Bruisers Hold Off Muddy River in Tight Bout at the Bunker

The Bay Street Bruisers hosted (and managed to hold off) Moncton’s Muddy River Rollers over the weekend, while the D-VAS overcame some early penalty troubles to outpace Ottawa’s Capital City.

Chronic leads the Bruisers victory lap after a hard-fought win against the Lumbersmacks. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Chronic leads the Bruisers victory lap after a hard-fought win against the Lumbersmacks. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Muddy River’s Lumbersmacks (5-4 on the 2014 season) rolled into Toronto this past weekend for a much-anticipated showdown against Toronto’s Bay Street Bruisers (6-3). Both teams were coming off of big wins to end mini-losing streaks: The Bruisers ended a two-game slide with a massive win over Nashville’s B-team last month (avenging a loss from earlier in the season), while Muddy River had won two in a row (by a combined score of 707 points) over east competition after an early summer three-game losing streak had dampened their momentum. Muddy River is a WFTDA apprentice league and has picked up great experience this season against other apprentice leagues (Quebec, Fog City) and WFTDA B-Teams (Montreal’s Sexpos). The showdown in the Bunker did not disappoint, with both teams showing up to play and the Bruisers holding on for a narrow 235-214 win.

With their jammer approaching, Android WK and Tushy Galore look to clear Box Blocker from the front of the pack. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

With their jammer approaching, Android WK and Tushy Galore look to clear Box Blocker from the front of the pack. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The opening few jams were indicative of the type of battle that would ensue: when five on five, both teams played a stifling lock-down defense that left little room for offensive maneuvering. The score was knotted 2-2 three minutes in before Bruisers veteran jammer titmouse was able to power her way past a dynamic two wall of Hail Destroyer and Knocker Walker and pick up 3 points to give the Bruisers an early lead.

Speaking of duos, the Bruisers’ Android WK and Tushy Galore were devastating together and did a nice job of counteracting some timely offense from Moncton’s ShamRock Her and drew the first power jam of the game (titmouse the jammer recipient). Toronto took advantage of this first error and extended their lead to 29-9 ten minutes into the opening half.

ShamRock Her and Hail Destroyer attempt to hold back titmouse. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

ShamRock Her and Hail Destroyer attempt to hold back titmouse. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

But Muddy River roared back almost immediately. Aided by Walker, ShamRock Her locked in some effective one-on-one work against the Bruisers’ jammer Lexi Con (who looks to be back to nearly 100% after a bad leg break early this season), allowing Moncton super-jammer Burn’N RubHer to rip up the track for 14 points to pull the Lumbersmacks back to within 6 (29-23) and force a Bruisers time out.

Along with Burn’N, Muddy River jammer Snipress also gave the Brusiers defense fits all night and with Muddy River pivot Godley leading a strong offensive push, the visitors picked up a power jam and took advantage, forcing the first lead change of the game and giving Moncton a 61-59 point lead. The teams would trade leads after that until a Sleeper Hold 12-point jam extended the home team’s margin to 85-73.

While Muddy River pushed hard late in the first, the Bruisers attempted to lock things down, getting strong play from all across the experience spectrum. Bruisers veteran (and former CN Power skater) Chronic, laying out some big hits, was devastating at times, while first-year Bruiser Lowblowpalooza rose to the occasion in the first half as well. A chaotic final jam in which both teams picked up jammer penalties almost made all of the work of the opening half for naught as things remained virtually even at the break, with the Bruisers ahead just slightly 104-102.

Bruisers jammer Sleeper Hold approaches a two wall of Billie and Knocker Walker. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Bruisers jammer Sleeper Hold approaches a two wall of Billie and Knocker Walker. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Bruisers came out flying in the second half, putting together the longest sustained stretch of control from one team in the game. Things kicked off with Bruiser jammer Bellefast taking advantage of a power start to pad the home team’s lead. Five minutes into the second Lexi Con was the recipient of another power jam and suddenly the Bruisers had built the most significant lead of the game, up 144-107, 10 minutes into the second.

Muddy River was able to briefly cut the lead back down to 20 points when Snipress took advantage of a power jam, only to herself pick up a cutting penalty on the same jam, allowing the Bruisers to pick up a quick 9 points and reestablish a 171-146 margin.

