By Thomas Gerbasi
With the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league’s regular home game season coming to an end at Abe Stark Arena in Coney Island on Saturday, it’s not a time to figure out who will be playing for the Golden Skate championship trophy on August 26 or who will battle it out for third place on August 5.
Instead, those two post-season games will get regular season previews in the league’s annual visit to the boardwalk, and if anyone thinks that any of the four teams will mail it in or try to conserve themselves for the playoffs, they obviously haven’t been following this league.
And that’s the beauty of derby. There’s no resting of an all-star for the next big game or taking the foot off the gas to conserve energy or avoid injury. Every game is played like the seventh game of the World Series, and as soon as the Queens of Pain and Brooklyn Bombshells take the track for the opener, expect to see the kind of war these two teams always come prepared to wage.
With both Queens and Brooklyn unbeaten, and Manhattan and the Bronx winless in 2017, even a loss won’t keep Queens and Brooklyn from the championship game. But an undefeated record is important to every member of both squads, and maybe even more important to Queens, who suffered a crushing 179-152 defeat to the Bombshells that kept them from chasing their first league title since 2013. And given that they’ve been in the hunt for years, it’s clear that the ladies in black feel that this is their time to strike.
The last time Brooklyn hoisted a championship banner was in 2015 and they were perilously close to a repeat last year. Some wondered if they would make it back to the title game after a huge turnover of players, but when those newbies are players like V-Diva, Donna Matrix, Sweets McBacon, Girl Friday and Bellatricks, that makes the transition much easier, and they’ve been firing on all cylinders since.
So will it be the new look Bombshells or the reliable Queens of Pain? Round one is Saturday. But don’t think the opener is the main event, as Manhattan and the Bronx are gutsy battlers with the talent and determination to be in next month’s championship game. But in a three-game home season, one bad night, one bad trip to the penalty box or one key injury can be the difference between winning and losing. In short, the Mayhem and Gridlock are a lot better than the 0-2 records they share, and derby fans will see that on Saturday.
As far as the stakes involved for the teams who will play for third place next month, Manhattan has a lot of pride on the line as they look to salvage the season after their championship-winning one. So expect all-star blockers Violet Knockout and Roxy Dallas to deliver the hurt on jammers trying to break loose. But the Gridlock have been chasing a victory since their last one in May 2014, and if they can pull it off against the defending champs, expect Abe Stark Arena to erupt.
In short, don’t let the records fool you. All four Gotham teams have plenty to play for this weekend.
Tickets for Saturday available here.