PORTLAND, OR – The second Division 2 match up started much the same as the first; close, competitive game play by Blue Ridge and Calgary that forced the lead to change hands multiple times and rely heavily on lead status calls and offense. Things changed suddenly, however, as Calgary fell into penalty trouble and Blue Ridge wisely took advantage of the clock.
Blue Ridge came to Portland with a better eye for offense since their showing at Playoffs, and while Calgary consistently had only one or two blockers on the track, their stalwart defense fell apart. If Calgary could have cleaned up their penalties it would have wound up a much tenser fight against Blue Ridge, who lost Hurrycane Jackie to injury from their jammer rotation after only her first jam. Blue Ridge brought their cohesion together when they lost game momentum, and laid on the points in the final quarter of the game for a 225-183 victory.
To start the game, Blue Ridge fielded Dr. Octopushy to jam, who had led them with points at Playoffs, and Calgary put out Kris Myass in the same position, who achieved lead status at Playoffs 71.9% of the time. Kris pulled through again for lead status in the first jam, and added a quick four points for Calgary, followed in the next jam by a racing pack to end in 0-0. Five points by Hurrycane Jackie gave the first lead change in Blue Ridge’s favor, but then she spent the rest of the game on the bench with a knee injury sustained in that same jam. That loss forced Blue Ridge to amend their rotation and utilize Tractor Taylor alongside Pushy and Lady Rider more than they usually have in the past.
The score continued to crawl upwards slowly, with both teams putting a little more emphasis on defense. With that gap in offense for Blue Ridge, their jammer Tractor got held up in the pack and Easy Break Oven put up a 14 point jam to push Calgary’s lead to 27-5. Using a deeper bench, Calgary also put out Kris, Easy, Hilary Boswell, and Jennie Gunns, all of whom found space on the edges to side-skip by on the line past Blue Ridge’s braced defense.
Blue Ridge found a bit more success starting from the back of the pack, and with a little offense by Coma N. Ducer and a penalty by Boswell, Octopushy put up 18 points with a series of balancing acts on the line in a fast and spread out pack. With a star pass to Diesel Duchess, a blocker Calgary didn’t have on their roster at Playoffs, Pushy let the jam run long and an 18-4 jam brought Blue Ridge closer at 31-23.
The first two power jams went to Blue Ridge as some penalty woes for Calgary started to creep in. With Dr. Octopushy on the track, Blue Ridge added 17 more points to take the lead. A much more active offense for BRRG utilized sweeping and trapping during this game so, score at 43-34, Calgary took a time out with 16:04 left in the first half.
For two teams who start most comfortably from the front, Blue Ridge resigned to the back this game, and at times they suffered for it against the hard initial shove by jammers such as Kris Myass and Easy Break Oven. Blue Ridge gave up their first power jam with Pushy in the box with a forearm, but then Jenni Gunns tightened the score to a five point game with ten minutes left in the half. Strong bracing by recent Wasatch transfer Skull Candi and good line coverage by Pocahotmess kept Calgary from pushing the momentum with just two points by Kris Myass.
Blue Ridge’s back wall position also came with consistent offense by one blocker who sat in the Calgary blocking triangle or quad. Another power jam for Blue Ridge and Pushy put them further ahead at 72-54. Powerful jamming and a big apex jump by Easy Break Oven after that racked up 15 points for Calgary to nine by Lady Rider, and with the score at 81-69 in Blue Ridge’s favor, Easy sat in the box at the end of the jam with a back block.
Calgary reviewed the back block and it was decided that it was actually the Blue Ridge blocker who initiated the contact, so the penalty was removed. However, during the review, a coach entered the box and talked to Easy, causing an illegal procedure penalty which was given to Easy Break Oven as the captain. Although she still sat with a penalty, it fortunately took that potential power jam opportunity away from Blue Ridge.
Scoring slowed back down for each, as the pack sped up and forced call-offs by jammers. At the conclusion of the half, Blue Ridge held a slight advantage 89-84 with a 50% lead jammer status for each team in the first half.
The first two jams of the second half went to Calgary, pushing the team’s score ahead by one single point. TAZ and Sin-e-star’s sticking to one-on-one blocking, and their ability to catch jammers as they were about to exit the pack, helped Calgary stay in control, but the start of their 32 penalties in the second half started to roll in. Tractor Taylor regained the lead for Blue Ridge with four points, and they stayed on top for approximately the next ten minutes.
Both teams adapted their jammer rotations as the game wore on, and Calgary put more focus on Easy Break Oven and Kris Myass, whose jukes and constant forward momentum made her nearly unstoppable at times. She helped bring Calgary to just a four-point deficit, with under 20 minutes left in the game.
Dr. Octopushy was a staple jammer for Blue Ridge, with alternating jams by Lady Rider and Tractor Taylor. They even threw in Skull Candi for one jam, who picked up lead status but also sat in the box for a penalty, which gave Calgary 12 points and the newest game lead, 124-122. Calgary’s power jam offense is one of their greatest strengths, and this fact gave them a strategic boost as the game ticked on.
Offense by Sin-e-star aided Easy Break Oven in earning lead status while shoving off blows by Blue Ridge, but then she got held up in the pack by Boot Scootin Bully. A star pass from Lady Rider to Skull Candi kept Easy to just four points, and it looked like Calgary was grabbing hold of the momentum, with the game lead 131-125 and under 13 minutes left in the game.
A star pass wasn’t as lucky for Calgary in the next jam however, as Dr. Octopushy got lead, Kris Myass handed the star off to Knox Hersoxoff. BRRG’s coach told Pushy to go long, which resulted in a 23-4 jam for them and put them ahead to 148-135. From here the penalties poured on for Calgary blockers, and a series of three jams with Hilary Boswell in the box as jammer let Blue Ridge 76-22 scoring run. With the point advantage and Calgary’s momentum dropping, Blue Ridge let the jams run long and with under three minutes left in the game, they led 224-161.
Calgary regained control in the last few jams, and eight points by Kris and 14 more by Easy closed the gap a little bit, but it was too late at this point for a comeback. With smart time management, more consistent offense and a cleaner game, Blue Ridge took the final win, 225-183. They will get a rematch of their Playoff final against Brandywine on Sunday at 2pm PST for 1st place, while Calgary will do the same against Charlottesville right before that for 3rd place.
Be sure to return to 2016 WFTDA Champs Central for more recaps and score updates.