Word on the Track

Dolls and Betties meet in 2013 Champs Rematch

The Death Track Dolls have won five in a row against the Smoke City Betties dating back to 2009.

The Betties and Dolls face off in a 2008 regular season match up. The Dolls won 89-73. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

The Betties and Dolls face off in a 2008 regular season game. The Dolls won 89-73. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

The last time the Dolls and the Betties met was in the 2013 Battle for the Boot, a one-sided championship battle that saw the Dolls romp 258-73 in the record-setting win. In recent history, the Dolls dominating the Betties is not a surprise, and all-time the Dolls have a 5-2 regular season advantage and a 1-0 playoff advantage (last year’s championship game was the first time the two teams had met in the playoffs).

But the Betties’ road to the 2014 season has been a long, winding one (the story of the Betties is one of the most compelling—and important—in Canadian roller derby, actually). From 2007-2009, the Betties won two of three meetings against the Dolls (including a 9-point victory in 2007) until the massive roster overhaul before 2010 set the Betties on a years-long rebuild that saw the Dolls go on a 5-0 run since that time.

Since 2009, the Dolls have been on a slow build, improving every year (with a slight, arguable slip in 2012) and culminating in last year’s championship win. Last year, the Dolls dominated every aspect of the league, cruising to a record-setting regular season and a one-sided championship win. In the off season, the Dolls went through a massive roster overhaul that many thought would cause them to start a 2009-Betties’ style rebuild, but early indications show that has yet to happen.

THE STORY SO FAR

Smoke City Betties

In their season opener, Betties blocker Babushkill duels with Rosemary's Rabies to open a lane for jammer WackedHer. (Photo by Greg Russell)

In their season opener, Betties blocker Babushkill duels with Rosemary’s Rabies to open a lane for jammer WackedHer. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Each team has played one regular season game so far in 2014. The Betties fell in a shocker to a resurgent Chicks Ahoy! team in a tight 159-139 game that the Chicks dominated early, before the Betties rally came up just short. It was a thrilling game that came down to one controversial jammer penalty in the closing moments of the game.

The Betties have slowly built up a deep, balanced roster. Led by the hard-hitting duo of Misery Mae and Tushy Galore, the brawn runs deep with Mouth of the South, Mazel Tough, and Laya Beaton supplying frightening support. But the pack is also made up of a slew of more positionally inclined blockers like Honey Boom Boom, LowBlowPalooza, Babushkill, and Kill’Her At Large.

Offensively, the Betties were led by rookie jammer WackerHer, who led the team with 46 points and put up a line of 46 points, 3.8 points per jam and a 42% lead percentage. Co-captain Wolverina was also a huge presence for the team, notching 45 points (on 4.5 PPJ) with a 70% lead percentage (currently third in the league). Double threat SewWhat also supplied important offense (32, 2.9, 55%). Veteran jammer titmouse (16, 1.4, 55%) rounds out the rotation, and the Betties will need a bounce back game from her if they hope to push the Dolls (she had a high lead percentage, but couldn’t translate that into points).

Death Track Dolls

The Dolls' Dawson and Audrey Hellborn attempt to close the door on Lumberjack Flash during the Dolls' season opening victory. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Dolls’ Dawson and Audrey Hellborn attempt to close the door on Lumberjack Flash during the Dolls’ season opening victory over the Gores. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Dolls kicked off 2014 the same way they ended their 2013 record-setting season: in dollminating fashion. There were a lot of questions surrounding the champs as off-season retirements and call-ups to CN Power left the team scrambling to rebuild, but the championship culture developed over last year is paying off. Their season-opening 172-79 victory over the Gore-Gore Rollergirls sent a clear message while defying expectations

The pack is built around a core of veterans, but relies on new skaters as well. In the season opener, there was a great balance between the lines with one set led by second-year captain Android W.K. and returning veteran Just Jes, and the other led by a trio of Dawson, Audrey Hellborn and Canadian Psycho. Word on the track is that veteran Doll Speedin’ Hawking will make her season debut this weekend, adding more experience to the lineup. But the next generation of Baby Dolls is stepping up in the pack as well, with second-year skaters Robotomy and former Rollergette and current Los Conos (Hamilton) skater Stringer Belle leading the way.

