Recap: Mohawk Valley Cup Day 2
See preliminary-round details in the Day 1 Recap.
The Mohawk Cup, a roller derby tournament featuring eight northeastern U.S. Men’s Roller Derby Association (MRDA) teams, continued with another 6 bouts on day two. All four winners coming out of Saturday’s first round bouts moved on to the winners’ bracket of the semi-finals and played against each other in the two morning bouts. As with Saturday, play started at 9 and 11 am.
Bout 7 – New York Shock Exchange vs. Connecticut Death Quads
The first seed Shock Exchange (#3 MRDA) took on the fifth seed Death Quads (#13 MRDA) after coming off wins Saturday against Vermont Men’s Roller Derby and Pioneer Valley Roller Derby respectively. The Death Quads saw the leading side of the scoreboard for the first two jams in this sunrise bout when they posted a 10 to 2 lead, but never saw the winning side of the score again.
At the half the Shock Exchange was ahead 261 to 43. In the second half, the Death Quads lost Cirkle Jerk and Fro Serious to seven box trips. Final score for the bout: Shock Exchange 389, Death Quads 66. Winning advanced the Shock Exchange to the finals to play the winner of the next bout. The Death Quads faced the loser of the next bout for 3rd.
Bout 8 – Race City Rebels vs. Mass Maelstrom
The pace and intensity of the event shifted with this bout as the seeds and rankings of the teams became closer in these final brackets of the event. The Maelstrom considered this bout a grudge match for their 2012 Spring Roll loss in May when the Rebels took home a 168 to 135 win. Their drive was more than simply about winning the day; based in part on the Spring Roll results, the Rebels found themselves ranked #7 MRDA and the Maelstrom at #10 after the second quarter results were announced. With the top eight teams in MRDA advancing to the Championships later this year in St. Louis, MO, a lot rode on this particular bout at the Mohawk Cup.
In the first several jams of the bout, it wasn’t looking good for the Maelstrom’s chances to change the rankings. In jam 4, Zed, who had missed Saturday’s bout and arrived in Rome, NY at 4am (a mere 7 hours before this bout’s start time), fractured his leg after skating only 2 jams at Mohawk Cup and play was stopped for the longest period of time in the whole event. The score after these first four jams: Rebels 21, Maelstrom 6. Galvanized by the setback, Maelstrom began playing harder and with more earnest than ever.
By the time an official time out was called for the EMT’s to check on RCR’s #44 Meek (after jam 16 with 9:54 remaining in the first period), the score was 70 to 40 Maelstrom who rallied again with a 37-0 point scoring run over the next 4 jams. While both teams fielded strong, tightrope-skating, hit-defying, faster-than-slippery-concrete-track jammers, it was the defensive and offensive work of the packs that made the winning difference.
Jam 19 (of the first period’s 23 jams) exemplified this kind of play while Cilantro, failing to get lead though first through due to a minor cut track, put up 23 points while the Maelstrom’s Jack Hammer’d (Blocker MVP for the event), Speeder Parker, Wes Turn, and Smiteochondria kept the Rebel’s Tomka Truck in the pack for four natural grand slams. There wasn’t a lot more scoring in the remaining four jams of the period, but the Rebels brought the ratio to an even 2:1 by the half 110 to 55 Maelstrom.
The second half continued as most of the first half with both teams adept at scrum starts and using them liberally. Blockers dominated scoring opportunities except for a few power jams. Both teams had expulsions for maximum box trips in the second half. The Maelstrom managed 8 lead jammers to the Rebels 2 and pulled the game nearly out of reach with a score of 132 to 65 after 10 minutes of game play and 10 fast jams.
After a 25 point scoring run by Peter Rottentail (the team's eventual MVP for jammer) in jam 13 against Doc Flatliner, penalized for a major back block, the Maelstrom had regained their 2:1 score ratio 165 to 83. They might have kept that ratio for their final score, however, going into the last jam ahead 189 to 105 (1.8:1), Stryker, getting lead, decided to run the clock exchanging 4-4 scoring passes with Tomka four times ending the game with a 203 to 125 Maelstrom victory (1.6:1).
The Maelstrom advanced to the final and Championship bout with this win while the Rebels prepared to take on the Death Quads for third later in the day.
Energy was high after the Maelstrom upset of the Rebels going into the two closest bouts of the event in the Consolation Finals. If you’ve never experienced the dynamics of tournament play on ranked teams, the Mohawk Cup was a primer in the effects of playing important, sanctioned bouts in a short time period and coping with the resulting injuries. Nowhere was this more evident than in the next two bouts played for 7th and 5th place.
Bout 9 – Quadfathers vs. Mean Mountain Boys
The bout for 7th place pitted the two teams who had each suffered two losses on Saturday against each other – the event’s host, The Quadfathers (losing to the Rebels and the Trauma Authority) and the Mean Mountain Boys (losing to NYSE and the Dozen). Of all the team injuries at the event, the Quadfathers suffered the most having two injured skaters from their regular jammer rotation too injured to skate this bout: Die Lon and Peach.
