#7 Charm City Falls To #1 Gotham, Beats Back #15 Pikes Peak
BALTIMORE, MD -- In the last of three all-star doubleheaders to open their 2009 season, #7 Charm City couldn't stop #1 Gotham from notching a 14th straight victory, but did manage to come closer to them than the great majority of their recent opponents, going down 120-72 in a high-intensity battle. Though the loss to Gotham broke a 7 game winning streak for the hometown girls, Charm City started a new one about 90 minutes later, pulling away in the second half of the second bout to put up a solid win over #15 Pikes Peak, 148-111.
Gotham 120, Charm City 72
The ladies from the Big Apple entered the opening contest with top-shelf jammer Suzy Hotrod off the roster, but they also were without possibly the most notorious blocker in the sport, as Beyonslay was in attendance and suited up but a last-second scratch from the skating roster, replaced with first-time All-Star Papierschnitt.
Charm City was bitten by jammer penalties off the jump, as leadoff jammer Flo Shizzle found herself ending both the first and second jams in the penalty box, although Charm was able to hold Gotham to a relatively low 13 points over the course of the three power jams. The hometown crowd got a chance to explode on the fourth jam of the night, as first-year rookie Just Carol managed to navigate a 4-2 pack in favor of Gotham to nab lead and a 4-0 win over Fisti Cuffs. Carol took one jam off and was right back in the sixth jam to one-up herself with a 5-0 over Barbara Ambush, making the score Gotham 16, Charm City 9 about ten minutes into the bout.
The teams traded punches for the middle third of the half, leaving it Gotham 24, Charm City 19 with about 12 minutes left to play to the intermission, but as they did so often during the 2008 tournaments, Gotham went on a big scoring run that quickly changed the bout from narrow to lopsided. This time, they rattled off 34 unanswered points over the course of 5 jams, keyed again by jammer penalties on Charm City -- an 11-0 run for Bonnie Thunders over a boxed Bambi's Revenge, and a 13-0 for Fisti Cuffs over a boxed Rosie the Rioter.
With the score 58-19 and 3:20 left in the half, Charm City's Joy Collision managed to excite the crowd with a 5-0 grand slam over Fisti Cuffs, but Gotham's Bonnie Thunders was back on the jam line to erase that momentum with a 11-0 over Bambi's Revenge to close the half's action at 69-24 in favor of Gotham -- a 45-5 run in the final twelve minutes of the first half.
The halftime break, though, seemed to pay dividends to Baltimore, who made adjustments that made the final 30 minutes much more evenly matched.
Charm City took or tied the first five jams of the half and put together 12 points to nickel-and-dime the score to Gotham 69, Charm City 36, but Gotham struck back harder, with a 4-2 for Barbara Ambush followed by a 10-0 for Bonnie Thunders.
Charm would suffer a particularly tough break on the next jam, where Charm's Joy Collision managed to defy the odds by taking lead jammer on a 4-2 Gotham pack ... but when she came flying around for her scoring pass, she attempted to make a lateral leap around teammate Lady Quebeaum just as LQ tried to get out of her way in the same direction. Both skaters hit the deck hard and by the time Joy got the jam called off, opposing jammer Fisti Cuffs had managed to pass one of the Charm City blockers to pick up a 3-0.
Gotham pulled out a very situational strategy a couple of jams later on the second of two consecutive jammerless jam resets that demonstrated their minute attention to detail. Their jammer Sweet Sherry Pie was sent to the penalty box very soon after Charm's jammer Just Carol had already taken up residence. Rather than going right to the box, though, Pie took an extra lap around the track so that the previous jam's jammer, Fisti Cuffs, could get back out of the box and get the jammer star back -- and it paid off as Fisti got a 4-0 on the reset, making it 90-42 Gotham with just under 15 minutes to play.
The lead became its largest at 61 points -- Gotham 114, Charm City 53 -- with six and a half minutes to play, but Charm took advantage of rare Gotham jammer penalties to close it a bit in the final moments. Gotham jammer Fisti Cuffs plowed over Charm blocker Dolly Rocket for a back-block major that left Charm's Lady Quebeaum open for a 9-0 run, soon followed by a 10-0 run for Just Carol over a boxed Barbara Ambush in a jam that'd be called early for injury when Gotham blocker Hela Skelter took a hard spill in front of the Gotham bench and needed help from the EMTs.
