Smashers Topple Madames for Fourth Straight Gibson’s Cup

The 2015 Atom Smashers

The 2015 Atom Smashers

In the annual all-Durham Region showdown, the Atom Smashers won their fourth consecutive Gibson’s Cup over the Motor City Madames on Saturday night in recording-setting fashion, managing to set records for most points, fewest points against and largest margin of victory in the 312-75 win. Despite the lopsided nature of the score, it was a celebratory and entertaining evening featuring the best crowd of the season with Rogers TV on board for a full broadcast.

The Gibson's Cup is named for a young fan who passed away in 2010 after an extended battle with cancer. Once again, Hearth Place was the charity partner for the event. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The Gibson’s Cup is named for a young fan who passed away in 2010 after an extended battle with cancer. Once again, Hearth Place was the charity partner for the event. (Photo by Joe Mac)

After forming in 2010, Durham Region Roller Derby put together its first full season in 2011, concluding with the inaugural Gibson’s Cup. That first season, the Smashers and the Madames were virtually even, with the Madames taking that initial showdown 145-114. It would mark the last time the Madames would notch a victory over their leaguemates.

The Smashers eventual dominance was not born overnight, but took time. In 2012, they won the event 257-152, and then in 2013, the Madames managed to make up some of the gap, losing by only 66 points; however, last year the gap widened, and this year the difference on the track was immense.

In a two-team house, league it’s truly impossible to find a single event or reason for a growing gap between teams, but differences in drafting, inconsistent retention rates, and simply individual skill are all factors that play into it. Also, nearly from the start, DRRD’s travel team, the Devils (on hiatus in 2015), was comprised of a majority number of Smashers. No doubt, the advanced training and competitive schedule also played into the growing chasm between the clubs.

The Madames entered the 2015 Gibson’s Cup on the heels of an up-and-down season. A final four appearance at Wellington Roller Derby’s Winter Wipeout (where they were eliminated by the Smashers) was followed by a one-sided loss to Royal City’s talented Killer Queens. This loss preceded a two-game winning streak over Lindsay and Niagara that brought the team into the Cup on a high note.

The Smashers are coming off of, arguably, their best season ever (they went undefeated in 2013, but given the nature of the competition and the amount of games, 2015 may still be better overall). They dominated the aforementioned Winter Wipeout tournament, taking home the trophy after defeating Orangeville in the final, and then made their second consecutive appearance at the Beast of the East, where they lost to Rideau Valley’s defending champion Prime Sinisters and then a heart-breaking one-point elimination game against Toronto’s Chicks Ahoy!. But the team followed that event with three straight wins (including handily taking the rematch with the Chicks) before a very narrow 136-122 loss to Wellington’s Feims ended the run.

Led by its longest serving core members Mozilla, Karma Screwya and Reject Barbie, the Madames entered the Cup with a 12-skater short bench, and the team got caught on its back wheels at the opening whistle, as the Smashers roared out to a 43-0 lead that extended to 84-10 only eight jams in; at the midway point of the opening period, a 37-point jam by Betty Fugetaboutit extended that already impressive lead to 125-19, essentially putting the game out of reach.

There wasn’t any one aspect of the game that Madames seemed lacking in when put up next to their counterparts, and the team has managed to build up a solid, albeit short handed, roster. Daisy TripHer, Astro Girl and Roller Mitch form a developing jammer rotation with a ton of potential, while the core blockers have built up a solid-multi-generational group around them, led by the excellent Pac-Ma’am.

But the Smashers have somehow managed to remain one skate ahead and keep building off of the already solid base. As a team, the Smashers are built a little differently, eschewing a set jammer rotation and instead passing around the star to a group of double threats, led by Piptonium and Fugetaboutit. This season, they’ve added Iggy PopHer, Code Blue, and Birdie, all similar, multi-position players who played big roles in this year’s Gibson Cup win: Not that they don’t have designated blockers (Amefyst, Psycho Magnet) and jammers (Scarlita), but they are a team with options.

With a commanding 187-39 lead at the break, the second half was all about managing the game. The Smashers used the big lead as an opportunity to give the star to some designated blockers including Natitude, Psycho Magnet and long-time veteran Goldie Lock N Load.

Word on the track is that there have been some discussions around DRRD about a possibly restructuring of the current league model, so the future of the Gibson’s Cup—at least in this form—remains in doubt. If so, this was a great sending off: celebratory, hard fought, and fun. On the track, the league remains healthy with a thriving farm team in the DRRD’y Farmers and a whole crop of 2015 rookies that seems destined to lead the league into the future.

**The 2015 Gibson’s Cup was broadcast by Rogers TV. It will be rebroadcast beginning Saturday, August 1, 2015, at 6:00 PM.

**The DRRD’y Famers hosted Royal City’s Our Ladies of Pain to kick things off, falling 410-131. That game will be broadcast on Rogers TV this Thursday, July 30, at 8:00 PM.

Smashers out pace Motor City to take Gibson’s Cup.

