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Detroit Derby Girls versus Steel City

The Detroit Derby Girls Travel Team versus Steel City (Pittsburgh), on March 23rd of the 2012-13 season.

These clash of allstars bouts with other cities are the best to watch. You get to the see the best players from Detroit working together, and you get see creative derby names that you've never heard of before. Steel Hurtin' had names like Dakota Slamming, Deathcake for Cutie, and Leannibal Lecter. Though if I was giving an award for best name, it would go to 'Snot Rocket Science.
First jam, and it was Racer McChaseHer jamming for Detroit, and 'Snot Rocket Science jamming for Steel. Racer got lead jammer status, scored 4 points, and then quickly called off the jam. In the 2nd jam, Detroit's Ally Sin Shoverland went to the penalty box, and Hard Times scored 20 points for Steel. Detroit's blockers were not coordinating, and just didn't put up any resistance.
Anomaly scored 14 points for Detroit in the next jam, as its defense came alive again. Ally scored Detroit another 9 in the 5th, putting Detroit ahead again, 27-22. Steel wouldn't score again until the 10th jam. Detroit didn't make any huge plays during that shut-out, but they were still up 39-25 when it ended. Anomaly was playing a great first half, scoring points every time she came out onto the track as a jammer. She scored 11 points in the 12th as her teammates aggresively cleared a path for her, and 9 points in the 18.
Steel wasn't enjoying the first half as much. The last play of the half had Leannibal Lecter scoring 14 points for them, but they were still down, 87-51. 34 of Steel's 51 points happened in just the 2nd and 22nd jams combined.
First play of the second half, and Ally Sin Shoverland had her biggest play of the night, scoring 15 unanswered points. The score was now a 2-to-1 margin in Detroit's favor.
Steel didn't score until the 4th jam. Ally was Detroit's blocker again, and she got herself sent to the penalty box. Detroit's blockers were rough on Steel's River Kyx. So rough that 2 of Detroit's blockers, Spanish Ass'assin and Ghetto Barbie, were sent to the penalty box too. Even with so many of Detroit's players in the box, Steel was held down to scoring just 5 points. Some of the penalties carried over into the 5th jam, and added on top of that Anomaly also got sent to the box. Steel capitalized on their numbers advantage and 'Snot Rocket Science scored 20 points. The outcome of the bout wasn't looking so certain anymore. Steel would then score 9 in the 7th, 4 in the 8th, and 14 in the 9th. They scored a combined 52 points in those 6 jams, more than they scored in the whole first half. Detroit was still ahead, but now it was 121-103.
Steel would continue scoring big during Detroit's penalty trouble. When Anomaly's penalty in the 11th jam carried over into the 12th, Leannibal Lecter scored 15 points. In the following jam 'Snot scored 12 while Ally was sent to the box. 'Snot looked outraged over the lack of some other kind penalty call that she was expecting to hear, as she often was through-out the bout, but she should have been happier, as she had just put her team in the lead for the first time of the second half, 132-126.
Racer McChaseHer started to look tired as she jammed for Detroit in the 15th, but she still made a major play. She scored 15 and put Detroit top again at 141-137. That performance got the crowd louder than I've heard it in years. Feta Sleaze then made her jamming debut of the night for Detroit, but got sent to the penalty box after scoring 4 points. Two of her blocking teammates got sent there also, and Steel's Leannnibal Lecter was then able to score 16, taking the lead back for Steel at 153-145.
Ally Sin Shoverland scored 3 points in the 17th jam, helping to trim that deficit a bit. Less than 2 minutes were remaing, and Detroit put in Racer as jammer, as Steel put it in Hard Times. Due to some ruling I couldn't follow, no lead jammer was called. Since no one could end the jam early, this jam would be the last of the bout. After the time ran out, the score on the board was 157-157, and then after another few seconds of tallying the score was adjusted to 158-157 in Detroit's favor. The crowd wanted to approach the track and high-five Detroit's players on their victory lap, but the officials sent them back to the seats because the score wasn't settled yet. What happened was one of the longest referee dileberations I've ever seen. After seven and a half minutes it was decided that the 158-157 score was final.
In the aftermath I was able to confirm some of the observations from the bout with hard numbers. Steel rarely had a jammer go to the penalty box, and there were multiple times that Detroit had a jammer and two blockers in there at the same time. The real numbers weren't as bad I thought. Detroit had 32 penalties to Steel's 24. 'Snot Rocket Science seems invaluable to Steel City. She scored a lot of Steel's points, 55 in fact. She was the jammer for her team in 14 out of 40 jams, so she was holding down that position for a little over a third of the game, and scoring a little more than a third of her team's points.

