The Terminal City Rollergirls (seed #5) had everything on the line Friday night: A shot at Champs, a winning record against their opponents, and hometown pride in front of a local crowd in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada at the 2016 International WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs Vancouver. After a heart-stopping 60 minutes of play that had the crowd roaring as Terminal City faced Philly Roller Derby (seed #4) of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it came down to just two points. Unfortunately for the hometown crowd, that final score read two points in Philly’s favor, 164-162 – although Philly’s (outnumbered) fans in the stands certainly didn’t seem to mind.
Philly snuck in the first points of the game with a 1-0 jam for Kilmartin, but with Terminal jammer Maiden Sane hot on her heels in a jam that could have encapsulated the whole game, neither team could rest easy as Terminal closed in. Philly widened its lead to 9-0 as Terminal jammer Kim Janna was stuck in what broadcast announcers called “the sad place,” an apt term for the impassible wall formed by Philly blockers Mishel Castro and Ginger Vitis. But before Philly could get too comfortable, Kim Janna snatched the lead for Terminal City’s first – and only – lead of the game, letting her own ferocious blocker core stymie Philly jammer Wolf long enough to pull the score to 19-13 in Terminal City’s favor in a single jam. Philly remedied that in the very next jam, pulling in just enough points to regain the lead with a small point cushion, 25-19.
That started a trend of the teams matching each other nearly point for point – Maiden Sane put up three for Terminal City in the next jam immediately followed by three for Philly’s Wolf, Terminal’s Drago put up seven a few minutes later and was immediately followed by nine for Wolf, and both teams had multi-pass jams late in the half with 18 points in one jam for Terminal and 24 for Philly. But Philly was able to accumulate the points just a tick faster than Terminal. Jammers for the Canadian team cleverly employed star stashes and passes to minimize damage while blockers Green Machine and Palmer destroyed Philly’s hopes of easy points, but incessant recycling from Philly’s ZipBlok and Russian Bayou gave their team the bump they needed to keep momentum in their favor. By the end of the half, Philly earned enough to maintain its lead, but not enough to stop sweating, particularly as Vancouver’s Maiden Sane and Drago put up 32 points to Philly’s five in the last four jams of the half.
The halftime reset seemed to favor Philly as they held Terminal City to just six points in the first seven jams, wedging the score to the game’s widest margin of 122-86, but it took all Philly’s strength to contain Maiden Sane — it took three bone-jarring hits from three different Philly blockers to finally carry her outside the track. Meanwhile, Vancouver was pooling its resources to drain Philly’s jammers, taking a two-minute jam to exhaust first Wolf and later pivot-turned-jammer Ginger Vitis, even though Philly had a power jam.
The game came to a lengthy pause after a messy pile-up caused both jammers to sit in the box, Maiden Sane for a gross misconduct and, after Vancouver argued and won an official review on the matter, Kilmartin for a low block. That moment to breathe was all the home team needed, as Terminal City entered a dizzying scoring run and outpaced Philly 41-8 in the next four jams, all on power jams for Maiden Sane as Bruiseberry Pie, Sundown, and Scarlett Bloodbath kept Philly’s jammers contained and tricked them into penalties.
Terminal City had cut the lead to just three points, 130-127, with 15 minutes remaining in the game, and a lead change seemed imminent – but Philly’s long tournament history came in handy as the team successfully regrouped with nary a time-out. Offense from Meryl Strip-Her and Russian Bayou helped Wolf through for two passes, calling the jam while swinging her hips around her opponents for an 8-0 pass. Now it was Philly’s turn to halt the opposing team’s momentum, holding Terminal City to eight points in eight jams as Teflon Donna positioned herself perfectly for outside-line jammer containment, much to Kim Janna’s chagrin. Even jammer Hermann Monster got in on the blocking fun while still jamming, taking the opportunity to knock Terminal City jammer Drago outside and draw her halfway around the track before the jam clock expired.
With less than five minutes left in the game, Philly had built up to a 163-135 lead and had momentum in their favor thanks to their slow but steady crawl to the top. Then again, this is roller derby – so of course a last-minute push from Vancouver was on the horizon, with Kim Janna capitalizing on a double-power-jam opportunity and aptly reading Philly’s defensive maneuvers in order to send blockers tripping over each other, grabbing 15 points. Terminal City immediately followed with an unstoppable jam for Drago, whose teammates relentlessly screened Philly jammer Kilmartin until she passed the jammer star while Drago paired with pivot Scarlett Bloodbath for much-needed points.
When Philly finally used their second timeout with just 51 seconds on the clock, more than the clock was paused – so was every heartbeat in the venue. Both teams sent power lineups out for what all suspected would be the last jam, and Hermann Monster persevered to emerge as lead jammer with 15 seconds remaining on the jam clock and a seemingly urgent need for points. But Terminal City jammer Kim Janna got overzealous in her quest to escape Philly’s blockers, cutting the track and leaving Hermann Monster in charge of the clock with a one-point lead. After a tumultuous game and with a full weekend of derby still on the line, Hermann Monsterr eked in one more point and elected to call off the jam, and the game, as the game clock expired, giving Philly a two-point gap at 164-162.
Philly moves on to play the Victorian Roller Derby League (seed #1) at 2 p.m. PDT on Saturday. Terminal City enters the consolation bracket and will play Arizona Roller Derby (seed #10) at 12 p.m. Saturday.
Philly Roller Derby 164
Terminal City Rollergirls 162