Memorial Hall-The 2017 Travel Team season got started with two unsanctioned bouts against ICT Roller Derby from Wichita, Kansas. KCRW's All-Stars took on ICTRD's All-Stars and Plan B went head to head with Havoc (not to be confused with the player who spell hers with a k). Due to venue restrictions and the nature of the game, this event was not open to the public.
There have been a couple of changes made to this seasons travel team. The first is that there is no official roster designating All-Stars from Plan B as there have been in the past. The rosters are all decided within the team according to practice time, availability and captains discretion. The second most noticeable change is the uniform. Instead of the traditional red and black jerseys, they have switched over to a light grey jersey with the new team logo on it. I have to admit they look pretty sharp.
This was ICT's first game of the season as well and the players from both teams were excited to finally get things underway. After the months of practicing, they were hungry to compete against somebody else. After a brief captains meeting with Head Referee, Effin' Ref, it was time to play some derby!
The All-Stars played the first bout. Bomb Run Brit toed the Jammer Line against JessiKa Boom who drew first blood with five unanswered points. Apparently, she got a good nights sleep and was in top form after playing a home game the previous night (see related story in the Feburary 2017 Archives). ICT came close a couple of times to tying it up but they never took the lead. By Halftime, KCRW was leading 117 to 57. After the second half, KCRW chalked up their first win-231 to 118.
The All-Stars really work as a team and often times I've singled out the offense players for their great deeds but, I'd like to take a second to talk about a pack that really impressed me during the game. Blockers Jess Decker, Pebbles and Dixie Wolf with Enigma as Pivot were forming some pretty solid walls that just stopped the opposition cold. They were communicating with each other and just acting as one unit, it was a sight to behold. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come after last years less than stellar season.
Plan B and Havoc were up next and once again ICT had Hell unleashed against them. Bear Knuckles met Bomb Run Brit on the Jammer Line this time and Miss Brit did not fare much better against the B team as Bear put eight unanswered points on the board, again setting the pace for a swift success. At Halftime, Plan B was in the lead with 111 to 90.
Havoc hung in there for another half while Plan B continued making left turns to victory. As the whistle blew, the final score was 214 to 169 in Plan B's favor.
How would you like to help the travel teams and have fun at the same time? Friday, February 24th, 7:00 p.m. at Cronin's Bar & Grill, you can be part of The Travel Team Bingo Fundraiser and help them get to the Besterns Tournament in Colorado this June! Bingo action, beer drinking and local sports figures all in one place! Mark your calendars!
March 12th is when you will want to tune into The Wheel Press on facebook as we bring you more unsanctioned action as The All-Stars take on The Rocky Mountain Rollergirls Project Mayhem and Plan B goes up against The Contenders. This will be a closed event that you can only read about here so tune in.
Memorial Hall-The half way point on the road to The Rink of Fire is upon us. For some, it is a time to stay focused and keep skating while others attempt new strategies in hopes of salvaging what time they have left.
The Dreadnought Dorothys are, so far, undefeated. With scores of 198 to 160 and 182 to 165, they don't just win, they "drop the house". Considering that last year they were three for six, the girls in Gingham are coming out pretty strong. I had a chance to ask Havok about the secret of their success and get her thoughts on the upcoming game-
WP: Your team just seems to shut down their opponents this season, what's your secret, protein shakes made with the blood of your enemies or practice drills until they pass out?
Havok: (laughs) No, we just got really lucky with the draft this year. The new girls know how to fit in and just get to work. They go out there as a team and give it their all.
WP: The last time you played The Vixens they beat you by nearly one hundred points, any thoughts on tonight's game?
Havok: It's going to be a good chance for the new girls to get some more experience. That's all we can hope for from any game is just to build on what we've learned. I think it'll be a good game.
The game started off well for The Vixens but then in the third Jam, Robbin Graves went on a 19 point scoring run and put The Dorothys in the lead 23 to 12. Mel Malice came out in the 11th with a 17 point run and brought the score up to 75 - 25. In the 20th, Shuvee Gremlin put 10 points on the board making it 102 - 50 and finally, right before Halftime, Havok scored 13 points with the score standing at 115 to 62.
In the second half, Rogue tried for a Vixens rally in Jam five and put up 18 points, bringing it up to 168 to 86. By Jam 19, Mel Malice had a 15 point run, bringing The Dorothys up to 218 - 135. Proving that The Vixens had not yet given up the fight, Redhot went on a 15 point scoring run in the final Jam, finishing the game 242 to 153 in favor of The Dorothys. That makes them 3 for 3 with The Vixens 1 for 3.
