The Cincinnati Rollergirls’ home opener for the 2009 season welcomed the Hard Knox Roller Girls into the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association Saturday night in front of more than 1,500 derby-hungry fans at the Cincinnati Gardens.
In the opening bout of the night, Cincinnati’s Silent Lambs defeated the Hard Knox Brawlers 93-35. Cincinnati’s Black Sheep capped off the evening by felling the Hard Knox All-Stars, 177-38.
The unsanctioned bouts were Hard Knox’s first since the league celebrated its recent acceptance into the WFTDA. Cincinnati is currently ranked third in WFTDA’s North Central Region, behind the Windy City Rollers and Mad Rollin’ Dolls, both of whom are on Cincinnati’s schedule in the first half of the 2009 season. True to form, the fiercely loyal Cincinnati derby fans greeted Hard Knox with boos and filled the Gardens with cheers upon every high-scoring jam and big hit from the home team.
Undaunted by the hostile environs, the Hard Knox All-Stars took advantage of Cincinnati’s speedy skaters by keeping the pack speed at a snail’s pace. It took the Black Sheep blockers a few jams to adjust to packs that were at times coming to nearly a complete stop.
In the first jam, the Black Sheep blockers raced to the front and stretched out the pack. Hard Knox jammer Goblynn scored 8 points, shutting out Cincinnati jammer Sadistic Sadie and temporarily stunning the raucous Gardens crowd. As Cincinnati jammers Hannah Barbaric, Candy KICKass and Sadistic Sadie worked to close the gap, Goblynn scored three more points for Hard Knox in the fourth jam to give her team an 11-7 lead.
It wasn’t until the sixth jam that Cincinnati jumped to a 14-11 lead with two grand slams by rookie Cincinnati jammer K. Lethal. Having found their stride, the Black Sheep held Hard Knox jammers Drop Dead…Gorgeous and Jamie Skull to just 7 more points in the first half, taking a comfortable 85-15 lead into the locker room.
Early into the second period, Cincinnati continued to widen its lead by leaps and bounds, thanks to a 15-point jam by Hannah Barbaric and a 17-point jam by Candy KICKass. The Hard Knox All-Stars managed to score 14 unanswered points, making the most of lead jammer status and Black Sheep penalty trouble. Drop Dead…Gorgeous scored the last of Hard Knox’s 38 points halfway through the second period as Cincinnati’s devastating pivot combination of Sk8r-Kinney and Blu Bayou put the front of the pack on lockdown, while the Black Sheep jammers shredded the Hard Knox defense.
Hard Knox lived up to its reputation as a scrappy, hard-hitting league in its first action as a WFTDA member league, delivering punishing hits and playing tough all the way to the final whistle. In the end, though, Cincinnati’s experience outran Hard Knox’s tenacity.
The top scorers for the Black Sheep were Candy KICKass and Hannah Barbaric with 55 points each, followed by K. Lethal with 37 and Sadistic Sadie with 30. For the Hard Knox All-Stars, Goblynn scored 19 points, Drop Dead…Gorgeous scored 13 and Jamie Skull scored 6.
Earlier in the evening, the Hard Knox Brawlers came out swinging against Cincinnati’s Silent Lambs in the undercard bout, hitting consistently and precisely. But the Lambs stayed in front the entire time, swallowing up the Brawlers’ jammers long enough for the Lambs’ jammers to earn multiple grand slams.
In that 40-minute exhibition bout, Miss Print scored 31 points, Dr. McDerby added 29 and Jungle Lacy chipped in 15 more in a single jam. Bex Pistol, Cherry Choke, Glamourazz and Polly Rocket also took turns wearing the jammer star, scoring the remaining 18 points. Kell’s Inferno was the high scorer for the Brawlers with 18 points, followed by Unsweet T with 12 and Sushi Roll with 5.
In a testament to the feisty league’s determination and endurance, Hard Knox fielded four skaters – Barbara Bushwhacker, Bruisey Quatro, Kell’s Inferno and Sushi Roll – who played back-to-back on both rosters.
Hard Knox’s next bout is April 4 at the Knoxville Convention Center, where the All-Stars will go up against the Atlanta Rollergirls’ Sake Tuyas and the Brawlers will take on the Soul City Sirens of Augusta, GA. Cincinnati’s next bout, April 11 at the Cincinnati Gardens, will pit the Black Sheep against the Burning River Roller Girls All-Stars, ranked 9th in the North Central Region, as the Silent Lambs butt heads with Windy City Rollers’ “Nadabee” team.
Additional reporting: Professor Murder, Quad Almighty