The Castlegar campus of Selkirk College still doesn’t know what hit it on Saturday. After a full day at a roller derby referees and officials’ camp, the “zebras” got to test their reaction time and whistle-blowing skills in a fast paced game between the Kootenay Kannibelles, our West Kootenay travel team, and the Avalanche City Roller Girls from Fernie, BC. The Kannibelles and ACRG have each seen some major shakeups since they last faced off in August 2013. Both teams had lost a number of long-standing teammates and picked up some new talent. Blockers and jammers alike found themselves lined up against unknown opponents with unknown skills, keeping every skater on her toes from the first whistle blow to the final one.
With familiar jammers like Jenna Jammerson and Flash Fury skating for ACRG, the Kannibelles knew that they had their work cut out for them – but there proved no time to relax when the Fernie team debuted new jammers like Jake Break and Meter Maid, who proved that tenacity was in their blood far before they dressed in red and black. The Belles’ blockers had to play hard and stick together to contain these explosive jammers, who fought single-mindedly to evade the white walls of Kannibelles.
Meanwhile, the Kannibelles’ jammers found themselves up against a rotating door of hit after hit. Core strength proved the name of the game for Ursula Aggress, making her debut as a Kannibelles jammer and proving that it takes more than a thump to the chest to knock her down. Lil Squirt lived up to her name, ducking into the smallest of gaps on her way into the pack only to come rocketing out the front again. Bark Messier, a fresh recruit to the Kannibelles, reminded the Avalanche blockers that though she may be new, she has moves just waiting to be unleashed. With her fluid hockey style she efficiently dodged some earth-rattling hits, making the ACRG blockers scramble to regain a hold on her.
The Kannibelles took an early lead, but as Coach Barbaric warned them in the locker room at halftime, ACRG was getting a taste for their tricks and were not going to let them off easy over the next 30 minutes. Bumps, bruises, and even a bloody nose ensued, reminding the 100+ fans watching that roller derby is not for the faint of heart.
Kid Sinister put on the star for a couple jams, blasting through the opposing walls as if shot out of a cannon. Both teams` jammers spent time in the penalty box, leaving teammates to defend against not only the opposing jammer but also the blockers that rushed to her aid. Concrete Cindy and Pantsoff took turns rocketing into ACRG skaters at every turn, buying time for Belles jammers as the clock ticked down.
When the final jam ended the score was 345 – 117 in favour of the home team. Roller derby scores can be deceptive, and while a 200+ point spread looks like a blowout this game was anything but. Both teams fought relentlessly and the Kannibelles never felt complacent with their lead, as evidenced by the rapt attention of fans glued to their seats.
A season opener to remember, the Kannibelles are sure to grow their fan base as exponentially as their scores in 2014!