Ohio Roller Derby of Columbus, OH, USA (seed #9), put up a hard fight against Helsinki Roller Derby of Helsinki, Finland (seed #6), in Game 7 of the 2016 International WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs Madison, but ultimately fell short against Helsinki’s tight defensive walls and quick jammers. Despite some penalty problems early on in the game, Helsinki finished the game with a strong 260-243 victory.
Helsinki’s blockers proved early they knew how to shut down the opposition, tightly locking down the Ohio jammer so their own jammer Taru Saxelin could score multiple grand slams to put 17 points on the board to Ohio’s 5.
The Helsinki team worked hard to slowly add points to their lead and keep Ohio shut down, but big jams by The Smacktivist throughout the game kept challenging Helsinki’s control of the scoreboard. They quickly threw 13 points on the board for Ohio in Jam 5 to narrow Helsinki’s lead to 26-21.
Jammer penalties also threatened the Helsinki lead through the game. Taru Saxelin, the big point scorer for Helsinki with 96 in the game, had repeated penalties throughout the first half. She picked up two back-to-back penalties in Jam 14, a back block penalty on her reentry in Jam 15 and then a track cut in Jam 16. As a result, The Smacktivist was able to put up 24 of their game-high 141 points in Jam 16 to bring Ohio within nine points.
When Helsinki kept all of their skaters on the track, however, they were able to quickly run away again with the score. Maiju Rinne put up 24 points of her own in Jam 18 as powerful blocking by Helsinki held Ohio’s Gorges Curves back for nearly the full two minutes of the jam. Helsinki blockers Iiris Suominen and Salla Karjalainen had particularly strong performances in the game, able to follow big hits with long run-backs to force jammers further back, and catching and holding Ohio jammers at the top of the pack, preventing them from breaking out.
The second half of the game started to shift in Ohio’s favor. More back-to-back jammer penalties by Helsinki gave Ohio skaters time to close the gap on the scoreboard. After once trailing by 50 points, Ohio took the lead 174-173 in Jam 10 after Val Holla racked up a quick four points with her first turn with the star.
The lead would be short-lived, however, as Helsinki’s skaters became more disciplined and were able to stay out of the penalty box. Rinne continued to score grand slams on Ohio jammers who remained trapped in the pack, giving the team its substantial lead back.
Big scoring jams by The Smacktivist to end the game helped put up points for Ohio, but with Helsinki’s Mad Maloony also able to get some scoring passes in, it wasn’t enough for an upset. Helsinki took a 260-243 victory.
Helsinki will go on to play the Mad Rollin’ Dolls of Madison, WI, USA (seed #10) at 4 p.m. Saturday. Ohio will play again at 10 a.m. Sunday against the losing team of Saturday’s Game 8 matchup between the No Coast Derby Girls of Lincoln, NE, USA (seed #7) and Team United Women’s Roller Derby of Urbandale, IA, USA (seed #5).
Helsinki Roller Derby (#6) 260
Ohio Roller Derby (#9) 243