While the results from the weekend may have not gone Cincinnati’s way, there was a lot of great teamwork in the blocking corps, and some ungodly amazing jamming on display for the Fort Wayne crowd. Cincinnati finished the 2013 Playoffs 1-3, a win over a ‘tough as a two-dollar-steak’ team in Bleeding Heartland, and the losses came from #2 in the world Denver, #19 Rose City and #27 Wasatch. These are serious teams with serious game. Being a team in the top 20 percent of the world as the Cincinnati Rollergirls are comes with #division1rollerderbyproblems.
Cincinnati’s first game, which opened the Division 1 tournament season was against season foe, Bleeding Heartland. Cincinnati and BHRG had already played each other twice in 2013, with a loss in Bloomington and a win at the Cincinnati Gardens in front of a home crowd. In the first half, the Black Sheep were taking turns in the penalty box and leaving themselves at a pack disadvantage more often than they would have liked. It was all Bleeding Heartland for 99 percent of the game, but the story here is Cincinnati’s Hollywood comeback and their never-say-die attitude.
Cincinnati - down by 40 points, 30 points and even 82 points at one point, kept their eye on the prize, as the game came down to the last jam. At this point K-Lethal had jammed the previous 8 jams and was coming out again with the star on her helmet. I have yet to come up with appropriate adjectives for this final jam sequence because all available words seem too small to accurately capture what it was like to sit on the side of the track and witness what happened. Cincinnati was behind for the entire hour of regulation play, and then in turn 2 Sadistic Sadie forced Bleeding Heartland jammer Terror D'Bits to cut the track, sending Terror D'Bits to the penalty box. This is all that K-Lethal needed to put 24 points on the board to lift Cincinnati over Bleeding Heartland in the opening game of the post season, and for the second time this year. When the final whistle blew, Cincinnati was ahead 217-214, and there was no happier group at that moment than the Cincinnati players and the Cincinnati faithful were. I randomly grabbed someone and kissed them on the cheek, if that was you I am sorry/you’re Welcome.
For CRG’s victory their reward was to face #1 seed in the tournament and #2 in the world Denver at 4 P.M. This was the blessing and the curse bestowed by the WFTDA gods; again we evoke the phrase #division1rollerderbyproblems. Everyone wants to play the best, but at the same time… you are playing the best and there are reasons they are the best, which Cincinnati was about to experience firsthand. Denver was up 60-0 after seven minutes and four jams, while the first points for the Black Sheep came at the 18 minute mark putting 4 points against Denver’s 86. With 15 minutes left in the first half Denver was ahead 120-4. Denver may as well call their defensive wall the Rocky Mountains because nothing gets through it, these ladies simply do not move, even with jammers pushing ahead, trying to get out and through an initial pass. Denver kept it up in the second half, not resting on their laurels and continued to pound Cincinnati. The gamed ended with a big victory for Denver of 419-50. Cincinnati lost to the #2 team in the world, in a Division 1 tournament, a game that 90 percent of roller derby leagues will never have the opportunity to play. #division1rollerderbyproblems.
Cincinnati had about 24 hours to heal their bruises, take an ice bath, and hit the ibuprofen before facing off against #19 Rose City, Saturday at 6:00 PM.
The Wheels of Justice go round-and-round, and jammer Scald Eagle is driving it as far as she can, unfortunately for Cincinnati they happened to be in the way. The Black Sheep got on the board relatively early in this game, putting up 4 points in the 4th jam, but the refs giveth, and the refs taketh away. the points were erased and CRG was back at zero. The referees said that Wheezy did not make an initial pass, which we thought she had. que sera sera.
The ugliness of injury happened twice in this bout for Rose City: Licker*N*Split separated her shoulder in the first half, followed by Scylla Devourer, who went down in between turns 2 and 3 holding her hand, obviously in a lot of pain. It looked like her finger was bent about 45 degrees the wrong way. A teammate of Scylla who saw the injury up-close, doubled over and winced along with her teammate. It was no time at all before the EMTs were right there to take care of her hand. Here is to a speedy recovery for Licker*N*Split and Scylla Devourer.
Virtuoso jammer, Scald Eagle of Rose City scored 204 of Rose’s 414 which included: 45-0, 35-0, and 33-0 shutouts in the game. I was watching Rose warm up on Friday, and Hannah Barbaric suggested that if I had the opportunity to watch Scald Eagle in a bout, I do so. I was just hoping it wasn’t going to be in a bout against Cincinnati. Scald Eagle’s strength, coupled with her agility makes for an exciting jammer to watch play. She is a lot like Clubber Lang on roller skates.
Check out this video of Scald Eagle plowing over Ophelia Melons in December of 2012. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=tDNqXQ7tyik
The final was 414-116 Rose City over Cincinnati.
The loss to Rose gave Cincinnati a noon game against Wasatch of Salt Lake City, UT for 7th place. Prior to this weekend the ladies of Wasatch had not played a team east of the Rocky Mountains. On Friday the Midnight Terrors lost to Montreal 188-519, and on Saturday dropped to Arch Rival 235-154, they were looking for a win and their last opportunity was the Black Sheep on Sunday.
For most of the first half, the bout was evenly contested, with the game being as close as 44-32, but then Wasatch fired up the after burners going on a 132-6 run which unfortunately put the game past the reach of Cincinnati, as they went down 275-95 taking 8th place in the tournament.
There were a truckloads of penalties called in this tournament, the National Guard was mobilized to help bring them into the War Memorial Coliseum. It reminded me a lot of March Madness basketball when a more than typical amount of penalties are called, and the fans watching are just thinking “let them play”
My “completely unscientific and no one cares opinion” of MVPs for Cincinnati are as follows: Jammer MVP is K-Lethal, her super-hero abilities in the first game which lead Cincinnati past Bleeding Heartland was the most exciting jam of the tournament. A special mention for Sadistic Sadie who forced a track cut on Terror D'Bits which opened the door for K-Lethal to kick it in.
Blocker MVP for me is a tie between Nuk’em and Ruff’n the Passer, each of them had great defensive games. The stall blocking from Ruff’n, and hits from Nuk’em were impressive over the four games. The “player who I did not see enough of, but would have liked to” award goes to Penn Tupanga. When she is on the track her game is smart and focused, and her penalties are few. Panga plays with patience and is one of the more mentally tough players in the league.
That brings 2013 to a close for the Cincinnati Rollergirls, but plans are well in motion for the 2014 season, there is no true “off-season” in roller derby.