But on the last jam, Gotham jammer Bonnie Thunders took a 4-0 that once again demonstrated Gotham's impressive situational awareness -- Bonnie took lead and a scoring pass, and then just played jammer defense on opposing number Duchess of Torque with an eye on the period clock till it hit 0:00, at which point she immediately called it and ended the bout at Gotham 120, Charm City 72.
Though they could not narrow the gap, Charm City hung right with the champs for the final 30 minutes in a half that ended by the much narrower margin of 51-48 for Gotham.
Charm City 148, Pikes Peak 111
The second bout of the doubleheader was a bit more disorderly than the first in both pack cohesion and penalties, with both teams spending significantly more time in the box than in the first bout and more than a few laps in which multiple skaters would get whistled off for 20+ foot engagement. After a closely contested first half, though, the Baltimore girls asserted control and sent their fans home happy with a win to close the night.
Those fans might have experienced a bit of deja vu as the bout opened, as once again leadoff jammer Flo Shizzle hit the box in the first jam. But that opening jam proved to be a microcosm of the bout in its chaotic nature: opposing jammer EckoGirl passed the star to pivot Psychobabble, Psycho would hit the penalty box herself after a scoring pass, and there would be a quick score correction as Flo returned from the penalty box at the very end and got through the pack on what was determined to still be her opening pass.
The chaos staked Pikes Peak to a 7-0 lead to start, and the second jam also saw a jammer switch in the box, as Duchess of Torque started unopposed against a boxed Psychobabble but went to the box after one full scoring pass. Jam three saw the exact opposite, as Pikes Peak had jammer Kamilla Bloodspilla on the line alone, only to lose her to the box just as Duchess came back.
After all the power-jam tradeoffs, Pikes still had a 16-15 lead -- at which point Dolly Rocket, jamming for the first time on the night, equalled Pikes Peak's score on a 16-0 four-lap run, making it 31-16 for Charm City -- Baltimore's first lead of a long night.
But it seemed for a moment that Dolly's explosion would be an anomaly in a night that was going Pikes Peak's way. In the ensuing five jams, Pikes took lead four times and constructed a sobering 24-1 run that put the visitors back ahead 40-32 with 14 minutes to play in the half.
Charm City called timeout at this point to reassess, and it seemed to be well timed -- they were able to get the offense producing again, and finally pulled ahead 57-52 with 3:30 left in the half on the back of a 10-1 jam for Lady Quebeaum in a 4-2 power jam situation.
They wouldn't relinquish the lead after that, but it remained narrow for a little while longer. A couple of jams later, first-half (or third-half, depending on where one was counting from) action closed at 68-57 for Charm City.
Four jams deep into the second half, Charm City's lead remained at about the same margin at 82-74, but an enormous power jam played to situational perfection by Charm City blew the game open. Rookie phenom Just Carol, building on her impressive performance against Gotham, dodged and weaved her way to the biggest jam of the night, a 23-0 spot facilitated by the Charm pack slowing the pack to a crawl while opposing jammer DeRanged hit the box twice in the same jam.
With the score 105-74, there was a palpable momentum shift at that moment -- especially as DeRanged, stuck in the box with two Pikes blockers to keep her company, had suffered a broken skate on her way to the penalty box. Pikes was granted a minute-long officials' timeout to handle the skate trouble, which Charm City put to use by loosening up with a minute-long dance party on the track.
From that moment out, continued penalty trouble on the part of Pikes Peak and what appeared to be considerably greater confidence on the part of Charm City kept the margin just a few jams out of striking distance for the remainder. Charm's lead grew to as large as 142-88 with 8 minutes to play, and although Pikes made a late 23-6 run in the final few jams, they couldn't crawl out of the hole started by Just Carol's epic 23-pointer.
For Charm City, the doubleheader marked the last of three back-to-back all-star outings at home, and they now take the show mostly on the road for the rest of 2009, with their next matchup against perennial Eastern powerhouse #6 Carolina on May 16. Gotham's next all-star bout will also be against Carolina, on June 6. As for Pikes Peak, they'll head back to the West to take a shot at wunderkinds #10 Oly on May 24.