It was shaping up to be the closest-ever bout for the Yukon Roller Girls and turned out to be their most decisive victory on Saturday at Takhini Arena.
In what was called the Midnight Stun, Yukon’s roller derby crew defeated the visiting Fantastic 14 by a score of 180-109.
“They really put up a strong challenge for us and we met it,” said Yukon Roller Girls president Ashley “Arctic Fox” Fisher.
“I am really proud of us because we weren’t sure what we were getting into. We knew they had players from all-star teams in Calgary and Edmonton, and players from smaller leagues like High River, Alberta. But as far as we knew, these were the girls that were so excited and keen about roller derby, and that they must be really good because they were willing to pay the cost to fly to the Yukon, which is not cheap.”
The lopsided score came after the Yukon girls ended the first half trailing 61-59. But slow starts by the Yukon team is nothing new in at-home bouts. In a 189-163 loss to Vancouver’s Terminal City Rollergirls in April, Yukon outscored the visiting team by 31 points in the second half.
“This happens a lot when we produce bouts at home because so many of our girls are active members of the bout committee, and so they have to put a lot of effort into producing the event,” said Fisher. “The first half at home generally hasn’t gone very well because (we are preoccupied with things) like -‘Is there a guest list? Do we have a liquor licence?’ And it isn’t until the second half that we pull things together, and in this case won.”
Simply put, Yukon dominated the second half. After taking a 73-67 lead early on, the Yukon crew broke open the bout with a pair of huge, consecutive jams. Yukon jammer Jennifer “Lady C” Duncombe scored 23. Teammate jammer Amil “The Fighting Mongoose” Dupuis-Rossi then scored 25, lapping the pack as if they stood still. Those two big jams put Yukon up 111-71.
Dupuis-Rossi led her team with 81 points, followed by Duncombe with 55. Yukon’s Katherine “Wilder Than Her” Stewart topped out with 44 points.
“The second half was kind of a surprise,” said Fisher. “I mean no disrespect to the other team, but I think we’re just a fitter team and we have more endurance … We had 12 players where they had 10, which does make a big difference.”
“We just lost it,” said Fantastic 14 captain Sarah “TyeDie” Whyte. “Yukon had a really tough time with penalties in the first half, like their jammer went into the box, back-to-back. So we were able to score a lot of points and get the advantage.
“Yukon is just a really fit team. They play a really fast game, the pack is really aggressive with lots of big hits and stuff like that. I think in the second half a lot of our new girls were feeling it, starting to slow down a little bit and the energy level was going down a bit.”
The Yukon Roller Girls, who are currently the 20th ranked team in Canada out of travel teams, were originally scheduled to play the Red Deer Nightshades, the Red Deer Roller Derby Association’s B team. But the Nightshades had to cancel because of a scheduling conflict.
So the Yukon girls put the word out through the roller derby grapevine that they were looking for a team to play. Whyte, who just moved to Whitehorse from Calgary, heard the call and gathered a team.
“It was just me putting it out on Facebook,” said Whyte.
The Fantastic 14 was then assembled with players from four different Alberta teams and one from the Juneau Rollergirls. The “14” refers to the amount of skaters a team usually sends to a bout (12 players and two officials). They ended up with 10 players, but The Fantastic 14 has that cool Marvel Comics ring to it.
Saturday’s win was the Yukon’s third in five bouts this season. They also defeated the Fairbanks Gold Diggers 150-123 in May and the Juneau Rollergirls 164-161 in February.
Their next bout is scheduled for Sept. 15 in Whitehorse against a team yet to be determined.
“Our jammers and blockers played amazing tonight,” said Fisher. “I’m so proud of all of them.”
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