Saturday night marked the beginning of a new era in history of the Hammer City Roller Girls, and they kicked it off against a familiar foe. Since 2007 the Forest City Derby Girls have been challenging their Hamilton rivals to no avail, but that all changed on Saturday as they proved greedy guests in sweeping the double header between the two cities’ four teams.
Luscious Lunch Ladies 210 vs. Hamilton Harlots 64
Although it is only their second year in existence, the Luscious Lunch Ladies looked like the veterans in this one as the historic Harlots tracked an almost completely new-look roster. Key veteran pivot Judge Jodie was almost immediately battling for control of the pack, which was being wrestled out of control by stand-out Lunch Lady Andi Slamberg. Given that neither team has had any competitive track time yet in 2011, it wasn’t surprising that there was a lot of sloppy pack play in the early, and some botched power jams kept things close, tied at 22 at one point in the early going.
The new London team seemed to be taking after their big-sister Thames Fatales in their fearlessness, and Mighty Thor, Bloodlust Barbie, and Elle Boes led the offense, jamming admirably late in the first half, taking advantage of some inconsistent and undisciplined play from the Harlots to help the London team pull ahead 93-37 at the half.
The Harlots needed to come out strong to start the second half to fend off the Lunch Ladies’ threat to pull away. Unfortunately for Hamilton Andi Slamberg made a statement early. Trading the stripe for the star and laying down 18 points to maintain the momentum they’d built up through the first half. Urged on by the home town crowd, the Harlots certainly did not relent, and some dogged jamming from Frec-Kills and Abbya Stabya led by determined pack work from Scooby Doom and Whacks Poetic ensured that points were put on the board, but as the Lunch Ladies became more and more comfortable with one another the Harlots could not contain their offense and the skaters from London pulled away for a big 210-64 victory.
Thames Fatales 170 vs. Eh! Team 64
Although certainly not as radical a restructuring as the Harlots, it was also a revamped Eh! Team roster that took to the track against a Thames Fatales team loaded with talented veterans. While this was the 2011 debut for Hammer City’s WFTDA team, the Thames Fatales were coming off of an appearance at the Beast of the East and a recent win over Mid-Michigan. That comfort and familiarity on the track was obvious in the early going, as London quickly established control led by extraordinary jamming from star jammer Killson. Killson would dominate the jammer battles all night, and especially in the early going, no matter if she was matched up against Eh! Team slawarts Bitchslap Barbie and Miss Carriage, or the speedy JJ Bladez. Thames rushed out to a quick 41-8 lead thirteen minutes in.
Hammer City has lost a lot of their core over the past few years, and were missing a few key players on the night, and the inevitable growing pains that come with integrating new players into a veteran lineup were on display in the pack dominance that Thames Fatales had over the Eh! Team in this one. London has great lines featuring players very familiar with one another. In the early going the Line pivoted by Mirambo and featuring Back Ally Sally, Jemicide and None Ya Biz clearly had the Eh! Team’s number, executing consistently well, and pulling off solid and effective traps on power jams to ensure a big 52-14 lead twenty minutes in. But for all of the youth on the Hamilton team, there was significant experience too and Hawkeye Fierce was key in helping Miss Carriage pick up key points on a late power jam to pull the host team within striking distance down 63-38 at the half.
The Eh! Team clearly tried to mix it up in the second half, and there were strong jams led by veterans Eduskating Rita and the athletic Lock N Roll. Homewrecken Molly also stepped it up in the second half for Hamilton, and despite some penalty trouble for London’s “Shake n Bake” duo Back Ally Sally and Mirambo (who seem to stick together like glue when forming walls), Thames Fatales managed to respond to every push back that Hamilton could manage and with aggressive jammer Slacker Smacker putting up big points, actually managed to run up their lead 115-38 before Hamilton was able to get any offensive momentum in the second half.
London never looked out of control in this one and rode their solid team-play to a convincing 170-64 victory, the team’s first over a its southern Ontario rivals.
This was a historic win for a scrappy Forest City league that highlighted a strong young core in the Lunch Ladies, and the steely determination of the Thames Fatales, a team that has been grinding away in southern Ontario for years; this victory continues what has been a solid start to 2011 for the strategically sound team, building on the momentum gained from their one-sided victory over Mid Michigan and a solid 1-2 performance against stiff competition at the Beast of the East (their two losses were against the two eventual finalists in the tournament). For Hammer City, this double header kicked off what will be the first major rebuild in the history of the league, although they have survived the rise and falls of teams before, and have the veteran leadership in place to ride out this as well. This night also marked the important debuts for many skaters, many of whom will be relied upon to lead eventually lead Hammer City back to competitive form.