… So I’m a bit of a fangirl for Mass Maelstrom. I love all roller derby, and all men’s derby, but yes, it’s true: I have a soft spot for them. My avid readers (I have avid readers?) may remember the reference of “BOUT SEXY”. It was the match up of Bridgetown Menace and Mass Maelstrom at Spring Roll. It was when many of us fell for men’s derby. (And not just because of Teen Beat heart throbs like Hans Cholo and Smiteochondria.)
It was the first time I had seen that level of raw power and balletic motion on skates. I had no idea that both teams had newer skaters; both were learning team dynamics as they went. Their power was incredible. They would hit, stop, sprint from nothing. They would redirect their momentum; twisting and turning around each other and smashing together once again. It was awesome to watch.
Mass Maelstrom has really tightened up since Spring Roll: their style has not changed, they have just ratchet down the strategy and solidified as a team. With each scrimmage and game, their trust for each other has increased. They went into their big weekend at Spring Roll unsure of their game and working with transfers. They came out a strong unit.
Their next big step out was at East Coast Extravaganza when they faced off against the New York Shock Exchange – the first sanctioned MRDA bout ever at the Philly Roller Girl event. In one of the best bouts of the weekend, Maelstrom fell by only 12 points. A few weeks later the Vikings stormed Coney Island to be shut down by 60 points. They re-grouped, gathered the forces back for a final attack and took the Mohawk Valley Cup by surprise by first upsetting Puget Sound Outcast Derby and finishing out with a 12 point win against the Shock Exchange.
Maelstrom relies a lot on being able to stay in front of their competitors, and utilizing an amorphous blob of mobile skaters - rarely will find them in a classic wall. Like other top MRDA teams, it’s easy to pick out every blocker as a key player for the team. The front of the pack is usually held down by Rich Gaudet, Bill Coulter or Terry Hasselmann; they are stellar at snagging the jammers think they’re about to escape the Maelstrom Triangle of Death by employing powerful hip bumps or rock-solid backwards blocking.
Meanwhile guys like Smite, Mars Travolta and Speeder Parker have a great awareness for the game. They are the ones that you don’t remember after the bout because they have done such a great job of making their jammers look good. They are also the reason that guys like Mongo, Deep in Cider and Coulter can really leverage some smashey-smashey action.
And Jurasskick Park. (Swoon, Ladies. Swoon.)
JP has a way of defying natural laws of physics. I can’t help but wonder if the power is in the beard. He has profound control over his weight and direction of motion, switching the trajectory of his momentum with just the slightest shift on his edges. JP was one of the transfers from Pioneer Valley (along with bashers Mongo, Erich Bennar and JBeast) and he has been a critical piece of the jammer puzzle for the Vikings.
The counter to the Matrix-esque JP is the stoic, solid (though still ninja-like) Wes Turn. He and Shreddy Mercury remind me a lot of each other. Both have excellent leverage and lean when they take the outside like, and both are able to use lightening quick feet to evade the strongest, fastest blockers. Another key jammer for Maelstrom is No Big Deal who is able to bulldoze through packs and use incredibly fast toe stops and maneuvers.
Matt Biron and John Collentro have really gotten comfortable with the jammer star. Over the last few months, a visible change of confidence has come over both of these men. Both of them had absolutely standout performances against the New York Shock Exchange at the Mohawk Valley Cup.
Collentro (also known as Cilantro, or “Spicy”) took a note from Rocky Balboa’s book – continually taking beatings and getting back up to barrel past the opponent. Biron, meanwhile, looked like he had been wound up like top beforehand: his mobility and footwork was absolutely unreal.
Coach and skater Richard Gaudet says of what his team has accomplished this year:
Within Maelstrom we have an incredibly diverse group of talent, experience and personalities who have come together and fought to be a top team. I am always amazed at how our skaters take what I have to say and explain at practice to heart and how well they execute it on the track. Skaters like John Collentro (Cilantro) who have very limited skating experience have stepped up to become one of our top jammers, which shows the commitment to not only the training but Maelstrom as an organization.
The Mass Maelstrom take the track against the Magic City Misfits at 2:30p/3:30EST on Saturday. To learn more about the Mass Maelstrom from the Boston area, like them on Facebook.
To learn more about the MRDA Championships, visit the event website.
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