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Flat Track Overload! Fresh and Furious, ToRD vs. Charm City, Toban Tussle and Gotham vs. London ALL Compete for Attention This Weekend.

From WFTDA Division 1 match ups to a Canadian provincial teams showdown to an annual eastern Canadian fresh meat tournament, this weekend has something for every derby fan.

Fresh and Furious 2014 posterFRESH AND FURIOUS

It’s that time of year again! Once again the GTA Rollergirls have invited fresh meat teams from across Ontario and Quebec to compete in The Fresh and The Furious, a one-day, two-track, double-elimination tournament featuring the up-and-coming stars from some of eastern Canada’s top leagues.

There will be fifteen teams competing in the tournament this year, with teams divided between two tracks until the quarterfinals (which will feature crossover match ups) and then a final four that will take place on the main track in Ted Reeve Arena (the second track is located in Ted Reeve’s “Bubble”).

Last year, ToRD, Hammer City, and the mixed Quebec Team (Les Bûches) dominated the event. Hammer City won’t be returning this season, but ToRD’s D-VAS return and Les Bûches will be back to defend their crown (last year marked the second year in a row that a team from Quebec won the tournament).

Both tracks will be boutcast live all day long beginning at 11:00 AM and concluding with the championship game at 9:00 PM. Catch all the action live here.

PARTICIPANTS (including first-round matchups)

The Bubble

Northumberland Roller Girls’ Ganaraska Gravediggers will kick things off with the South Simcoe Rebel Rollers at 11:00 AM. The only US participants Queen City Roller Girls will face off against Border City Brawlers Windsor A-salt at 11:40 (Queen City is a regular at the event). Two multi-league teams are up next with the NEOFights representing Northeastern Ontario Roller Derby (NORD), which is a conglomeration of leagues from Northern Ontario, facing off against Les Bûches, the defending champs from Quebec, at 12:20. Finally, Forest City Derby Girls Thickets will take on the Renegade Derby Dames to close out the opening matches in the Bubble at 1:00 PM.

Ted Reeve Arena

Due to the odd number of teams in this year’s tournament, Our Ladies of Pain, representing the Royal City Roller Girls will get a bye past the first round, but will be in tough at 1:40 as they face the winners of a GTA showdown between ToRD’s D-VAS (finalists last year) and the DRRD’y Farmers representing Durham Region Roller Derby (11:40). The Orangeville Roller Girls’ Fox Force Five will open up their tournament facing off against the hosts, GTAR’s Derby Debutantes, at 12:20. Finally, Belleville Roller Derby’s Belleville Bombshells will be taking on Ottawa’s Cannon Dolls, representing the Capital City Derby Dolls at 1:00 PM.

Click here for the complete schedule. And don’t forget to tune in live!

WFTDA PRE-PLAYOFF SHOWDOWNSLondon Gotham 2014 Poster

While the 2014 WFTDA regular season is officially complete (teams are eagerly awaiting release of the final standings on July 15th), there are some key match ups this weekend, including a number that will feature Division 1 teams facing off.

Close to home, Toronto, Tri-City and Hammer City will be in action. Although they will not make the Division 2 playoffs this season, Hammer City (currently ranked 86th) has made massive strides in the past two years after suffering through years of futility. This weekend, they will be hosting another non-playoff squad in Ithaca (84th). Given the close ranking of these teams, the result is incredibly important. A big victory for either team would help propel them ever closer to one of those coveted D2 playoff spots. Speaking of playoff spots, Tri-City (42nd) is hoping to shore up a top-40 D1 spot, but either way will be playing playoff derby again this season. Ithaca should provide a good warm up when the two square off in a “hangover” bout on Sunday.

Toronto (20th and currently 5-9 on the season) and Charm City (26th, and 6-1 on the season) both know that they will be in the D1 playoffs, the question is where? These two teams have been on opposite trajectories over the last season and a half, with Toronto marching upward (briefly hitting a franchise high of 13th earlier this season) and Charm slipping downward from a high of 12th in 2013. Toronto has been inconsistent as of late (and will undoubtedly slip a little in the next ranking), and could use a big victory to build confidence heading in to this year’s playoffs. Both CN Power and the Bay Street Bruisers will be heading to Baltimore on the weekend for a Saturday night double header.

On the west coast, D1 playoff bound Terminal City (25th, 4-4) hosts Houston (33rd, 2-3). Terminal City is expected to nab a slightly higher playoff rank than it currently has, while Houston recently slipped six spots and will undoubtedly open the playoffs having to take part in a 7-10 play-in game.

Finally, in Europe, while Copenhagen (183rd) will face off against the historic (but unranked) Stuttgart Valley Rollergirlz in Germany, the spotlight has been stolen by the impending showdown between defending WFTDA champs Gotham and surging London in England. London (5-0 on the season), currently ranked 5th, had peaked at 3rd earlier in the season, while Gotham (also 5-0) has been firmly ensconced at 1st for a few years now. It would be a massive understatement to say that this is a highly anticipated matchup. While Gotham is, well, Gotham, the London Rollergirls have been playing like a team possessed this season. At the 2014 Anarchy in the UK, London crushed competition from Rocky Mountain, Detroit and Toronto, playing at a level even higher than they brought to the WFTDA Championship tournament last year. The game will be boutcast live (here at 7:00 PM BST).

