Penalties do in Roller Girls in season opener

Roller Girls drop a 196-161 decision to the Nelson Killjoys in the season debut Saturday of the West Kootenay Roller Derby.

In their season debut Rossland Trail Roller Girls (in black) fell to the Nelson Killjoys by a score of 196-161.

Two costly penalties put the Rossland Trail Roller Girls on the lesser end of the score sheet Saturday night in their season opener at the Rossland Arena.

The Roller Girls dropped a 196-161 decision to the Nelson Killjoys in the second game of the season debut for the West Kootenay Roller Derby league in front of over 500 fans.

Despite taking a sizeable early lead in the second game of the league opening doubleheader, the Roller Girls gave up the lead on a penalty late in the first half, and then fell over 80 points behind early in the second half on another penalty.

Penalties can make or break a game, said Roller Girls coach Railroad. There’s always a lot of penalties called in any roller derby game, he said, but it’s just better when the opposition gets more called on them than you do.

“So it really comes down to who can maintain their compusure for two, 30-minute halves,” he said after the game. “But when your jammer goes to the box that’s what kills you. That’s when a game changes. That’s when you see the 30-point jumps. There’s no way you can score.”

The jammer is the one player on the track out of five who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team.

The Roller Girls are a new entry in the five-team league. Now in its third season, the league was compressed down from seven teams, and amalgamated two-time league champions (and undefeated in two seasons) Rossland’s Gnarlies Angels, with cellar dwellers Bad News Betties from Trail into the Roller Girls.

The club is a mix of veteran players and “fresh meat” on its 26-player roster, but the Killjoys—fused out of two Nelson teams—contained seven league all star players.

The other clubs in the league—that sports over 100 players—include the Dam City Rollers, Babes of Brutality and the Valley Vendettas.

The Roller Girls will play four league games this season, plus one exhibition bout in June in Trail against a Cranbrook team, with the league final back in Rossland during Golden City Days in September.

The popularity of the league has remained strong since it began three years ago. Gone are the short shorts, the fishnet stockings and the crazy face paint.

“Most people (back then) came to see the spectacle and stayed to love the sport,” said Railroad. “Now you can see it’s a full on athletic endeavour.”

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Derby details

Roller derby is a contact sport played by two teams of five members roller skating in the same direction around an indoor oval track.

Game play consists of a series of short matchups (“jams”) in which both teams designate a scoring player (the “jammer”) who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team.

The teams attempt to assist their own jammer by hindering the opposing jammer—in effect, playing both offence and defence simultaneously.

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