Sometimes talent can overcome mistakes – and with seven Gotham Girls All-Stars on their squad, the Bronx Gridlock have plenty of talent. But on May 9 at John Jay College in Manhattan, the hole dug by 55 trips to the penalty box was too deep to dig out of, allowing the Brooklyn Bombshells to keep their unbeaten record intact, 231–186.
Bronx MVP Fisher Twice, who matched Brooklyn’s Miss Tea Maven with 116 points, didn’t hesitate when asked what went wrong for the cabbies against the Bombshells.
“Penalties,” she said. “We had 16 jammer penalties to Brooklyn's two. That means we spent over seven minutes more than Brooklyn without a jammer on the track [to score points]. That's almost 12% of the game. I've never seen anything like it. And that's just jammers. We also had more blocker penalties than Brooklyn.”
A former college hockey player, Fisher knows better than most what penalties can do to a team, though on the ice, power plays don’t always score points. In derby, it’s almost a given that the points will start adding up, and when that happens, it’s hard to get momentum back, especially when Brooklyn kept their cool throughout the bout.
“The key to [our] victory was our ability to keep calm,” said Brooklyn MVP Lady Fingers. “The past two teams we've faced have a tremendous amount of talent and we knew these would be very difficult games. Throughout the bout and the practices leading up to it, we constantly reminded each other of the importance of keeping a level head. The Bombshells did just that. We stayed calm and minimized our fouls, the largest factor being fewer trips to the penalty box, which allowed us to take advantage of the times the other teams were down skaters – especially jammers.”
It almost feels like 2011 for the Bombshells, the year when they won their first GGRD title and were runner-ups the following year: after their second win of 2015, they’ve secured a spot in the league championship game in August.
“We’ll maintain the work ethic we've built and we have enough time to iron out the kinks from our last two bouts,” Fingers said. “We have almost two months until our next game against the Queens of Pain. That’s not so different from last season, where we had a stretch of about 12 weeks between games, then lost by only one point to the 2014 season champs [Manhattan]. I highlight this fact because our first two games of the 2014 season weren't as close. We came back from that 12-week hiatus ready to fight and we’ll come back from this two-month hiatus ready to prove that this is the Year of the Bombshell.”
As for their opponents in that title bout, Queens could stamp their own ticket to the dance with a win over Manhattan at CCNY on May 30, and then give fans a championship preview against Brooklyn in July. But if Manhattan wins later this month, things will get interesting, and the members of the Gridlock hope that they can get back in the race with a little help from their friends.
“We stay focused because there's no other option,” Fisher said. “We give up a lot to play this sport, and we do it because we love it. If we didn't remain focused no matter the odds, we wouldn't spend so much time training and be so dedicated to playing. We have a lot to work on, and we'll work on it because we know we can play cleaner and we know if we do, there's no stopping us. We have to prove it to ourselves first and foremost. So in the final bout, fans can expect us to come out with the same intensity that kept us in the last bout even with so much penalty trouble – only this time we'll clean it up and show everyone what the Gridlock can do with five skaters on the track.”
Things started going south for the Bronx against Brooklyn early on, with Maven, newcomer Squid Vicious and returning veteran Hela Skelter teaming up to get ahead of the Gridlock 61–16. The yellow and black kept attacking though, actually outscoring Brooklyn 71–68 after that initial onslaught from the Bombshells – which should have given them plenty of confidence heading into the locker room at halftime down 129–87, especially since they accumulated 32 penalty box minutes and seven jammer box trips in the first half.
But the Gridlock’s penalty woes only got slightly better in the second half. With the trio of Maven, Squid and Hela piling up the points while iron women Sexy Slaydie, Fingers, and B.Zerk helped clear the way, the Bronx would make their share of runs, but the closest they would get was within 27 points.
Year of the Bombshell? It’s looking pretty promising at the moment.
“I think all of our hard work has finally paid off,” Fingers said. “For the past two seasons we've been super focused and dedicated on improving our global game. We've concentrated on building our team dynamics, [and the] strategies and the skills of each and every skater. Those who have been on the team for a few years now take it very seriously to bring new teammates into the fold and to make sure that you’re not just improving your own skills, but that you’re all getting better together. Over the past two years, we've created this culture of working hard, supporting one another and staying driven. The vibe at practice is great: people are happy to not only work their butts off but to be doing it with women they truly appreciate and respect.”
BROOKLYN vs. BRONX STATS
1 2 F
Brooklyn 129 102 231
Bronx 87 99 186
Brooklyn MVP – Lady Fingers
Bronx MVP – Fisher Twice
Leading Brooklyn Scorers
Miss Tea Maven – 116 points (17 jams)
Squid Vicious – 72 points (12 jams)
Hela Skelter – 43 points (10 jams)
Leading Brooklyn Blockers
Sexy Slaydie – 28 jams (+13)
Lady Fingers – 19 jams (+37)
B.Zerk – 19 jams (+18)
Leading Bronx Scorers
Fisher Twice – 116 points (14 jams)
Flo It All – 22 points (3 jams)
Legs//Cité – 20 points (9 jams)
Leading Bronx Blockers
Caf Fiend – 22 jams (-83)
Swede Hurt – 20 jams (+30)
Fast and Luce – 22 jams (+15)
Davey Blockit – 19 jams (-31)
Minutes in Box: 30 Jammer Box Trips: 2
Minutes in Box: 55 Jammer Box Trips: 16
Written by: Thomas Gerbasi