VANCOUVER, BC – The second game of Division 1 playoffs at the Olympic Oval in Vancouver saw a match-up between #8 seed Stockholm and #9 seed Queen City, separated in the WFTDA rankings by just six spots. The team from Sweden ended up forging a commanding 95 point win, 237-142.
The Furies of Queen City were eventually outplayed by the aggressive and ever-rotating defense employed by Stockholm from the get-go. The Buffalo, NY team’s path to playoffs saw them playing much lower ranked teams across the season, due to the decimation of several area D1 squads during the off season, and the sudden need to play consistent offense to spring their jammers meant they struggled throughout much of the first half.
Stockholm alternately struggled with a string of jammer penalties to start things off, with track cutting calls going to A.M. Chaos and Panica De Hex in the first two jams of the game. However, Stockholm’s crack defense put their dynamic cube formation to good use and kept scoring against them minimal during the power jams. Lil Slinky – in her debut jam of a game that would see her prove Stockholm’s most effective point scoring weapon – helped negate those earlier missteps by putting up a 24 point jam just minutes into the half.
Stockholm pivot Polygamy Winehouse was in the midst of continuing to prove why she’s such an asset to that team’s blocking corps, frequently playing timely offense to spring jammers while transitioning seamlessly into crushing defensive work. But a nasty hit and fall in the middle of the first half saw her helped away from the track for medical attention, and was not to return to the game.
The injury was representative of the incredibly physical game played by both teams, with blockers and jammers alike giving and taking bruising hits, made all the more taxing by what was clearly a somewhat slick surface.
Brick Hits House, blocker and frequent pivot for Queen City, proved a daunting obstacle for most of Stockholm’s four jammer rotation of Lil Slinky, Panica De Hex, A.M. Chaos, and Maurine Filip. She took the star twice and bulldozed her way through blockers, putting herself in the way to plug holes and dole out big hits along the way.
On the flip side, Queen City employed a regular rotation of Librawlian, inSINerator, Miss Fire, and Dana Scullcrusher. The team relied more and more on Librawlian as the game played out, with her earning lead status 11 of the 13 times she went to the line and putting up a team and game high 96 points, beating even high scorer Lil Slinky (who brought in 93 points).
Queen City seemed to adapt more as game play continued, starting at the front off the line in order to better absorb Stockholm’s agile jammers. They also began more reliably mirroring a strategy Stockholm had used successfully from the start – having three blockers begin in a tripod with the fourth prepared to play either offense or defense (or bridge) as needed off the line.
By the half, Stockholm held a solid, but not insurmountable, lead of 114-69.
Queen City came back with a vengeance in the second period, for a moment cleaning up their blocker penalties and getting more consistent lead jammer calls.
Both Murphy and Midnyt Maniac were clutch in the Furies’ packs, pulling long drawbacks on jammers who tried to take lines and transitioning quickly between smart offense and tight defense.
Librawlian took advantage of lead jammer status and her pack, trapping A.M. Chaos for several turns. They knocked out a big 27 point jam for Queen City early in the half, and it signaled a comeback run for the team that would see them come within 26 points of Stockholm’s lead.
However, a series of jammer penalties on Queen quickly put an end to their run, with Stockholm answering by cleaning up their act. It meant that, though the lead percentage was fairly even throughout the second half, Stockholm spent more time scoring points simply by being more present on the track.
Even so, Queen City made jammers work for those points, with Vajenna Warrior and Murphy creating a veritable meat grinder gauntlet that had jammers like Lil Slinky having to dig deep to come through alive.
Stockholm began having more blocker penalty trouble late in the half, too. Even with just two or three on the track and frequently under the pivot leadership of longtime skater Swede Hurt, the team were still able to stop up Queen’s jammers long enough to clear the box and stop any bleeding.
Toward the end Queen City began using up their team time outs to draw out the game, but counteracted those breaks by running short, hit-it-and-quit-it jams when they got lead, essentially burning precious clock time. Librawlian continued to see success when she was put on the line, but the final jam went to Stockholm and A.M. Chaos, who used incredible footwork up the outside line to brush off a big hit by Brick Hits House before grabbing three final points and calling the whole thing off as the period clock expired.
Seeding and overall ranking held true for this game also, and now Stockholm will go on to face number 1 seed Victorian Roller Derby later today, at 6pm PDT, while Queen City will enjoy a somewhat less daunting bracket now, taking on the loser of game 3 first thing tomorrow at 10am PDT.