The Lumbersmacks’ third jammer Tootsie Valentino seemed to get stronger as the game wore on, gaining comfort within the tight-pack defense from Toronto and helped keep her team close, down by 25 at the midway point of the second.

Misery Mae hold up Burn'N RubHer on the inside line. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Misery Mae hold up Burn’N RubHer on the inside line. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The last half of the game was typified by one-on-one battles (typified by the agressive play of Bruisers’ Misery Mae–which eventually caused her to foul out–and the strong positional blocking of Just Jes for the hosts, and the relentless chest-to-chest blocking of Moncton’s Box Blocker for the guests) and the continuing trend of dueling defenses, so long as neither team slipped into penalty trouble (early on the Lumbersmacks had some troubles with multi-player blocks, but adjusted as the game went on). Walker and Destroyer continued their strong play late and were key in helping the Lumbersmacks narrow the lead to 209-197 with only 4 minutes to play.

Mid-season Bruisers call-up (and skating her first year in ToRD) Sleeper Hold was strong all game and picked up a vital lead against Snipress with only 3 minutes to go to pad the home team’s lead 218-201 and force a time out call from the visitors. Bellefast responded with another critical lead pick up, followed by a Burn’N RubHer vs. Sleeper Hold final jam matchup. While Burn’N would pick up lead, she’d be drawn into a track cut. A tired Sleeper was forced to pass the star to pivot Android WK, and a key hit from Tushy Galore on a returning Burn’N would prove to be the final blow as the Bruisers held on for the thrilling, hard fought 21-point victory.

Muddy River went on to continue their Ontario road trip with a 311-86 loss against Alliston’s Misfit Militia on Sunday, who also happens to be the Bruisers next opponent (on October 25th in Aliston as part of a double header also featuring Team Canada and Team Ontario). While the skaters from Moncton continue to impress, their weakness at this point seems simply to be depth. If they can continue to grow as a league (and carry on picking up these vital matchups against top tier teams), they will remain a team to watch.

Dollinquents (Capital City) 97 vs. D-VAS 210

Battering Ma'am comes face to face with Traffic Kisser. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Battering Ma’am comes face to face with Traffic Kisser. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The night kicked off with a 2014 Fresh and the Furious semi-final rematch between Capital City and ToRD’s D-VAS (won by Capital City, though both rosters were significantly different). Inspired by revenge, the D-VAS burst out after the opening whistle, with all four jammers in their rotation (Wheels of Misfortune, Battering Ma’am, Murdercat!, and Vag Lightning) picking up lead status and spotting the team a 29-0 lead early.

The D-VAS mostly dominated during five-on-five situations, but ran into considerable penalty trouble in the first half, spotting Capital City a power jam whenever it seemed as if the home team were about to pull away. This kept things close, with the D-VAS leading 93-45 at half.

Capital City was lead by a core of strong players who were capable (and successful) at playing multiple positions on the track. RebelLion was dominant at times, particularly in the pack in the opening half, while Traffic Kisser took over in the second. Both were viable double threats throughout the game. Ruby Wreckage was also key with the star for the visitors, jamming nearly every second jam at the start of the game before getting some relief later.

D-VAS' Kimikaze leads the defense. (Photo by Joe Mac)

D-VAS’ Kimikaze leads the defense. (Photo by Joe Mac)

In the second half, the D-VAS cleaned up their act and kept the jammer penalties to a minimum, allowing them to pull away. Captain April Cruel was once again strong for the hosts (and took over some jamming in the second too as Vag Lightning and Wheels of Misfortune shifted into some more pack work). Slamureye was a strong pivot all night for Toronto, while Juggernaut J was her usual steady self and Kimikaze continues to emerge as a prospect worth watching.

Outscoring the opposition 117-52 in the second gave the ToRD future stars some padding and they skated away with a 113-point win.

The D-VAS have one more game to impress before the 2015 ToRD house league entry draft, and you can see them at home, facing off against South Simcoe on September 27th (to kick off the ToRD semifinal showdown between Chicks Ahoy! and the Gore-Gore Rollergirls).

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