THE TOBAN TUSSLE

Provincial teams have begun to sprout up across our nation, and while Saskatchewan and Alberta faced off last year, this weekend in Portage La Prairie, three provincial teams will face off in a round-robin tournament. Roller Derby Manitoba will be hosting its first ever tournament, the Toban Tussle. At the Tussle, Manitoba, Alberta and Ontario. will face off alongside a tournament featuring B-level travel teams from across the province of Manitoba. Unfortunately for Ontario, a number of Team Ontario’s skaters will be with their WFTDA teams this weeked, but it will still be sending a very strong roster including a core of skaters from the Rideau Valley Vixens.

In terms of provincial team games, Alberta and Ontario kick things off at 11:10 AM on Saturday, with Ontario and Manitoba squaring off at 3:50 PM. Manitoba and Alberta will face off on Sunday at 10:20 AM.

Along with the three provincial teams, squads representing PLAP City Rollers (Portage La Prairie’s Headstone Honeys), Winnipeg Roller Derby (Bombshell Brawlers), and Wheat City Roller Derby (Brandon’s Gang Green) will face off against a mixed-league team, Prairie Fusion.

For details and a complete schedule, visit the Toban Tussle Facebook page.

Toban Tussle Poster

Big Wins for Rideau Valley and Toronto in WFTDA Showdowns over the Weekend

Toronto stomps Brandywine, while Rideau Valley held off Roc City in an important D2 battle with playoff implications. Meanwhile, the Dolls in ToRD and Riot Squad in RVRG both take strides toward their respective house league championships.

It was a busy weekend of derby all across the nation with Flat Track Fever dominating stories from the west and Ontario overwhelmed with derby in its WFTDA centres (non-sanctioned or house league matchups were happening in both Tri-City and Forest City on Saturday). But the key games were in Toronto and Ottawa, which featured mirroring house league/WFTDA double headers.

Rideau Valley Hosts Roc City

RVRG's Soul Rekker battles one-on-one with Roc City's Terminal Trend. (Photography by James Rosster; ionaphoto.ca)

RVRG’s Soul Rekker battles one-on-one with Roc City’s Terminal Trend. (Photography by James Rosster; ionaphoto.ca)

With a five-spot jump in the last WFTDA rankings, the Rideau Valley Vixens found themselves ranked 64th (24th in Division 2) and on the cusp of the 20-team D2 playoffs. Coming off of an impressive win over 72nd Maine last weekend, the Vixens knew that they would need a convincing win over their Rochester rivals if they were to make that final leap forward. And an impressive performance they got, riding two hot jammers and the usual relentless pack work you’ve come to expect to pull of the 199-116 victory.

The Vixens jumped out to a 4-0 start on the back of a quick lead pick up from breakout jammer Shania Pain. While the Roc Stars were able to get right back into it on the next jam with a Kell’d on Impact 4-pointer, the hosts took the lead on Jam 3, built that lead to 21-6 by the five minute mark of the first, and never looked back after that.

RVRG's Shania Pain picks up lead jammer status.

RVRG’s Shania Pain picks up lead jammer status.

The Vixens, known traditionally for running a short bench, have now even tightened up the jammer rotation in their quest for a first WFTDA playoff berth, and it’s a roster that would be more than qualified to play in the D-2 event. Using only two jammers (blocker Brennan would skate two jams in relief—and would pick up 18 points in those two jams) the Vixens rode Shania Pain and Soul Rekker for the whole game, an impressive feat of endurance from the two jammers. Rekker’s endurance and skill is no secret to fans of Canadian roller derby: a skater on Team Canada 2011 and currently on the roster of Team Ontario, Rekker will return to the World Cup in 2014, and picked up 35 points in the opening half on Saturday night.

Shania Pain, on the other hand, is probably under a lot of people’s radars. She won’t be for long. A potential game-changer for Rideau Valley, Shania Pain is one of a young generation of uber-athletic jammers who are taking the game by storm out east and giving a glimpse of what the future of the sport will look like in these parts (Montreal’s Miracle Whips and Toronto’s Rainbow Fight are also in that category). She led all scorers with 45 at the half, and just seemed to be getting warmed up.

Roc City's Asa Clubs tries to get around Vixens' Bottema at the froth of the pack.

Roc City’s Asa Clubs tries to get around Vixens’ Bottema at the front of the pack.

Roc City is a team whose fortunes have ebbed and flowed, and this loss will further distance them from a coveted playoff spot. Led by a core of vets, the team lacks the depth of Rideau Valley and the other potential playoff teams. Nonetheless, they are a scrappy, emotional team that seems to play in surges. The offense was paced by veteran Asa Clubs (who had 39 points at the half) and Kell’d on Impact (28 pts at half), while captain Natasha Musquasha led a solid group of pack skaters that featured the feisty Jacky Spades, the hard-hitting Roxy D. Sniper, Jojo Thrasher and eventual MVP Terminal Trend.

With about five minutes left in the opening half, Rideau Valley looked to be on the verge of running away with it, but a 22-9 run over the final minutes had the visitors back in it, down 25 (98-73).

The win helped move the Vixens one step closer to a WFTDA D2 playoff spot.

The win helped move the Vixens one step closer to a WFTDA D2 playoff spot.

The Rideau Valley packs were led by the usual suspects, with Team Canada’s Hannah Murphy continuing to lead the way. But the tenaciousness of Sister Disaster (who had some of the biggest hits on the night) and Bottema (who always seemed to the be the last line of defense) and the positional excellence of Brennan and Margaret Choke contribute so much to the front-line strength of the team. But the base of the team is growing. After missing much of last season, Rudolph has returned with a vengeance and Kiki Von Carnage and Restless Rose provide depth as they emerge as front-line players. Finally, transfer BLackeyE seems to have found the perfect derby fit after stints in Kingston and Toronto and is playing the best derby of her career.