With both teams relying on a more limited pool of skaters than the higher ranked teams at the event, and with more specialized skaters, injuries seemed to matter in this event more than regular play where an ankle strain might heal in a few weeks, but not a few hours or days. The Mean Mountain Boys came into this bout believing they had a chance to take a win even though their roster was shorter than the Quadfathers.
The Quadfathers started the bout with a 10-0 jam as Wraith served a minute for dragging his toe stop him to steady, only to cut the track. A 12-3 jam with no lead pitting grambo against Wraith in the 5th moved the Quadfathers ahead by another leap 34 to 13. Ferrari Kid replied to that 5 jams later 14-0 with grambo starting in the box and by the time the Quadfathers called the first time out of the game with 12:20 remaining in the first period, the Mean Mountain Boys had tied it up at 42. Alternating between Wraith and Ferrari as jammers the whole first period with Malcom Sex jamming only twice, the Boys of Vermont ended the first period ahead 74 to 62 but not before losing one of their most reliable blockers, Buck U, to an ankle injury in the penultimate jam.
The second period started with the Mean Mountain Boys continuing their winning formula and holding on to the lead. A 20 point jam by Wildstyle in jam 14 brought the lead back to the Quadfathers; 115 to 104. A couple more power jams, both called early (before the Quadfathers completed their initial pass) by the Mean Mountain Boy jammers, tired from their two-jammer rotation, the Mean Mountain Boys changed the lead 134 to 131 and would hold it for all of two jams. Wildstyle, starting in the box in Jam 20 with about 5 minutes remaining, held down a 14-4 jam against Wraith who was sent to the box twice (4 minors and a cut track). The Quadfathers held that lead for the last four jams, ending with a victory and 7th place 167 to 149.
Bout 10 – Dirty Dozen vs. Trauma Authority
Both teams playing for 5th place had landed one loss and one win on the first day of the event. For the Dozen it was Connecticut’s Death Quads and Vermont’s Mean Mountain Boys. For the Trauma Authority it was the Maelstrom and the Quadfathers. These two teams faced off just eight weeks earlier at Pioneer Valley with the then short-rostered Trauma Authority losing to the Dozen 148 to 114. Today the Trauma Authority brought a full roster and hoped to turn the tables because of it. The Dozen didn’t change much in numbers, but brought more experience to the track at Mohawk Cup than they had in June with Ruppert (the skater formerly known as Mongo) returning from his 2011 season injury.
In the first half, it looked as though the Trauma Authority would meet their expectations as they got off to a 4-0 lead in the first jam and never gave the Dozen a chance to get ahead. The ability to get lead was the deciding factor in first period scoring. In 24 jams, the Trauma Authority earned lead jammer 15 times to the Dozen’s mere 8. Power jams by Roarshock (jam 10) and Hazmatt (jam 17) gave CDTA room for some confidence so that even Bennar’s 19-0 jam against Hazmatt in the 23rd didn’t cost them the lead, ending the period with a small but significant 69 to 52 lead.
The lead jammer situation didn’t change much in the second period. In 24 jams, the Trauma Authority earned 13 leads to the Dozen’s 7. Power jams for the Dozen and penalty trouble for the Trauma Authority changed the tide of the game. Mars Travolta had three power jams in the half with a cumulative score of 47-16 to help close the gap. It was Jurasskick Park’s 19-0 point power jam against Hazzmat in the 22nd jam that brought the lead change with the score reading 155 to 152 advantage Dozen.
Jam 23 found Dennis the Red Menace outscoring Massacre and, with Dennis having control as lead jammer, appeared to be the last jam until Massacre fell to the floor and the jam was called for injury. The scoreboard initially didn’t reflect Dennis outscoring, but an official review changed that and the scoreboard showed 166 to 160 Dozen with 26 seconds remaining on the clock when the last (24th) jam began.
In what would be the final jam, Jurasskick Park took the jammer line and sprinted to lead in under 3 seconds while his pack held back the Trauma Authority’s jammer. As time ran out on the period clock, Jurasskick watched near the back of the pack and Trauma Authority’s jammer broke through his initial pass. Risking penalties or CDTA’s jammer picking up points, Jurasskick went for the seemingly unnecessary scoring pass before calling it 4-0 for the jam. At the end of the bout, the scoreboard showed the Dozen had won 170 to 160 but before the paperwork was signed, math errors were corrected and the final, official score kept the Dozen as the winners 163 to 160 - the closest score of the event.
The impact of potential MRDA standings against playing bouts to place well in a tournament was a consideration not only for the skaters on the track in any given bout, but also for many of the skaters watching on the sidelines. Nowhere was this more palpable than in the final two bouts of the Mohawk Valley Cup.
