FORT WAYNE, IN — When the dust settled after a very busy weekend of MRDA-sanctioned action at Spring Roll, there were two major stories, both involving 2011 MRDA champions New York Shock Exchange. The top-ranked men’s team in the nation took a solid 199-148 loss to 7th-ranked upstart Des Moines team YMMD on Saturday night, and on Sunday, New York needed a hugely controversial last-jam comeback to get a win over 4th-ranked St. Louis GateKeepers on Sunday, 131-125.
The game between NYSE and St. Louis, narrow almost all the way through, came down to a last jam between Jonathan R (for NYSE) and Bat Wing for St. Louis, with St. Louis up by 15. Bat Wing was sent to the box early, putting NYSE on a power jam; NYSE’s blockers committed pack-destruction majors on some of Jonathan R’s scoring passes, at one point going so far as to all skate out of bounds together to ascertain St. Louis couldn’t form a pack by going towards them.
A provocatively titled clip of the final jam exploded on Facebook the next day, causing a mini firestorm of debate over whether NYSE’s actions in the jam constituted cheating or extreme rule manipulation. What wasn’t up for debate, though, was that it worked and changed the outcome of the game. The jam ended big for NYSE, giving them a 6 point win.
NYSE’s third game of the weekend didn’t have much of the drama of their other two, as they soundly defeated unranked Portland 270-82.
Beyond the NYSE games, there were some notable rankings shakeups that seem guaranteed to make 2012′s eventual Championships-qualifiers look a bit different than 2011′s. After winning big twice on Saturday, including a 120-point victory over (6) Pioneer Valley, it seemed that 8th-ranked Twin Cities had a strong case for breaking the top six — but in Sunday’s last bout, 11th-ranked Race City played a spoiler in a big way with a surprising 214-110 victory over Twin Cities. That result had the effect of making unranked Portland suddenly look a lot better, as PMRD had defeated Race City 170-61 on Saturday.
While it was another blowout-heavy event (15 of 20 games being decided by more than 100 points, and 8 of 20 decided by more than 200 points), there were a few close matchups, particularly a one-point Sunday nail biter between Central Mass and Rock City; Central Mass prevailed 177-176.
3rd-ranked Magic City, who came extremely close to reaching last year’s MRDA championship game but narrowly lost in the semifinals to New York, drew three severely overmatched teams for their weekend and had no trouble whatsoever (285-28 over Rock City, 417-100 over Connecticut and 617-100 over Sioux City).
It was a pretty rough week for 2 of the original 3 flat-track men’s teams, as well. Last year’s bottom finisher from MRDA Championships, 6th-ranked Pioneer Valley, suffered from a short roster with some relatively green skaters, and lost all three of their games, going down 219-99 to (8) Twin Cities, 318-59 to YMMD, and 263-43 to St. Louis. (9) Harm City also went winless, taking one of the biggest upsets of their history when they were defeated 203-171 by unranked Rock City on Sunday morning; Harm City also lost to Twin Cities 195-70 and YMMD 427-50.
The weekend’s results seem to suggest that YMMD, Magic City, New York and St. Louis all have a nearly ironclad case for inclusion in the top eight; Puget Sound, who were runners-up to NYSE at last year’s championships, did not play at this year’s Spring Roll but have already defeated Portland solidly this year. Puget Sound will have a chance to make a good argument for #1 if they can defeat YMMD in Des Moines on July 7.
With the MRDA championship tournament expanding to 8 teams this year, the big question is which of the remaining teams can qualify. Portland seems to have the inside line right now against Race City and Twin Cities, although both of them have June 23rd games that could change the calculus (TCT plays YMMD and Race City plays Magic City). Additionally, current #5 Dallas Deception hasn’t played an MRDA match this year and apparently does not have one scheduled, but can’t be discounted just yet.