The Vixens essentially put the game away over the opening ten-minute stretch of the second half. They outscored the Roc Stars 30-12 over the initial five, and then 12-0 over the next to secure a formidable 140-80 lead. While back-to-back power jams at the midway point would allow Roc City a bit of a resurgence (almost halving the lead), once the Vixens righted the ship, they were able to rebuild the gap, shutting out the visitors over the last five minutes of the game (and scoring 32 of their own) to secure the 199-116 win.

Nerd Glasses

With the win, the Riot Sqaud moves to 1-0, while the Sinisters drop to 1-1 on the season.

With the win, the Riot Sqaud moves to 1-0, while the Sinisters drop to 1-1 on the season.

The night opened with a very important houseleague showdown between traditional RVRG home team, the Riot Squad, facing off against its first-year counterpart, the Prime Sinisters. 2014 is the first season that Rideau Valley has organized a full regular season and championship, adding a third home team (and completely reshuffling the rosters of all three teams) to accommodate the new structure. The Sinisters opened the season with a 158-130 win over the Slaughter Daughters and were looking to stay undefeated.

The Riot Squad is lead by a strong core of vets including Hannah Murphy and Sister Disaster, but have a bench defined by depth. BLackeyE, Restless Rose, Kiki Von Carnage, and eventual blocker MVP Acute Bruiser led the charge for the team. The offense was paced by vet Amanda Pummeler and supported by Unita Bruisin and Savage Mind (with double threat Restless Rose offering relief). While things started off tight (the score was tied at 29 ten minutes in) Riot Squad took advantage of some late power jams to build their biggest lead (41) at half, up 91-50.

The Prime Sinisters also have a solid core to build around, led by a quadrant of veterans (Margaret Choke, Brennan, Rudolph, and Pix E. Cutz) with solid support offered by Drunky Brewster and Purella DeVille. CarnEDGE led the way on the jam line, with InfoMainiac and Slaughterberry Shortcake rounding out the rotation. The Sinisters found themselves down by as much as 60, but roared back with three straight power jams at the midway point. However, they couldn’t come all the way back and Riot Squad held on for the 191-142 victory.

Toronto Hosts Brandywine

There was an important double header in Toronto on Saturday night as well, with CN Power picking up its third-straight win in a one-sided stomping of Brandywine (296-90). It was an important win for CN Power, as they look to slip back into the WFTDA D1 Top 20 and secure a favourable playoff position.

The night was kicked off with a regular season showdown between the defending champion Death Track Dolls and the second place Chicks Ahoy!. The Dolls still look like the team to beat walking all over the short-handed Chicks. The Dolls held the Chicks to only 15 points in the opening half, and were almost as stingy in the second as they skated to a dominant 272-35 win. The win places the Dolls undefeated and in top spot at 3-0 at the midway point of the regular season and all but assures them of a playoff spot. The loss dropped the Chicks to 1-2 on the season and leaves them battling for a playoff berth.

Check out pictures of the double header courtesy of Neil Gunner and Greg Russell. Neil’s pics can be found here. Greg’s can be found here.

WFTDA and House League Showdowns in Toronto and Ottawa This Weekend

Both Rideau Valley’s Vixens and Toronto’s CN Power will have opportunities to confirm their rankings against less-ranked competition, while in house league competition, ToRD’s defending champs, The Death Track Dolls, have an opportunity to put a strangle hold on the regular season standings, and in Ottawa, the Riot Squad will take on the Prime Sinisters in their first-ever regular season meeting.

Toronto Roller Derby Hosts Brandywine

ToRD_May-24-2014-Poster-Preview_RS_041614A double header in Toronto will kick off with a key showdown between ToRD’s Chicks Ahoy! (currently 1-1 and tied for second in the standings) and the Death Track Dolls (2-0, in top spot).

The Dolls have looked every bit the defending champs so far this season with surprisingly one-sided wins over the Gore-Gore Rollergirls, and more recently, the Smoke City Betties. The key to the season so far has been the ability to maintain form despite a fairly significant roster overhaul. Their offense, for example, has been built around skaters with mixed levels of experience (Sleeper Hold and Devochka are first-year Dolls, while Bellefast and Getcha Kicks have been the steadying forces for the team).

However, some rifts began to show in the Dolls’ seeming invincibility. At last month’s Beast of the East tournament in Montreal, the team looked vulnerable at times in a closer-than-expected win over Royals City’s Killer Queens and then couldn’t summon the focus or intensity in a loss to Montreal’s La Racaille. But despite missing some vets (including injured co-captain Getcha Kicks), the Dolls still have the depth to pull it off.

The Chicks have slowly gotten better as this season has progressed, and have a surprising depth that has taken some time to gel. It all seemed to have come together by late in their last ToRD game, when it took a late game comeback to overcome the Smoke City Betties by 20 points. The team already looked far different from the one that had struggled defensively against the Gores in January to kick off the season. The resurgence has been led by a development of a supporting cast around last year’s team leaders. They made some strong jammer draft picks (Sneaky Dee and Hyena Koffinkat) and found some veteran depth in the pack from a returning Rebel Rock-It and converted blocker Rosemary’s Rabies.

