Many things were on the line in the second-to-last game of 2016 International WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs Montréal: a medal, third place, a winning record at the tournament, and — most importantly — a trip to the 2016 International WFTDA Championships. Montréal Roller Derby from Montréal, Québec, Canada, has finished fourth in two of the past three years, and taking the win at home would make any previous heartbreak forgotten. Bay Area Derby from Oakland, California, has gone to Championships all but two years in the WFTDA’s history. Montréal, after so many fourth-place finishes, managed to best the perennial Champs contender, Bay Area, and booked the first trip to Championships for a Division 1 Canadian team.
The crowd was deafening as the Montréal jammers earned the first four lead jammers of the game. Miracle Whips, Falcon Punch, TerminateHer and The Honey Badger brought the Canadians to a 12-0 lead to start the game. April Bloodgate earned Bay Area’s first lead jammer status to put the Californians on the board with 8 points. Huck Sinn took the lead for Bay Area the very next jam with 15 points of her own, but a two-minute jam followed with both teams picking up points, leaving the scoreboard a tight 31-27 for Bay Area with ten minutes gone.
Two back-to-back leads for Montréal and back-to-back star passes for Bay Area brought the score within two points with fewer than fifteen minutes left in the half. Montréal would retake the lead on the next jam with a 4-0 by Falcon Punch, but Bay Area had the playoff experience to stay calm despite Montréal’s stiff competition. Eva Menace scored 12 points while TerminateHer was stuck behind a staggered Bay Area four wall, asserting Bay Area’s dominance on the scoreboard, 55-47. The crowd rallied behind the home team and Montréal jammer Miracle Whips showed her long jump skills a jam later, picking up four points by passing the entire pack in the air on a straightaway and making it a one-point game once more.
After trading scoring passes for the next seven minutes, the final jam of the half saw Montréal pull away with a 17-0 jam by Falcon Punch, punching her way through the gaps in Bay Area’s four-wall defense. The Canadians held the lead at halftime, 89-69.
As Bay Area made some adjustments for the second half, successful pivot Brawllen Angel moved into the jammer rotation as Pressure Cooker cooled her heels after picking up penalties in the first half. Brawllen Angel saw enormous success with the jammer cover, earning Bay Area’s first lead of the half in the third jam and closing the score to 104-75. Her absence from the blocking lines was noticed, though, and Bay Area’s blockers looked more frantic and frenetic than they had in the first period. Given Montréal’s fast footwork, this resulted in a higher lead jammer percentage for the Canadians as they danced their way through packs. They increased their lead to 124-85 before Brawllen Angel took the jammer line once more and mimicked her first jammer appearance to start Bay Area’s crawl back to even the score.
Bay Area took the next three jams 26-11 as Bay Area’s blockers wheedled penalties from Montréal’s jammers, bringing the score within 12 points to 142-130 with ten minutes left in the game. Bay Area found ways to shut down Montreal’s Miracle Whips, forcing her to pass the star in multiple jams, but Honey Badger and Falcon Punch stepped up and kept Montréal’s lead growing until the last three jams. With just over five minutes to go, Pressure Cooker won a jam 8-5 when Miracle Whips went to the penalty box for hitting a downed skater, putting points on the board and giving Bay Area momentum. Bay Area snatched the next jam, too, as Brawllen Angel won the jam 13-8 with Falcon Punch sitting the penalty box, bringing the game to just a handful of points as the game clock dwindled.
With only a 10-point gap between the two teams in what would turn out to be the last jam, April Bloodgate donned the star for Bay Area as Montréal darling Miracle Whips did the same for her team. Miracle Whips earned lead, but April Bloodgate broke out of the pack right behind her. Miracle Whips slowed the Bay Area jammer just long enough to allow Why So Sirius, Surgical Strike, Al K Traz, and Cracker Jass to suck the Bay Area jammer back into the pack, trapping her while Miracle Whips whizzed through the pack. On her second scoring pass, Miracle Whips once more played defense to drawApril Bloodgate all the way around the track after hitting her out. After grabbing a few more points and killing the remaining time in the period, Miracle Whips called the jam off with no time left on the game clock to send Montréal to Champs.
Montréal Roller Derby (#4) 178 3rd Place
Bay Area Derby (#3) 166 4th Place