The final game of the 2016 International WFTDA Division 2 Playoffs Lansing brought the Calgary Roller Derby Association All Stars from the fifth seed (WFTDA #52) and the Charlottesville Derby Dames All Stars from the seventh seed (WFTDA #53) all the way up to the championship match. The two teams had already earned their place at the WFTDA Championships in November after ascending the bracket in undefeated performances, but this game would determine who would be going home from Lansing with a gold medal and who would take the silver.
Although the differential narrowed to just 4-points in one exciting jam, Calgary drew first blood with a quick 2-points and held onto the lead until the last whistle. Calgary’s five-jammer rotation served them well, knocking off multiple scoring passes before Charlottesville could put a single point on the board. By the end of jam 7, Calgary had scored 44 to Charlottesville’s 1—snatched by River Styx Phoenix, who earned 27 total points in the game.
If Calgary’s rotation of Kriss Myass, Easy Break Oven, Jenni Gunns, Hilary Boswell, and Roc-A-Felon was a slow-burn of endurance, speed, and footwork, pocketing points quickly in the first half, then Charlottesville was a powder keg that exploded in jams 8 and 9, much to the surprise of the Calgarians. For the first time so far in the game, Calgary found themselves without lead jammer status, and on the losing side of multiple scoring passes when their jammer Jenni Gunns was sent to the box for two separate back blocks in one jam. The Big Bangarang put 8 points on the board for Charlottesville—bringing her team’s total to 9, a full 35 behind Calgary—and called the jam with Jenni Gunns stuck in the penalty box. Boom! ShakeTheRoom wore the star for Charlottesville in the powerstart that followed, and she earned her name by busting out five scoring passes and 22 points against a Canadian defense weakened by a slew of penalties. This dramatic jam edged her team closer to Calgary’s lead—just 17 points behind. Charlottesville continued to creep up on Calgary over the course of the next two jams, when a forearm penalty sent Hilary Boswell to the box and Miller-Miller was given the chance to narrow the gap by ten more points. Despite Calgary’s attempt to regain the momentum with a timeout, River Styx Phoenix followed with a quick 4-0 for Charlottesville, bringing the score to 49-45, still in favor of Calgary.
Kriss Myass, who so far had earned lead jammer status every time she went on the track, interrupted Charlottesville’s streak by picking up lead jammer once again, along with 8 points to Boom! ShakeTheRoom’s 4, thanks to her fast feet and aggressive jukes. The score was now 57-49, Calgary.
Calgary went back to what was working for them—shutting down the Charlottesville jammers and locking in multiple scoring passes. Over the course of the next four jams, they would hold Charlottesville to 49 points, but pick up 34 of their own by capitalizing on power jams with persistent blockers and scrappy jammers. Charlottesville was handed more power jam opportunities before the end of the half, but couldn’t close the point gap, leaving Calgary to lead with 101-73 at halftime.
Charlottesville came into the second period with determination and quickly picked up lead, but a hip swivel maneuver from River Styx Phoenix during her scoring pass wasn’t enough to pick up a point, and the jam ended 0-0. When Calgary’s Easy Break Oven picked up a back block in the next jam, it looked as though the tide might be turning in Charlottesville’s favor. But Charlottesville struggled to execute their offensive plays against a resilient Calgary defense, and their jammer Boom! ShakeTheRoom was brought over the line and recycled repeatedly, only earning 5 points in the end for her efforts.
The game continued with low-scoring jams. Calgary inched ahead, maintaining their advantage by a small but increasing margin. They saw their opportunity to seal their lead in jam 30 when Tippi Headlock, making her game debut behind the jam line, got stuck on her initial pass. She fought against Calgary’s recycling and was slow to pass the star, which allowed Hilary Boswell to lap the pack three times and grab 14 points to Charlottesville’s 1, bringing the score to 136-79.
Charlottesville responded by picking up lead jammer status the next five jams in a row, along with 22 points to Calgary’s 12. Their jammers were lead for the majority of jams in the fourth quarter of the game, putting up multiple scoring passes that brought the score closer and closer to a lead change. An impressive display of stamina and grit by Charlottesville blockers The Big Bangarang, B-one Bomber, Speed Junkie, and Machete—who consistently wowed with quick and brutal edgework on the opposing jammers—gave their jammer Miller-Miller a wide-open track during a power jam when Easy Break Oven was sent to the box after picking up a back block penalty. Miller-Miller grabbed the highest point total in a single jam of the game with 29 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Calgary’s lead. Although Charlottesville rallied until the very last jam when an exhausted River Styx Phoenix put up 14 points to Kris Myass’ 2, Calgary came out ahead 189-165 and earned their spot in 1st place.
Both Calgary and Charlottesville will advance to WFTDA Championships Nov. 4-6 in Portland, Oregon, USA. They’ll be joined by Brandywine Roller Derby and the Blue Ridge Rollergirls, the 1st and 2nd place winners of the 2016 D2 Playoffs in Wichita.
Calgary Roller Derby Association (#5) 189 (First Place)
Charlottesville Derby Dames (#7) 165 (Second Place)