(13) Minnesota, (4) Windy City Play to Stalemate

(13) Minnesota, (4) Windy City Play to Stalemate Photo: Gil Leora.

ST. PAUL, MN — In an extraordinarily tightly contested game between the North Central’s top teams, Minnesota (2NC WFTDA, 13 DNN) and Windy City (1NC WFTDA, 4 DNN) battled to a conclusion that appeared to favor Minnesota on the scoreboard in a 160-155 final — but currently is a bout with no official winner after a scoring discrepancy discovered immediately following the bout left the official score at 155-155.

Head referee Umpire Strikes Back stated on Sunday that the official outcome of the bout is unresolved and being sent to the WFTDA for a final decision.

The post-bout confusion muddied the outcome of what was one of the most exciting games of the year — according to the visible scoreboard, the contest featured six lead changes, four ties, and four jams in which a team held a one-point lead. On the scoreboard, Minnesota took the lead for the final time with under two minutes to play and won the final two jams to apparently emerge victorious in front of an extremely raucous St. Paul crowd. Windy City had come into the game with a 24-0 winning streak against region teams, and a 5-0 winning streak against Minnesota specifically — a fact often remarked upon by the announcers to stoke the crowd throughout the back-and-forth game.

Video Courtesy Minnesota RollerGirls

The teams traded 4-0 jams to start the game; by jam 3, both teams were dashing to take over the rearmost position near the jammer line, ending in some pileups between jams. After four jams and about five minutes, Windy City was slightly up 9-4. Jam five saw the first jammer penalty of the night go in Minnesota’s favor as Kola Loka took lead and put up 3 before committing a major track cut on her first scoring pass; that gave L’exi Cuter time to make up the scoring pass and more on a 13-3 that left Minnesota up 17-12 with 22:30 in the first half.

Windy City put out Zoe Trocious for the first time on the next jam; with the hometown partisans going wild, Juke Boxx lapped Zoe but committed a major back block on her second scoring pass. Minnesota filled their box on that jam and it’d go 9-4 for Juke, leaving Minnesota with a 26-17 lead.

More importantly, though, it left Minnesota facing a 5-2 situation favoring Windy City. A nice jammer takedown on Kola Loka from Scarmen Hellectra kept the damage to just 10-0, but that’d be enough for Windy to retake the lead at 27-26 with 18:40 to play in the first half.

Minnesota tied it up at 27 with a 1-0 to Harmony Killerbruise next, but brutal Windy City defense from Bork Bork Bork and Sargentina contained Minnesota jammer Second Hand Smoke next; Zoe Trocious claimed lead and then got some help from Smoke as Smoke picked up Minnesota’s second jammer penalty. Solid work from MEDUSA and Shiver Me Kimbers in the pack held Zoe to 9-0 on that one, though, leaving Windy City up again, 35-27.

The teams traded power jams two jams later, as both Juke Boxx and Varla Vendetta were boxed; Minnesota was able to momentarily tie at 42 but a big 19-0 from Kola Loka on the tail end of the jammer penalties put WCR up 61-42 with 7:55 in the first half.

The last few minutes of the half were mostly Minnesota rally, which got a boost on the final jam of the half when Varla Vendetta claimed lead for WCR but was reabsorbed into the pack and went to the box before calling it off. Second Hand Smoke reached deep and managed to get 8-0 out of the full length powerjam, leaving it just a one point game at the half with Windy City leading 66-65.

At the break, power jam points were essentially offsetting — Minnesota, with two penalties to Juke Boxx and one to Second Hand Smoke, had given up 27 points of differential to Windy City, while Windy City, with two penalties to Varla Vendetta and one to Kola Loka, had given up 24.

The Chicago crew managed to quiet the extremely eager Minnesota crowd, adding first-half blocker Yvette Yourmaker to the jammer rotation and taking most of the lead jammer calls as the second half began. Windy City picked up four straight lead jam calls to start the second, picking up three small-ball wins and a 4-4 tie to extend their lead to 79-69. Even when Minnesota started claiming some lead jams of their own, point totals were still very low. Through the first 9 minutes of the half, Windy City slowly extended the 1 point halftime lead to a 18 point advantage at 93-75.

But Minnesota wasn’t having it. Hometown favorite Juke Boxx finally managed to get the crowd back into the game with about 20 minutes to go as Diamond Rough and Naughty Kitty worked over WCR jammer Zoe Trocious; Boxx picked up a natural 14-0 to make it a 4 point game, 93-89, with 18:57 to go; the game would be paused there for awhile on an apparent official challenge from Windy City.

Back to back Minnesota 1-0 jams made up half of the deficit to make it 93-91, but Minnesota left the outside open for Varla Vendetta on the next scrum start, allowing Varla to get lead in literally less than a second; Minnesota’s L’exi Cuter had no luck against a brutal Windy City pack of KonichiWOW, Jackie Daniels, Tamikaze and Bork Bork Bork. With Minnesota apparently uncertain as to whether to play offense or defense, Varla ran up the game’s biggest jam with a crowd-silencing 27-0. Suddenly, Windy City was up 120-91 with 15 minutes to go.

