OMAHA, NE– Helsinki and Queen City meeting up in the bracket this weekend seemed very fitting on multiple levels. They both only brought 13 skaters to Omaha, they both took their first round games in the last jam, meaning they both had to take on the top seeds of the weekend, and both played similar strategies.
The two teams differed remarkably in jammer power, however. Helsinki had a solid 3-jammer rotation giving them lead jammer status 64% of the time, while Queen City relied heavily on 2 of their jammers. After a close first half, where the score inched up with matching jammer points, Helsinki stayed consistent in the final 30 minutes, and took 7th place 275-199.
Helsinki’s Taru Saxelin and LiBRAWLian for Queen City took the star first, both of whom can attribute their agile footwork to a hockey background. In a chaotic first jam, LiBRAWLian got out of the pack first, but not with lead and after Taru sat in the box with a cut, the jam was destined to go a full 2 minutes. The blockers couldn’t quite settle down and both Taru and LiBRAWLian ducked under hits and dodged through the pack for points. After the 2 minutes were up, Queen City had 25 to Helsinki’s 12.
InSINerator returned to the jam line after sitting during their game against No Coast yesterday, but unfortunately she spent her first few jams sitting in the penalty box. Her first was a cut, giving Helsinki the power jam this time and Maiju Rinne managed to pick up 18 points with the help of her pack goating and a sweep by Janica Saxelin. That put Helsinki in the lead 30-25, and they would hold it for the rest of the game.
LiBRAWlian took the line and the lead in the next jam, and with Varpu Knuuttila following her closely, LiBRAWLian made a huge jump over the apex to score all 4 points. Queen City put Murphy on the line next, and after Salla Karjalainen helped Taru get out of the pack, she sat in the box, followed by another Helsinki blocker. With the pack advantage, Murphy passed the star to Pepper Stix and kept Taru to just 5 points.
Helsinki continued to increase their lead over the next 3 jams as InSINerator picked up her 2nd penalty and they added 23 points to Queen’s 4 and the score came to 58-33.
With LiBRAWlian back on the jammer line, Queen City picked up their next lead status and she was told to run the jam with Rinne out behind her. At first they matched points, and then it looked like it would pay off in a power jam as Rinne sat with a back block, but then LiBRAWLian followed her with a cut. Queen City managed to shorten their deficit to 11 points in a 25-11 jam.
With 15 minutes gone, Queen City started to mostly jam LiBRAWLian and InSINerator back to back with Murphy taking the star now, while Helsinki stuck strictly to their rotation. After LiBRAWLian let another jam play longer, Helsinki won the jam by 2 points, and was still ahead 89-72 with 12 minutes left.
The next jam went full length after both jammers picked up penalties, and after the clock ran out, Helsinki won this jam again by 4 points. Queen City took a timeout which seemed to help as a nearly unstoppable LiBRAWLian earned a 14-0 jam next, bringing them within 7 points.
Through the remainder of the half however, Helsinki took charge and worked hard to push their lead. Helsinki’s coach let a jam run long this time, and it worked out even though Tiina Kimar was the only Helsinki blocker on the track, but she was able to hold Murphy while Rinne added 18 points and Murphy took a seat in the penalty box. InSINerator was able to add 4 points for Queen City when Taru accidentally didn’t call it off in time, but ended up matching her points.
With LiBRAWLian on the line, Queen City took the pivot line, possibly in effort to let LiBRAWLian work her magic with the space. Instead she earned a back block and with the power jam Helsinki added 15 more. Starting the jam in the next box, LiBRAWLian sped to a quick lead and 18 points before calling it off and icing Knuuttila in the penalty box. InSINerator scored eight more in the last jam of the half, which brought Queen City to just a 26 point deficit, 150-124.
Queen City seemed to lose a bit of steam to start the second half, and they were only able to pick up two lead jammer calls in the first 15 minutes. The Lake Effect Furies did keep Helsinki to fewer points however, and managed to steal a few here and there. With a double power jam opportunity however, Murphy was forced to pass the star as Taru cycled back and forth to the box, and ultimately Helsinki won the jam 8-4.
Taru struggled with another penalty her next time up, and InSINerator was able to pick up 15 points despite Janica Saxelin’s best efforts. With a quarter of the game left, Helsinki led by 38 points 198-160, but Queen City still had time to catch up if they could earn lead and keep their blockers out of the box.
Blockers like Tabrina Schreier and Vajenna Warrior had great jammer draw backs and knockouts by Bricks Hithouse and Blackrock Bruiser helped Queen City keep Helsinki from running too far away with the score, but they just couldn’t supplement with enough points.
Going into last quarter of the game, Varpu Knuuttila added nine points, followed by 22 by Taru in a power jam after a failed apex jump turned misconduct by LiBRAWLian. With the score at 232-177 with under ten minutes, a comeback was looking less likely for the furies.
Queen City managed to pick up points in all but one of the jams after that, but it was too little too late and Helsinki pressed on until the clock ran out. Helsinki came all the way from Finland and held their seventh place spot with their 274-199 win over Queen City. The Furies were able to celebrate despite their loss since they entered the weekend as a #9 seed and came out one place higher with eighth.
With the 10-year anniversary of WFTDA, many leagues have been around close to that long as well, and Tabrina Schreier and Tuesday Hula celebrate their 9th derby birthday this year.
Catch all the weekend updates with our Omaha Central.