By Thomas Gerbasi / additional reporting by Hewlett Smackard
It’s the scenario you hope for in any championship game. Sudden death for all the marbles, and when the Brooklyn Bombshells and Queens of Pain met for the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league title on Aug. 26, it was no surprise that 60 minutes weren’t enough to determine who would leave John Jay College in NYC with the Golden Skate Trophy.
158-158. Two minutes. One jam. An entire season comes down to this.
"We were just saying, ‘Everybody sit down, everybody stay calm,’” said Brooklyn’s Raggedy Animal. “We didn't want to send the energy out to the track of chaos. We wanted the bench to be very Zen and sending a lot of positive energy, because it's already so intensely exciting we didn't want everyone on the track to have our energy be like, "Go, go, go." So, on the bench we try to keep it nice and calm and try to really feed the skaters that supportive, quiet energy.”
“We practice the two minute jams,” said Queens’s Suzy Hotrod. “We had a definite plan — Shorty would start, I would finish.”
Two minutes later, as the crowd roared, Queens had put 13 more points on the scoreboard. But Brooklyn scored 17. And the new champs wore blue.
"When we were out there, we kept talking,” said Diva. “Stay smart, stay clean. And what was happening was that the other team went to the box a little more than we did. We just played what we did at the beginning to the end and just tried to finish that way. It was anybody's game, but our goal was to stay on the track. That's how we want to win the game.”
The victory marked the Bombshells’ third GGRD title and first since 2015. Queens, which saw its hopes for an undefeated season and a fifth championship, were crushed by the razor-thin defeat.
"It's heartbreaking,” said Suzy. “I think about so many hours and hours and hours and hours of work, all the team, all the way down to the bottom of the bench every, every day. Every single thing we could have done.”
Yet that’s the beauty of derby, especially in Gotham, the reality that every team is so good that on any given night, any team can win. And while Brooklyn was a worthy one-half of this year’s title bout, Queens had defeated them in July and looked to be unstoppable heading into the final game of the season.
But that’s why they play the games, and Brooklyn, a squad that was missing Diva for the Coney Island bout, had her back. And she delivered, scoring a game-high 92 points.
“I will play wherever my team would need me to be,” she said. “Just like any of our players, I couldn't score points if my blockers didn't contain or continue keeping their jammer locked down. So. I just played my game and tried to stay out of the box, but I can't say they leaned on me - my team did what they had to do.”
What Brooklyn had to do was dig out of a 43-8 first half hole that almost saw them put away by the Queens trio of Suzy, ShortStop and Beauty Andie Beast. But once the Bombshells settled down and got into a rhythm, they erased that slow start and not only pulled closer, but raced past their rivals en route to an 80-71 halftime lead.
Now it was Queens’ turn to make a run, and by the sixth jam of the second period, they regained the lead, 86-84. That lead didn’t last long, as Brooklyn seized the advantage in the next jam, and when Diva delivered a 22-point effort that put her team ahead 138-118, it looked like game over in NYC.
But when it mattered, one of Gotham’s greats took over, with Suzy using jams of 17 and eight points to even the score and force overtime. It was a furious run that was ended by Brooklyn’s effort in the overtime jam, but competing in one of GGRD’s greatest title bouts has to be some consolation for a team that already has its sights set on 2018.
“We're going to wash our tears away in the ocean tomorrow,” said Queens captain Puss ‘n Glutes. “Then we'll come back.”
QUEENS vs. BROOKLYN STATS
1 2 F
Queens 71 87158
Brooklyn 80 82162
Queens MVP – Suzy Hotrod
Brooklyn MVP – V-Diva
Leading Queens Scorers
ShortStop - 64 points (26 jams)
Suzy Hotrod – 59 points (17 jams)
Beauty Andie Beast – 33 points (10 jams)
Leading Queens Blockers
Puss ‘n Glutes – 39 jams (+6)
Livvie Smalls – 35 jams (-51)
Pinky Swears – 30 jams (-14)
Leading Brooklyn Scorers
V-Diva – 92 points (18 jams)
Miss Tea Maven – 56 points (27 jams)
Bellatricks – 7 points (2 jams)
Sweets McBacon – 7 points (6 jams)
Leading Brooklyn Blockers
Lady Fingers – 35 jams (+38)
D.A.R.Y.L. – 34 jams (-21)
Papierschnitt – 30 jams (+8)
Minutes in Box: 45 Jammer Box Trips: 5
Minutes in Box: 31 Jammer Box Trips: 4