Who is the Second Best Team in Canada?

A few weeks ago on the popular podcast Derby Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, co-host and Canadian correspondent Andi Struction, declared that the Terminal City All Stars were the second best team in Canada. Along with American based announcer and Roller Derby Radio co-host Bob Noxious, they also speculated that the West Kootenay Kannibelles could be the third best team in the country.

Admittedly, I was surprised by the confidence with which this statement was made, and then as the days after the podcast passed, I was also surprised at the reaction I was getting from eastern Canadians: it seemed that a lot of people in eastern Canada felt very strongly that Toronto’s CN Power was clearly the second best team in Canadian; still others expressed to me with some certainty that the Tri-City Thunder were the second best team in Canada.

Montreal`s New Skids on the Block scrum start in a victory over Suburbia`s Suburban Brawl this spring. (Photo by Richard Lafortune)

I was surprised by all of the strong reactions because to me, it seemed obvious that there was no clear number two in Canada. That after the consensus number one (Montreal Roller Derby’s New Skids on the Block), there was no discernible difference between Terminal City, Toronto, or Tri-City. To borrow a cliché from another sport, I believe that on any given Sunday, either of these teams would be capable of beating the other. But this debate also made it clear to me—because naively it wasn’t clear to me before—that there is a pretty clear divide between the eastern roller derby communities and the western ones (with the central region generally getting lumped in with the west and the Atlantic provinces considered with the east).

But, at least a discussion of this idea has been sparked. Generally, we Canadians have a reputation, fair or otherwise, for being polite. I think this has spilled over into derby: We’re generally pretty fair and positive in the derby community—which is excellent—but it can cloud our judgement in terms of ranking teams. Here’s the way I have it playing out in the east and west.

EAST

1. Montreal (New Skids on the Block, MTLRD)

2. Toronto (CN Power, ToRD)

3. Tri-City (Thunder, Tri-City Rollergirls)

4. Rideau Valley (Vixens, RVRG)

5. Hammer City (Eh! Team, HCRG)

CN Power and Tri-City Thunder met at this year`s Quad City Chaos with CN Power holding on for the 141-107 victory. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The east is heavily skewed toward the WFTDA, as all these teams are full members. (I only looked at top level travel teams; Montreal’s B-Team, Les Sexpos, are certainly in the top five competitively, and Toronto’s B-Team, the Bay Street Bruisers, are also ranked ahead of Hammer City on rollergirl.ca’s flat track rankings). The top three are clearly ahead of the others, and I’ve put Toronto over Tri-City here based on the fact that Toronto beat Tri-City earlier in the year, but competitively, I’d put them on the same level. After a few years of wallowing out of the competitive picture, Hammer City finally seems to have rebuilt its team to relatively competitive level and a recent victory over Royal City’s Brute Leggers (an eastern team on the rise) shows that they belong back in the Top 5.

WEST

1. Terminal City (All Stars, TCRG)

2. West Kootenay (Kannibelles, WKWRD)

3. Edmonton (E-Ville Dead, E-Ville Roller Derby)

4. Red Deer (Belladonnas, RDRDA)

5. Edmonton (Oil City All Stars, OCDG)

Terminal City remains the dominant team in Western Canada.

I’m not as familiar with the western teams as I am the eastern ones, but I have watched as much as I possibly could, and these “power rankings” also reflect the rollergirl.ca rankings. Only Terminal City is a full WFTDA league and this is played out in the competitive distance Terminal City has over the other teams in the west (although West Kootenay Kannibelles is on the rise). While for the past 12 months anyway, E-Ville has paced themselves ahead of Red Deer and Oil City, competitively I see them on a similar level.

If we look at Terminal City, Toronto and Tri City alone and with different stats, they are even closer:

  • WFTDA has them ranked almost precisely the same in their respective regions: CN Power (15 NC), Terminal City (16 W), Tri-City (17 NC).
  • falttrackstats has only a 17 point difference between 42nd ranked Terminal City, 45th Tri-City and 49th Toronto. When you consider that there are no common opponents between the eastern teams and Terminal City (and Montreal’s gap is a considerable 73 points ahead of this pack), the 17 point difference is fairly insignificant. (**rollergirl.ca has the gap as slightly larger, 30 points separating the three teams, but falttrackstats focuses on only matchups with higher-level teams, so in this particular case is probably more accurate)

While I do think West Kootenay is on the rise, I put them at the same level as Rideau Valley right now, reaching for, but not quite at that upper echelon yet, and would probably have to say that they are tied for fifth. Both teams have world-class talent (Beretta Lynch on the Kannibelles, Semi-Precious on the Vixens, for example), but lack the bench depth of the top four and the competitive level of experience. If I had to make a prediction, I would put the Vixens ahead of the Kannibelles in the long run. They are already WFTDA members and have been playing higher level teams more consistently, but they also have a contained houseleague that is operating at a high level. Right now the West Kootenay Women’s Roller Derby is operating an unwieldy seven houseleague teams which could very well dilute their talent in the long run (ToRD learned this lesson the hard way, when from 2007-2008 they had a very successful six-team houseleague, yet their travel team’s competitive level fell considerably and both Montreal and Hammer City leap-frogged them; a turn around that wasn’t abated until Toronto repurposed two of the teams and refocused as a four-team houseleague: the competitive level of the travel team jumped almost immediately).

