Twice in franchise history, the primary squad of GateKeepers Roller Derby finished runner-up in the championship game of the Men’s Roller Derby Association (MRDA).
In 2012, the St. Louis-based rollers fell in a topsy-turvy trophy game by one point on the game’s final jam. Heartbreaking considering that it was held in front of its loyal legion of fans at its home track in Ballwin.
Fast-forward two years and GKRD found itself in the gold medal tussle again. They sported a 40-point lead at intermission over Des Moines, IA-based Your Mom Men’s Roller Derby, the same team that upended them the first go-around in 2012.
The defending MRDA champs utilized a 63-1 second-half sprint en route to a 172-139 topper over St. Louis to claim the 2014 trophy, its third straight. Once again, the GateKeepers had succumbed to Your Mom.
Twice a groomsman in the MRDA finale, St. Louis looks to become a groom this weekend at home durig the governing body’s two-day, ten team tournament.
GateKeepers Roller Derby hosts the MRDA 2015 Championships, “River City Rumble,” at Midwest Sports Hockey (570 Weidman, Rd., Ballwin, MO). St. Louis, seeded second in the field of ten, meets the winner of a play-in game between seventh-seeded Bridgetown (Portland, OR) and tenth-seeded Twin Cities (Minneapolis, MN) in a quarterfinal contest set for 5 p.m Saturday.
Expectations are high for the GateKeepers (11-1) based on their regular-season output. After posting five wins to start the campaign, St. Louis were upset by #4 Texas in June at the Midwest BrewHaha invitational in Milwaukee by ten points.
Bruised, but not broken, GKRD churned another six wins to finish the regular season, which included a 112-point thumping of the aforementioned Texans in August. As a result, St. Louis retained its rank of #2 internationally by the MRDA and enters this weekend’s tournament seeded in the same position.
With sights set on erasing past post-season setbacks, and with the mindset of snagging its first MRDA trophy, the GateKeepers have been full tilt in preparation of this weekend’s sprint to the cup.
“Everyone looks and feels so dialed in during scrimmages,” said GKRD co-captain Percy Controll. “We’ve worked so hard at refining the small details to put them together to form the best ‘big picture’ that we can.“
Key to this season’s success has been the stubborn blocking schematic, paced by Controll as well as veterans Double Excel, Kyle Stark, Wrecking Bill, Inquadable Hulk, Spin Diesel, The Saint, Hand Rail and Walker Hamilton.
In the jamming rotation, Corey Porter, Shane Bower, Magnum P.I.M.P., Screecharound and Hand Rail have each posted individual benchmarks in game play. A-team charter members David Metcalfe, Specs Offender, Monster Jam, Mueller, Uttendorf and Nate Bower have also contributed quality minutes throughout the year.
It’s a deep, well-rounded line-up and it has to be at this level. If the GateKeepers win Saturday’s quarterfinal, it advances to Sunday morning’s semifinals. Triumph in that contest and a trip to Sunday night’s gold medal finale looms on the horizon.
Long story short, win three battles this weekend and one claims a championship. It’s an achievement St. Louis has desired since it was founded in 2010.
“Honestly, we are working the hardest we’ve ever worked to have the best three games we can possibly have,” said Controll of the team’s missive. “It would feel great to win the title for each other, but as long as we perform together, as hard as we have worked, we are happy. We’ve already had an incredible season to be very happy about.”
When St. Louis last hosted the MRDA Championships in three years ago, close to 800 attended the gold medal game. Controll hopes a similar vocal turnout appears this weekend to help support the locals.
“We love our fans!” the co-captain said. “As close as the St. Louis derby community is, our ‘family’ being there and cheering us on means so much to us. Our community is something special.“
And if the GateKeepers happen to claim an inaugural championship Sunday night, it truly will be a special moment.
Here is a capsule summary of the nine other leagues competing at “River City Rumble, listed by seed:
(1) YOUR MOM MENS DERBY (Des Moines, IA – MRDA #1)
The three-time defending MRDA champ (8-0) began the regular season in March with a 39-point victory over #3 New York and inevitably stretched its sanctioned winning-streak to 30 games. Competitive victories over #8 Magic City and #14 Twin Cities, as well as five flat-track flattenings of lower-ranked opponents, added to the streak. Claiming a “four-peat” this weekend won’t be easy for Your Mom but the defending champs certainly have the experience, talent and desire to remain at the top of the hierarchy.
(3) NEW YORK SHOCK EXCHANGE (New York, NY – MRDA #3)
The third seed did its share of sweat equity during the regular season to receive its placement. NYSE (7-1) competed in five non-sanctioned games during a January European trek and notched successful victories across the board. Then when returning to sanctioned play domestically, the Shock Exchange fell to top-seeded Your Mom in the aforementioned March game. After that, New York churned seven straight wins. The MRDA champ in 2011, NYSE has always found itself within the tourney as a semifinalist and odds are favorable that they will reach that spot again.
(4) TEXAS MEN’S ROLLER DERBY (Denton, TX – MRDA #4)
The Outlaws (10-2) stampeded through its breakout regular season and finished with a two position jump in the MRDA rankings to become the weekend’s fourth seed. Along with the aforementioned 10-point victory over #2 St. Louis, Texas saw toppers over #5 Puget Sound, #7 Bridgetown and #8 Magic City. Saturday’s re-match with Puget Sound in the quarterfinals provides optimism considering its 88-point victory over the Outcasts. A projected semi-final showdown with top-seeded Your Mom will be the first encounter between the two since the Texan powerhouse was formed and certainly provides plenty of intrigue.
