(CWMBRAN, SOUTH WALES, UK) St. Louis-based GateKeepers Roller Derby can now officially make the claim as the most-decorated men’s team in the flat-track sport.
This comes after GKRD won the 2017 Men’s Roller Derby Association (MRDA) championship at Cwmbran Stadium Sunday over the Bridgetown Menace, 181-156.
The 25-point trophy victory netted St. Louis (11-0) their third consecutive MRDA title.
As the weekend’s top seed, the GateKeepers were fully aware that the Portland, Oregon-based Menace, the second seed, were going to give the undefeated rollers a run for their money if they desired a “three-peat.” In May, GKRD edged Bridgetown by two points.
A similar narrative was being constructed in the season finale.
Leading 10-8 after four jams, St. Louis rolled out a 21-1 run over the next two jams. Launched by Magnum P.I.M.P.’s 9-1 rotation and punctuated by Shane Bower’s dozen collected at 23:45, the GKRD lead swelled to 31-9.
Undaunted, the Menace countered with a 28-4 rally over the next five jams, resulting in the first of eight first-half lead changes. Accented by jams of ten and fourteen points by veteran Tofer Griffin, Bridgetown flipped the scoreboard to their favor, 42-35 with 17:00 left in the period.
The GateKeepers tenured wall of blockers, paced by The Saint, Percy Controll, Spin Diesel, Bled Zeppelin, Hulk, Double Excel, The Doc, Monster Jam and Wrecking Bill, helped chip away at the deficit and reclaimed the lead, 55-51, following Bower’s 16-point jam post at the 12:45 mark.
The edge was short-lived as Griffin’s nine-pointer scored one minute later handed the advantage back to Bridgetown, 60-55.
The GateKeepers then collected three consecutive lead jams and posted a 20-0 sprint and another lead change. With David Metcalfe’s baker’s dozen scored with 8:05 left in the period, St. Louis’ lead extended to fifteen points, 75-60.
The Menace’s blocking schema, paced by Tommy Gun, Quadzilla L.K., Juke Blocks Hero, Cozmo Damage and a host of others, finished strong down the stretch for the remainder of the half. Jammer Sausarge Rolls netted 15 points with seven minutes left, resulting in the trophy game’s 75-75 stalemate.
The lead continued to switch hands in the remaining rotations. Magnum scored 11 points with one minute left that gave St. Louis an 89-88 advantage but Griffin’s two-pointer collected in the final jam resulted in the Menace’s 90-89 heart-stopping lead at intermission.
Trailing by a whisker, the GateKeepers knew they had to play their best derby of the season in the second half if they wanted to hoist their third MRDA cup. A 19-0 period-launching sprint set the tone as Magnum’s four-point opener was followed by Bower’s 15-point power jam at 27:45 that helped St. Louis possess a 108-90 lead. Corey Porter then followed with an 11-4 rotation that helped GKRD’s lead blossom to 119-94.
As the period progressed, St. Louis kept capitalizing on Menace jammer penalties. ScreechAround netted a 14-pointer with 19:30 left that widened the lead to 134-107.
The differential kept widening as the minutes ticked away. Magnum posted nine with 8:30 remaining that made the score 154-125.
With their backs against the wall, Bridgetown cobbled a 28-4 run over the next four rotations to make the title game a nail biter. Sausarge Rolls collected 19 points with 7:05 left that narrowed the score to 154-144. Then after a 4-3 jam in favor of St. Louis, Griffin scored a pair of points to cut the 158-149. Rolls finished the run with four points scored as GKRD clung onto their 158-153 lead with 3:45 left.
Precious points were scored as time wound down. Heading into the game’s penultimate jam, St. Louis maintained a 160-154 edge. A little wiggle room was claimed with Magnum’s 7-2 rotation as the GateKeepers sported a 167-156 lead with :35 left.
In the game’s final rotation, a track-cut penalty was called on the Bridgetown jammer, resulting in a championship clincher for St. Louis as Bower started making multi-lap passes as the period clock expired. The GateKeepers’ final 14-pointer collected resulted in the team’s 181-156 MRDA championship victory, the “three-peat” and an undefeated season.
Magnum paced GKRD scoring with 68 points followed by Bower’s 61.
The Menace (7-2) was led in scoring by Griffin’s 71 points followed by Rolls’ 70. As silver medalists, Bridgetown finished a benchmark year with their highest placement in their respective post-season history.
Following the game, GateKeepers’ blocker Spin Diesel was awarded Most Valuable Blocker for the weekend.
The GateKeepers’ locally-based “Turf Wars” series, presented in conjunction with their “sisters” Arch Rival Roller Derby, launches Saturday, December 16 at Ballwin, Missouri’s Midwest Sport Hockey.
GATEKEEPERS ROLLER DERBY (181): Magnum P.I.M.P. 68, Shane Bower 61, Corey Porter 18, ScreechAround 18, David Metcalfe 14, Spin Diesel 4.
BRIDGETOWN MENACE (156): Tofer Griffin 71, Sausarge Rolls 70, Shreddy Mercury 15.