The Chicks didn’t play in this year’s Beast of the East, so they have not played a competitive game since that March victory over the Betties. It remains to be seen what impact this has on the team, but they have had some competitive scrimmages since then. As with the Dolls, they too will be missing some key players. You have to look back almost two years to June 9th 2012 to see the last time the Dolls lost a game in ToRD. It was, notably, against the Chicks.

The night will cap off with CN Power (23rd in the WFTDA) hosting the Brandywine Roller Girls (47th, out of Pennsylvania). Toronto has improved its record to 4-9 on the season after picking up back-to-back victories over Jet City and Cincinnati to snap a nine-game losing streak. It should be a favourable matchup for Toronto against a team that seems to have cooled down a bit after a scorching close to the 2013 season.

Brandywine is 5-1 on the season, but has had only so-so performances in wins against 90th ranked Charlotte (a 26-point win) and 66th ranked Green Mountain (34 points). Their one loss was a 103-point loss to Nashville. Toronto’s losing streak had a lot to do with the quality of their opponents who included 3rd ranked London, 8th ranked Rocky Mountain and 12th ranked Montreal. So the quality of opponent cannot be overlooked. However, they did get upset by Detroit (41st) and seemed to have already lost a step on Montreal, whom they have faced twice, and will need to use these last two wins as momentum builders.

While Toronto and Brandywine don’t have any common opponents this season, the last time Brandywine ventured north of the border, the team upset Tri-City 165-153. Last weekend Tri-City and Toronto both played Jet City, with the Thunder losing by 30 and CN Power winning by 149.

Rideau Valley Roller Girls Host Roc City

April6-Sirens-vs-DRRD_Rockland_Poster-LegalRideau Valley Roller Girls will be hosting a double header in Kanata this weekend as well with the same home-teams / travel-teams structure. The only difference being that many of the Rideau Valley skaters will be pulling double duty as members of the Vixens are sprinkled all through the rosters of the Prime Sinisters and the Riot Squad.

This will be the first ever meeting between these two teams, and the first regular season game for the Riot Squad in 2014 (the Prime Sinisters opened the season with a 158-130 win over the Slaughter Daughters). This season, Rideau Valley reshuffled its two home team rosters into three teams, and the effects are already showing. Both of these teams made it through to the quarterfinals at last month’s Beast of the East with the Riot Squad eventually finishing 4th. Both teams are loaded with talent with the Riot Squad led in the pack by veterans Hannah Murphy, Sister Disaster and Da Big Block, and on the jammer line by Amanda Pummeler and first-year transfer BLackeyE. The Prime Sinisters, meanwhile, are also built around a solid veteran core of Brennan, Margaret Choke, Rudolph, and Drunky Brewster in the pack with double threat Pix E. Cutz and CarnEDGE as their most experienced jammers. Both teams, though, are also deep in less experienced talent. It could be that bench depth that decides this game.

The night will end with the Vixens (64th in the WFTDA) facing off against their old rivals from Rochester, New York, the Roc City Roc Stars (84th). It’s been nearly two years since these two teams met with Roc City taking that one by 45 points (186-141). However, that was the Vixens’ second ever WFTDA game and they have rocketed past Roc City since then. They are currently 2-0 on the season (3-0 counting a regulation win against the Misfit Militia) and are coming off of a road win against Maine. Roc City has been much busier so far this season, going 2-3 so far, with wins over Ithaca and that same Maine team the Vixens defeated. The differential only slightly favours the Vixens (32-point win vs. 23-point win), but with home court advantage, the Vixens should have the edge.

***Skaters and fans in Ottawa, I will also be appearing as D.D. Miller at the Carleton Tavern on Friday night (details here) to promote my first book of fiction.

Canadian Power Rankings Preview

Captain Lou El Bammo, Dick Pounder, Dr. Jenny Fever, and the Derby Nerd return for another season of ranking the country’s top teams.

Montreal started at the top of the rankings and has never slipped (seen here in a 2013 game against Windy City). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Montreal started at the top of the rankings and has never slipped (seen here in a 2013 game against Windy City). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Last year, The Power Rankings crew was born out of a desire to provide subjective comparative analysis (based on objective observations, of course) of the top roller derby teams in Canada. So a quartet of derby nerds came together to hash out how the process would work, and what those rankings would look like. We’re back once again in 2014.

2014 was a fascinating year in roller derby in general and Canadian roller derby in particular. At the top, three Canadian teams qualified for WFTDA’s Division 1 playoffs and another made massive waves in the D-2 tournament. But what is most impressive for Canadian roller derby is the build up of the competitive base. All across the country, new teams are rising. Last year Calgary and Alliston, Ontario’s, Misfit Militia shot up the rankings, while old powers like Hammer City returned to competitive derby, all of this was played out in the Power Rankings. The goal of this exercise is not to replace the statistical ranking system, but to act as a parallel discussion of the excellent work done by Rollergirl.ca (in partnership with Flat Track Stats). But one of the advantages we have, is that we aren’t tied to statistics and we can take into account things like injury, personnel moves, home-track advantage, etc.

“The Power Rankings are great at highlighting the failings of the statistical model that Flat Track Stats and Rollergirl.ca use to create their list,” agrees Captain Lou El Bammo, one of the founders of the Power Rankings.  “That model employs data from years gone by which allows for large fluctuations because it does not take into account current information that we use to make our decisions. The Power Rankings brings the human factor back into the process and I think we’ve shown, through 2013, that we can adapt more quickly than the other system can.”

Another founder, Dick Pounder, echoes that sentiment. “The rankings have the potential to create good debate outside of the statistical ranking system…and I think if we can get more people into the sports-mentality of looking at everything we look at, the discussion around the power rankings will become more interesting.”