(5) PUGET SOUND OUTCASTS (Seattle, WA – MRDA #5)
A perennial MRDA Champs entrant since the tourney’s inception, the Outcasts (6-2) collected a three-game sweep at “The Big O” invitational in May with triumphs over #7 Bridgetown, #13 Arizona and #21 Drive-By. The Outcasts enter the tourney with two straight sanctioned wins, including a 300-plus point triumph over unranked Vancouver in August. Against higher-seeded Texas Saturday, Puget Sound will lean heavily on the familiar faces with years of flat-track experience.
(6) SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT (London, UK – MRDA #6)
After netting its inaugural post-season bid last year, and finishing fifth, this weekend’s lone European entrant (3-0) played of all of its 2015 sanctioned games on native soil. The Knights of Discomfort topped #9 Tyne & Fear, #17 Lincolnshire and #30 Barrow at the Men’s European Cup in July to win its second straight trophy. Saturday’s quarterfinal against third-seeded New York marks the first time the two leagues have met since a November 2011 unsanctioned exhibition.
(7) BRIDGETOWN MENACE (Portland, OR – MRDA #7)
Bridgetown (4-3) makes its fourth consecutive trip to the post-season by maintaining its current placement in the MRDA rankings. The Menace notched victories over #13 Arizona, #14 Twin Cities, #29 Glenmore and unranked Vancouver. As the seventh seed, they know they have to win a pair of Saturday games if it wishes to reach the semifinals, which would be a new benchmark as its highest finish was sixth in 2013. A quarterfinal qualifier against tenth-seeded Twin Cities might result in a successful launch on Saturday as Bridgetown topped the Terrors, 285-54, at “River City Rumble” in mid-August.
(8) MAGIC CITY MISFITS (Jacksonville, FL – MRDA #8)
Failing to qualify for last season’s tournament after appearing in three straight, the Floridians made a four-position jump from the July MRDA rankings to earn its spot back into Champs. Magic City (7-3) zapped lower-ranked competition, which included June’s 745-0 shuffling of unranked Hitmen of Manatee County. In fact, all seven sanctioned victories had triple-digit differentials. Saturday’s play-in game against ninth-seeded upstart San Diego gives Magic City a chance to solidify itself as a main player in the Championship complexion.
(9) SAN DIEGO AFTERSHOCKS (San Diego, CA – MRDA #10)
Unranked in the July MRDA rankings, the Californians (5-0) made its inaugural appearance at #10 overall and with #9 Tyne & Fear’s declination of a post-season invite receives the ninth seed. Launched competitively as a franchise in 2011, the Aftershocks played minimal games in its first four seasons. A beefed-up 2015 schedule saw victories over #13 Arizona, #21 Drive-By, #24 Denver and #29 Glenmore. A quarterfinal play-in game against equally-ravenous Magic City might be the highlight for derby watchers Saturday morning. A win to launch its first-ever post-season campaign for the Aftershocks would definitely be a benchmark for the super-charged Golden State entry.
(10) TWIN CITIES TERRORS (Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN – MRDA #14)
As a result of four leagues declining a Champs’ invite, the re-surging Minnesotans (5-7) gladly snagged the tourney’s final seed. It seems apropos because, arguably, there wasn’t a franchise more willing to do anything to improve itself on the track and off. A Saturday play-in game against seventh-seeded Bridgetown is a tough task considering it already suffered an August setback against the aforementioned foe. That being said, the Terrors look to raise its collective “derby IQ” over the weekend and make monumental strides.
Saturday’s tourney action begins at 9 a.m. with a pair of quarterfinal play-in games and is then proceeded by the quarterfinals. As the tournament progresses to Sunday, two semifinal games will take place in the morning beginning at 9 a.m. Then after a pair of consolation match-ups, the third place game is scheduled for 5 p.m. and the MRDA gold medal game takes place at 7 p.m.
General Admission tickets are $25 for each day or $40 for a two-day pass and can be purchased at either the door or at THIS LINK. Children 10 and under are free. Free online coverage is schedule to be streamed live on wftda.tv.
RIVER CITY RUMBLE
Midwest Sport Hockey – Ballwin, MO
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 17
9 AM – (7) Bridgetown vs. (10) Twin Cities
11 AM – (8) Magic City vs. (9) San Diego
1 PM – (3) New York vs. (6) Southern Discomfort
3 PM – (4) Texas Men’s vs. (5) Puget Sound
5 PM – (2) GateKeepers vs. Bridgetown/Twin Cities winner
7 PM – (1) Your Mom vs. Magic City/San Diego winner
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 18
9 AM– Semifinal Game One
11 AM – Semifinal Game Two
1 PM – Consolation Game One
3 PM – Consolation Game Two
5 PM – Third Place Game
7 PM – MRDA Championship Game
Click on the video to see a preview and analysis of the teams competing at this weekend’s event.
For more information on GateKeepers Roller Derby, go to stlgatekeepers.com.