Angels wing way to victory

Gnarlies Angles win coveted Golden Boot in the West Kootenay Women’s Roller Derby League championship.

Mountain Mayhem III returned to the Rossland Arena Sunday where the home team Gnarlies Angels battled Salmo’s Babes of Brutality for the coveted Golden Boot in the West Kootenay Women’s Roller Derby League championship.

About 300 derby faithful cheered on their teams in the flat-track derby final, for the rubber match of the Angels-Babes championship brouhahas. But after an intense and close first half, the Babes buckled and the Angels soared as the home team went on to win by a score of 198-70.

“It was the best performance we had all season,” said Angels coach Phil Loosely, whose derby handle is Phil Yer Pants. “We did a lot of work on being cohesive and teamwork, getting the right mix of defence and offence and getting help for our jammer.”

The turning point came late in the first half with the Angels trailing 38-30. Jammer Canuck Norris took advantage of Babes penalties and wove her way through remaining blockers for a 15-point jam, to put the Angels up 55-38, a lead they would not relinquish.

With the score 60-49 at the half, the game promised the drama of last year’s controversial finish, when the Angels came from behind to overtake the Brutality in the final jam. But it was not to be.

A series of devastating penalties crushed the Babes hopes early, and with three and at times four Salmo skaters in the box, the Angels jammers of Norris, Celine Die-on and Slameron Diaz piled up points seemingly at will, scoring 25 in a power jam to take an insurmountable 117-59 lead.

“The big difference was their jammers went to the box a lot and our jammers were able to capitalize, so that was the big difference really,” said Loosely.

The Angels have been shorthanded most of the season, fielding just 11 skaters out of a possible 20, but the unit did not lose a game all year, and proved once again just how formidable they can be.

“It’s pretty amazing that we’ve come through unbeaten and to end like this, it was not what I was expecting. I was expecting it to be really close, more like the first half,” added Loosely.

It didn’t hurt either that the Babes were without Team Canada member Bobbi Barbarich, aka Beretta Lynch, who recently moved to Vancouver to train with the Terminal City Roller Girls. She was on hand, however, to help coach the Babes in the final.

“It (her departure) is a huge loss for the league as a whole. But it was nice to have her their on the bench as a friend and enemy if you like,” he said.

As for Loosely, the final was his swan song for the Angels as he will focus his efforts on coaching the Kootenay Kannibelles, WKWRDL’s all-star team.

“There are going to be some changes in the league. There’s a strong possibility of some teams merging to cut the numbers, so it will be interesting to see who turns out in red next year.”

Loosely and the Kootenay Kannibaelles meanwhile travel to Armstrong Oct. 20 to take on the Raggedy Rollers to officially close out the season.