The Whistler Black Diamond Betties always seem to rise to the occasion.
But it was far from a cakewalk in their most recent bout, Silence of the Slams, at Whistler Conference Centre on April 11.
Overcoming an early deficit, the Betties led by 22 points at halftime and expanded on that lead early in the second stanza against the Sea to Sky Sirens. But some late penalty trouble allowed the Sirens a run to get themselves back in the game.
In fact, it came down to the last jam to determine a winner. With the tally 156-153 favouring Whistler, the Sirens did all they could in the final laps, maxing out at five points and initially taking the advantage. The scorekeepers determined the Betties had earned three points in the same timeframe and earned themselves the narrowest of wins, 159-158 to remain undefeated in three World Ski and Snowboard Festival (WSSF) bouts.
Betties captain Lori O'Hare explained both sides were in a pinch as time ticked down as many of those playing the specialized scoring position of jammer were benched in a penalty-filled affair.
"The last portion of the game, we had a few people foul out on both sides," O'Hare (a.k.a. Princess Slayah) said after the bout. "It shortens the benches for both teams and you have to rely on other players that don't necessarily play the position of a jammer.
"Myself, jamming, took a couple of penalties right at the end."
Teams don't often find themselves scrambling to find bodies to make or fend off a charge, the captain noted, though that mentality seems to be changing after some recent rule changes have impacted gameplay.
"It's somewhat unexpected in that the way it doesn't come down to the final jam, necessarily," O'Hare explained. "With the rule changes, it seems to keep the sport a lot closer.
"The biggest rule change is that penalties used to be a minute long and this year, they're only 30 seconds.
"Derby can change very quickly with the new jammer penalties, so we knew we had to stay calm and keep our heads straight," she said.
Sirens captain Shelby Lundstrom (a.k.a. Steemin' Seeman) said even though the comeback fell just short, the Sea to Sky contingent was holding its figurative head high.
"We both had a fantastic, hard-hitting game, and we loved it," she said.
As the Whistler Conference Centre roared with supporters of both sides late, Lundstrom described an even-keeled bench intently watching the action as each team was whistled for infractions.
"We were switching jammers in and out of the box — our jammer, their jammer, our jammer, their jammer," Lundstrom said. "Our bench was actually quite quiet,;we were sitting there wondering who would be the last jammer standing."
In improving to a perfect 3-0 at the WSSF, the Betties were able to defend their home track once again in a raucous atmosphere improved by four big screens above the track and a blasting sound system.
"It's awesome for our team," O'Hare said. "It's very special."
The two teams will meet up again for a rematch in Squamish on May 30.
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