If you’ve been following our annual shenanigans on Facebook this week, you know by now how the 2013 Rink of Fire championship went. The Victory Vixens scored a third-place win over the Dreadnought Dorothys by a score of 197-86, and the Black Eye Susans pulled out a literal last-second win against the slightly-favored Knockouts with a 176-162 final score that, as close as that is in flat track, doesn’t begin to describe the game-ending intensity — nay, insanity — roller derby fans were treated to in the final moments of this amazing season.
The Knockouts‘ jammer was sent to the box in the very first jam and allowed the Susans to jump out in front 24-0. Eleven minutes later, the KOs had roared back and taken the lead 70-28 with about 18 minutes left in the first period. By halftime, the Black & Yellow had pared the Glitter Mafia’s lead down to 30 and was poised to strike not only at the heart of the Knockouts‘ defense, but at the root of all latent cardiovascular maladies lurking silently in the audience, mine included.
Without game footage in front of me, and with only scrambled memories and KC Derby Digest‘s Twitter feed to guide me, I can tell you that as time ticked away in the final period of this championship game, the Knockouts‘ lead gradually dwindled until the final jam of regulation. At that point, the Susans seemed to pull ahead just as the clock ran out.
I’ve never personally experienced such an intense wait at a bout. I was standing at Turn One next to Damsel of D’Tension, who was bench coaching that night, and as officials on the track communicated with NSOs on the sidelines, fans were shocked to discover that the score was dead even at 158.
Fans stood and wondered. Those Susans who had begun celebrating prematurely were gradually silenced. Few people in the auditorium that night had ever seen a WFTDA bout go into overtime, and as such, we were all in for a real treat. It may have had something to do with the fact that no one knew what the hell was going to happen.
As it was explained to us over the PA, one overtime jam is held. There is no lead jammer, so the jam will last the full two excruciating minutes. Whichever team is ahead at the end of the jam will take the game, of course, and repeat overtime jams may be held in the event of another tie. Everyone scooted a little closer to the edges of their seats; the teams lined up, the whistle blew, and the skaters were off.
Moments later, the Knockouts‘ jammer, Bomb Pop, was sent to the box on what I believe was a track-cut penalty , which allowed the Susans’ Trauma a golden opportunity to fight her way through the KO’s formidable defense and score points unopposed. By the time Bomb Pop‘s penalty had been served and she had re-entered the game, Trauma was too far ahead to be caught, and there wasn’t nearly enough time for the Ladies in Teal to make up the difference. The Black Eye Susans brought home their first-ever Rink of Fire championship as the audience inside Municipal Auditorium absolutely lost its shit in a way I’ve never seen in the four years I’ve been doing this. It was far and away the best Rink of Fire I’ve ever witnessed.
We have game photos, as always, and this could be one of the most amazing sets we’ve captured all season.
It was great to see retired Susans out there celebrating with their old team, players like Oucho Marx, Kay C. Shuffle, and Yvette Yerass. It was great to see the supreme sportsmanship on the part of the Knockouts, whose phenomenal 2013 season had brought them this far. And it was great to see the Black Eye Susans hoisting the trophy over their heads after years of struggle, determination, and monumental progress that gradually brought them from the bottom of the heap to the very top.
Many, many thanks to the entire Kansas City Roller Warriors organization for an outstanding season. We simply can’t wait to see you all back on the flat track in 2014.