by T.J. Pelletier It was long bus ride down the 401 for
the Misfit Militia, with all the talk about strategy and how they were
going to have to play their game in order to get a chance to take down
one of the most experienced and successful teams in Canadian roller
derby. The Rideau Valley Roller Girls Vixens were there waiting for the
Misfits with baited breath and a calm, cool demeanor.
The Misfits headed into the game having won each of their last 11 games
dating back to August of 2012 but knew they were in for a tough
opponent and had been preparing well for the event, renting out extra
practice time in their home, the Alliston Memorial Arena.
The first half of the bout started out by setting the tone for the way
the game was to be played. The jam starting whistle went and Bellefast
lined up for the Misfits to jam. The whistle went and Bellefast was hit
with a barrage of hard hits from the strong defense of the Vixens. She
was out shortly after a few hits but not before the Vixens were able to
put up a couple of points. Smoke Cola and Randy-Roll-Lin followed for
the Misfits, but were also unable to truly crack the defense of the
Vixens. Meanwhile, the Misfits defense did all that they could to hold
back the Vixens jammers, including Team Canada's own Soul Rekker who
would go on to earn MVP honours for the game, as chosen by the Misfits.
A few stops here and there and some adjustments made by the Misfits
jammers allowed the score to stay close for the first half, with
neither team really being able to really put a solid run together.
In a defensive clinic from both teams, each scoring chance was matched
nearly point for point, with only a five point lead for the Vixens at
half time, 72-67.
The second half showed the experience of the Vixens being the true
difference in the game. Their ability to keep their composure through
their extensive core of leadership allowed the Vixens to exploit the
smallest of errors by the Misfits. A couple of penalties early in the
second half allowed the Vixens to face a reduced Militia defense and
gather up a small lead, which they were able to parlay into a 42 point
differential when the final seconds ticked off the clock. The Misfits
dug deep into their line-up depth and really proved they belong next to
the more experienced Vixens in the flattrackstats.com rankings system.
The Vixens still reside one place ahead of the Misfits in the Canadian
travel team rankings, sitting at 6th to the Misfits 7th.
"I think at this level of play, the Misfits need to start training to
be able to do everything and play all positions," said Nancy Noir, who
wears the number 221B as an ode to her favourite detective, Sherlock
Holmes. "This game proved that sometimes we need our blockers to jam
and our jammers to block. The game also showed we are moving forward in
the right direction. We train hard and that allows us to play hard.
This game - because it was close - also proved the necessity of offense
and defense in derby and being able to switch back and forth quickly."
The switching of offense to defense happens almost simultaneously on
the track, with both jammers attempting to score by passing the hips of
the opposing blockers. Those blockers are trying to prevent the
opposing jammer from scoring while also trying to help their jammer
gather as many points as they can.
MadMegz, Red Hot and Nancy Noir all seeing time with the jammer star
trying to break their way through the nearly impenetrable second half
defense of the Vixens. Nancy Noir may have had the best game of her
derby career thus far by laying out huge hits and sound defensive play
while also scoring points. Her efforts led her to be named the Misfits'
MVP for the game by the Vixens.
Noir was certainly impressed by the Vixens. "The Vixens were
incredible. It was such a fun game because they were really tough
opponents. (Vixens' blocker Hannah) Murphy stands out to me because she
is such a strong leader and her experience really shows when she's on
the track. The whole team was solid - I have the bruises to prove it.
It's clear they practice together a lot. I was admiring and cursing
them as I was trying to counter their strategies."
The exhausted teams both congratulated each other on the game, with
faces that were once of nervous anticipation now showing the signs of a
long, hard-fought contest, which ended in a 167-125 win for the Vixens.
Both teams fought exceptionally well, employing their defensive systems
to the best of their abilities, but in the end, the more experienced
squad was able to take it. Keep an eye out for a rematch on this one.
"It was our hardest game yet and every jam was important," said Noir.
"There's always room to improve, but I think this game was a great test
for us as a team. We walked away proud, and I think that's amazing."
Looking ahead for the Misfits, they'll be heading to Detroit in April
to face the B Travel Team of the Detroit Derby Girls. For more
information find them on Facebook and check in on their new website http://www.misfitmilitiarollerderby.com.