OMAHA, NE — In an intensely close matchup with #2 Angel City last night, #3 Minnesota’s penalties and lack of lead status ultimately took them down. They returned today for another fierce game of derby against #4 Montréal, and this time things stayed close for the entire game. After six lead changes and a one-point game at the half, Minnesota succeeded in saving a place for themselves at their own Championship tournament in November, winning 162-134.
After a long initial pass fight, MNRG’s first-year rookie Jacked Pipes took the first lead jammer status of the game and put up five points while Mel E Juana stashed the star to get out of the pack. Shiver Me Kimbers took the jammer line next and extended their score by three more.
In their first game against Boston, Jacked Pipes led scoring with 117 points, and Yekaterina Lapitsky donned the star ten times to put up 38 points. Second Hand Smoke stuck to blocking that game, but in jam three against Montréal she showed up to score five more. That brought the score to 13-0 before The New Skids on the Block held them scoreless for three jams.
Sticking to a strict three-jammer rotation, Montréal was without Swing La Bacaisse this game, and Mel E Juana picked up their first lead call and power jam as Jacked Pipes sat in the box with her first of three forearm penalties. The Minnesota defense latched on and recycled to keep Mel to just two grand slams. Shiver Me Kimbers struggled in the pack next, dropping the star in a star pass attempt, and Miracle Whips scored a grand slam and then three more before she had to call it off, causing the first lead change at 18-13, Montréal.
After two quick jams and just three points for MNRG, Miracle Whips spun out of the pack, getting lead, but also a cut and then a low block and had to sit in the penalty box for a full minute. Following behind her was pivot Lapitsky holding the star, canceling out one of Whips’ penalties and returning to the track. In her one time on the track for Minnesota, Ohi, Scores Easy, and KonichiWOW held onto Lapitsky tightly until two blockers picked up out of play calls but one of them recycled her back. By the end, the jammers matched each other at four points a piece, making the score 22-20 Montréal.
The next lead change came from strong jamming and deft blocking on Minnesota’s part as Polly Punchkin first ran Falcon Punch back and then Sarmen Hellectra drew a cut on her, while Second Hand Smoke was onto scoring points. During her struggle in the pack however, she committed a forearm and gave Montréal a turn with a power jam. With 40 seconds left Falcon finished her initial pass and picked up a grand slam, but Smoke had already scored nine, putting MNRG in the lead 29-27 with 16 minutes left in the half.
While Fannie Tanner got held up in the pack, Miracle Whips worked on a grand slam and then was followed out by Fannie with the star stashed. Whips knocked her out of bounds and thought about eating the baby, but thought better of it when she saw a wall of aqua at the front of the pack. With her five points though, she regained the lead for Montréal.
It looked like the New Skids were going to run away with the lead this time, as they held MNRG scoreless for four jams, two of which were power jams. After Jess Bandit forced a cut on Shiver Me Kimbers, Falcon Punch jumped the apex for five points, but after stumbling, Hurtrude Stein gave her a solid hit out of bounds. Mel E Juana added four, Miracle Whips five more and then the biggest jam of the game for Montréal went to Falcon Punch with 14 points.
It seemed as if Minnesota’s penalty woes from last night had followed them, and with the score at a 30-point spread now, there were ten minutes left in the half. The tables turned however, and it was Montréal who began to struggle while Minnesota went on a scoring run.
Diamond Rough and Scarmen Hellectra worked Mel E Juana until she earned a blocking with the head penalty, giving MNRG a power jam now, and ten points by Smoke took it to a 20 point difference. A nice assist by Madrad let Fannie add four more and then another power jam allowed Jacked to add 10 while Miracle Whips snuck in two. In the last jam of the half Falcon Punch earned a forearm penalty and and Shiver Me Kimbers added 14 more to bring MNRG to within 1 point at the half, 73-72.
After a slow start to the second half, the score started to move again when Jacked Pipes picked up her third forearm allowing Mel E Juana to score nine points. Kimbers sat in the box after getting lead and five points, letting Falcon Punch match her and score five more. Then Jacked Pipes picked up two cuts in one jam, but since she started with lead, it had to go a full two minutes and she added points as well. Minnesota defense did a good job and keeping the damage down and not letting this ruin what they started at the end of the first half.
Then it was Smoke who had a hand in flipping the score again to 108-101 Minnesota, while Falcon sat in the penalty box with a forearm. Following that Miracle Whips added just four points since Fannie passed the star force the call off. With 15 minutes left Mel E Juana managed to stay in bounds while spinning and added four to take the lead back for Montréal, 111-108.
Jacked Pipes returned to the jam line, and as the highest scorer in her previous games, she ended this game with 50% lead jammer status, while the other 50% of the time she had exited the pack with a penalty. This time she didn’t get lead, but kept it clean as well, but Falcon Punch managed five more points.
For the last time, Smoke started a scoring run that would take the lead for Minnesota and keep it this time as they ensured their attendance at Champs. After two power jams for Minnesota and one for Montréal, the score sat at 152-125 with under five minutes.
Despite Smoke getting a penalty in the final jam, her defense locked in and made sure that Falcon Punch couldn’t escape the pack. As the seconds ticked away it was clear she couldn’t make the rounds and close the point gap, and with a final 5-5 jam, Minnesota won third place, 162-134 and clenched a spot at Champs in their home town in November.
Catch up on all the scores, recaps, and more at Omaha Central.