Bout 11 Rebels vs. Death Quads
Having traveled the farthest and already suffering a loss to a lower ranked team this event(Maelstrom - #10 MRDA), the Rebels (#7 MRDA) knew they could not afford to also lose to the Death Quads (#13 MRDA) if they were to have any chance of remaining in the top 8 for MRDA Championships.
The Death Quads found themselves vying for 3rd after taking an anticipated loss to NYSE. Race City started with the lead and alternated lead jammers with Connecticut for the first four jams, when Doc Flatliner lost his jammer cover and skated clockwise to retrieve it. In the confusion that ensued, the Death Quads’ Pastor of Muppets changed the lead 6 to 4 and the Death Quads would not give that lead up for the remainder of the first period. Four 4-pass power jams for the Death Quads (three by Zak Sabbath and one by Cirkle Jerk) countered the Rebels’ lead jammer advantage in the period. The last and 21st jam of the half ended with the Death Quads leading 88 to 73 but Zak as the Death Quad's jammer in the penalty box.
The Rebels’ jammer, Dexter, lost lead to a No Pass – No Point in the second period's first jam, but racked up 15 points before Zak returned to the track from the box, earned lead and called it, tying up the game at 88. Tomka Truck picked up lead and 2 points in the second jam for a lead change and the Rebels never gave the lead back for the remainder of the bout. Both teams earned lead nearly the same amount with a slight advantage for the Death Quads, but penalty trouble hurt them while the Rebels used power jams and pack advantages to outscore the Death Quads. The biggest point spread occurred after jam 16 with about 8 minutes remaining. At that point, the Rebels held a commanding 198 to 118 (80 point) lead. In the next and final four jams, the Death Quads outscored the Rebels 34 – 3. The Race City Rebels took home the 3rd place trophy with a score of 201 to the Death Quad’s 4th place 156.
Bout 12 Shock Exchange vs. Maelstrom
If there was one bout in the Mohawk Valley Cup where the final score did not seem to reflect the performance on the track of the two teams, it was this bout. Scrum starts were the name of the game with the Shock Exchange finishing their gear check first both periods and lining up on the jammer line while the referees checked out the Maelstrom in the crash zone. Races to the jammer line took out outside pack referees and nearly defied the 4th whistle of the previous jam. From the 4th jam on, it seemed as though the Maelstrom could not get a break from penalty calls and faced 2:4 pack disadvantages for nearly half the jams of the first period.
Not surprisingly, the Shock Exchange took the majority of the lead jammer statuses. Amazingly tight and tenacious Maelstrom packs, often times only a pair, kept NYSE’s multiple scoring pass jams to 7 (out of 22) while answering with 2 of their own. But keeping the Shock Exchange from scoring and getting points are two different things and the Maelstrom found themselves down by more than 100 at the half – 138 to 35 Shock Exchange.
During halftime, announcer Caps Lock called on the skaters and the audience for a moment of silence for Half Pint O'Rage, a valued member of New Hampshire Roller Derby, who recently lost her battle with leukemia.
There were fewer multiple scoring pass jams for the Shock Exchange in the second period (only 4 unofficially), but two of them (5th and 16th jams) by Jonathan R accounted for 61 of the Shock Exchanges final 281 points (22%) while both times the Maelstrom jammers (Peter Rottentail and Stryker respectively) went to the box on 4 minors with short packs on the track. The Shock Exchange kept Maelstrom scoreless for 8 consecutive jams this period (jams 5 through 13) but the Maelstrom continued their tenacious play in spite of constant setbacks. The Shock Exchange laid claim to the 1st place trophy with 281 points and the Maelstrom took home second with 52.
Final Standings & MVPs
The Quadfathers presented trophies to the top three teams and medals to each skater and coach for those teams.
1st – New York Shock Exchange
2nd – Mass Maelstrom
3rd – Race City Rebels
4th – Connecticut Death Quads
5th – Pioneer Valley Roller Derby – Dirty Dozen
6th – Capitol District Trauma Authority
7th – Quadfathers
8th – Vermont Men’s Roller Derby – Mean Mountain Boys
Each of the 8 teams participating in the Mohawk Valley Cup were asked to vote on a Jammer MVP, a Blocker MVP, and one MVP from each of the 8 teams participating. For the tournament Jammer & Blocker MVPs, each team submitted up to 3 names. For the individual team MVPs, each team submitted one name. Tournament MVPs received a gift packet with wheels, plaque, and other swag. Team MVPs also received a small plaque.
Tournament Jammer MVP – No Big Deal (Maelstrom)
Tournament Blocker MVP – Jack Hammer’d (Maelstrom)
Shock Exchange – Abe Drinkin
Maelstrom – Peter Rottentail
Rebels – Meek
Death Quads – Zak Sabbath
Dirty Dozen – (Erich) Bennar
Trauma Authority – Roarshock
Quadfathers – grambo
Mean Mountain Boys – Ferrari Kid