Detroit's win kept their world ranking just barely above Steel City's.

Captain Ally McKill of Steel City, and Co-captain Hard Times:
Detroit Area Dork: What are your initial thoughts on that bout?
Ally McKill: It was crazy. We always hate to lose, but if you're going to lose a game, I guess by one point know...In a game like this, it feels like a win, honestly.
Hard Times: I'm so proud of this team that we've put together.
A: It's only been a couple months.
H: We have a lot of new skaters. A lot of our players didn't get a whole lot of playing time last season, so we have a lot players that have really been stepping up their game this season. It's so incredible that we did so well.
A: To come into Detroit, this place is crazy tough to play in, and to play this well, we're just incredibly proud.
D: What surface are you used to playing on at home?
A: We play on a wood floor. It's considerably grippier than this floor. This floor, for being wood, is pretty slippery. I know a lot of us changed wheels, are on maybe grippier wheels than we would be at home. We're used to wood, so it's not too different. We could have used some more practice time to get used to the differences in the floor.
D: In the first half you only scored 51 points, and then you scored over 100 in the second half. What changed in the gameplay?
A: At halftime we got back to playing our game. Detroit kind of had us on the run in the first period. They're a really good fast team, and we're used to playing a slower game, and containing jammers, and containing other blockers. When we slow it down we can score a lot more points. When we're on the run, it keeps us running. They were getting a lot of lead jammer calls too, so that kept us from scoring points. We really went in and thought, "Okay, we need to slow it down some. We also need to play a bit more offense for our jammers, so that they can get those lead jammer calls." I think that made us successful in the second period.
H: I'd also say that starting at the jammer line and being able to grab that quick back wall really changed the game for us. Being able to play a quick offense from behind and not if front was a lot easier.
D: Having all the blockers start in front of the jammer line, is that customary in your league too?
H: Yeah, definitely.
D: What demands does it put on you to be on the travel team and go out of state so often?
A: For us, we've had a really action packed first half of the season. We went to California in February. This is our second trip for the year, but we have a couple more coming up in quick succession. We don't really get a chance to stop and breathe, but in a sense, that's kind of good because we roll from one game to the next. We keep using that experience. I think the more time you're getting, the more your refining your game. I think that it's going to make us stronger.
H: In California we were playing bank-track, which was an incredible experience for our first game as a team this season. Learning a whole new rule set, and having to play a different positional game. I think that learning curve set us up together to learn really well.
D: What was the point of contention after the last play?
A: Our coach was challenging a cut-track on a Detroit jammer. She had seen that from her vantage point it looked like when one of our blockers knocked the jammer out of play, and then another one of our blockers had moved backwards. The jammer came in behind the girl who knocked her out, but she came in front of a girl who had moved backwards. It's a little bit of a confusing explantion, but basically they were challenging a cut-track. The refs ended up saying that they didn't see it that way, and we had to go with what they said. If they saw it differently than we did, than that's the game. We'll get video, we'll see if we were right or not.
H: We've been very avid this season about viewing a lot of footage, watching our own games and how we play. We're examining what we need to work on as a team, and as individual skaters. Hopefully we'll get the footage from this bout, because it's been a really big learning experience.
D: From one rustbelt city to another, which city has more rust?
A: I think Detroit might have that one on us. You have bright shiny new cars, so maybe you don't have a lot of rust.

