The 2016 International WFTDA Division 2 Playoffs Lansing continued on Saturday with a tightly contested matchup between the sixth-seeded Nidaros Roller Derby Allstars (Trondheim, Norway) and the ninth-seeded Tri-City Roller Derby Thunder (Kitchener, Ontario, Canada). Nidaros entered the consolation bracket following a 248-143 loss to Wasatch Roller Derby (Salt Lake City, Utah). Tri-City reached the consolation bracket after a hard-fought battle with fellow international qualifier Bear City Roller Derby (Berlin, Germany) that ended 235-140. These teams had never played each other before, so the first few jams were spent measuring each other’s strengths and strategies before putting on a thrilling display of derby for those lucky enough to watch the first game of the day.
After a scoreless first jam, Nidaros took an early 5-point lead, followed by a 14-point jam by Vicious Vinnie, who came out on top of the jam despite a trip to the box for a forearm. Tri-City responded with a 14-point jam of their own courtesy of MEGAnTRON and stellar blocking by a potent combination of JANEgerous, K. Skelton, and Violent No-Regard, bringing the score to 19-23 in favor of Tri-City for the game’s first lead change. Nidaros snatched the lead back in Jam 7 as Nancy Nosebleed put up 25 unanswered points for Nidaros assisted by the tenacious blocking of Booty Badass and Yoshibitchu while Tri-City jammer Pity Affoo couldn’t stay on the track, getting boxed for a cut and then a back block upon her return to the track (48-42 Nidaros).
Not to be deterred, Pity Affoo showed off some fancy footwork, tip-toeing through the apex to maintain her lead jammer status in the tenth jam for a 14-point jam and another lead change as Tri-City came out ahead — but a late call-off provided Nidaros’ Nancy Nosebleed the chance to grab three points, keeping the score to a super-tight 58-60. Another late call-off by Tri-City resulted in a 4-4 jam, despite a significant portion of the crowd urging MEGAnTRON to call it off sooner.
With just over ten minutes left to play in the first half, Sassy KickAssy turned in a 13-point jam despite a box trip for a track cut, resulting in the game’s fourth lead change as Nidaros took the score to 75-69 when neither jammer was able to earn lead. Nidaros then held off a Tri-City charge, holding a one-point lead into the 16th jam (89-88) with two minutes remaining in the half. Tri-City captain Crazy Squirrel relied on solid offense by Smashin’ Good Time and Rain Blows Brite to manufacture a 19-point jam with hardly any time to spare, taking an 89-107 lead for Tri-City. After Nidaros called for a time out to get one more jam in the first half, jammer Knoxette was boxed for a back block. Tri-City jammer Pity Affoo capitalized on the mistake, adding 16 points to go into halftime with a 89-123 lead.
The second half saw major strategy shifts by both teams, leading to shorter jams and significantly fewer power jams. Nidaros gave up 8 power jams in the first half, but only 2 in the second half. Nidaros’s head coach, Varla Vendetta (formerly of the Windy City Rollers of Chicago, Illinois), acknowledged that Nidaros had a “way better attitude going into the second half.”
Similarly, Tri-City’s jammers gave up 5 power jams in the first half, but none in the second. Tri-City’s K. Skelton attributed this shift to “offering more consistent offense” while taking “no more risks” and “being cohesive and calm.”
Nidaros used a run of 7 lead jam calls out of the first 10 jams to bring the score within 3 points, trailing 127-130, based on the tenacious jamming of Sassy KickAssy and Nancy Nosebleed. Tri-City then used a four-jam run of their own, keeping Nidaros off the scoreboard while putting up 15 points using a three-jammer rotation of Crazy Squirrel, MEGAnTRON, and Pity Affoo to give themselves a slightly larger point cushion at 127-145. Nidaros then returned the favor, holding Tri-City to 0 points for 3 of the next 4 jams, increasing their lead to 149-138. Penalties quickly became a factor in the second half, assisting Nidaros’ Nancy Nosebleed in a 7-point jam against a short pack as Tri-City’s Andi Slamberg and JANEgerous and Nidaros’ Yoshibitchu, Booty Badass, and Agatha Crushtie all spent time in the box during that jam.
After a scary moment when Nidaros’ Nancy Nosebleed crashed into an outside pack referee after giving it her all to score a single point, the teams traded 4-point jams to maintain Tri-City’s narrow lead at 143-156. Nidaros’ Knoxette put up 13 points with just over 5 minutes remaining, but was penalized for a back block and had to watch as K. Skelton put up 5 points of her own after taking a star pass from Pity Affoo, resulting in a 5-point Tri-City lead at 156-161. Crazy Squirrel took the star for Tri-City in the 23rd jam of the half, but was only able to put up two points as Sassy KickAssy forced an early end to the jam. Nancy Nosebleed added four for Nidaros, then Sassy Kickassy put Nidaros in the lead with four of her own, 164-163.
With 13 seconds left on the clock, Tri-City took a time out to give themselves one more jam. Crazy Squirrel took the star against Nidaros’ Nancy Nosebleed and promptly earned lead jammer, but Nancy Nosebleed was close behind. On her scoring pass, Crazy Squirrel took to the air, calling off the jam just 164-167 as she landed, giving Tri-City the win in the final jam with style. Nidaros called an official review to challenge the points, but the review was denied and Tri-City earned their first upset of the D2 Playoffs.
Tri-City moves on to face the second-seeded Sac City Rollers (Sacramento, California) today at 4 p.m. EDT, who are coming off of their upset loss courtesy of the seventh-seeded Charlottesville Derby Dames on Friday. Nidaros will face the loser of the #10 Grand Raggidy Roller Derby/#4 Cincinnati Rollergirls matchup in the ninth-place bout on Sunday at 9 a.m. EDT.
Tri-City Roller Derby (#9) 167
Nidaros Roller Derby (#6) 164