BROOMFIELD, CO – Taking each other on for the first time in their storied histories, the Kansas City Roller Warriors faced the Rose City Wheels of Justice in a bout anticipated to be a closely-contested affair. The fans at 1st Bank Center were not disappointed as the first half saw five lead changes, ending with a 62-58 lead for Rose City. The second half also had five lead changes, with Kansas City skating to take a lead and stretch it to the biggest gap of the game. Rose City slowly but surely came back to retake the lead with less than 10 minutes remaining. Kansas City tied the game with just over 2 minutes left, setting up an exhilarating finish. When the dust cleared, Kansas City stood as victors, 143-135.
Split walls and excellent defense were the story of the first half. Eclipse for Kansas City and Cadillac for Rose City set the tone early with big jammer hits. It wasn’t until the third jam that Kansas City’s Young broke through with a 4-0, answered by a 3-0 by SoulFearic Acid for Rose City. A Scald Eagle juke of Eclipse netted her 4 to give Rose City the 7-4 lead after 5 minutes. Eclipse forced a cut of Sully Skullkicker on the next jam, scampering to the back and earning a major track cut from the Portland jammer. Young busted through a multi-block to score 5 on the powerjam to take the lead back for Kansas City at 9-7. Track Rat then opened up the lead to 18-7, continuing the powerjam, sneaking under Layla Smackdown on her scoring pass.
With 20 minutes to go, Rose City began to whittle away at the lead. Scald Eagle eventually got past Bella Fire’s blocks for a 3-0. Sully Skullkicker followed with a 4-0 and SoulFearic Acid followed with another 3-0 as Jade Lightning had a very hard time escaping the purple pack. As the midpoint of the half approached, Sully Skullkicker blocked her counterpart jammer Hall Balls down then skated to daylight for lead, but Hall Balls was able to win the jam 3-2. SoulFearic Acid sought to continue the jammer-on-jammer action but it backfired and Young shot through to score 10 as Bruz-Her and Annie Maul led a shutout Kansas City defense. Eclipse and Damsel of D’Tension put on a waterfalling clinic against Scald Eagle, shutting her out while Case Closed split the purple blockers to score a triple natural grand-slam and Kansas City led 46-19 with 10 minutes to go in the half.
White Flight put a good hit on Hall Balls, who doubled over and low blocked to go to the box, followed by several of her blockers. SoulFearic Acid took full advantage, scoring 14. The next jam it was Kansas City’s Jade Lightning going to the box and Scald Eagle soared through the light pack for another 14 to take a 47-46 lead for Rose City with 6 minutes in the half.
The next jam it was Rose City’s turn for a penalty cascade and Case Closed won a 9-0 jam to take back the lead for Kansas City at 55-47. Two jams later, Mick Swagger, Mobi-Wan Kenobi, and Layla Smackdown constructed an excellent trap, freeing SoulFearic Acid to score 10 points on a powerjam. Rose City was again in the lead, 60-55. Scald Eagle rode a nicely executed double-whip from Mercy and Cadillac but the hard-to-spot Young snuck through to beat her 3-2. The score stayed at 62-58 Rose City through the final jam but Sully Skullkicker was sent to the box on a track-cut forced by Bruz-Her as time expired in the half.
Starting out the second half in a powerjam situation, Young got a quick 5-0 to take back the lead at 63-62 despite good penalty-killing from Mobi-Wan Kenobi. SoulFearic Acid struck back for a 6-0 and a 68-63 lead for Rose City thanks to great team packwork by Mercy, Hurricane Skaterina, Layla Smackdown, and Napalm Beth, who kept Case Closed in the pack for a full 90 seconds. The shutout proved to be a pyrrhic victory, however, as purple blockers began migrating to the box along with SoulFearic Acid. Track Rat then struck for the biggest scoring jam of the bout, slipping speedily through tiny stopped packs as blocker after blocker for Rose City was called for penalties to the boos of the crowd. SoulFearic Acid returned to the track only to go right back for a fourth minor. Track Rat ended the jam with 19 points and a big 92-68 Kansas City lead. KC continued to stretch the lead and with 16 minutes to go, the 103-71 advantage looked pretty strong.
Of course, that didn’t last. SoulFearic Acid, Scald Eagle, and Sully Skullkicker grabbed lead jammer with four quick sprints through no-pack starts, scoring 9, 11, and 10 points to narrow the gap to 106-101. Then Scald Eagle blasted through the shell-shocked Kansas City pack for 14 as Case Closed was worn out by the constant pressure by the purple pack. Rose City once again had the lead at 115-106 with 8 minutes to go.
After White Flight tacked on another 3 for Rose City, however, it was Kansas City’s turn to regroup. Trauma led a revitalized defense against Sully Skullkicker and Young got 9 to narrow the lead to 119-115 with 5 minutes to go.
Those final minutes were incredibly intense as both teams had skaters flying everywhere, knowing how close victory was to their grasp. It was Young again for Kansas City, snaking through a stretched pack for a 4-0 to tie it with just under 3 minutes to go. White Flight took to the line with a 4-2 blocker advantage but as she slipped around the inside of the initial wall, she was called for a cut. Track Rat put on the afterburners, slipping around the outside and avoiding a cut after being forced out by SoulFearic Acid. By the time the powerjam ended, Kansas City had a 133-119 lead with only 25 seconds remaining.
Young lined up against Scald Eagle. Despite a 2-3 pack disadvantage, Young grabbed lead jammer and had the opportunity to ice the victory – but a rare mental lapse from the veteran led to her calling it before time expired, gifting Rose City one more chance. Rose City called a timeout with 6 seconds to go.
The same jammers lined up for that final jam and Scald Eagle grabbed lead despite a couple big hits driving her out of bounds as Young played it very safe in the back of the pack. Then it was Scald Eagle skating against not just the speeding Kansas City pack but also the clock. It proved to be too great a challenge, though. Scald Eagle won the battle 16-10, but Kansas City won the war with a final score of 143-135.
Kansas City will go on to face the North Central champion Windy City in an eagerly-anticipated rematch at 1pm tomorrow; when they met in September, they went to the last jam in a 111-92 Kansas City win.