by Dylan Powell - posted 11:12 pm, January 14, 2016
January 28, 2012. That is the date of the last Alley Kats victory. They squeaked out a 141-135 win that night over a Suicidal Saucies team that would not win a game in 2012. When that bout happened Whitney Houston was still with us, the Occupy Movement was still grabbing headlines, and Lindy Ruff was still the coach of the Sabres. 18 losses later and the Alley Kats got to celebrate their first victory in almost four calendar years with a 164-161 win while a snow storm raged outside. The team, fans and their coaches hugged, cheered and some even cried. With 9 returning skaters this year and 5 skaters who have been with the team since that last win, this was an emotional and well deserved victory.
It almost didn’t happen though. After a tight first four jams, with three lead changes, the Kats managed a 30-0 run over the next 3 jams to pull away 46-17. The Dollies cut back into the lead, but then gave up a 14-4 powerjam and a 25-0 jam by Ashes t’ Ashes. This was the safest lead of the night at 54 points, but it only lasted a short while as the Kats gave up a 33-0 run to the Dollies later on in the half when they got bogged down with jammer penalties. Sitting 105-89 at the half the Kats led, but they opened the door for the Dollies to get back into the bout. With a close first half lead jammer status 11/9 favouring the Dollies and jammer penalties 3 a side, it was already looking like the end was going to be close.
The second half saw the Dollies grab 7 of the first 10 lead jammer statuses with the Dollies managing to tie the bout at 118 before giving up another jammer penalty. After allowing the Kats to build a small 9 point lead they stormed back on a 21-4 run of their own. The final 10 jams of the second half saw a tie, three lead changes, and 3 jammer penalties. The Kats would push back grabbing 6 of 10 lead jams and setting the stage for the final two jams.
The Kats were down 158-153 with 1:42 left. Head Coach Shockher called a time out and then sent out Ashes t’ Ashes to line up against Double Barryl. Barryl to that point had a stellar 12/15 lead jams. Ashes quickly grabbed lead jammer though and called the jam with 4 points, 50 seconds left and more importantly before Double Barryl could score. 158-157 Dollies, coach Señor Wiener responded with his own time out to freeze the clock and rest his jammer before sending Double Barryl back out against Kats jammer Evil Lyn. These two had lined up against each other 5 times in this bout with Double Barryl claiming all leads and flexing a 30/8 points advantage. Evil Lyn had the crowd and a 4-3 pack advantage though. As the jam began Evil Lyn stretched out the Dollies blockers while the Kats swallowed Double Barryl. In a one on one match up against Dollies blocker Lip Service, Evil Lyn bunny hopped over her on the inside in turn 2 to claim lead. She raced around the track and made another pass before Double Barryl could get through, but still needed to run down the clock. As she came around for her third pass, Double Barryl was able to grab three points, but the game clock had run down so Evil Lyn hit the pack and called the jam – 7 to 3 for the Kats. The comeback was complete, the Kats win 164-161.
The crowd at Riverworks, who took in the bout during a snow storm, celebrated the win – even the ones who didn’t realize the gravity of the victory for the Kats. Outside of the 2015 Championship bout, this was the biggest nail bitter that the league has had in its new digs and the fans who could make it out got to see something special.
For the Kats jammers Karsmashian led the way with 64 points and Ashes t’ Ashes had the best +/- with a +39 performance and the most lead jams with 8. The Kats jammers all played great, but it was also the teamwork of their blockers that made this win possible. Kats veterans Flocking Girl Scout, PaulverizHer, Knot Nice and newcomers lead by Ana Killingspree and Half Pint did a great job of holding the Dollies jammers and landing punishing hits both on Dollies jammers and on Dollies blockers to open up holes for their own jammers. Playing against a team that just had a bout 5 days prior, the Kats used their size and strength to disrupt the Dollies and give them a taste of their own medicine (the Dollies played and won with a similar style against the Saucies). They were able to target the two anchors of the Dollies blocking core – Chickadeemolish and Lip Service – and make sure their jammers were not recycled after being so close to getting free.
On the Dollies side the bout saw another dominating bout from Double Barryl going for 74 points, 12 of 17 leads, and a +43 overall. Jules had a solid night right behind her, but most remarkable is the second half that rookie jammer Raspoutine had. After struggling in the first half with no lead jams, she returned in the 2nd half to grab 50% lead jams and +6 rating that included a handful of crucial jams down the stretch. Seeing how these rookie Dollies respond to adversity will be a big test for how they play down the road in the playoffs, and Raspoutine passed with flying colours on Wednesday night. The Dollies did control lead jam for the bout 25/19, so if they cut down on their jammer penalties this jammer rotation should be fine.
The league now shifts to bouts for the Queen’s Court (1st and 2nd year skaters) on January 17th, the first bout for the revived B Travel Team the Subzero Sirens on the 23rd and another Charity Mash Up bout on the 29th before the Saucies and Kats start home league play back up on February 3rd. With new attendance records under their belt, and much more parity in the home leagues, QCRG is off to a great start in 2016. You can always find tickets at qcrg.net/tickets.
For anyone who wants to re live that final jam.