by Dylan Powell - posted 6:28 pm, February 15, 2016
In the first rematch of the 2016 season, the Alley Kats and Devil Dollies took the track in a game that often matched old school derby against new strategies. Although the Dollies were able to come within striking range of the Kats several times, and kept the score tight up until the last few minutes, old school won out that night and in front of a sold out crowd this time the Kats skated away with their second win of the season 133-115 (both against the Dollies).
The last time these teams met this season the Kats won in a nail-biting last jam 164-161 for their first win in four years. In Saturday’s game, the Kats pulled out ahead early in the first period and although the Dollies came to within 9 points several times, the Kats were able to stay focused, keep their penalties low and the pressure high and, most importantly, keep the lead through to the final whistle.
The Dollies have adopted the latest braced wall, sometimes called a quad, made famous by the nearly unstoppable Victorian Roller Derby from Australia. Victorian nearly toppled the Gotham Girls Roller Girls in the semi-finals at the Womens Flat Track Derby Association Champs using the incredibly strong and agile wall formation. This formation is new for the Dollies and they are still perfecting it since it requires lightening speed reformation.
On the other side of the benches, the Alley Kats kept up a fairly steady four wall across the back line on most starts. They only set up using a braced wall in one jam to shut down the Dollies’ Double Barryl. Even in the pack, they relied on simple walls and tough hits to control the Dollie jammers and blockers.
The Kats also employed another “oldie but goodie” derby strategy and frequently grabbed a lone Dollie blocker and held her in the back of the pack behind a wall of Kats (the blocker is fondly referred to as a “goat” by players and coaches). The pack is defined by the most players from both teams within proximity to each other (10’ if you want the technical definition). So the Kats kept control of the pack and reduced the Dollies blockers’ ability to keep blocking their jammer. It’s an old strategy and the Kats successfully used it again and again.
The Kats relied on their core jammers: Ashes t’Ashes, Karsmashian and Evil-Lyn Cognito throwing in Ana Killinspree and ½ Pint Destroyer to shake things up. On the other hand, the Dollies spread the jammer helmet cover around. Double Barryl and McCreadie stayed in the regular rotation but they also used Jules Burn, Raspoutine, Nic Nugget, SlamUwell Jackson and Erin Go Braless. Notably, it was the Kats veteran Jammer Evil-Lyn Cognito who was out in that last jam to ice the game for her team – just as she did back in their first match up.
Out of all of the Dollies jammers, Nic Nugget had the most penalty trouble, catching back to back penalties in the second period. Double Barryl skated away with a goose egg of penalties by the end of the game, the only jammer to spend no time in the box. She was also their highest scorer and most consistently won lead jam status.
Both teams had a significant number of jammer penalties: the Dollies had 8 and the Kats had 10. All in all, the Kats only had 24 penalties (including their jammer penalties) and the Dollies had 27. This was notable given the high physicality of the game. The Dollies focused more on strategy and less on heavy hitting, with the exception of May Bringdowndahaus, Chickadeemolish and, of course, Lip Service, who sent many Kats jammers packing throughout the night.
The Kats have a cadre of heavy hitting blockers, and in the second period, much of the Dollies’ offensive strategy was distracting ½ Pint Destroyer, and PaulverizHer. But that left Knot Nice and Ana Killingspree to pick up the slack. And they did. Generally speaking, on a home team front, heavy hitting generally goes hand in hand with high penalties but the Kats kept it clean.
The Dollies will be back on the track on Wednesday, March 6 against the Suicidal Saucies.
First though, the Subzero Sirens will take on the Niagara Roller Girls on Wednesday February 17 at 7 p.m. and the QCRG Juniors and the Queens Court will be playing in a double header on Sunday, February 28 at 2 p.m. (Juniors play at 2 p.m., the Queens Court about 4:30 p.m.) Tickets available at qcrg.net.