2014 MRDA Champs Preview: #6 Mass Maelstrom

2014 MRDA Champs Preview: #6 Mass Maelstrom

The Boys from Boston are coming in with something to prove, and there is nothing more dangerous than a group of committed individuals that feel a bit slighted.

maelstrom

Mass Maelstrom is coming to champs in a lower seed than they may have anticipated, and two places lower than how they finished out last year’s championship despite only suffering losses to Your Mom’s Men’s Roller Derby and New York Shock Exchange this season. Coach Rich Gaudet (also known as Stryker) says that Maelstrom is coming into champs:

“To prove that we were robbed of our 4th place ranking going into championships and to get our new skaters playing against the best in the MRDA.”

Maelstrom is no stranger to fighting for recognition. They started off as part of a co-ed league and split off in 2010 to do their own thing. Stryker says it was through hard work and dedication of the core of the team that Maelstrom was able to debut at #10 in the MRDA in 2012 and break into the Champs seeding the same year by landing at #8. While other teams are chuck full of experienced skaters, that isn’t the case with Maelstrom:

“Maelstrom’s strength is directly related to both our ability to play as a team on the track and to implement and counter the most current winning strategies on the track. Since maelstrom is one of the smallest competitive teams (stature/size wise), and because many of us did not come from skating backgrounds our style of game play is directly tied to that: we play in tight walls and use game play strategy to make up for our lack of bulk and skating skill. Although we have some stand out skaters who can dominate a jammer on their own, most of the time we contain jammers behind a solid wall of small guys.”

Maelstrom isn't all little guys. Bill Coulter is pretty infamous for making a statement on the track. Photo from ECDX 2014. By Tyler Shaw - Prints Charming Derby Photography
Maelstrom isn’t all little guys. Bill Coulter is pretty infamous for making a statement on the track. Photo from ECDX 2014. By Tyler Shaw – Prints Charming Derby Photography

When you compare the stature of Mass against most MRDA teams – they do look generally small. Critical pack directors Terry Hasselmann (Peter Rottentail), R Pickering (Smiteochondria), and Mars Travolta are average height (at best) and certainly not hefty – they rely on deftness of movement to even the odds against opposing jammers. Overall, a fluid diamond formation or “around the world” style of play is very present in the Maelstrom blocking strategy, in order to give every blocker the best chance of leveraging their body weight against bigger opponents. Jammers like Cilantro and No Big Deal are not breaking any height barriers either. NBD uses brute force and quick, hammering edges to break packs wide open while John Collentro (Cilantro) falls back on pure acrobatics to obtain lead jammer (The kid is made of silly putty, I swear).

Wes Turn (Conlin) uses his edge to block during the Mohawk Valley Cup. Photo by Hispanic Attack.
Wes Turn (Conlin) uses his edge to block during the Mohawk Valley Cup. Photo by Hispanic Attack.

Ok, side note: you’re probably wondering why I’m using up your valueable time with making you read multiple names for all these guys. There was actually a bit of confusion during Champs last year for those streaming the Maelstrom bouts. The rosters were submitted with derby names, but [most of] the jerseys have real names on the back. Viewers at home weren’t sure which skater the announcers were talking about based on jerseys, and the announcers even confused themselves during their commentary.

Why the real names? Some of the guys are just done with derby names (I know a certain bunny who is particularly done with cheek of the fake names), while others see it as a way of really claiming the work they put into their skating and into their league. They are all very proud of what they do with Maelstrom and with smaller leagues in the greater Boston area; using their real names brings them a sense of professionalism and ownership for their accomplishments.

Alright, I’m back from the tangent.

2014 has been the season of ‘injures and real life’ for the Vikings of New England.

Terry Hasselmann usually blocks, but every now and again he gets to wear the star when the team needs him. Photo from Mohawk Valley Cup. Photo by Hispanic Attack
Terry Hasselmann usually blocks, but every now and again he gets to wear the star when the team needs him. Photo from Mohawk Valley Cup. Photo by Hispanic Attack

Everything from a car accident kept two heavy rotation blockers out of the first half of their ECDX bout, to a series of key skaters getting injured, to a few skaters simply tipping their hat and taking a leave. It is roller derby. This is a contact sport, and injures happen. It is a hobby, and sometimes people must bow  out for personal reasons. That does not mean that the team gives up, the deeper a bench, the more effective a team can be, even in a time of struggle. Gaudet commented on Maelstrom’s roster changes:

“Since we sustained injuries to half our roster over the course of this season our newest skaters had to step up and fill some big shoes, which they have done with flying colors. We have picked up two strong hockey skaters that are helping to round out our jammer rotation; all we need now is to get them some more skate time.”

The acrobatics of Jurasskick Park as captured at ECDX by Tyler Shaw - Prints Charming.
The acrobatics of Jurasskick Park as captured at ECDX by Tyler Shaw – Prints Charming.

Maelstrom’s first bout of Championships is against an old, familiar face: New York Shock Exchange. This will be the second year in a row that Maelstrom will face NYSE a total of 3 times [in 5 months]. Last year, their final match-up of the season was at the Mohawk Valley Cup, in the finals, and Maelstrom took the win by 20 points after having lost the previous two match-ups.

The first round of Champs could prove a similar Cinderella story. At ECDX and Mohawk Valley this year, NYSE proved too dominant for the Vikings. Despite not having a “full strength” roster, Mass does not consider themselves out of the competition. With two bouts against NYSE under their belt, and with the return of Coulter and Pickering to their bench, Maelstrom is restored to much of it’s 2013 strength. Both vet and newbies to the roster are ready for the classic rivalry match-up in the first round.

Vet Colleran holds onto returning skater Deep in Cider, while Velawesomeraptor and Mikeopathic Chiller hold the inside line. Mohawk Valley Cup. Photo by Hispanic Attack 2014.
Vet Colleran holds onto returning skater Deep in Cider, while Velawesomeraptor and Mikeopathic Chiller hold the inside line. Mohawk Valley Cup. Photo by Hispanic Attack 2014.

Fans (and NYSE) will be get to see new and old faces on the roster this weekend, including Deep in Cider who has returned to the Maelstrom line. Aside from the vets, you should keep an eye out for fresh faces Cormier and Velawesomeraptor as well as those who have worked their way up from the Bzerker B-Team such as the agile Mikeopathic Chiller and power blocker JBeast. Gaudet says of the team:

“Every one of skaters that step onto the track is a critical piece of our strategy puzzle, and thus [new fans] should be watching the overall cogs that make up the Maelstrom machine.”

Mars Travolta, Colleran, and Keith Webb work in unison to hold back NYSE at ECDX. Photo by Tyler Shaw - Prints Charming Derby Photography
Mars Travolta, Colleran, and Keith Webb work in unison to hold back NYSE at ECDX. Photo by Tyler Shaw – Prints Charming Derby Photography

If you love Vikings and want to pick up merch, get info on upcoming clinics, or just to follow their season, you should definitely check out their Facebook page. Also, Mass Maelstrom has some wicked rewards going on right now on the MAELSTROM GOFUNDME so … Go Fund Them!! And make sure you tune into WFTDA.tv all weekend to watch the 2014 MRDA Championships. Thank you to Tyler Shaw and Hispanic Attack for the photos used in this article.

As a side note, Richard Gaudet would like you all to know that:

 “No big deal is actually kind of a big deal.”

No Big Deal takes the outside lane at the championship bout of Mohawk Valley Cup. Photo by Hispanic Attack.
No Big Deal takes the outside lane at the championship bout of Mohawk Valley Cup. Photo by Hispanic Attack.
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