Getcha Kicks had a strong game with the star in the season opener putting up 72 points on 5.1 points per jam behind a 71% lead percentage (tied for tops on the league) but look for the Dolls co-captain to take some time in the pack this game with second-year jammer Chicken Sluggets entering the roster. That leaves Bellefast to lead a young offense. She’s currently tied for the league lead in lead percentage (71%) and scored 35 points against the Gores.

The Dolls also got strong performances from ToRD rookies as well, with Durham Region transfer Devochka having a strong first half (24 PTS, 1.8 PPJ, 15% LP), and former Loco skater Sleeper Hold getting stronger as the game went on, on the way to putting up an offense line of 17, 1.3, and 39%.

D-VAS vs. DRRDy FarmersDolls vs. Betties 2014

Concluding the double header on Saturday night, will be a game featuring the future stars of both ToRD and nearby Durham Region Roller Derby as the D-VAS and DRRDy Farmers meet up. Both teams are made up of skaters who will eventually be eligible for their respective house league drafts at the end of the season.

The D-VAS opened up the season with a 338-173 loss in an offense-heavy game against the Woodstock Warriors. This will be the first game of the season for the DRRDy Farmers.

***Doors at the Bunker open at 4:00 PM. Opening whistle for the Dolls and Betties is 5:00 PM, with the D-VAS vs. DRRDy Farmers game set to kick off at 7:00 PM. Tickets are available online or at a number of vendors in the city.

 

 

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Dollmination: The Dolls put up record numbers in championship season

The Betties join the Dolls (with the Boot) for a post game photo. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Betties join the Dolls (with the Boot) for a post game photo. (Photo by Greg Russell)

It finally was the Year of the Doll.

After years of merely proclaiming it so, this year the Death Track Dolls put together an unbelievable season on their way to clinching their first ever ToRD championship. It was also a great turnaround for their opponents in the final, the Smoke City Betties, who Battled for the Boot for the first time since a 2009 loss to the Gore-Gore Rollergirls. The Betties threw all they had at the Dolls, but simply couldn’t match the depth of a Dolls team that was peaking at the right time in a season that has built slowly but steadily. They followed that same arc in this game as well, eventually pulling away in the Battle for the Boot and winning it by a championship game record setting 258-73 score.

The game began as a battle as the Betties started strong in grinding out a 3-1 lead after three jams, but there was a sense that the Dolls were more comfortable with the intensity of the game and were never truly strained. Approaching the 10 minute mark, with the Betties leading 7-5, a 20-0 jam orchestrated by what has become a trademark stifling defense represented the second and final lead change of the game. It was jammed by Bellefast and on the following jam, Santilly in Yo Face scored another 13 pointer, all on natural grand slams, to blow the game wide open. They Dolls managed a 61% lead percentage in the first half to the Betties 35%, to open up a 78 point lead at the break.

Dolls co-captain Scarcasm duels with Betties blocker Platinum Bomb. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Dolls co-captain Scarcasm duels with Betties blocker Platinum Bomb. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The half unraveled very much as the season did for the Dolls: a solid, but not extraordinary victory over the Chicks Ahoy! kicked things off (the Gores and the Betties would both earn victories over the Chicks by significantly better scores); then a phenomenal run to third place at the Beast of the East, followed by a tough but character-building loss to the Forest City Timber Rollers, prepared them for their dominant run through the rest of the regular season.

