The West Kootenay Roller Derby league kicked off the 2015 season this month with a double-header rematch of last year’s final games. The 2014 championship title and Golden Boot trophy went to Castlegar’s Dam City Rollers, and Nelson’s Killjoys had something to say about it — something they had been waiting to say for eight months.
The first game started with a roar, as the defending champion Dams coming out strong — a little too strong, for feisty jammer MacDeath found herself in the penalty box, giving the Killjoys an early lead.
At halftime the score was 149-107 for the Killjoys, but the Dams didn’t miss a beat (or a chance to smash Killjoys jammers) and it was clear this would be a very close and exciting game.
Could the Killjoys maintain this lead with only eight skaters facing the Dams’ 13, when a full extra line meant a big difference in rest and recovery time (or lack thereof)?
Alongside veteran Sweet Vengeance, MacDeath continued to be a jamming force and the Killjoys later likened her to a “wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube man” you see outside a car dealership, her movements so hard to anticipate that she found cracks in walls and blew them open.
MacDeath left it all on the track in her last game in the league before relocating across BC the very next morning, while Sweet Vengeance continued to duck through holes amidst her own derby retirement rumours.
Nonetheless, the consistency and patience of the Killjoys paid off and even when it looked like purple blocker Missy Helliot might knock green jammer CC into next week, CC’s flashy footwork saved her more than once and the challenging Killjoys’ short bench eked out a hard-fought win at 253-229.
After a halftime full of refreshments and barbecue, last year’s third place winners, Valley Brutality, faced the Rossland Trail Roller Girls, who were determined to rewrite history this season. With seven Brutality skaters versus the Roller Girls’ ten, short benches meant both teams had to play smart to control the game.
The Roller Girls’ seasoned jammer Ash scored a 28-point jam early in the game to give her team the edge. Not to be outdone, Brutality jammer Shannon GoHurty did what she does best — put her hard shoulders and fast feet to the task and set about punching through Roller Girls walls.
The Roller Girls had clearly been honing in their game, thanks in part no doubt to the hockey backgrounds of many skaters, and as the score gap widened it became clear that one full-contact sport begets another — never more obvious than when Dare U sent a jammer flying, or Saskwatch muscled through a defending wall. Valley Brutality fought to the last second, but nonetheless the Roller Girls came out victorious at 279-171.
Both games had the full house of fans screaming, skaters going flying, drinks toasting, and referees struggling not to give themselves whiplash — the things great derby are made of.
If this is a taste of what West Kootenay roller derby has to offer in 2015, every game is going to be a sellout and better than the last, as four teams fight yet again towards the coveted Golden Boot.
The next double-header, Killjoys versus Valley Brutality and Rossland Trail Roller Girls versus Dam City Rollers, is April 18.