The first bout of the night was the Grand Prix Madonnas versus the Devil's Night Dames. Both of these teams entered this bout without a loss this season, and both of them were coming off of highs they achieved by starting the season strong. GPM, who came in second last season, has already defeated the reigning champs, and the Dames got their first win in two years.
GPM's Captain, Spanish Ass'assin:
Detroit Area Dork: What are you thinking right now about tonight's bout?
Spanish Ass'assin: I'm so ecstatic. The girls, they came out, and played the way that they normally do. We actually had a little pep talk at haft time. The holiday break happened right before the bout, so there wasn't a whole lot of practicing going on. You can always tell when people are away from their skates and away from their teams a lot, and it takes a minute to get back together. We had a little talk at half time, pulled it together, and the girls played just like they always do. I couldn't be prouder of them.
D: What do you think the team got right tonight?
S: When we realized we were letting our walls up a bit, we pulled that together. The score says it all. They scored 22 points in the first half, and only 14 in the second half. Walls make or break a bout. We were focusing on our defense first, and locking their jammers down, and they did it, and it worked. You take away their points, and it's pretty much downhill from there.
D: When the score is that far apart, do you try to go easy toward the end, or do you try to achieve that larger point difference, because there's an incentive to do so for the rankings?
S: Absolutely not. We know the Dames are notorious for being a second half team. We know they have a lot of heart. They fix what they're doing wrong in the first half, and they come at it hard in the second half. Part of that speech was "sure we're up by some points, but it's not enough, and it's not going to be enough". So we had to come out harder than we did in the first half and keep going, or else they were going to get on their love, their luck, and that winning high they came in with, and they were going to run us. We just kept going. We didn't give up. We never stopped. We didn't change much of the playing time. Our new girls got in and they got some good experience, but we weren't letting up one bit.
D: In bouts like this, where you have a big win, is it hard to find flaws that you need to work on in practice?
S: No, because it's very hard to play perfectly. Even when you win, and even when you get points, there's always something that feels wrong. When you see your bout footage reviews, you can see it. You can see what you can do better. You can see when they were scoring points, when they were getting out before us, those litle things. It's the same whether you win by 5 points or whether you win by 300 points. When you're not doing things right, things happen. So you gotta see those and you adjust, no matter how big or how little it is.
Manager of the Devil's Night Dames, Dr. Rocktopus:
Detroit Area Dork: What are you thinking right now about that bout?
Dr. Rocktopus: I think GPM played their game, and played it how they wanted to, and we had a hard time adjusting to it. That was our biggest problem with our game. They've trained really hard to play the way they want to play, and we let it get to us.
D: What does GPM do right?
R: Their recycling and their walls. They have very specific blockers for very specific jammers, and they have very specific plays that they ran like clockwork tonight, everytime.
D: Can you identify anything that your team did wrong tonight?
R: I don't think it's necesarily anything my team did wrong as opposed to just trying to figure out what GPM was doing right. I think that they did a lot of positive things. It was just finding a way to break their walls, that was our biggest problem. We just weren't able to do it tonight. There's a big size differential between our two teams. GPM definitely took advantage of their size.
D: After that victory in the first bout, were you expecting this one to go better for you than it did?
R: It's really hard to say, because everyone had their different styles of play. I think something that definitely hampered us was a lack of practices between our last bout and this bout. I think having a lot of strong practices, and getting to work on our skills. You know when you throw the holidays in, and then only having four practices, that makes it a little difficult to really work on what you want to work on.
D: What do you think you need to work on most for the next bout?
R: I think for the next bout it's just going back to playing how we play. We're a really scrappy team, and I think we play well against other scrappy teams. I think the matchup with the Pistoffs, we're both scrappy teams. We both go out and play hard derby, and I think that's where our strong suit is, just going out and playing hard derby.
Parting thoughts with Lazer Beam, Captain of the Pistolwhippers:
Detroit Area Dork: What's on your mind right now about this bout?
Lazer Beam: I think the Pistolwhippers have a lot of work to do. Never been in last place since I've been on the team, and we are now. We have to get back to practice, and start working on the basics again.
D: There were several lead changes through-out the bout, and then in the second half D-Funk really started to pull away. What happened?
