2016 D2 Playoffs Wichita Game 7: Chicago Outfit (#9) vs Tucson (#6)

Tucson Roller Derby Saddletramps of Tucson, AZ, USA (seed #6, WFTDA #51) showed up early for the first game of Day 2 at the 2016 International WFTDA D2 Playoffs in Wichita, Kansas, USA to challenge the Chicago Outfit Roller Derby Syndicate of Chicago, IL, USA (seed #9, WFTDA #60) to stay out of the ninth place game, early Sunday morning. Tucson deftly worked through their jamming rotations and strong blocking to defeat the Syndicate, 220-86.

The Saddletramps, who had a narrow, three-point loss to Nashville on Friday in Game 3, hit the track with swagger in their gold and black. And they backed it up with a staggering 16 lead jammer jams out of 23 of the first half, compared to only five lead jammers for Chicago Outfit. The lead jammer status helped Tucson hold the Syndicate scoreless for 14 of the first 17 jams, limiting them to a mere 12 points during the first 24 minutes of play.

“After yesterday’s loss to Nashville, which we wanted so badly [because] it was so close, we took a second last night to honor that loss,” Tucson captain and jammer Pixie Axe said. “We worked on our mental training and decided to come back today and go to work.”

And go to work they did. The team skated together and tight, not giving the Outfit jammers any footing in turns one and two at the start whistle. Saddletramps jammers found holes on the outside of the track, as the Outfit blockers worked against themselves in the scrum starts, missing opportunities to sneak their own jammers through. Lola Blow, who both blocked and jammed for the Syndicate, managed to recycle high-scoring Tucson jammer Mystery Meat on a few occasions, but Tucson managed a 59-5 scoring run.

To say Tucson didn’t have any skating kerfuffles, though, is untrue. The team ran into penalty trouble at the close of the first period, racking up 23 minutes in the box for the half, an average of one minute per jam. In order to burn off some penalty minutes for their blockers, pivot Judo Gnomi took the star from jammers Mystery Meat and Shana Banana Hammock during two consecutive jams, effectively negating any lead jammer benefits Chicago might have gained. With only six minutes left in the first half, the Syndicate managed to nearly quadruple their score, from 12 to 44, over the course of six jams; at one point jammer Ice Hurt for Chicago scored 17 points as Mystery Meat sat in the box for a back block penalty. Tucson called for an official review on the score run from Ice Hurt, but the call (and score) remained the same.

“We realized we got into penalty trouble at the end of the first half,” Pixie Axe said. “We regrouped during the half, decided to play our game, and remembered that we can’t control everything that happens on the track. We just had to let some things go and move on.”

Taking control of the track during the start of the second period, Mystery Meat came out of the locker room to score 17 points during the first jam before getting a misconduct call on a missed apex jump. Lola Blow, the second-highest scoring jammer for the Syndicate, picked up six points while Meat sat. Despite a stronger footing in the second for Chicago Outfit, the point spread stayed nearly the same.

Syndicate blockers Pippi Long Smackings, Hero Shima, Craze, and Kat Make Me locked down their defensive blocking, giving their jammers longer to get through, and helping nearly double their team’s lead jammer status, from five lead jammers in the first to eight lead jammers in the second. The team retooled their defense at the half, and it was noticeable, as Tucson scored only one double-digit jam during second half.

High scorers for the game were Mystery Meat, scoring 72, and Death Proof with 59 for the Tucson Saddletramps; Chicago’s Ice Hurt and Lola Blow scored 38 and 36 respectively.

“Our ultimate goal was to come back and play two games today,” Pixie Axe said. “And in order to do that, we had to beat Chicago. We wanted to keep a good score and not let the little things distract us, and I think we did that.”

Tucson Roller Derby moves on to play Houston Roller Derby at 4 p.m. Saturday for a chance to play for 5th Place at the Wichita D2 Playoffs. Chicago Outfit Syndicate moves on to play for 9th Place against the loser of Game 8 at 10 a.m. Sunday.


Tucson Roller Derby (seed #6, WFTDA #51) 220
Chicago Outfit Roller Derby (seed #9, WFTDA #60) 86