The Detroit Derby Girls from Detroit, Michigan, and Rocky Mountain Rollergirls from Denver, Colorado, had already given us some of the closest edge-of-your-seat games this weekend at the 2016 International WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs Montréal. The weekend started with a 4-point win by Rocky over the Kallio Rolling Rainbow from Helsinki, Finland. Detroit had already experienced two 25-points-or-fewer games this weekend, winning a close game against the Sun State Roller Girls from Brisbane, Australia, and losing by almost the same margin to the Dallas Derby Devils from Dallas, Texas. But the seventh-place game Sunday afternoon made those look like smooth-sailing blowouts, as the teams stayed within a few points to each other the entire 60 minutes. The win came down to single digits and came down to how many points each team had scored on an incomplete scoring pass. Ultimately, Rocky would take home the win, 196-195, and earn seventh place at the tournament.
Rocky Mountain scored first on an 8-0 jam for Havoc, Rocky’s top scorer, against Detroit’s Feta Sleeze. Jilleanne Rookard and Racer McChaseHer would both see jammer success for Detroit in the next two jams, picking up seven points and bringing the score to within one point. Fast packs and loose defensive formations allowed jammers from both teams to slice through the opposing blockers with impressive hit avoidance. A 9-0 jam for Feta Sleeze allowed Detroit to take their first lead of the game with just under ten minutes played, 29-22.
It looked like Detroit had settled into their game with blocker Meryl Slaughterburgh and Boo D. Livers picking apart Rocky’s defensive formations. Detroit’s lead grew, 69-38 — the biggest lead of the game — before Rocky would recover. Rocky’s defense started to draw penalties on Detroit jammers rather than going for the braced, grinding play we’d seen most of the weekend. Dickie and Assaultin’ Pepa pulled track cuts off of Racer McChaseHer and Jilleanne Rookard to close the score to 69-53 with 10 minutes left in the half. A long jam by Rocky’s Havoc would make it a two-point game with the Denver team picking up 16 points to Detroit’s four. The final two jams of half were both 5-0 affairs with May Q. Pay drawing Feta Sleeze into a track cut, allowing Devastator and Sweetie Ramone to earn lead and a single scoring pass before calling their jams. Rocky retook the lead in the last minute before halftime and headed to the locker room with the score 101-95 in their favor.
In every game this weekend, Detroit came back in the second half willing to try new things and adapt based on first-half play. True to form, they committed to playing more offense and running fast packs, a strategy that garnered them success in their mid-first-half comeback. In the third jam of the second half, Feta Sleeze regained the lead for Detroit with a 9-0 jam, 110-103. Detroit’s lead would grow in the next jam, with Racer McChaseHer putting up 12 points against a struggling Sweetie Ramone.
But with the commitment to offense came more blocker penalties, and the fifth jam of the half saw Rocky earn lead jammer status for the first time in the half when Detroit found themselves with a light pack due to penalties. Two jams later, a forearm by Racer McChaseHer on her way out of her initial pass opened the door for Wild E Coyote to earn lead and 16 points, switching the scoreboard in Rocky’s favor once more, 127-126. The next jam went almost identically, 15-0, but for Detroit, with Jilleanne Rookard able to use her fast and elusive jamming style on a power jam as Detroit blockers picked apart Rocky’s defense. With both teams at full strength, Rocky figured out how to play offense cleanly and got their jammer, Devastator, 15 points to Feta Sleeze’s 14 points. A follow up 3-0 jam by Havoc would bring the game back to within 10 points with 15 minutes to go, 155-145 for Detroit. The teams would spend the next five minutes trading single scoring passes to keep a tight score until an injury to Wild E Coyote, Rocky’s only returning jammer from last year, forced a long official timeout with 10 minutes left in the game.
Rocky came back rejuvenated with a coyote call. Havoc picked up lead and ran the jam long, forcing Racer McChaseHer to pass the star to Meryl Slaughterburgh. The gamble paid off to the tune of 18-4 and a lead change in Rocky’s favor. The next jam also went Rocky’s way 14-12, leaving the scoreboard at 182-176 with five minutes left. A long-jam gamble by Detroit didn’t pay off the same way as they ate precious clock time and only won the jam 6-4. Detroit started looking frantic, with Racer McChaseHer going to the box twice in two jams, which allowed Rocky to start to pull away. A star pass to Jilleanne Rookard as pivot allowed Detroit to salvage the second last jam of the game and pull the gap to just 3 points, 194-191.
The final jam saw Jilleanne Rookard facing off against Havoc, Rocky’s top scorer, on the jam line. Both jammers cut the track on their initial passes with less than two minutes left on the period clock, making it a two-minute lay-it-all-on-the-track final jam of the game. Rookard escaped the pack first, with Havoc coming back on the track as Rookard approached her first scoring pass. Coming in hot, Rookard picked up a back block penalty with just over thirty seconds left in the jam, having passed part of the Rocky pack. Havoc decided to hang out at the back of the pack after some jostling did not get her through, prioritizing clean play in the game’s final seconds. Both jammers were sitting on points, but no one but the refs knew how many until the final whistle of the game blew. As the fourth whistle went, Detroit added 4 points to their total, which would have given them the win had Havoc not had earned two points for Rocky prior to disengaging from the pack, giving Rocky the win 196-195.
Rocky Mountain Rollergirls (#10) 196 7th Place
Detroit Derby Girls (#9) 195 8th Place