L: Our jammers kept going in the box. The way that the game has changed so much, if you go to the box, you're in the box for a few jams, and jammers in the box will lose the game for you.
D: Was there a certain penalty that kept tripping you up?
L: Our jammers kept getting called for cuts. So if you think you're going to cut, you gotta fall, or if you're not sure if you're out, you gotta go behind everybody. It sucks that you gotta start all over again through that massive pack of great blockers that D-Funk has, or that any of the other 4 teams have, but you have to do it, because you can't win games in the box. That's just the history of the Whippers. We're notorious for going to the box, and it has to change.
D: In hindsight, how do you think you should have prepared for D-Funk?
L: I think that it was a very close game at first. I think that what we did to prepare for them was working until we started going to the box. It's one of those things where we can do down-ups all day long in practice for having to go the box, but when you don't have as many practices as you should have as a team, and you don't get to scrimmage other teams...playing in the games is totally different from practicing. I am really proud of my team though. We held it together. We didn't lose our cool. We've been working really hard. We've still got 2 more games to go, and we've got some time to prepare now. We're going to come back, and we're going to skate hard. Hopefully we'll win our next game.
D: So the holidays screwed up your practice schedule?
L: We only had 3 practices between our bouts, and normally we have about 10.
D: In the last bout you said the team had a jammer shortage. How would you compare it to this bout?
L: It was better. We have Mel back, and Sam did fantastic. We got to throw Boo in there as we needed. They were just stronger than us today. They were the better team today.
Mad Hatcher, Co-captain of the D-Funk Allstars:
Detroit Area Dork: What are you thining about this bout?
Mad Hatcher: I am really excited, because I think we addressed certain things we wanted to work on, and we actually accomplished them. It's a really fun thing when it actually works out the way you want it to.
D: What was that exactly?
M: We were trying to make sure to really take advantage of what was happening at the very beginning of the jam. We were really rushing to get the line, and get into position so that we could give the best advantage to our jammer, and we got a lot of lead jams. Our last game we weren't getting lead a lot, and we were really trying to work on little offensive moves that would help us get lead right away.
D: There were a lot of lead changes throughout the bout, and in the second half you really pulled away. What changed?
M: I think we went in at half time, and we were really able to evaluate what was working for us and what wasn't. We came back out focused and resolved, and we were really ready to win, and we tried to play smarter. I think it worked. We had better communication. We were watching for each other. We had better communication with our jammers. I think that's what happened.
D: Do you think the Whippers' gameplay changed in the second half?
M: I think it did. I was really impressed with their intensity throughout, and I could tell they kept fighting. They really did turn up the fighting level in the second half. I always love playing them, because I think we're fairly even teams, and we really like each other off and on the track, and we play a really fair game. They tried to turn it up, but we just kept going.
D: How's it going filling the vacancies left by all those vets leaving?
M: I think we've just tried to figure out what everybody's new roles are. We're getting better and better at that every time. We switched our lines around this time. We were really trying to pay attention to the new combinations of people and take advantage of that.
I like to question Mad Hatcher and Captain Fatal Femme together whenever I can, but sometimes I have to settle for one at time:
Detroit Area Dork: What are you thinking about this bout right now?
Fatal Femme: I'm thinking we finally came together as a team. I don't know if there was anything else we could have done to do any better. I'm really proud of us. I think we had a really good game.
D: While there were several lead changes in the first half, you really pulled ahead in the second. What changed?
F: We decided in the locker room that we needed to stay out of the box, we need to close off the inside, and wall up tighter. All those things we actually did, and it worked to our advantage.
D: Did the Whippers gameplay change in the second half? Did they fail to excecute like they were in the first?
F: I don't think so. I did notice that I hit Honey [Suckit] early in the second half, and I didn't see her again. I know she's a good jammer for them, and a good blocker for them, and I hope she's okay. I don't know if there was any game change that happened for them or not.
D: Does it feel good to win after coming off that first loss?
F: Yes, and it feels good that they had their full roster. They had all their jammers back, and we had our full roster. It's nice that we played each other at our best.
D: Is there one thing in particular that the team got right tonight?
F: Playing as a team. Covering for each other, recycling, and working together.
All photos by Dan Bachorik
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I'm a dork, I live in the Detroit area, and sometimes I take blurry photos on an outdated camera