All season the Dolls won on hard and heavy defense and an excellent, soul-sucking power kill, led by co-captains Scarcasm and Speedin Hawking and including an emerging Ames to Kill and a reborn Audrey Hellborn, but supported by a roster loaded with strengths up and down the bench. Added to a core that has been building this team for up to five years were shrewd draft picks that included a mix of ToRD-built skaters and experienced transfers led by 709 Derby Girls transfer Rainbow Fight, who broke years-old jamming records in the house league this season, and was still the fourth jammer in a high-powered four-jammer rotation of Santilly In Yo Face, Bellefast and Getcha Kicks who all combined to set a league team scoring record of 689 points in the regular season.

Betties co-captain Misery Mae gets ready to set an offensive pick for her jammer, Udre. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Betties co-captain Misery Mae gets ready to set an offensive pick for her jammer, Udre. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The second half of the Battle for the Boot started off much the same as the first half, as the Betties were once again at their best from the opening whistle and managed to catch the Dolls off guard. A 31-0 run to kick off the second half (built on four straight lead jams and padded by a 20-point power jam), was the best sustained push by the Betties of the game and got them within 47 points, ten minutes into the half.

But once again, they could not sustain the push, and when the Betties made a mistake (in this case back-to-back jammer penalties) the Dolls pounced, putting up 55 points over four jams to bring their lead back over 100 points and essentially put the game out of the reach.

Santilly In Yo Face jukes around Misery Mae in the midst of a run of 11 straight leads to put the game away in the second half. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Santilly In Yo Face jukes around Misery Mae in the midst of a run of 11 straight leads to put the game away in the second half. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Dolls followed this burst with a series of 11 straight lead jammers that brought them to their record-setting scores. Although the championships haven’t necessarily been close games (the Gores 89-53 win over the Chicks in ’07 remains the lowest scoring and closest final), this Dolls victory was particularly dominant. They were the first team to score over 200 points in the Battle for the Boot, and their 185-point victory was the biggest margin of victory in champs’ history.

As in this game, the Dolls season also closed out strong compared to its beginning. The last time the team was near the top, they finished tied with the best record in the 2008 regular season but ended up losing the tiebreaker, slipped to second and lost in the semifinals to the Chicks. Previous to 2013, that had been the closest the team had come to finishing in top spot in the league. They closed out this home season with a 233-153 victory over the Gores and an even more impressive 265-63 victory over the Betties to clinch top spot.

Dolls co-captains Scarcasm and Speedin Hawking accept the Boot. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Dolls co-captains Scarcasm and Speedin’ Hawking accept the Boot. (Photo by Greg Russell)

This season marked an overhaul in league structure that saw CN Power skaters leave their home team rosters; this allowed the Dolls and the Betties—who’d been rebuilding during the Chicks and Gores recently string of dominance—to be ready when their opponents faced the big roster shakeups they dealt with this season. With the combined experience they had, the overall talent and structure, the Dolls were simply too much for the Betties in the Battle for the Boot 7 and, ultimately, too much for all of ToRD in 2013.

* That concludes the 2013 ToRD house league season, but stay tuned as things are just ramping up for ToRD’s travel teams, with a handful of home games remaining for the Bay Street Bruisers and the D-VAS, and the WFTDA playoffs coming up for CN Power.

Word on the Track: Busy Weekend for Canada’s WFTDA Teams; New Canadian Apprentice Leagues Announced

Montreal's Iron Wench looks to get by Windy City's Hoosier Mama, in Montreal's only loss in 2013. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Montreal’s Iron Wench looks to get by Windy City’s Hoosier Mama in Montreal’s only loss of 2013. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

BUSY WEEKEND FOR CANADA’S WFTDA TEAMS

Two of Canada’s top three WFTDA teams are in action this weekend, but enter their games as underdogs, while the steadily rebuilding Thunder duel with an Eh! Team that is showing signs of finally turning the corner back into the competitive stream in a busy weekend of WFTDA action as teams tussle for position in the Division One and Two playoffs.