The second game of the evening featured The Black Eye Susans and The Knock-Outs. The Knock-Outs continue their tradition of being the most unpredictable team in the league. Last season was disastrous. The Injury/Illness list was just as long if not longer than the skating team roster. They had to bring in players from other teams just to fill out a roster on a couple of occasions and then with the passing of Coach Ice, the heart and soul just seemed to go out of the team. The only reason they finished fourth was because there were not five teams. But still,...the fans stayed with them. This season, they have a new captain, Madam McBomb. They picked up a lot of really good players in the draft including Junior Warriors veteran, Pebbles. They managed to retain the majority of their veterans including Co-Captain Sk8l Attraction and Jess Decker along with Jamming phenom, JessiKa Boom. They also retained their fan base. But still, victory eludes them.
This season they have become a formidable opponent, they took the first game into Overtime and lost the last game by only 17 points. They seem to be able to take each bad experience and learn from it. I was able to ask some of the players about what they felt was the problem with the last game and they all told me that the team just got so into their own head and focused on the scoreboard that they couldn't get out of their own way.
With the problem addressed, I asked McBomb and Sk8l what they were doing to improve and prepare the the team for the upcoming game. They told me that been working a lot on some new defensive moves. "We have to try everything and we can try anything since, what's the worst that can happen, we lose?"- Madam McBomb. I asked JessiKa Boom the same question, curious to get a perspective from the offense. "I've been working a lot on my speed and evasive moves, trying not to get hit." The hands can't hit what the eyes can't see, to quote another sports hero.
WP: What do you feel have been your strengths this season compared to last?
JessiKa Boom: Because of last season, we've retained a lot of players and we now work better as a team.
Jess Decker: We're a very supportive team this year and that really shows on the track.
I asked all four players what they felt the biggest obstacle was going into this game and three of them said that if the team could just stay focused and not get bogged down with outside matters then they felt they could come out of this victorious. Sk8l only had one word in response-Enigma.
Enigma and the rest of The Black Eye Susans were out to prove that the victory in the last game was just a sign of things to come. In the first Jam, JessiKa Boom and Xcelerator toed the Jammer Line and that one ended in a draw with neither scoring. It was Turtle Power in the next Jam against Sk8l Attraction that drew first blood as she put three unanswered points on the board. Boom went up against Love Tap and scored the first points for The Knock-Outs, bringing the score 10 to 6 in favor of The Susans. Sk8l would come back out against Love Tap in the next Jam and put The Knock-Outs in the lead, 13 to 10. Sk8l had another good scoring run in Jam 22 where she scored 14 points bringing the score to 59-33. By Halftime, The Knock-Outs were leading 75 to 53.
The second half was where The Susans started to rally. In Jam 4 Polly Rocket had a scoring run that tied it up 75 All. However, Pebbles came out the next Jam and put The Knock-Outs back on top 88 to 78. She even managed to get around the one woman wall that is Enigma and get the crowd cheering. That did not last long because Xcelerator came out in the seventh and turned the tide with a 20 point jam, making the score 101 to 88. The Knock-Outs trailed the rest of the game with little hope in sight until the very last Jam when Boom and Love Tap went head to head. With less than 30 seconds of period time, they were playing on the Jam clock before their first scoring run. If Love Tap got lead, she could call of the jam and end the game. If Boom got lead, she could keep the game alive and hopefully score the 20 points it would take to win. Boom got Lead Jammer and had no choice but to skate like her wheels were on fire. She had to hope that the defense could keep Love Tap from scoring while she slogged her way through The Susans defense. The crowd was going nuts in anticipation as Boom fought The Susans defense and the Jam Clock. For every three points she would score, Love Tap would score one, keeping the score maddeningly just out of reach. You could see the look of total exhaustion as well as determination on the face of JessiKa Boom as she broke out of the pack the final time. She was half way around the track to make another pass as the clock ran out and the whistle blew. The Black Eye Susans won 174 to 159. The Susans are now 2 for 3 which puts them in second place and The Knock-Outs are 0 for 3.
Join us next time, on March 11th, as The Dreadnought Dorothys take on The Black Eye Susans and The Victory Vixens go against The Knock-Outs. If The Dorothys win their game, the first two positions don't change. If The Knock-Outs win their game, they will be tied with The Vixens and start to be a contender. If The Vixens win the next game and The Susans don't, that will tie them up for second again, giving The Vixens a chance for a third victory in The Rink of Fire. The next couple of games age going to be deal breakers, folks, you don't want to miss them. You can get your tickets through this website or your favorite derby girl.
Don't forget to come out to Cronin's Bar & Grill, 12227 W. 87th Pkwy. in Lenexa, Kansas on Friday, Feb. 24th at 7:00 p.m. for The Travel Team Bingo Fundraiser. The Travel Team is going to The Besterns Tournament in Colorado in June and they need your help to get there. This is a volunteer effort, folks, nobody gets paid for this, so every little bit helps. You can play some bingo, drink some beer and hob knob with local celebrities and it's all for a good cause.
Also, don't forget that you can follow KCRW, your favorite home team and The Wheel Press on facebook.