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Knockouts 4 Peat in QCRG Championship Thriller

Credit: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photography)

Credit: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photography)

Fans at Riverworks were treated to one of the best QCRG bouts ever on Friday night as the Nickel City Knockouts held on to beat the Saucies 143-140 and win their fourth straight Championship. Up 1 with one jam left the Knockouts gave up lead jam to Saucies, but the Saucies blockers couldn’t grab and hold the KO’s blockers in order to gain those final two points to pull off the upset.

The Knockouts took a 78-74 lead into half with them and started the second half on a run to pull away to 116-83. The Saucies fought up hill from that point on but closed the gap thanks to a 20 point power jam from Miss Fire, back to back penalties by KO jammers and a KO blocker fouling out. The Saucies regained the lead 139-138 with a minute left, but were outscored 1-5 in the last minute to come up short.

For the Saucies, the bout was a great display of teamwork and consistency. They never panicked and instead focused on chipping away at the lead and taking advantage of Knockouts mistakes and penalties. This was the closest challenge the Knockouts have faced since their dynasty run began (in 2012) and also the least amount of points the KO’s have scored in a bout over that span. Team blocking and the transitioning from defense to offense of the Saucies blockers made it possible for veteran jammers like Miss Fire and Bikini Whacks to capitalize on any KO errors. Hot Damnsel was also able to weather the storm enough to keep Miss Fire and Bikini fresher than the KO’s jammmers as the KO rotation got tighter. The inability to grab a goat in that final jam, or that they actually sped the pack up when they shouldn’t have, will haunt the Saucies – as will the multiple times jammers called off jams early and left points on the track. However, the game was a perfect illustration of all of the strengths of this team – great coaching, tight blocking, team play, and focus. They had earned it, and deserved to win this game, but the KO’s were not going to give it to them.

For the Knockouts, the bout showed that complacency has crept into their camp. The most skilled and dominant team in the league, it took extreme effort to pull out this win. Co-Captain Abercrombie and Fists most likely broke her nose to end that first half. With blood all over the track and her nose stuffed, Fisty continued to play in the second half and that decision and toughness made this win possible. As the Saucies crept back into the bout in the second half the Knockouts relied heavily on Librawlian – the leagues best skater – to hold on. Jamming sometimes three times in a row, Brawl’s endurance made it possible for the KO’s to bend but not break. While the Saucies left points on the track with early jam calls, the KO’s and coach Señor Wiener utilized track time perfectly making sure to free blockers from the penalty box before calling jams and not calling any jams while the Saucie jammers were still on their initial passes. Without these efforts this game ends differently.

These two teams both now have 4 QCRG Championships and although the KO’s won, it is getting tougher each year. Ironically, it is the Saucies that the KO’s should be looking to for inspiration to restore their complete dominance. The focus, team play and discipline of the Saucies should be what the Knockouts aspire to in the off season and into next year. For the Saucies, if they keep their core and develop younger skaters like they did this year they are well on their way to taking this Championship back. This begins the race for that 5th Championship.

Gifs of the Game: Broken Nosed Fisty in the 2nd Half

Crowd Assist: There are lots of great videos of the bout on #qcrg tags and on the @qcrg account – but this half time video taken by NY Fortitude is too cute not to share.

People Losing Their Minds On Twitter

Although the Furies season is still ongoing, and I will still be writing about that, I would like to give some special shot outs to people who have been supportive and helpful this year.

First, a huge thank you to Jamie and the Artvoice staff for providing a space to write about the Queen City Roller Girls. Researchers at USC and Purdue University have studied the percentage of TV time given to women’s sport and found that it has actually declined since 1989. I feel really blessed to be able to write about women’s flat track roller derby as sport and am happy that Artvoice has always been on board.

I owe a debt to Chris Kalisiak for letting me use his great photos this year. As a derby parent and as a supporter of the league, Chris is also a really great role model for me and other men on how to use the skills you have to advance and support a sport and space for women.

I also owe a huge debt to Mama Chops for going out of her way to make me feel welcome this year and for providing me with some of the league history and important feedback.

Thank you to my partner Crista (Murphy) for editing these write ups and pushing me to balance the need for a narrative up against the responsibility of having access to spaces that are not made for you.

Last but not least, thank you to all of the skaters, fans, NSO’s, volunteers and coaches who supported these articles and got what I was trying to accomplish. QCRG is a great roller derby league and I hope my gratitude for all of the effort that goes into each bout was evident in everything I wrote.