Coming off of a surprisingly hard-fought victory over regional rivals, CN Power, Montreal’s 17th ranked New Skids on the Block (currently 6-1 in 2013) are heading on their first California road trip to take on Bay Area and Santa Cruz this weekend. First up, the Skids are in tough against B.A.D.’s All Stars in Oakland. Currently ranked 4th in the WFTDA, Bay Area is 2-0 in 2013 including a hard fought, widely watched 29-point victory over Rose City (175-146). On Sunday Montreal will take on 62nd ranked Santa Cruz in what should be a significantly easier bout. Santa Cruz has been busy this season, compiling a 6-1 record in sanctioned play, but the highest ranked opponent they’ve defeated is the 29th ranked (and quickly tumbling) Arizona Roller Derby.

Toronto is coming off of its best game of the season (a loss to Montreal). (Photo by Sean Murphy)

Toronto is coming off of its best game of the season (a loss to Montreal). (Photo by Sean Murphy)

49th ranked CN Power is on the road this weekend as well, heading to Ohio to take on 38th ranked Cincinnati in a critical showdown. Toronto’s CN Power, with a 3-5 record, has been somewhat inconsistent as of late (great victories or performances against Ohio Roller Girls, Queen City and Killamazoo are buffered by surprise losses to Rideau Valley and Grand Raggidy), but they are coming off of their best performance of the season against the New Skids on the Block in Montreal (a 210-121 loss) and will need the same sort of effort against Cincinnati this weekend. Cincinnati, who is holding on to one of the last Division One playoff spots) has burst put of the gates so far in 2013, compiling a 6-2 record, and they do have two common opponents with Toronto, the results of which point to a tight game this weekend: Cincinnati lost to Naptown by 147 points, while Toronto lost by 143; Cincinnati defeated Killamazoo by 109 points, while Toronto defeated Killamazoo by 94 points. It should be a great showdown, and will be streamed live online here.

Finally, the 133rd ranked Hammer City hosts 50th ranked Tri-City in a southern Ontario showdown that has the potential to shake things up considerably. The Eh! Team, once Canada’s top team, has been struggling to find its footing in the WFTDA. After starting the season 0-3, they recently picked up their first win of 2013, a 258-129 victory over Circle City. After surging up the WFTDA rankings over the past two season, the Thunder are also rebuilding in 2013 after some off-season transfers and retirements, and are 0-2 on the season suffering big losses to Montreal and Killamazoo.

wftdatvlogoWFTDA.TV RELEASES 2013 SCHEDULE

WFTDA.TV has released its complete 2013 schedule and it begins this weekend with the Texas vs. Rocky Mountain showdown live from Denver. While some of the highlights include London’s game against Rose City in Portland (on June 5th as part of London’s West Coast roadtrip) and the East Coast Derby Extravaganza, WFTDA.TV has also announced that it will be covering both Division 2 playoff rounds.

While the majority of the broadcasts will be free (including the Division 2 playoffs), the same pay per view pay scale from 2012 will be in place for the Division 1 playoffs ($12 for the “regionals” and $20 for the championships or $50 for all five tournaments). There was some controversy around the pay per view model in 2013, but given the scope and quality of the broadcasts, it seems a small price to pay to watch the best roller derby the sport has to offer.

MUDDY RIVER, FOG CITY AMONG NEW WFTDA APPRENTICE LEAGUESMuddy River Logo

And finally, a slightly belated congratulations is in order for Moncton’s Muddy River Rollers and the Fog City Rollers out of Saint John who have officially begun their WFTDA apprenticeship.

The WFTDA recently released the names of its new batch of apprentice leagues and along with the Canadian and American teams named, the list also included teams from Argentina, Australia, England, Sweden, and Germany. Muddy River and Fog City have been leading the wave of Atlantic Canadian roller derby and finished 1-2 in last year’s RDAC Atlantic Championships. They both competed in the RDAC Championships in Edmonton this year as well.