So here’s how I see things realistically:

CANADA

1. Montreal

2. Terminal City, Toronto, Tri-City

5. Rideau Valley, West Kootenay

In 2010, the top four teams in Canada met in an unofficial Canadian Championship at ToRD`s first ever Quad City Chaos. (Photo by Derek Lang)

I honestly believe that the only way to settle it would be to play and unfortunately that’s not going to happen any time soon. While the RDAC tournament in the west featured the top teams (with Terminal City and West Kootenay advancing), the top teams in the east are not participating in the RDAC Eastern Championship this year. Actually out of the top five leagues in the east, only Toronto is sending its B-Team to the tournament. The other participating teams are of varying levels of experience (this was similar to last year’s CWRDA tournaments, the predecessor to the RDAC tournaments).

Hopefully someday soon we’ll be able to have a true Canadian championship and put this speculation to rest!

***My knowledge of central Canadian derby is admittedly pretty limited, but I haven’t seen anything (results or otherwise) that would put any of the teams there in contention. While derby in the Atlantic provinces is also booming right now, the competitive level is not at that of the rest of eastern Canada yet.

***Respectful disagreement and debate is strongly encouraged!

14 comments

  1. based overall performance this season i’d definitely have tri-city ahead of tord—they’ve really taken their game to the next level. i have no idea how they would stack up against terminal city but they’re playing some great derby these days.
    why is there no love for forest city this season derby nerd? you’ve got hammer city at 5th in the east based on a win over the brute-leggers…one of forest city’s home teams beat the brute-leggers convincingly earlier this season…if that is a suitable measure…

    my top 5 east:

    1. skids
    2. thunder
    3. cn power
    4. vixens
    5. fcdg

    1. For the sake of this discussion, I was only focusing on WFTDA teams, as stated.

      In my regular power rankings, I do have Forest City above Eh! Team, Brute Leggers and the Bruisers.

  2. The Nerd and I had this discussion on the weekend and I basically came to the same conclusions although I was a little more emphatic that CN Power and Tri-City Thunder should be ranked ahead of Terminal City and that the Vixens, from Rideau Valley, should definitely be ahead of the Kannibelles.

    As mentioned, it really comes down to quality of opposition. The Ontario (plus Montreal) circuit has a higher level of competitive derby, at the moment, than Western Canada does. That means the top teams are getting better, faster. Add in the increased level of WFTDA play and the disparity grows even more.

    I’m taking nothing away from Terminal City and their great first season in the WFTDA West. However, there is not a single victory, that they achieved, that I would not have expected the same from either TORD or Tri-City. In fact, every time I watch Terminal City play, I always feel like they should be doing better than they are because my expectations are so high for them.

    Now, having said that, I think Terminal City may be the team that is improving the fastest. TORD has looked great this year and, if they can get over their injury plague, has lots of room to move in the 2013 WFTDA season. Tri-City had a good season but has likely peaked over the short term and should slide a bit during a 2013 that will see a lot of rebuilding. Terminal City has some amazing talent coming up through their system and the All-Stars of 2013 should be much better than the 2012 edition, which was pretty great on their own.

    However, until that happens, I still have Terminal City ranked as #4 in Canada.

    1. Montreal New Skids
    2. Toronto CN Power
    3. Tri-City Thunder
    4. Terminal City All-Stars
    5. Rideau Valley Vixens
    6. West Kootenay Kannibelles

  3. I know, I know, I got a little ahead of myself with the Kootenay Kannibelles comment. It was just afterglow from the lovefest of Westerns. I would definitely agree with you that KK should be somewhere in the “up-and-coming” Rideau Valley category. Give them another full season (they’ve just submitted their WFTDA apprenticeship application) then let’s talk again.

  4. If you go just by rankings at flattrackstats then the three “Killer T’s” are basically tied. But, as Capt’n Lou says, Terminal City is on the rise http://flattrackstats.com/teams/4290/rankings while the two Ontario teams seem to have leveled off over the last season. The results of their respective matches against Ohio in May would suggest that the Thunder deserves their slightly higher ranking over CN Power.

  5. I saw both Ohio games and while Thunder performed well, Toronto had a complete meltdown. Toronto was doing fine into the half but multiple injuries threw things into disarray and they did not play like they usually do for the remainder of the game. I suspect this has a lot to do with experience. Thunder has had fully an extra season of games against tough teams and tough situations so they dealt with a tough Ohio team better (plus they have actually played Ohio before). These are growing pains all teams must go through.

    Having said that, Toronto performed well in all of their other games and achieved better results against Roc City and Burning River and defeated Tri-City head to head. That leads me to believe that the Ohio game is the outlier and that Toronto should remain ahead of Tri-City. The final piece, for me, was seeing how well Toronto did against Maine at ECDX without their top 4 jammers in attendance. CN Power is a strong team with a LOT of depth and I will be surprised if they do not crack the top 10 of the North Central Region in 2013 (I think they should be there now but I doubt the voting will work out for them).

  6. @ derby nerd- i didn’t see that you were just focusing on WFTDA teams in the east- by this virtue HCRG would be the only option to rank #5…no?

  7. Hmmm, wonder where the Vancouver Murder would fit in there. They’ve had a couple good wins in scrimmages against the TCRG All Stars
    ;)

  8. Like the Nerd said let’s put them all together and have them play one another.

    It won’t settle the “who is better than who” argument because you never know what may transpire (Team A could beat Team B, but may lose to Team C, who were beaten by Team B, etc.), but it would be nice to have annual bragging rights as champs of Canadian derby

    I would love to see this happen and I’m sure if enough minds were to put it all together it could be done.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s