Windy City added 8-0 with the help of Ol’ Drrrty Go-Go keeping Juke Boxx in the pack with a last-second hit; that 37 point lead proved to be the largest advantage for either team throughout the bout. Windy City’s Yvette Yourmaker took lead again on the next jam but committed the half’s first jammer penalty on her first scoring pass. That ended up being a nightmare penalty situation for Windy City as Minnesota had 4 blockers against just 1 for Windy City; Harmony Killerbruise had plenty of daylight during a run that erased almost all of Kola’s big run two jams previous.

As it turned out, though, this would be the jam that led to the scoring discrepancy at the end of the bout. Harmony’s run was recorded at 19-0, but an addition error on the official scoresheet marked it as 24-0 — the five-point difference there ended up being the exact number of points that Minnesota eventually won by. Either way, though, it was a major momentum shifter and the hometown crowd clearly sensed their team was right back in it as the scoreboard showed 130-115 Windy City with 10:44 left.

Juke Boxx took the next lead jammer call to an explosive reaction and chose to keep going after scoring 4 with Kola Loka right behind her; it proved to be the right choice as Diamond Rough, Medusa and Hurturde Stein had Kola’s number on the run. The Roy Wilkins was on its feet for a 18-4 Minnesota jam — which yet again made it a one point game at 134-133 Windy City with 8 minutes to play. Windy City took lead on the next, but it went 2-1 to Minnesota, tying it at 135-135 with 7:33 to play.

Minnesota’s Second Hand Smoke took lead over Jackie Daniels and got a 4-1 that put Minnesota in the lead for the first time in the half at 140-136 with 6:28 to play; Harmony Killerbruise added 4-0 on the next with the crowd going apoplectic — Windy City called timeout there with 5:35 on the clock and an 8 point deficit, 144-136.

After the timeout, Windy City was still in major penalty trouble, facing a 4-2 pack deficit and an on-fire Juke Boxx with the jammer star; Juke picked up two scoring passes, but Bork Bork Bork had a jam-saving play by forcing a major track cut on Juke with an athletic toe stop to stay in bounds. Windy City was fortunate to get out of that jam only losing 1 point of ground to Minnesota, with the score 150-141 and 3:23 to play.

The next jam started with a full pack and Juke Boxx standing as Minnesota jammer in the penalty box and Naughty Kitty sitting as blocker; Varla Vendetta toed the line for Windy City. WCR went to the slow outside paceline and got Varla through on the pack split; she got 10-0 to put Windy City up by one yet again, 151-150, with barely under two minutes to play.

But the last two jams were barely advantage Minnesota — and just enough to take the win. On the second to last jam, Second Hand Smoke faced a 2-skater Windy City pack with Windy’s jammer right on her heels — and Smoke picked up a critical three points with a perfectly timed spin move to get her hips past Hoosier Mama right as she called the jam. With just about a minute to play, Minnesota led 154-151.

With only about a minute left to play, the final jam set L’exi Cuter against Varla Vendetta — with Windy City still facing a 3-2 pack deficit. Though both jammers seemed defensively minded to start, it was L’exi taking lead — and wisely keeping the clock running as both jammers completed a scoring pass. Once the period clock hit zero, L’exi called it off with the jam score 6-4 Minnesota, the scoreboard showing 160-155, and some long-frustrated Minnesota fans immediately swarming the track boundary to celebrate a conclusion they’d been awaiting for nearly half a decade.

It was over on the track, but not quite on paper, though — following the bout, there would be nearly an hour of uncertainty on whether the scoreboard final was the official final. In the end, though, the bout paperwork was signed with 5 points removed from Minnesota’s total, leaving the score at 155-155 pending WFTDA review.

Each team lost their jammer 4 times in the bout, but the point differential on powerjams, like the final score, barely favored Minnesota; Minnesota gave up 36 points of differential on jammer penalties while Windy City gave up 48 (or 43, depending on the resolution of the final score).

Minnesota now looks to Championships-levels teams for the rest of the year — their next five opponents all played at Championships, while their sixth, Rat City, just missed. They get it started at Rollercon in Las Vegas July 27-29 with games against Rocky Mountain (2W WFTDA, 7 DNN), Philly (2E WFTDA, 11 DNN) and Denver (4W WFTDA, 3 DNN).

Windy City will have a hangover bout against 12NC North Star Sunday morning; they also have a very tough three-game series in July when they take on Gotham (1E WFTDA, 1 DNN), Texas (1SC WFTDA, 5 DNN) and Bay Area (6W WFTDA, 6 DNN) in Austin, TX on July 21 and 22.