a mere 11 points, 10 of those jams were scoreless for the British team. On the other side of the scoreboard, jammer Scald Eagle had the game-high jam with 24 points in jam nine. During the final jam of the game, Rogue Runner and the London blockers felt a surge of last-minute momentum, as the team earned 16 points. It was too little too late, however: Denver had sealed their spot in the championship game against Gotham Girls Roller Derby (#1, WFTDA #1) in Game 16 on the final day of the 2017 International WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs Malmö. The final point spread was 112 points, with Denver scoring 117 in the second period and London scoring 49.
London moves on to play tournament hosts Crime City Rollers (#4, WFTDA #12) for third place in Game 15 at 4:00 on Sunday, Central European Time.
Denver Roller Derby (seed #2, WFTDA #5) 214
London Rollergirls (seed #3, WFTDA #7) 102