Atom Smashers 257 vs. Motor City Madames 152

The Atom Smashers avenged last year’s loss by winning the 2012 Gibson’s Cup. (Photography by Joe Mac)

It’s been a long and winding few years for Durham Region Roller Derby, but after two successful seasons capped off this weekend by hosting the second annual Gibson’s Cup, things seem to be sailing smoothly for the league. Further proof of the league’s strength is the subtle shift in power that occurred when the 2011 champion Motor City couldn’t hold off the upstart Smashers to defend their championship on Saturday night. Having two strong home teams trading off intraleague dominance bodes well for the future of the league. And with both teams missing key skaters, others were able to step up and skate a lap in the spotlight, further strengthening the base. In the end, the Atom Smashers were able to secure a definitive win and erase the painful memories of last year’s 145-114 loss.

The defending champion Motor City Madames went 3-0 in regulation games this year.

The defending champion Motor City Madames came into the championship game as the heavy favourites.  Despite starting the year with an 0-2 performance at Montreal’s annual Beast of the East, the losses came to much more experienced teams from Hammer City and Toronto and proved to be an invaluable experience for the young skaters from Durham. They’d take this experience with them through a successful summer of derby. Tight results early built the resolve of this team as they squeaked out victories over Royal City’s top hometeam Our Ladies of Pain (134-130) and the Renegade Derby Dames B-Travel Team the Bombshell Battalion (131-125). They completed an unbeaten regulation season with a dominant 207-102 victory over Peterborough Roller Derby.

The Atom Smashers went 2-2 in 2012.

The Atom Smashers had a much less straight-forward season, going 2-2 and featuring inconsistent results that had many wondering if they’d be able to pull it all together for the championship. Opening with a 174-143 loss to Royal City’s Killer Queens, they took out the frustrations from that game on Peterborough when they showed flashes of excellence, putting together an impressive offensive display in a 346-148 victory.  They followed this up with a much tighter, hard-fought win against Greater Sudbury’s Tatas (114-108), proving that they could put a close game away as well. Although their regulation season ended with a 202-186 loss, it was to GTA Rollergirls A-Travel Team, the G-sTARs. In retrospect, it was a tight loss to a solid team that should have been an indicator of how far this Smasher’s team had come in 2012.

Rekker Roxy (#18) was part of a strong Smashers’ pack.

If there were lingering doubts about the rise of the Smashers, they were quickly put to rest at the outset of the game, as they burst out to a quick lead. The Motor City Madames held on tight from the start, but it was clear that they were playing keep-up. Lead by primary pivots Amefyst and Eva Bangoria, the Atom Smashers pack was clearly tighter in the early going and had the Motor City pack spread and often scrambling. Taking the first power jam of the game, the Smashers put together an impressive run, holding the Madames at 5 points for over ten minutes at one point before they were able to put another 4 points on the board; but at that point the damage may have been done as the Atom Smashers held a 70-9 lead with only twelve minutes left in the half.

Betty FugetaBOUTit helped anchor the Smashers’ offense.

With key jammers out of the line up on both sides, the teams kept to tight jammer rotations. The Atom Smasher’s offense was anchored by 12 Gage and Betty FugetaBOUTit and supported by up-and-comer Young Blood, and they dominated the lead percentage, giving them complete control of the jams. Not that Motor City jammers Dar Mean, Cutsie Bootsie and Blood Muffin (who had the most success for the Madames on this night) were having off nights (though Cutsie Bootsie seemed susceptible to having penalties drawn on her)—they often managed to complete their initial pass before getting scored on—they just didn’t have the open lanes that their counterparts on the Smashers had, and often found themselves trying to desperately make up a lot of track. A late attempt at a push back was squashed by a series of power jams that saw the Smashers open up a nearly 100-point lead, 128-35, at the half.

Blood Muffin was a consistent weapon for the Madames.

The Madames are defending champs for a reason though, and they came out ready for the second half. Putting together their best run of the game, Motor City began the long climb back into this one with some disciplined play and improved pack work. Outscoring the Smashers 79-62 over the opening fifteen minutes of the second half to pull close at 190-114, a tendency for one-on-one play would creep back into their game, allowing the Smashers’ pack to maintain relative control over the way things played out. While the second half was rife with penalties, it was the Madames who bore the brunt of it. Often isolated on the track, the Motor City blockers were often forced into desperate hits or out-of-play lunges that created a steady stream to the penalty box and lead to a near constant pack advantage for the Smashers.  Typically strong pivots Karma Screwya and Slamureye (who finished the game with six majors and was on the verge of fouling out) were neutralized with penalties, and although there were valiant efforts to keep things together by skaters like Mozilla and The Piecemaker, they could never quite pull themselves out of the troubles.

And the Atom Smashers took clear advantage. Executing well on power jams and mostly remaining disciplined, the Smashers played a complete and consistent game, so much so, that the outcome was never really in doubt. Although there was strong individual play from blockers (Rekker Roxy was another stand out and was eventually awarded team MVP), it was the togetherness of the Atom Smashers’ packs that proved to be the difference. Staying together kept them out of penalty trouble but also protected them from potentially devastating hits, and allowed them to control the pace of the game and, just as importantly, the formation of the packs. In the end it proved to be a definitive 107 point victory for the Smashers, securing them their first Gibson’s Cup.

The Gibson’s Cup is more than just a roller derby trophy; it’s named for an 11 year old super fan who unfortunately passed away in 2010 after a long bout with brain cancer.