** You can watch the Cincinnati vs. Toronto showdown here.

Word on the Track: Montreal Splits in Chicago; Forest City City Rolls; Rankings Released

Montreal's Surgical Strike and Jess Bandit give Windy jammer Jackie Daniels a hard time. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Montreal’s Surgical Strike and Jess Bandit give Windy City jammer Jackie Daniels a hard time. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

SKIDS 1-1 IN CHICAGO

Montreal’s New Skids on the Block (currently ranked 17th in the WFTDA) travelled to Chicago this weekend to take on Chi-Town’s two WFTDA teams: the Windy City Rollers (6th) and the Chicago Outfit (34th). It had been two years since Windy and the Skids faced off (Windy City took that matchup 130-105), and it seems that not much has changed since then. In another tight, exciting game between two teams that have high hopes for the WFTDA playoffs this year, the Windy City Rollers skated away with a 249-211 victory in what was a fast paced, high scoring game.

On the undercard for the evening, Toronto’s CN Power took on Windy City’s Second Wind and beat the B-Team 231-179. It was the first regulation (IE: non-sanctioned) bout of the year for Toronto and coming after an up-and-down Quad City Chaos, it provided a much needed confidence boost (the 52 point victory exceeded statistical expectations).

Toronto defeated Second Wind on Saturday before falling to Windy City on Sunday. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Toronto defeated Second Wind on Saturday before falling to Windy City on Sunday. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Montreal closed out the weekend with a closed, sanctioned bout against the Chicago Outfit on Sunday. The Skids avenged their Saturday night loss with a massive victory over the Outfit, 339-88, an impressive victory over another First Division team, and one that made the playoffs last year as well. The Skids improved their record to 4-1 on the season and look phenomenal early on in 2013. The one question that remains is can they maintain it? It has seemed in the past that the early-season-bout-heavy Skids have peaked too early in the year, only to run out of steam come playoffs.  They’ve got games this month against River City (the 14th) and Toronto (26th).

Jammer Bloodlust Barbie is a big part of the Timber Rollers developing offense. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Jammer Bloodlust Barbie is a big part of the Timber Rollers developing offense. (Photo by Joe Mac)

FOREST CITY ON THE VERGE OF FULL WFTDA STATUS

Forest City’s WFTDA Apprentice Timber Rollers hosted Toronto Roller Derby houseleague team The Death Track Dolls in their second (of two) mock sanctioned bouts as a requirement of their apprenticeship. For the first time, Forest City has separated its travel team roster from its home teams to improve competitive play, and it has seemed to pay off so far in 2013. Entering the game on the heels of victories over Tri-City’s B-team and Royal City’s Brute-Leggers, they faced off against the Dolls in their new venue, the Agriplex, to a near capacity crowd.

The Rollers flew off the jam line to start things off, amassing a 33-0 lead before the Dolls were able to get their first lead jammer status and their first points (courtesy of Audry Hellborn, who had a strong opening half with the star). It only stemmed the flow, as they increased their lead to 68-9 (Audrey would score the first 13 points for the Dolls) at the midway point of the half. Comparatively, the Rollers penalty box was quiet during the first half, while the Dolls ran into early penalty trouble and gave up three power jams in the period. The Rollers were up 102-37 at the half.

The Rollers have built the team around a strong core of veteran blockers led by Sufferjet, Dollface Massacre, Back Alley Sally, Freez’er Burn and Anya Face, but also a new generation of on-track leaders like Andi Slamberg and Glamarchist. While double threats Slamberg and Pixie Kix provided solid offense with the star, Bloodlust Barbie is the breakout jammer of the 2013 Timber Rollers and gave the Dolls a hard time all night.

In her second game with the Dolls, Rainbow Fight looks increasingly comfortable in her new league. (Photo by Joe Mac)

In her second game with the Dolls, Rainbow Fight looks increasingly comfortable in her new league. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The Dolls entered the game with a far different lineup from the one that defeated the Chicks Ahoy a few weeks ago, and with some rookies and less experienced (or just newer skaters) getting a lot of track time, it took a while for the team to get going (they scored 28 of their 37 first half points in the final 12 minutes). The Dolls came out much stronger in the second, earning the first four lead jammer statuses. But while it was a much more even half (the Dolls would eventually outscore the hosts 62-58 in the half), the Rollers managed to keep pace and not relinquish the lead they’d so carefully built early in the game. A strong line of Dollface, Sufferjet, Freez’er and Pixie finally were able to shut down the suddenly hot Dolls early in the second, a confidence boosting jam that got the Rollers back on track.