Currently third in the rankings, read the recap of Terminal City's 2103 Playoff game against New Hampshire by Danger (ismymiddlename) on Derby News Network. (Featuring photography by Tom Klubens)

Currently third in the rankings, read the recap of Terminal City’s 2013 Playoff game against New Hampshire by Danger (ismymiddlename) on Derby News Network. (Featuring photography by Tom Klubens)

One of the stories last year, and in Canadian derby since 2008, was Montreal’s reign at the top of the rankings. However, for the first time in years, both Terminal City and Toronto made up ground against the Skids. “We may see a battle among these three all year,” says Dick. “I think it’s only a matter of time before someone knocks Montreal from its perch in Canadian Derby,” says Dick.

Captain Lou is even more definitive in his predictions, “I expect to see the Skids slide in 2014, and we could see Toronto beating them once, if not twice, this year. My prediction is Toronto and possibly Terminal City finishing ahead of Montreal in the WFTDA standings by the time playoffs come around. We have seen the end of Canadian roller derby domination by Montreal.” Lou cites the losses of Bone Machine and Iron Wench as massive blows to the team. And although Terminal City also lost Beretta Lynch and Toronto Bambi, in both cases there are skaters ready to take over those roles, more so than in Montreal, where Wench had become such a key to the offense. Dr. Jenny Fever likes Terminal City’s chances as well, “What can I say but Terminal City AllStars? I know the training and passion that is driving them this year. Making it to the WFTDA Divisionals in Richmond, VA, last year was so inspiring, and I know that the All Stars want to hit the playoffs again, and win!”

There is consensus right now that the team to watch in Canadian flat track roller derby this year is Calgary. The CRDA All Stars have already made a big splash, wiping the track with their competition at the recent Wild West Showdown, destroying Dockyard (406-59), Ark Valley (264-105), and Slaughterhouse (223-92), to get their first WFTDA season off to a 3-0 start. On top of some impressive roster additions last year, a few more transfers from Oil City, Red Deer and Hammer City have bolstered their roster.

The Kootenay Kannibelles are another team that has the Rankings Crew intrigued. “I am very excited about the Kannibelles this season,” says Dr. Jenny Fever. “Having Bobb (AKA Berretta Lynch) back, even as a coach, is really going to help them.” Dr. J also likes what’s going on with the Mainland Misfits Anarchy Angels, who have added built a coaching staff that includes three members of Canada’s national men’s team.

On the other side of things, after some pretty significant roster and coaching changes due, largely, to retirements, the rankings crew thinks that perennial contenders the Red Deer Belladonnas will slide this season as they begin a potential rebuild, although Dr. Jenny does hold out hope for a return to form in the midst of the excitement surrounding their WFTDA Apprenticeship.

Toronto's CN Power jumped up to 2nd in the Power Rankings to end 2013 (seen here in their season-opening win against Team Ontario). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Toronto’s CN Power jumped up to 2nd in the Power Rankings to end 2013 (seen here in their season-opening win against Team Ontario). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The story of 2014 though is clearly Canada’s continued infiltration of the WFTDA. Captain Lou points out that Canada now as 20 teams in the WFTDA (including 10 apprentice leagues). “I think we’ll continue to see those teams outperform the other leagues because of the level of competition available to them and the requirement to be more organized and focused that the WFTDA brings to a league,” he predicts. “I’m hoping we’ll see more leagues heading in that direction.”

Dick Pounder agrees, and likes that the WFTDA link is encouraging more east vs west competition. “We are seeing the start of east vs. west matchups this season and hopefully that will continue to happen more going forward. I am super excited about Maple Stir Up in Hammer City this year,” he says, referring to the all-Canadian WFTDA tournament scheduled for Hamilton this August (it will be the first all-Canadian WFTDA-sanctioned tournament after Quad City Chaos 2011 featured three full-member teams and on apprentice.)

“I’m also hoping that we’ll see more provincial All-Star teams form in 2014,” adds Captain Lou. “Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, New Brunswick have all made the leap. I’ve witnessed the benefits that this process can bring to skaters and I think other provinces will too. With any luck, this will lead to a Canada Cup for Roller Derby in 2015!”  Team Ontario and Toronto’s CN Power played an exhibition game last month, and it lived up to all the hype, showcasing a phenomenal level of talent. The knowledge and experience share gained from these kinds of partnerships is undeniable.

“I find the increasing level of competitive teams on the world stage very exciting,” says Fever, alluding to Canada’s prominent place on that stage.  “I love that we have the training, dedication and drive to boost the sport. On the other hand, my favorite derby games to announce are the smaller, home team games where the teams are made of women who want to have a great time and play derby. Those crowds are always my favorite. They might not know all the rules, but they are having a great time enjoying a sport that we are so passionate about.”

****The first Canadian Power Rankings of 2014 will be released on April 1. Check here to see the final Canadian Power Rankings of 2013.

SKATERS TO WATCH

Here are five skaters who you may not have seen a lot of, but who the rankings crew thinks could turn some heads in Canadian derby this season.

Kris Myass: Jammer (Calgary Roller Derby Association)

Easy Break Oven: Jammer, Blocker (Calgary Roller Derby Association)

Fraxxure: Blocker (Tri-City Roller Girls)

Meow Wallace: Blocker (Tri-City Roller Girls)

Rainbow Fight: Jammer, Blocker (Toronto Roller Derby)

Roller Derby At the Olympics?? The Nerd Guest Blogs for SISU Mouth Guards

The fine folks at SISU Mouth Guards asked me what I thought about roller derby’s chances of making it into the Olympics.

