The 2016 International WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs began today in Montréal, Québec, Canada. After the upsets, close games, jammer acrobatics, and blocker stalwartness of Division 2 Playoffs, the audience was eager to see what the first game of D1 Playoffs would hold, featuring first-time playoff team Kallio Rolling Rainbow of Helsinki, Finland, and the former WFTDA champion Rocky Mountain Rollergirls of Denver, Colorado. Despite a valiant comeback effort in the last few minutes, Kallio’s lack of experience both on sport court and at this level of play showed — although they doubled the number of Rocky’s lead jammer calls, strategy requiring more finesse such as clock management and star passes eluded them. Playoff veterans Rocky Mountain (#10 seed) took the win over Kallio Rolling Rainbow (#7 seed), 155-151.
Early on, Kallio showed some first time jitters and Rocky was able to take advantage. Kallio jammer Pretty Sick picked up two penalties in the first jam, which left the Rocky jammer Havoc alone on the track to score points. Once Pretty Sick was back to the bench, things got worse for Kallio. Sara Gilbert would earn four penalties while wearing the Kallio star and had to skate three jams back to back as Rocky smartly kept calling the jam with Gilbert still in the box. After ten minutes, Kallio had five jammer penalties to their name and the score favored their opponents 36-26 — but that score also demonstrated that when they had their point scorer on the track, Kallio could capitalize. Despite the glut of four early penalties, Sara Gilbert had all 26 of those points.
Kallio settled into the game a bit, but then a further penalty from Sara Gilbert for an after-the-whistle hit shook them once more. Pretty Sick then received her third penalty with eight minutes left in the half and the score gap more than doubled from just ten minutes earlier, 68-47 for Rocky. Rocky jammer Harper Bizarre was a standout in the first half, scoring 30 of the team’s points and brought the lead to 88-47 ina 20-0 jam with five minutes left in the half. A Kallio timeout to regroup proved fortuitous as the last four jams of the half went to the Finns, who scored 16 unanswered points for a halftime score of 88-63 in Rocky’s favor.
The second half started with Kallio showing same verve with which they finished the first. Shortening their jammer rotation to just three, Sara Gilbert, Pretty Sick, and Leila Gay, Kallio saw their first lead on the scoreboard with just under twenty minutes left,103-99, when Sara Gilbert put up a 19-4 jam. Unfortunately for Kallio, Gilbert also received her sixth penalty in that same jam and started in the next jam in the box. Kallio played it safe and Gilbert called it off immediately upon earning lead to avoid picking up a seventh penalty as a jammer. When Leila Gay, two jams later, was stuck in the pack while Rocky racked up points, Kallio tried a star pass — a strategy that was highly successful for Rocky at nullifying Kallio’s lead jammer advantage, but did not go as well for the Finns when Kallio tried the same. Two jams in a row with two star passes by Kallio saw Rocky retake the lead, 138-110, winning those jams 38-0.
Looking at the losing side of the scoreboard, Kallio began taking more risks as top-scoring jammer Sara Gilbert stood on the line with six penalties. The gamble paid off, and with one minute left after a 13-0 jam by Leila Gay, the Finns were within four points of the Americans, 155-151. In the final jam, Sara Gilbert again stood on the jammer line against Havoc for Rocky, and a great offensive block by Fiona Grapple gave Havoc lead for Rocky. With no timeouts left for Kallio, Havoc called the jam immediately with 21 seconds left on the period clock. Rocky Mountain celebrated as the seconds ticked down leaving no possibility of a final jam, upsetting the seventh-seeded Kallio Rolling Rainbow 155-151.
Rocky Mountain continues their quest to WFTDA Championships facing the second seed, Texas Rollergirls of Austin, Texas, at 4 p.m. EDT today. Kallio Rolling Rainbow moves to the consolation bracket and will face either Montréal Roller Derby or the Dallas Derby Devils at 12 p.m. tomorrow.
Rocky Mountain Rollergirls (#10) 155
Kallio Rolling Rainbow (#7) 151