The second half was actually an exciting half of derby marked by momentum shifts and scoring runs from each team, with the final score being 160-99. Dolls co-captain Scarcasm and Sinead O-Clobber were both strong on defence, while Getcha Kicks provided some strong relief jamming in the second half, and recent transfer Rainbow Fight was able to play her second game with her new squad and looked increasingly impressive in the pack, but especially on the jam line. Most importantly for the Dolls, second year skater UpHer Cut and rookie Chicken Sluggets (in her roller derby debut) gained a ton of track time, which could come in handy later this season as they continue their quest to finally reach the ToRD championship.

In the opening game of the night, a new-look Thames Fatales led by veteran blocker Jemicide, double threat Mirambo and rookie jammer phenom Kindree Surprise, took out their co-houseleague team the Luscious Lunch Ladies 186-82. The Ladies were led by Killary Tough, the mulit-talented and surprisingly agile Anne Tastic, and power jammer Torque E. Mada. One of this country’s oldest leagues, Forest City seems to have taken a turn toward a more competitive focus in 2013 and look to be well on their way.

Hammer City fell to 0-2 on the year, but nonetheless, seem to have turned a corner.

Hammer City fell to 0-2 on the year, but nonetheless, seem to have turned a corner.

CANADA STORMS THE FORT (AGAIN!)

Just over a month after ToRD’s CN Power and Bay Street Bruisers traveled south to take on the Fort Wayne Derby Girls, Hammer City and Royal City did the same this past weekend. In the opening game, the rapidly rebuilding Brute-Leggers took on The SWAT Team in a high scoring contest that saw the hosts hold on for the 218-168 victory. In the main event, the Hammer City Eh! Team took on Fort Wayne in a WFTDA sanctioned bout. Hammer City and Fort Wayne have a history that dates all the way back to 2007, but the last time these guys squared off in a WFTDA bout was in 2010 (a 119-44 Fort Wayne win). Hammer City, who have had a rough go of it for the past few years (including enduring the WFTDA’s longest losing streak), seem to finally be turning things around, and lost narrowly 199-177 on the weekend (falling to 0-2 on the season).

POWER RANKINGS RELEASED

And finally, just in case you missed it, the first ever Canadian Power Rankings were released on the Nerd yesterday. Read about the first rankings here.

Word on the Track: Montreal Downs Boston, Saskatoon wins RDAC Champs, WFTDA Releases Rankings

MONTREAL TAKES TWO ON WEEKEND ROADTRIP

Montreal New Skids are now 3-0 in sanctioned play to kick off 2013.

Montreal New Skids are now 3-0 in sanctioned play to kick off 2013.

New Skids on the Block (MTLRD) 17th 188 vs. Boston Massacre (BDD) 21st 117

New Skids (MTLRD) 17th 333 vs. Port Authorities (Maine RD) 60th 38

Montreal Roller Derby’s New Skids on the Block played its second game of the season on Saturday, scoring an important 71-point victory against the Boston Massacre, in what was the first bout of the season for the Boston Derby Dames travel team. It was the fourth win in a row for Montreal over their long-time rivals since February 2011. Previous to that win, the Massacre had defeated the Skids in three straight dating back to 2009.

But believe it or not, Montreal and Boston’s rivalry dates back even further. The Derby Dames B-travel team, the Boston B Party, has been playing Montreal teams (house league and travel) since 2008. This past Saturday, Les Sexpos defeated the B Party 211-148. The last time these two particular teams met was in 2011, a one-point victory by Boston.

