By Thomas Gerbasi
The names change, as they do every year, but when the Brooklyn Bombshells and Manhattan Mayhem take the track, the result is almost always something special, and those expectations are still there for Saturday’s matchup at John Jay College in NYC.
Yet while both teams have always delivered on bout night, this year, the two squads enter with a little more urgency after losing their season openers. The defending champion Bombshells were on the wrong end of a 185-136 score against the Bronx Gridlock on March 17, and Mayhem dropped a 191-98 nod to the Queens of Pain.
In most sports, we could call that an easily rectifiable slow start to 2018. In the Gotham Roller Derby league home season, in which each team only gets three games to earn a spot in the championship bout, one loss makes the next game a must win. Two losses and you’re thinking about next year.
So there should be championship game-level intensity on the track this weekend, with the winner staying in the hunt for the Golden Skate trophy, and the atmosphere at John Jay should match that intensity.
But who wins?
Penalties are always a vicious determinant of which team emerges victorious when the whistle blows, and that goes for all roller derby games. Mayhem were particularly hurt by ten jammer box trips against Queens, with a reasonable 30-point halftime deficit turning into an insurmountable one thanks to a 57-0 run by Queens to kick off the second half.
Manhattan is also still getting used to the loss of veteran Em Dash and the defensive 1-2 punch of Roxy Dallas and Violet Knockout.But with five GGRD All-Stars on the track (Bonita Apple Bomb, Giles, Brawleen Lidz, Cork Rebel, Lumiknoxity, Spork Chop), including the team’s co-captain Bonita, as well as Cork and Giles, both of whom had excellent performances in the opener, their ability to get back in championship form should come sooner rather than later.
That should also be the case for Brooklyn, a team that has always found a way to fight back from adversity, thanks to a veteran core of Papierschnitt, Raggedy Animal and Lady Fingers, all of whom have battled together for the Bombshells for several years. And when you add one of the game’s greatest blockers – Donna Matrix – and one of its premier jammers – All-Star Miss Tea Maven – as well as two more All-Stars in D.A.R.Y.L. and Space Invader, this once again becomes one of the most evenly matched bouts you will find in a league that has celebrated its parity.
But if you need a little more proof for how close Saturday’s bout between the two teams who have each won three GGRD league titles will be, consider the history, where Brooklyn has won four of six bouts since 2013, with the total margin of victory being 32 points. Total. That’s an average winning advantage of 5.3 points.
Sure, numbers don’t always tell the whole story, but when it comes to Brooklyn and Manhattan they say all that needs to be said. In other words, find a ticket and get to John Jay on Saturday night.
Tickets for Saturday available here.