In what is being debated as one of the best Queen City Roller Girls bouts of all time, the Devil Dollies secured their 2nd ever QCRG Cup Championship Friday night at Riverworks. They did it by beating the Alley Kats 158-157 in the final jam of the game, leaving fans with the closest QCRG Championship win of all time.
The Alley Kats had taken 2 of the 3 games between these teams to start the season and both of those were close results. A late season blow out win by the Dollies came after the Playoff seeding was already set, so fans and skaters knew going into this game this was going to be a close battle. No one expected it would be this close though.
The entire 60 minutes of the game was tense with 14 lead changes in total after the Dollies established a 1-0 lead in the first jam. Neither team was able to pull away – the Dollies largest lead was just 11 points at 24-15, the Kats was 29 at 77-48. 10 of the 52 jams of the game ended 0-0 and 3 times during the bout the score was tied. After the 77-76 score at half the refs made sure to talk about the process of overtime if we were tied at the end of 60 minutes. The game already had that kind of feel to it.
The Dollies tried to build a cushion to start the game but the Kats stopped their lead at 11 and then pushed back with a massive run of their own to run the lead up to 77-48 with one jam left in the half. The Dollies capitalized on a powerjam to end that half and their jammer Double Barryl put up a 28-0 jam to pull them within 1.
The 2nd half opened with the Dollies grabbing the lead again with a 15-10 jam. What followed till the finish was a seesaw battle. The Kats briefly pulled away with a 15 point lead before surrendering it again and by jam 18 the game was tied 149-149. The Kats put up 4, the Dollies answered with 4 of their own to make it 153-153. Kats jammer Ashes t’Ashes put up 4 to give them the lead again at 157-153 with less than 2 to go. The Kats followed up with jammer Karsmashian and the Dollies countered with NicNugget. Smash grabbed lead but was caught in a jammer race and she called the jam 0-0 with time left on the clock.
Both coaches took time outs and after the break the Dollies put out Double Barryl while the Kats matched with Evil Lyn Cognito. These two had been in this scenario twice already this year. Evil Lyn pulled off a 7-3 last jam against Double Barryl in their first meeting this year to hand the Kats their first win since 2012 with a score of 164-161. They met again a month later on the jam line with Evil Lyn grabbing lead in the final jam to ice another win for the Kats 133-115.
Beyond this history between the two, both have contrasting careers in QCRG. Evil Lyn is an original Alley Kats member which means she played through the highs in the early years of the team, and suffered through the tough years. Within the game she crossed the 1,000 points scored as a jammer plateau (2010 to present), becoming just the 4th jammer in recorded QCRG history to do so. She also increased her lead in terms of jams played as a jammer within QCRG – 49 jams over 2nd place with no one even close to challenge her. Aside from her veteran presence, Evil Lyn IS the Alley Kats.
For the Dollies side, Double Barryl was the rookie revelation this year. She had played roller derby before transferring to QCRG, but this was her first year within the league. She pushed and came oh so close to the league record set by Librawlian (one of her coaches) in single season jammer points scored and jammer points scored as a rookie, missing that last mark by just 19 points. Still, she lead the league in many categories this year; her 4.76 point per jam was the best in the league for anyone over 10 jams played, her 66.1% lead jam percentage was best, she was a positive +444 with no one else even close, and she had the highest share of her teams points of any home league jammer at 41%. She did all this while taking a shockingly low 3 penalties through 8 games.
While Double Barryl and Evil Lyn lined up on the jam line, the blockers dug in relying on their veterans. The Kats had a 4-3 pack advantage with Dollies pivot Erin Go Braless starting the jam in the box. The Kats blocking line featured PaulverizHer (Assistant Captain), 1/2 Pint Destroy-Her (Pivot), Arti Choker and Ana Killingspree. PaulverizHer moved into 2nd all time in jams played as a blocker within this game and is their defensive anchor. 1/2 Pint and Ana were transfer skaters this year with lots of experience and the ability to punish jammers with hard hits. Arti Choker rounded out their blocking line with quick laterals and a great track IQ to hold pack.
The Dollies answered with Lip Service (all time league leader in jams played), Chickadeemolish (team Captain), and La’Batt Bruise. In this game Lip Service moved into 1st all time within the league in points scored while on the track (3309), while Chick, Lips and LaBatt were 2-4 in +/- on the track this season (with Double Barryl they are 1-4). Chickadeemolish also has played in the most games of any QCRG skater this year pulling triple duty with the Dollies, Sirens and Lake Effect Furies. This was her 26th game of the season, around 3x more than an average skater would play. Both blocking crews were experienced and ready.
This was the stage that was set as fans for both sides went wild inside Riverworks. As the jam whistle blew it looked like Evil Lyn was poised to go 3-0 in this scenario this year. Within 20 seconds she had gotten out front and beat every Dollies blocker except for Chickadeemolish. Heading into turn 1 Chick met her and turned into her to hit her out of bounds just inches before she could grab lead jam, or squeeze through. Evil Lyn ran back and tried Chick again on the inside of turn 1 and was turned back. This sequence allowed the Dollies to kill their penalty and by that 2nd draw back Double Barryl was finally making forward progress against the Kats blockers.
Pushing into turn 2 Kats blocker PaulverizHer took a clockwise block penalty giving the pack advantage back to the Dollies 4-3. Double Barryl got up and beat the last Kats blocker 1/2 Pint out front of the pack to grab lead. She would need 4 to tie, or a grand slam (the jammer lap point) to win. The Dollies blockers dug in and held Evil Lyn as the Kats tried to give offense to get her out. As Double Barryl came around the track she went to the outside and took a hit on the line from 1/2 Pint that would have knocked out most jammers. Double Barryl tight roped the line, standing on one toe stop, grabbed her balance and took off with all 5 points. The crowd erupted. The Dollies had secured their 2nd QCRG Championship in the most dramatic fashion.
For the Kats the loss was devastating. After three winless years this was one of the best Alley Kats teams ever. A #1 seed with 4 wins this season, including 2 against the Dollies, they wanted this game badly. With the 1 point loss this also means the Kats have lost 2 QCRG Championships by a combined 3 points – losing by 2 in the Cup Championship in 2010 against the Saucies.
Perspective is hard, but the Kats had only won 5 games in their entire team history leading into this year and had only won 1 playoff game. They won 4 games this year and rode a #1 seed direct to the Champs. Their jammer rotation played solid all year and their blockers ensured they would always have a shot. They all committed to what they needed to do to win and progressed all year. They took 11 fewer penalties in this game, they never got down and they always supported each other – even after this loss. They lost by inches, by the closest possible of measurements, and it wasn’t at all because of a lack of focus or effort. They should be proud of the season they put together for themselves and for their fans (and they should all come back to give it another shot in 2017).
The win for the Dollies capped off a magical 2016. With 9 skaters who were rookies to this league, they were part of a “youth movement” that breathed new life into QCRG. In its 10th season, the Dollies Championship signals that the future of QCRG will be bright. The season ends with new attendance records, the Lake Effect Furies poised to return to Division 1 Playoffs, a nice sized boot camp and Queen’s Court and lots to look forward to in 2017. Stay tuned to qcrg.net for updates.