DETROIT, MI-It was clear from the very start of Sunday’s fifth place game at Detroit playoffs that Wasatch Roller Derby was hungry to finish their run on as strong a note as possible. Although an impressive comeback effort was made by Bear City in the second half, Wasatch will end their weekend in the same place they finished it, maintaining their 5 seed ranking with a 203-152 win.Jammer penalties seemed to be what bedeviled the team from Berlin the most, especially in the first half, as they struggled to gain control of the game over a tight Wasatch defense. Though several jams saw multiple jammer penalties by both teams. Wasatch saw their first real opening with one particularly strong power jam opportunity given to Animal Krack-Her early in the game. Animal made short work of a disorganized Berlin pack and put 25 points on the board, giving her team a 52-4 at just 5 jams into the bout. Animal would go on to be a dark horse stand-out among the Terror’s jammer rotation, with 63 points scored in just 9 outings with the star.
Momentum was thoroughly in Wasatch’s favor after that, with five of the first six lead status calls going to the team in blue. Bear City clawed their way back for a run of four lead calls in a row after that, as Wasatch struggled with blocker penalties that left them short-handed. An out-of-the-gate back block call on Sookie Slaphouse negated a power jam they’d started with, after the first successful official review by Eff’n sent Berlin’s jammer to the box, and the team in gray was able to send Master Blaster out to pick up 10 points.
Lead calls evened out a little after that, but penalties continued to be an issue, as jammers played musical chairs with each other and packs were frequently down at least one or two blockers at any given time. When teams did have their full strength on the track, however, defense was impressive and dynamic, forcing jammers to look for offensive help to break up the impenetrable diamond formations that have become the standard in modern roller.
Toward the end of the first half, Wasatch fell into a fast-paced rhythm of either getting lead, making one scoring pass and calling it, or doing quick star passes to force Bear City to call off the jam before scoring many, if any points. The score was 107-67 in favor of Wasatch at the half.
Bear City came out hot for the second half of gameplay, but that intensity led to some scattered packs and heavy penalties, culminating in the expulsion of Master Blaster, who had already racked up 4 calls against her.
That loss seemed to serve as a bit of a wake-up call for Berlin, though, and jammer Mia Missile rose to the occasion, helping her team put a significant dent in Wasatch’s lead with agile footwork, great awareness, and strategic play. Mia put up a total of 84 points for her squad, making her the second highest scorer in the game–and all with just a 35.7 lead jam percentage.
Mia Missile and Berlin were aided in particular by Bear City blockers Catherine BeatHer Bonez, Kata Pulta, and FoXy Fuhrer, who were stand-outs for tight defensive formations, smart work as pivots, and a few spectacular hits.
For Wasatch, blockers Triple LeXXX, Ole Chole, Colonel Skirts, and Penny Slain all managed some serious damage, with Ole Chole pulling double duty as a pinch jammer as well.
Wasatch has seen heavy turnover, especially in their jammer department, since their appearance at D2 playoffs in 2014, with only Wreckless returning. Along with Stache Bot and Animal Krack-Her, we saw the makings of a new stable of jammers that included a name to watch in Sookie Slaphouse. She ended the game as the top point scorer for both teams, with 94 points over 17 jams and a 76.5 lead jammer percentage, all while never seeming to miss a beat or a chance to hop over the lines and around Berlin’s walls.
Bear City can still look at their playoff run as an impressive win, having entered as the 10 seed and now leaving as 6 after upset wins over #7 Boulder County and #3 Emerald City.
Perhaps the greatest victor of the day, however, was Wasatch’s Coach Eff’n, who won three of his four official reviews, including one that saw Bear City’s star jammer, Master Blaster, ejected from the game for an egregious back block just minutes into the second half.
That ejection represented Bear City’s struggle to settle into cohesive play, as well as the first of three total players who had to leave the track: Bear went on to lose FoXy Fyrher and Wasatch lost Bruiser Ego when both blockers hit the maximum seven penalties later in the game. All told, though, penalty totals between the two teams were fairly close, at 47 for Wasatch and 48 for Bear City.
Read more recaps, score, and brackets at Detroit Central