As the 22nd Winter Olympics in Sochi slip away from memory and the Paralympics ramp up in their place, the usual chatter from derby fans and participants can be heard at games and in practice spaces across North America and the world: Should roller derby be an Olympic sport?

The questions has gained even more traction given that the first ever Men’s Roller Derby World Cup is now only days away, and the second Women’s World Cup will have played out by the end of the calendar year. Fifteen countries will be represented at the Men’s World Cup, but the remarkable stat may be that twenty-nine nations are scheduled to be represented at the 2014 Women’s World Cup, a phenomenal increase over the thirteen present in 2011, and with the inclusion of South Africa and Japan, all six inhabited continents will be represented…

Read the rest of the article here.

***Sticking with this international theme, stay tuned tomorrow for a preview of the Men’s World Cup including interviews with Toronto-based Team Canada player Harrassin’ Ford and assistant coach BruiseBerry Pie.

 

ToRD Standings Clear as Mud After Dolls and Chicks Pick up Wins

The Dolls' Audrey Hellborn slows up the Gore's Beaver Mansbridge. The Dolls looked unaffected by a big off-season shake up. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Dolls’ Audrey Hellborn slows up the Gores’ Beaver Mansbridge. The Dolls looked unaffected by a big off-season shake up. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

You wouldn’t have been blamed if you’d thought this was going to be a rebuilding year for Toronto Roller Derby’s defending champion Death Track Dolls. After winning the Boot in 2013, a number of long-time veterans like Dolly Parts’em and Monichrome retired; in addition, arguably the Dolls’ top three players, Rainbow Fight, Ames to Kill and Scarcasm all got called up to CN Power. On Saturday, armed with a handful of first-year ToRD skaters who have a lot of pre-ToRD experience, the Dolls (1-0) showed that they are fully committed to defending their championship after a surprisingly one-sided 172-79 win over the Gore-Gore Rollergirls (1-1). To further add confusion to ToRD’s standings, Chicks Ahoy! (1-1) picked up its first win in two seasons, ending the team’s longest ever losing streak with a minor upset over last year’s Battle of the Boot runner-up, the Smoke City Betties (0-1), although the 159-179 victory was in doubt until the final moments of the game.

Chicks Ahoy! 159 vs. Smoke City Betties 139

WackedHer was impressive in her long-awaited house league debut. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The Betties’ WackedHer was impressive in her long-awaited house league debut. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The Chicks Ahoy! had nearly total control over the game in the first half as the Smoke City Betties tried to shake off some pre-season rust. Rookie dynamo Sneeky Dee kicked things off with a textbook 4 and done, and led by some excellent pack defence, the Chicks pulled ahead 23-0 five minutes in. Overall it took  almost nine minutes for the Betties to score, but when they did, they took off on a 28-4 run over ten minutes to get back in the game. Another debutante, long-time D-VAS WackedHer was huge for the Betties, taking on a big role in a four-jammer rotation that also featured titimouse, SewWhat?, and co-captain WolveRina. Not to be outdone, the Chicks also sport a newly constructed jammer rotation that has looked fantastic in the opening games. Joining Sneeky Dee (whose 25-point power jam midway through the half helped keep the Chicks ahead) were Hyena Koffinkat, Heavy Knitter and the smooth-skating Chevy Chase-Her. A late 19-point power jam for WolveRina (despite some phenomenal defense from Rosemary’s Rabies), in the midst of a big Betties pushback, suddenly had the Betties right back in it, trailing 94-77 at the break.

LowBlowPalooza and Kill'Her at Large hold back Chevy Chase-Her. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

LowBlowPalooza and Kill’Her at Large hold back Chevy Chase-Her. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The heavy-hitting Betties (led in the pack by vets Misery Mae and Tushy Galore among others, but also by strong performances from first and second-year skaters like LowBlowPalooza, Kil’Her At Large, Honey Boom Boom and Babushkill), took over the game for large swathes of the second half. Five minutes in, they were within 10, two minutes later they had cut the gap to five. But the Chicks, sensing that victory was slipping away, were similarly relentless. A Chevy Chase-Her 14 point pick-up had the Chicks back in control, only to see the Betties turn around and orchestrate a 15-pointer for Sew What? (with some punishing defence on Heavy Knitter), and eventually the Betties would take the lead.

The game would see-saw like this for much of the second. The bout marked the return of veteran blocker Marmighty to the Chicks lineup, and some ferocious packwork from her, Rosemary’s Rabies and Rebel Rock-It on titmouse had the score knotted with only a few minutes left on the clock. In the final moments, a forearm call on the Betties’ jammer Sew What? and the subsequent power jam sealed the deal for the Chicks, giving them a 20-point victory, their first of the season.

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 79 vs. Death Track Dolls 172

The Dolls' offense was led by Bellefast (evading a hit from Kandy Barr). (Photo by Joe Mac)

The Dolls’ offense was led by Bellefast (evading a hit from Kandy Barr). (Photo by Joe Mac)

It was a very new-look Death Track Dolls team that took to the track to kick off 2014 against a Gore-Gore Rollergirls team that had looked good in its opener. Riding a tighter jammer rotation of Lexi Con, Lumberjack Flash and Taranasurus Rex got the Gores off to a quick start, but the Dolls, whose pack defence looked strong from the outset, eventually got a new-look offense going. Led by Bellefast—who, while still sporting her trademark speed and agility, seems physically stronger this year—the Dolls relied heavily on first-year Dolls Sleeper Hold and Devochka (whose experience in Durham prepared her well for the night) to jam, while Getcha Kicks, who’d started to block more last season, was also used as jammer to allow her steadying, experienced presence to balance things out.

