The Fifth Place game at 2016 International WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs Madison was the only one featuring teams playing as they were seeded coming into the tournament. Team United Roller Derby of Urbandale, IA, USA (seed #5) was looking to maintain their seeding against Helsinki Roller Derby of Helsinki, Finland (seed #6). They did maintain their seeding with dominant pack play, controlling most of the game and winning, 206-155.
Team United came out looking dominant, keeping Helsinki off the scoreboard for the first eight minutes. CROWE, The Whip, EnerGEEzer Bunny, Case Closed and Lolo Gunz scored 36 points across the first seven jams before Helsinki’s Taru Saxelin earned lead and the Finns’ first three points. The game tightened with ferocious defensive blocking on both sides, and the teams looked evenly matched with both jammers on the track. With 13 minutes in the half, Helsinki took a risk when MIA earned lead and ran a long jam against a struggling EnerGEEzer Bunny. The gamble paid off and Helsinki earned 21 points to Team United’s eight, closing the gap, 82-49. Inspired by the previous jam, Mad Malooney added another nine points to bring the Finns within 24 points of Team United. Helsinki’s luck ran out as the next jam saw a game-ending injury and penalty for Helsinki jammer Taru Saxelin.
“It was a shame because the style of play really is Taru’s type of game,” said Jori, Helsinki’s bench coach.”
Team United grew the lead and ended the half with a 113-71 lead.
The second half started with a pair of 4-0 jam wins by Team United. These were the last two jam wins United had in the first 15 minutes of the period. Helsinki blockers Vega and Nina Erwes had Lolo Gunz’ number. The Team United jammer was stuck in the box for five jams in a row with Helsinki jammers calling off the jam while she was standing every time. The score differential decreased to 153-132 in favor of Team United, but United gained lead jammer status again and EnerGEEzer Bunny ended Helsinki’s streak with a 5-0 jam and started a Team United streak. The next six jams saw a shortened Team United jammer rotation of CROWE and The Whip doing back-to-back jammer turns, earning lead against an also shortened Helsinki jammer rotation of just Mad Malooney and MIA.
“We needed the jammers with speed. We dropped to try and make it work but we just ran out of time,” said Jori, Helsinki’s bench coach.”
MIA would end The Whip’s 100 percent lead jammer status with only seven minutes left in the game and put up Helsinki’s first two points in an eight-minute stretch. The Helsinki jammers got tired and appeared sloppy as the game neared its end and Team United blockers Lolli Pop Ya and Karried Away remained relentless in their hits.
“We knew Team United was individually talented and it would be a hard game but their teamwork was surprising,” Jori said. “We played well as a team and I’m happy with how we did. The bench stayed positive and the team remained strong.”
Running long jams stopped paying off for Helsinki and the Finns were unable to close the lead losing the game 206-155 to Team United.
Team United Roller Derby (#5) 206
Helsinki Roller Derby (#6) 155