This past Saturday night the Steel City Derby Demons, Pittsburgh’s female roller derby league and members of the Woman’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), staged their second season opener between the 2007 Championship runner-up Hot Metal Hellions and Wrecking Dolls.
After the Pittsburgh Steel Man, a familiar sight at Pittsburgh sporting events who wore discarded steelworker protective gear decorated in black and gold, welcomed the crowd, the match got under way. Although ‘Snot Rocket Science of the Wrecking Dolls scored first, the teams remained evenly matched through the first period, neither team gaining a strong advantage. During the second jam, a five-girl pileup occurred that ensnared Hellions captain The Crippler, and although she initially appeared to slow following the accident, she managed to come back and score shortly afterwards. Crip played strong all night, displaying no sign of any adverse effects from the shoulder injury she suffered at the hands of the Dominion Derby Girls of Virginia Beach back in February. At the end of the first period, the score was tied at 62 all.
As the second period started, two Hellions were in the penalty box, and penalties really controlled the match from that point on. The Hellions kept at least one player in the box until the 22:25 mark of the second period, and it showed in the score as the Wrecking Dolls, led by a very strong ‘Snot at jammer, ran up an eleven point lead, with 91 to the Hellions 80.
At 16:47, the game was stopped when ‘Snot got a hard hit on Hellion Maid of Steel, who exited the game with a possible broken nose. ‘Snot exited the game with a major penalty. ‘Steel returned to the match shortly thereafter, and is expected to make a full recovery.
‘Snot, clearly loving the game and excited to be playing, had fallen out of her skates before the match and duct-taped them on. Her excitement hurt her, however, during the second period as she gathered multiple penalties for false starts. Despite the penalties, she continued to play strong, taking the jammer spot for the Dolls about half the time during the second half of the match. The Hellions, on the other hand, divided the jammer duties up much more evenly, with The Crippler, Sugarplum Scary, and newcomer Mel Practice all effective at the jammer spot. Although the Hellions had started the period with two members in the penalty box, the penalties ultimately exacted a greater toll on the Dolls, who saw their lead evaporate until at the 6:20 mark, the score 117-112 Hellions. The Dolls had a strong, flashy offense throughout the night, but the penalties served to negate it, leaving the bulk of the job on the defense. Before the match, the Crippler told me that every girl on the Hellions tries equally hard and there were no standouts, and their strong defense attested to that. Hellions Bench manager Blissy Sadistic attributed the Hellions strong defense to a new pair-blocking defensive scheme they were using.
The final blow came for the Dolls at the 4:11 mark, when ‘Snot fell down hard and injured her hip, leaving the game. At that point, the Hellions led 125-115. Although ‘Snot was ready to return almost immediately after leaving, by rule a player is prevented from returning after a ref calls off a jam due to injury for the next three jams. After the match, Wrecking Dolls co-captain Ally McKill reflected, “Snot is just a superstar, and that was the worst luck of the night to have her go out in that jam. . . There is no one we’d rather see at the jammer line with the game on the line (and no one the other team would rather NOT see, haha) so that was a really bad break for us. I don’t think there’s anything we could have done differently, though…it was just bad luck.”
Barred from using their strongest offensive player, (although McKill played valiantly and trimmed the Dolls deficit to three points at the :25 mark), the Wrecking Dolls were no match for the Hot Metal Hellions strong defense. The Dolls’ fate was sealed when newcomer Genghis Mom fouled out on the last jam, leaving the final score at Hellions 138, Dolls 127.
After the game, Blissy Sadistic attributed the Hellions strong play in a close game to the experience her players gained against other teams on the road, stated that the close play throughout the match was a credit to both the league and the relative strength of all the teams going into the new season.
All McKill stated, “The penalties were incredibly frustrating, and I think they had a big impact on the game. I think the Wrecking Dolls are generally one of the cleanest-playing teams in the league and we pride ourselves on that, so all of the penalties were rather surprising. It’s just something you have to deal with and move on though, I guess. We’ll just have to work harder on making sure our play is always very clean.”