Looking calm, focused and disciplined against a sometimes frazzled Gores team, the Dolls took the lead about 7 minutes in and never relented. As the Gores struggled with pack penalty troubles, the Dolls cruised to a 36-14 lead seventeen minutes into the first. Both teams’ jammers did well to stay on the track until a botched helmet-cover pass between relief jammer Beaver Mansbridge (who was hobbled by skate trouble) and Gores pivot Santa Muerte gave the Dolls a power jam that they took advantage of.  A second power jam (25 points scored by Getcha Kicks) had the Dolls firmly in control, 111-39 at the half.

First-year Gores' jammer Lumberjack Flash rushes to evade the DOlls' Dawson. (Photo by Greg Russell)

First-year Gores’ jammer Lumberjack Flash rushes to evade the Dolls’ Dawson. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Gores roared out of the gates in the second half and drew the Dolls into a more scrappy, undisciplined game that allowed them to mount a small comeback. But after both teams cycled through some penalty trouble, not much had changed (the Dolls were up 123-51) when a sniper-like kidney-hit from the Dolls Just Jes sent the Gores’ top jammer Lexi Con to the track and momentarily paused the game. Just Jes was just one of the many Dolls blockers who stepped up to take control of such a new roster of skaters.

Last year, blockers like Canadian Psycho and Dawson had secondary roles, but in 2014, they have been thrust into much more prominent roles on the team and responded well last night, particularly as a trio with the devastating hitter Audrey Hellborn. The return to the track of Just Jes, who worked extremely well on a line also anchored by second-year captain Android W.K., provided the balance that the Dolls needed in light of such changes to the roster.

While the Gores packs are still led by the veterans like Santa Muerte, Chronic and Kandy Barr, it’s not hard to see the future of the team in the play of a new generation of Gores skaters like Full Deck and Matchu Beatchu, who are just two of many newcomers to the team who are building a solid base. Still a work in progress, the Gores have lots of time this year to find the consistency they’ll need to get back to Battling for the Boot.

In the end, the Dolls played a tight, defensive and disciplined game (they gave up no power jams) and were never truly threatened in the second half on the way to the season-opening 93-point victory.

***Next up for ToRD is the fifth annual Quad City Chaos! A WFTDA sanctioned, Division 1 tournament hosted by ToRD’s CN Power and featuring Montreal, Ohio Roller Girls (Columbus) and Bleeding Heartland (Bloomington, Indiana). Tickets for the Saturday night prime time double header are available.

ToRD Travel Teams Kick off 2014 Season with High Expectations

2014 CN Power

CNP 2014 by ezio+ian

This weekend, CN Power will kick off its 2014 season with an intriguing exhibition game against the non-ToRD members of Team Ontario (the provincial team will actually be calling up some of its “second team” members to fill out the roster). All in all, 21 members of Team Ontario will take part in the bout at the Bunker on Saturday.

The Set-up

2013 was a banner year for Toronto Roller Derby’s CN Power. It was a slow-build sort of season, beginning with some big wins over the likes of Killamazoo and Fort Wayne but some setbacks as well, such as a stunning loss to Rideau Valley Vixens at QCC. In the end, it all seemed for the best as the team slowly rounded into form, culminating in a playoff-clinching two-point victory on the road in Bleeding Heartland (which was followed by a stunning 301-98 deconstruction of a former D1 team in Milwaukee). And then, of course, the run in Salem.

Read Beck Wise's Boston vs. Toronto game recap on Derby News Network (featuring photos by Donalee Eiri)

Click on photo to read Beck Wise’s Boston vs. Toronto playoff recap on Derby News Network (featuring photos by Donalee Eiri)

Having just watched Terminal City go on a surprising run in their own Divisional tournament, Toronto, ranked last in their 10-team playoff field, continued where Vancouver left off and pulled off playoff upsets of their own: a 215-90 take down over Sacred City (Sacramento), and eventually an even bigger upset over the historic Boston Derby Dames 204-198. Even their quarterfinal loss to Atlanta was a stunner; their hard fought 219-171 loss surpassing even the wildest of expectations.

CN Power finished 2013 9-8 in sanctioned play (counting playoffs) and 10-8 overall. They are currently ranked 29th in the WFTDA and 2nd in Canada.

But CN Power’s (and ToRD’s) success also spilled out into other venues as well. Joining Bay Street Bruiser Bench Coach Flyin’ Bryan Killman on Team Canada are five members of CN Power. ToRD’s top travel team also dominates the Team Ontario roster with eight members (one, Bambi, has since retired).

The Roster

Given the incredible success and growth of the team in 2013, arguably the most important aspect of the 2014 roster is the lack of change. 17 of the 20 skaters from the 2013 roster return. In addition, the replacements—all graduates of ToRD’s B-team program—don’t represent a drop off in talent. Ames to Kill (who was a call-up for the playoffs last season), Scarcasm, and national team member Rainbow Fight are all game ready and were essential parts of the on-track leadership core of the Bay Street Bruisers last season. Ames and Scar provide strong pack depth for a team loaded with some of the best blockers in the country (including Team Canada’s Nasher the Smasher and Dyna Hurtcha), while Rainbow Fight is an incredibly talented triple-threat who should be able to fit in wherever she is needed.

