Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact

Alley Kats Run Out Of Lives Against the Saucies

Credit: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

Credit: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

With just a 7 point deficit in the final minutes of their bout on Friday night the Alley Kats had the crowd at Riverworks believing that their first win since January 2012 was within reach. After nearly erasing a 50 point half time lead, the Kats luck simply ran out as two players fouled out – InSINerator and Knockin Das Boots – and they spiralled back into penalty trouble. The dominant theme of the night, the Kats took 27 first half penalties to the Saucies 9. Playing a more disciplined style to start the second half got them back in the bout, but the hole they put themselves in caught up to them. The two final jams of the bout – where the Kats desperately needed to make up those final 7 points – almost all of their blockers watched from the penalty box. They came so close. 

The size matchup of Sin vs Saucie’s blocker Head Huntress never fully materialized with Sin only jamming twice in the first half and Huntress sitting out the second half. Instead it was the smallest player on the track that controlled the pace of the bout – Kats 4’11” jammer Bang GRRang. Bang scored 95 of the Alley Kats points and frustrated the larger Saucies blockers all night as they struggled to land hits on such a small target. Bang had 4 standout jams of 14-0, 19-0, 22-13 and 24-8 across both halves, going 79/21 in those four jams alone. The pressure that Bang put on the Saucies defense forced them to tighten their jammer rotation in the second half and also move B’kini Whacks in to jam alongside Miss Fire – with those two experienced jammers out for 7 of the final 10 jams.

The crowd at Riverworks was raucous for the closest and most entertaining bout in this new facility. Chants of “Let’s Go Alley Kats” rang out when they closed it to 7, and even a stoppage to fix a leak from the roof didn’t phase or bring the mood down. The bout itself was full of highlights and huge hits; B’kini with an apex jump in the second half (photo above), absolutely massive hits from Lip Service, great spin outs by Bang and great blocking by Wrecks Kitten in her first bout back after having a baby. The Yeti, the halftime bread toss, the anthem sung by Furies Vajenna Warrior – everything seemed to be leading into this being a great and close bout. I am jealous of those who got to experience all of this as their first women’s flat track roller derby game.

Halfway There: The bout, a fundraiser for Crisis Services of New York, marked the half way point of the QCRG home league regular season. The Knockouts are 3-0, the Saucies 2-1, the Dollies 1-2 and the Kats are 0-3. Although this is in keeping with how last years season played out, the margins of victory are starting to shrink and upsets seem more likely in this second half. Half way in and Riverworks is still a work in progress. Fans have been good about delays and hopefully with warmer weather the leaky roof will be a thing of the past. A major theme over this first half of the season has been teams moving their main jammers into pivot/block with a mass of penalties as a result – we’ve seen this happen with Griff for the Dollies, Brawl for the KO’s and now Sin with the Alley Kats. All jammers for the Lake Effect Furies, these great skaters have shown that blocking has its own skill set – especially blocking without getting penalties. The moves have allowed for other jammers to develop; Bang for the Alley Kats, Penny and McBrat for the Dollies top among those. However, look for teams to tighten up their jammer rotations leading into the home stretch after back to back bouts where Sin and Brawl fouled out because of blocking penalties. The second half of the regular season begins next Friday as the Alley Kats will take on the Devil Dollies.

Credit: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

Credit: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

Stat of the Night: Putting Bang GRRang’s stats in context highlights how special of a night she had. A member of the Alley Kats since 2011, Bang had only jammed 4 times and scored 6 points in all of 2014. In their first bout this year she jammed 3 times with 4 points. That is 7 jams for 10 points in the last two years coming into this bout. Last night she jammed 15 times for 95 points. This was a break out performance. The Alley Kats coaches deserve praise for believing in this tiny jammer in a bout against a tough blocking line up. 

Crowd Assist: The QCRG instagram caught the final jam of the night – a nice juke by Miss Fire around Lip Service to grab lead and seal the bout as Bang took a track cut penalty.