By Thomas Gerbasi / additional reporting by Hewlett Smackard
A dominant 2017 season for the Queens of Pain ended with a four-point overtime loss to the Brooklyn Bombshells in the Gotham Girls Roller Derby championship game. Eight months later, any lingering effects from the defeat were extinguished in the space of 60 minutes at John Jay College last Saturday, as the ladies in black broke open a close game with a second-half surge that saw them soar past the Manhattan Mayhem, 191-98.
"I think what happened was that the team really came together,” said Queens captain Livvie Smalls. “I really feel like this was a team win; we ran all of our skaters tonight and everyone contributed.”
It was the boost Queens needed, especially after losing the likes of Shortstop and Puss ‘n Glutes in the off-season. But with newcomers such as Stephinity and Beyond stepping up, the team appears to be right on target for another championship run in 2018.
"We drafted some really fantastic skaters like Stephinity and Beyond,” said Livvie.“It's hard to fill the tiny but mighty shoes of Shortstop, but she looked amazing tonight. Beast [Beauty Andie Beast] looked amazing. Suzy (Hotrod) obviously is amazing and I think the jammer crew as a group really stepped up to fill those shoes. And then we still have Puss on the bench,so that calm presence with all of that experience is still with us.”
Manhattan also had its share of turnover, with Roxy Dallas, Violet Knockout and Em Dash all missing from the track, but the Mayhem defense still held strong in the first half, staying within striking distance of Queens. Seven jammer box trips in the opening 30 minutes didn’t help Manhattan’s cause, though.
"They had some penalty trouble and I think that with any team that has to play down, it's very hard to keep yourself as cool and composed as when you're ahead,” said Queens MVP Suzy. “It's a lot easier to be cool and composed when you're not fighting to get back. So we were really fortunate to begin the second half ahead - 30 points in derby is not really anything. But then we had a really good trajectory. They lost a player (when Giles fouled out) and that's really hard to recover from mentally.”
Up 79-49, Queens blitzed Manhattan to begin the second half, reeling off 57 unanswered points to put the game out of reach.
“Queens played very cohesive and it was just a little chaotic for Mayhem,” said Manhattan MVP Cork Rebel. “Something Mayhem can take away from this game is to basically try to play a calmer game, have more communication -- we have great cohesiveness during practice. I think it was just a very weird thing. It didn't feel like us, basically.”
On May 5, Mayhem faces Brooklyn, while Queens’ second trip to the track will be against the Bronx on June 9.
QUEENS vs. MANHATTAN STATS
Queens MVP – Suzy Hotrod
Manhattan MVP – Cork Rebel
Leading Queens Scorers
Beauty Andie Beast – 80 points (15 jams)
Suzy Hotrod – 63 points (16 jams)
Stephinity and Beyond – 33 points (12 jams)
Leading Queens Blockers
Livvie Smalls – 22 jams (+54)
Nail Diamond – 21 jams (+82)
Kitty Roadkill – 20 jams (+8)
Low Maim – 20 jams (-10)
Leading Manhattan Scorers
Giles – 38 points (13 jams)
Cork Rebel – 28 points (6 jams)
Kid Vicious – 19 points (12 jams)
Leading Manhattan Blockers
Spork Chop – 25 jams (-60)
Bonita Apple Bomb – 24 jams (-67)
Knightmare – 21 jams (+5)
Minutes in Box: 28 Jammer Box Trips: 4
Minutes in Box: 39 Jammer Box Trips: 10
Stats compiled via Rinxter