The Juneau Rollergirls have extracted their revenge on the Yukon Roller Girls.
Mirroring Yukon’s victory over Juneau a year ago, the Alaskan team produced a last-minute win over Yukon at “A Love-Skate Relationship” roller derby bout in Juneau on Saturday.
Juneau won on the final jam, taking the bout 188-182.
“We’re really evenly matched teams, so everyone went into the bout knowing it would be a really close game, which is fantastic for the spectators,” said Yukon’s Amil “The Fighting Mongoose” Dupuis-Rossi.
“We were never really cohesive in the first half. In the first half I think Juneau had their game set a little bit more than we did and we had to play to them.”
Juneau skated to a 94-41 lead by midway through the first half and went into halftime up 101-82.
A pair of giant jams by Yukon’s Katherine “Wilder Than Her” Stewart and Dupuis-Rossi, who was named her team’s MVP jammer, gave Yukon a 167-129 lead in the second half.
“Wilder Than Her had one that was phenomenal,” said Yukon president Lindsay “Bonanza Babe” Agar. “It was a phenomenal jam.
“We really played to that strength, of Wilder being able to go fast around and also to control the pack speed. That really helped us rack up the points.”
However, Yukon dropped a 182-178 lead on the final jam as jammer Stewart was tossed in the box, putting Juneau on the power jam.
With the two teams so evenly matched, it was no surprise penalties became the deciding factor.
International roller derby rules changed in January and Saturday was the first bout for both teams under the new rules.
Included in the changes is the removal of minor penalties. All penalties are now considered majors and result in visits to the penalty box.
“So you always go to the box,” said Dupuis-Rossi. “As soon as you get a penalty, you’re in the box.”
“The interpretation of the new rules, from Juneau’s ref to our one ref, varied,” said Agar. “I think it came down to the rules and how they were being interpreted. We ended up in the box a lot.”
The Yukon crew lost captain and jammer Jennifer “Lady C” Duncombe to an ankle injury in the first half on Saturday.
The loss of the captain had a silver lining: it gave rookie Paige “Shania Pain” Parsons a chance to shine.
“She’s an up-and-coming jammer – one of our rookies – and she stepped up to the challenge and did a really great job,” said Agar.
“She’s going to be the next up-and-comer,” said Dupuis-Rossi. “She’s going to blow everybody out of the water.”
Parsons was not the only skater to enter the bout as fresh meat (a skater without bout experience) and leave a rookie.
In addition to Parsons, the Yukon Roller Girls had four fresh-meat blockers.
“We’re really proud of our rookies,” said Agar. “We had five newbies come out and it was their first bout ever.
“For their first game, they did really, really well… They listened really well, held their walls, held the inside line.”
“Because there was so much fresh meat, we were kind of playing like a new team,” said Dupuis-Rossi. “The fresh meat did such a fantastic job because we get really intense out there and that game was super-intense.
“Both teams really wanted to win.”
Yukon’s blockers kept the score tight late in the game. With abounding penalty troubles, Yukon held Juneau to just three points on a power jam in the second last jam of the night.
“Our jammers did really well. Bacon Beringia (Holly Smith) got recognized as our MVP for blocking… She had one of her better games,” said Agar. “She had some really strong walls, was able to communicate really well with her walls. She had some solid hits.”
Agar, too, contributed with a pair of big hits in the final minutes.
“I have some bruises – everyone has bruises,” said Agar.
Saturday was the Yukon Roller Girls’ first bout since a 180-109 win over the Fantastic 14, a mixed team of Alberta skaters and one from Juneau, last June.
The Yukon Roller Girls are planning to travel to Seattle, Washington, for a series of bouts at the end of next month.
Yukon defeated Juneau 164-161 last year, coming back in the final minute as Juneau’s jammer watched helplessly from the penalty box.
“Our sisters in Juneau were fabulous to play with, so we always enjoy going down,” said Agar. “And now it’s a grudge match for number three. We’ve won one, they won one. We’re trying to get them to come down so we can have a grudge match on our turf.”
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