Captain Spanish Ass'assin, and Co-captain Boo D. Livers of the Detroit Derby Girls Travel Team:
Detroit Area Dork: What are you thinking right now about this bout?
Spanish Ass'assin: Wow, it was great. We were hoping to keep the momentum from half time, but sometimes things don't go your way the whole time. We kept our cool, stayed together, and pulled it out. I couldn't be happier about that.
Boo D. Livers: Fast. I thought it was a very fast, high speed game. Jammers on both team were having a hard time catching the pack. Fast game.
D: In the first half, you kept them down to just 51 points, and then they had over 100 points in the second half, what changed?
S: It seems like when we came out from half time, I don't know, the momentum changed. Our girls were going to the box a lot, and we didn't have that in the first half. We're going to have to watch bout footage, and see what we were doing wrong, and what caused the sudden surge of penalty minutes. When we don't have four people on the floor it's hard to have that four person wall and keep that jammer back.
B: We were doing really well when we had our four blackers on the track. We were winning almost every jam when it was four on four. Penalty trouble is what happened.
D: On the other team, their jammer hardly ever went to the box. How did they play differently?
S: I don't know. Honestly, I'm not really sure.
B: You just got to roll with the punches, just like any other game. The refs are going to call it as they call it, and we've got to take our minutes, skate cleaner, and stay composed. We got a lot of extra work on penalty kills, which is a good thing for going forwards toward regionals.
D: In the second play of the game, the other team scored 20 points on you. What did you have to change after that game to get your defense back together?
S: We had to keep our jammers on the floor, and we had to help them more by securing the jammers down, and making it easy for them to actually get through. We can't expect our jammers to do everything on their own all the time. We've got to do our part and keep their jammer back so they have a chance to get the front and push and get through. If we're not doing that, they're taking on five players basically by themselves, and we can't put that on our jammers.
B: Penalties are going to happen. Knowing how to stop the bleeding when our jammer or our blocker is in the box is key. Right off the bat our jammer went, and from there we said, "okay, we've go to lock it down".
D: How do you prepare for a team from another state?
S: Bout footage, and past bouts against them. We've got a lot of girls on the team that have played these teams over and over in the last 5, 6, 7 years. You go by what you know about them personally, and you do a lot of footage of their most recent bouts against other cities. You look for their habits, for their tendencies, and you just figure out what kind of game they're playing, prepare as best as you can, and hope they don't have any tricks up their sleeve.
D: What was the contention at the end of game?
S: The very last one they were contending that our jammer had cut one of their blockers. I think they were hoping for an overturn, and to send her to the box. I don't know, because the time had run out, so you can't put time back on the clock, so I'm not really sure if they were hoping she would lose points or what they were looking for. They basically said that she had cut someone. They went back. Four referees said that she did not cut the person that they said she did, and so it was wiped clean, and there was no time left.
D: What's next for the travel team?
S: Naptown (Indianapolis). We play Naptown in two weeks. They do a lot of the stuff that we saw tonight, but they're a very fast, and a very smart team. They're tough, so we're going to do some footage review, and we're going to work really hard at practice for the next two weeks, and go as hard as we possibly can.
B: Hopefully work on penalty trouble.
D: I'm glad this bout was open to the public, because the other travel team bout earlier this year was closed.
B: It's very rare that happens.
S: That last one we had was kind of a last minute one. We threw it in, and it was low production. We don't have too many of those.
B: We don't.
D: You have another closed bout coming up, don't you? (against Tallahassee on May 10th)
S: A closed one? Maybe a hangover bout. When we have a full-on production like this, it costs us so much more money. You have to have your EMT's here, you have to have your ambulance here. The Masonic has got to have all of their security here. It's a big production. Sometimes if we look at our budgeting, and it doesn't really work out to where we want to put that kind of effort in to it, it's easier to get a sanctioned bout in and get the rankings. Our fans love the bouts, so we try not to do it too often, but as a league, we have a bank account too that we have to respect.
B: In the past our travel team bouts weren't selling out as much, and we weren't sure if we weren't promoting them enough, or if the fans weren't understanding the collaboration of the teams against out-of-state teams. This is a step in the right direction. If we're always selling them out, then we can have more bouts. If we're not selling any tickets, then we can't do it.
S: When we're playing as one team, as opposed to two home teams, now you're only pulling local fans from one side. When it's local and a doubleheader you've got four teams playing pulling fans. Everybody's got their moms, dads, uncles, brothers, sisters, husband, wife coming, whereas now you're only pulling people through one team. It's harder to fill the seats with local people.
All photos by Dan Bachorik

This post written by:
I'm a dork, I live in the Detroit area, and sometimes I take blurry photos on an outdated camera