CN Power will have to contend with the loss of leading scorer Bambi (seen here against Ohio at QCC 2014). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

CN Power will have to contend with the loss of leading scorer Bambi (seen here jamming against Ohio at QCC 2014). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Rainbow will undoubtedly spend some time with the star, helping to fill out an impressive offensive roster that will need to make up for the retirement of ToRD’s all-time leading scorer Bambi, who retired in the off season. In the playoffs last year Bambi finished with a 50% lead percentage while scoring 258 points on 5.5 points per jam. While Rainbow will be looked upon to pick up some of this slack, the rest of the jammer core remains in place. Fellow Team Canada members Bala Reina (202, 5.3, 45% in the playoffs) and Dusty (126, 3.8, 33%) remain, while the rest of the rotation will be filled out by Motorhead Molly (59, 1.7, 37%), Kookie Doe (who missed the end of the season due to injury) and Candy Crossbones and Dyna Hurtcha (both of whom will probably spend the majority of their time in the pack).

CN Power’s new captains are long-time ToRD vets and former Chicks Ahoy! teammates Nasher the Smasher and Tara Part. Rounding out the pack are playoff standouts BruiseBerry Pie, Renny Rumble and Jubilee, but there is astonishing depth as well as Mega Mouth, Betty Bomber, Panty Hoser, Lady Gagya, Santa Muerte, and Mia Culprit all return for the 2014 season.

After the retirement of long-time Bench Coach His Unholiness the Reverend Ramirez in the off season, former 709 Derby Girls Coach (and currently with the Smoke City Betties) Wade Wheelson joins veteran Bench Manager Sonic Doom on the bench in 2014.

***Catch CN Power in preseason action this Saturday at The Bunker against Team Ontario, in the provincial team’s first ever game. Doors open at 5:00 PM, opening whistle at 6:00 PM. Tickets available online or at various downtown outlets.

2014 Bay Street Bruisers

Photo by Ashlea Wessel (ashleaw.com)

This weekend, while their big sisters are hosting Team Ontario, ToRD’s B-travel team, the Bay Street Bruisers, will be hitting the road and heading to Bloomington, Indiana, to take part in the 4th annual B-Cup tournament featuring eight B-teams, seven representing D1 teams and the 8th from Tri-City (ranked 4th in D2 and on the verge of making the leap into the top division).

The Set-up

Toronto Roller Derby has one of the deepest programs in Canadian roller derby, and a key to that depth is the Bay Street Bruisers. Since taking shape as ToRD’s B-travel team for the 2012 season, the Bruisers have compiled a remarkable 14-3 record. In 2013, the Bruisers continued their success in Canada and began travelling with CN Power south of the border as well. Last year they  notched wins over B-teams from Ohio, Bleeding Heartland, Killamazoo, Brew City and Montreal among others.

The Bruisers defeated the Montreal Sexpos in August. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Bruisers defeated the Montreal Sexpos in August. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Their losses last season came against Rideau Valley’s Slaughter Daughters (who were the top ranked house league team in Canada) and the A-level Misfit Militia, both incredibly talented teams. Arguably, the most important win of the season came against Montreal’s Sexpos (162-101) in a showdown between the nation’s top two B-teams. It was a game loaded with pressure as the Bruisers faced the B-team from Canada’s top league: a B-team that only two years before had nearly beaten CN Power.

The Bruisers finished 2013 with an 8-2 record and are currently the 9th ranked team (and top B-team) in Canada.

The Roster

The Bruisers went through a major off-season transition as a group of new skaters took over the reigns from the first generation. Captained by veteran jammer (and third-year Bruiser) Bellefast and Just Jes (the returning skater formerly known as Aston Martini), the Bruisers do have a returning core of skaters to build around. In the pack, veterans like Robber Blind, Junkie Jenny, Kandy Barr, Biggley Smallz and Misery Mae remain with the team, while Tushy Galore and former captain Chronic return to the fold after single-season hiatuses (they were a dominant duo on the track together in their first stints with the team).

Chronic (left) and Tushy Galore will be reunited on the Bruisers after helping the team win the 2012 RDAC Easterns. (Photo by Neil Gunner).

Chronic (left) and Tushy Galore will be reunited on the Bruisers after helping the team win the 2012 RDAC Easterns. (Photo by Neil Gunner).

As for the offense, jammer titmouse returns for a third season with the Bruisers, while Lexi Con returns after a breakout 2013 run, and Chevy Chase-Her will finally get to see some track time after injuries sidelined her last year. Finally, triple threat Getcha Kicks rounds out the returning skaters.

While there are a handful of new faces to the team, they bring with them a lot of experience. SewWhat? is in her second season with ToRD after stints with various leagues in Australia and the Rollergettes. Joss Wheelin, Android W.K. and LowBlow Palooza are all also second year skaters with ToRD; all three developed through he D-VAS system. ToRD rookies Honey Boom Boom and Sneaky Dee may be in their first year in the league but had successful seasons with the D-VAS in 2013 and had both played with the Rollergettes before that, so bring a lot of track experience with them. And finally, Matchu Beatchu transferred from Halifax in the off season and already has one ToRD houseleague game under her belt.

Flyin’ Bryan Killman, part of Team Canada’s management team, returns for his second year on the Bruisers’ bench.

***The B-Cup tournament will be boutcast on DNN. The Bruisers kick things off against Nashville at 11:30 AM on Saturday. You can view the boutcast schedule here.