(17) Steel City Thumps Burning River, 270-145
PITTSBURGH, PA -- Exactly one year and 11 months ago, the Burning River All-Stars of Cleveland, Ohio (#16NC WFTDA) crossed the nearby border to take on the Steel Hurtin' of the Steel City Derby Demons at Romp 'n' Roll in Glenshaw, PA. The Steel Hurtin' (#17 DNN, #4E WFTDA) won that match handily (225-62), but this time out, the Cleveland skaters were ready to show off the good work they've put in since then. Despite being put in a big hole at halftime, Burning River put on a strong run in the second half, outscoring Steel City for 26 minutes, but eventually falling 270-145.
The bout began with even play and good defense in tight, fast packs. For Cleveland, The Eduskater, Punkd Pixie, Hidden Ajennda, and Ivanna Destroya led the good work on Pittsburgh's jammers. For the home team's cause, Double Destroyer, Ally McKill, J-Bomb, and The Crippler were able to answer and kept Burning River from scoring more than a couple points at a time even during a powerjam. The only multi-scoring pass in those early jams was a 9-spot from Steel City's Hurricane Heather, granted a little skating room by J-Bomb's control of The Killustrator. The score was 25-7 in Steel Hurtin's favor after 12 minutes, but two big jams -- 14-4 for Cheeseburger and 25-0 for 'snot rocket science gave Steel Hurtin' a commanding 64-11 lead with 14 minutes to go in the half.
Maul-ibu Barbie really showed off her speed on this night, jamming for Burning River after transferring from Rubber City. She got a 4-0 back for her teammates, keeping her balance after a hit from The Crippler as Rae Gunn and The Eduskater slowed down Hurricane Heather. But Steel Hurtin's blockers again ran a two-minute shutdown, this time led by Maestro and two debuting teammates: Hard Times, a recent transfer from Oly, and Leannibal Lecter, the sister of Hurricane Heather. While they kept Mary Kaos in the pack, Cheeseburger fought through Punkd Pixie and ...Ooh Shinee to add on another 21 and Steel City led 85-15. By the time the half closed, Steel City had extended their lead to triple digits at 147-38.
The second half featured much looser play with a lot of penalties and light packs. There were twice as many jammer penalties in the first twenty minutes than in the entire first half. Over this time, maintaining a consistent advantage in the pack, the never-say-die Burning River All-Stars not only battled evenly with the Steel Hurtin', but outscored them over 26 minutes.
Three jams in, The Killustrator sliced through some sloppy packs as there was some confusion over a Pittsburgh penalty to score Cleveland's first double-digit jam, 11-0. 'snot rocket science answered by wreaking havoc through a spread-out pack, dekeing each blocker solo, for 19. Madame Abagael showed off her skills with a big whip, hurling Hard Times past a couple blockers for 9. The super-speedy, super-intense Maul-ibu Barbie answered with 9 of her own as Mary Kaos and Ivanna Destroya teamed up on Hurricane Heather. A powerjam on the next jam set up Premo Donna to roll off a massive 24 points as the small, stopped Steel Hurtin' pack could only wait for time to tick down. After a 3-jammer penalty jam, the score was 204-98 and there was a glimmer of hope for Burning River, who had outscored Steel Hurtin' in the quarter, 60-57.
But 'snot rocket science got a powerjam of her own to work with and tacked on another 17. Then, a hush fell over the track as popular blocker Athena went down with what appeared to be a knee injury. After she was attended to, she seemed in somewhat better spirits despite having to leave on the gurney. Hard Times looked to score big on her own powerjam with a 2-blocker advantage as well but yet another jammer penalty sent her to the sin bin and The Killustrator got 20 back for Burning River. Finnish-Her's one-on-one control and Maul-ibu Barbie's big recycling block on The Crippler closed out a nice 28-0 run by Burning River to close the gap to 222-126 with 6 minutes remaining.
A few jams later, however, The Crippler, normally a blocker, put on an amazing display. With no pack advantage other than Maestro's classical hits on Premo Donna keeping her from breaking the pack, The Crippler put on a clinic of how a jammer can initiate and therefore control collisions by passing again and again through the pack with contact that never took her off stride. She finished the non-powerjam with a 28-0 two-minute run to seal the deal. After the final jam, Steel Hurtin' was able to survive the determined assault by Burning River and emerge with the 270-145 victory.
Steel City's next match is with key regional opponent Montreal (#19 DNN, #6E WFTDA) on June 9; Steel City defeated Montreal in two relatively close games last year, the second of which ejected Montreal from the advancement rounds at the East Playoffs. Burning River heads back to their region to play Toronto (#15NC WFTDA) and Chicago Outfit (#24 DNN, #5NC WFTDA) on June 2 and 3 at the Midwest Brew-ha-ha.