East Quarterfinals: 6E London Ejects 3E Montreal, 191-122
BURLINGTON, VT -- In a long-awaited rematch of the DNN Reader Poll Bout of the Year from 2011, 6 seed London came back from a bumpy opening against 3 seed Montreal to win a key East Playoffs quarterfinal 191-122. The game seemed like a coin flip with 15 minutes to go, but became a near rout following a major unforced error from Montreal. Down by 43 with about 13 minutes to play, Montreal failed to field a jammer and lost the subsequent jam 35-0, sealing their doom and punching London’s ticket to the tournament’s final four.
The bout started just as tightly as would have been expected from their last meeting. First lead jammer status went to Montreal's Iron Wench, returning to the lineup after missing most of the early season; she didn't seem to have lost much of a step in a quick 4-0. But London hit right back to equalize with 4-0 to Kamikaze Kitten.
However, after that opening trade, it momentarily looked like Montreal might be able to establish a dominant position. The neon army won the next three jams while keeping London off the board. That sequence ended with an airborne 10-0 to Iron Wench that moved the score to 20-4 and inspired London to take their first timeout.
London was in penalty trouble there; they'd lost three blockers to the box in the Wench jam and were stuck in a 4-2 situation on the other side of the timeout. Montreal took advantage over the next three jams, pushing the score to 32-4 before London finally had all 4 on the floor again.
Boots on the ground seemed to help London -- but only so far. They got three lead jammer calls in a row but they could barely get anything out of it to a new score of 35-9. Worse, they again completely filed their penalty box, letting Montreal's Ti-Loup erase that tiny rally next with a 9-0.
With the score 44-9 a couple of jams later, London got a sorely needed power jam; Montreal did a strong positional job of handling London's passive offense, but Rogue Runner eventually pushed her way to 20-4, more than doubling London's point total in one whack. That got the scoreboard looking much more competitive at 48-29. But Montreal got right back to work, taking lead on the next four jams and extending the advantage to 58-29 about midway through the half.
Finally London got the momentum-changing jam they were looking for. Shaolynn Scarlett, Grievous Bodily Charm, Raw Heidi and Frightening Bolt stepped up for a big defensive stop, holding Montreal jammer Apocalipstix for about a minute and a half while London jammer Flamin' Aggro picked up a momentum-changing natural 18-0. Montreal called their first timeout there as London had suddenly stepped into striking distance at 58-49 with 7:30 to play in the first half.
On the other side of that timeout, it was Montreal's turn to be stuck on a 4-2 pack disadvantage and London took advantage with an 10-0 followed by a 2-0. There was a bit of a heated conclusion to that one as Montreal blocker Lil’ Mama sent London jammer Kamikaze Kitten sprawling to force the jam calloff -- and was celebrating that hit when she was in turn sent flying by The Dalai Harmer, who apparently hadn’t heard the four whistles. Tempers flared momentarily -- both in the audience and on the track -- but the situation quickly calmed down with Harmer contritely sitting in the box on a illegal-procedure late hit.
More importantly, that jam put London ahead for the first time in the game at 59-58. Montreal never retook the lead -- though they stayed just one jam away for the next twenty minutes. The first half ended with London up by just one scoring pass, 68-64.
Montreal closed the margin back to one point at 69-68 on the first jam after the break, but London got more fantastic defense from Grievous Bodily Charm, Stefanie Mainey and Shaolynn Scarlett over the next few jams, keeping London a step ahead of their rivals. With about 20 minutes to play in the game, London's 15-point lead of 94-79 was their largest so far.
Montreal started nicking away with a couple of lead jammer calls, but most jams saw both jammers hit the pack neck and neck and call with almost no margin. With the score 94-86 and about 17 minutes to play, Montreal got in a nightmare situation as jammer Apocalipstix cut her way to a completely full Montreal penalty box. Flamin' Aggro was once again the power jammer for London, and shook off a stubborn Lil’ Mama and Rae Volver to drop a big 26-0 that made it 120-86.
Though the 34 point gap was still very much doable with 16 minutes to play, it seemed a lot more intimidating given how close the half had been so far. London made it little bit harder for them by taking three lead jammer calls in a row and extending the lead to 132-89 with 12:30 to play.
However, it was a self-inflicted wound that was the fatal one on the next jam. With Rogue Runner out on the track as London’s jammer, Montreal failed to field a jammer -- and had two blockers warming the box. With two unopposed minutes, Rogue put up a 35-0 that put the game nearly out of reach and dramatically quieted what had previously been a raucous venue. Suddenly London led 167-89 with barely ten minutes to play.
Montreal looked momentarily demoralized after the error, but pulled it together fairly quickly to launch a rally in the final stretch of the game. However, they had too much of a gap to make up and not enough clock time in which to do so. They called their final timeout with the score 176-117 and 2:26 left on the clock; when lead jammer status went to Kamikaze Kitten on the next jam, London smartly ran out the full two minute jam and time expired before the next one could start.
London finished on top 191-122 and will play the winner of Philly / Boston in the semifinals; for the third year in a row, Montreal loses their first game and heads directly to the consolation rounds. They’ll play Dutchland Saturday morning at 10am.