On Sunday, the Skids hit up Maine Roller Derby’s Port Authority for a sanctioned hangover matchup. Montreal won it handily, 333 to 38. It was the second WFTDA sanctioned meeting between the two teams, and the first since a 79-point Montreal victory victory in May 2011. Maine, which had consistently been an East Region “bubble playoff team” (they finished 11th in the region last season), now find themselves buried deep in WFTDA’s Division Two (60th overall).

SASKATOON DEFEATS REGINA IN ALL-SASKATCHEWAN RDAC CHAMPIONSHIP

RDAC held its first championship, featuring teams from three of its regions.

RDAC held its first championship, featuring teams from three of its regions.

Saskatoon Roller Derby defeated their cross-province rivals, Pile O’ Bones Derby Club, 245 to 188, in an all-Saskatchewan final at this weekend’s Roller Derby Association of Canada (RDAC) championship in Edmonton, Alberta. Played in the stunning Ica Palace at the West Edmonton Mall and broadcast expertly (in awesome high def) by AMJ Productions and Canuck Derby TV, the tournament didn’t quite live up to its billing as a national championship, but was nonetheless a great showcase of the flat track game featuring teams from disparate regions of Canada.

It was an excellent opportunity especially for the Saskatchewan finalists, who have largely remained out of the eye of the larger Canadian derby community due to their comparative lack of inter-regional play. And they were strong, clearly dominating a tournament that suffered for excitement in the opening round for a lack of parity but brought closer, more competitive games on Sunday.

With western champions Terminal City, eastern champs Toronto Roller Derby (Bay Street Bruisers) and eastern runners-up Forest City absent from the tournament, expectations fell to West Kootenay and E-Ville. Ranked 6th and 11th in Canada respectively, they were the top ranked Canadian teams left in the tournament. But Pile O’ Bones Derby Club’s Sugar Skulls (Regina) and Saskatoon Roller Derby’s The Mindfox (who’d been ranked 12th and 13th respectively), proved that they belong in the discussion of the top travel teams in Canada. Saskatoon’s Mind Fox, especially, were well ahead of the competition, winning their games by an average of about 107 points (and even in the close, 57-point championship game, the result never seemed in doubt as they led 169-77 at half).

While the Atlantic Canadian teams from Moncton and Saint John, New Brunswick, finished at the bottom of the pack, they entered the final tournament ranked 20th and 28th in Canada, so actually performed above expectations. Moncton defended their Atlantic Championship when they defeated Fog City in a back-and-forth placement game that was closer than the final score indicated. Also, strong individual performances and great strategic thought—if not executed perfectly yet—from both teams, proved that even only three years into existence, Atlantic Canadian roller derby is on an upward rise. Kootenay Kannibelles and E-Ville Dead both seem to be rebuilding, especially West Kootenay after a considerable roster shakeup last year, and played below expectations established after impressive 2012 seasons.

RDAC Championship Final Standings

1.mindfoxlogo The Mindfox (Saskatoon Roller Derby) (Defeated Sugar Skulls 245-188 in the final)

2.Sugar Skulls Derby LOGO Sugar Skulls (Pile O’ Bones Derby Club)

3.Evile Dead LogoE-Ville Dead (E-Ville Roller Derby)(Defeated Kootenay Kannibelles 164-158 in 3rd place game)

4. kannibelles LogoKootenay Kannibelles (West Kootenay Roller Derby)

5. Lumbersmacks LogoLumbersmacks (Muddy River Rollers) (defeated Shipyard Sirens 238-187 in 5th place game)

6. Shipyard Sirens LogoShipyard Sirens (Fog City Rollers)

** All games are archived on Canuck Derby TV.**

WFTDA logoWFTDA RELEASES FIRST DIVISIONAL POWER RANKING

The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) released its first rankings since shifting to a numerical-based divisional ranking system for 2013. Under the current ranking system, teams have the opportunity to earn their way into Division One (top 40) by July to qualify for the Division One Payoffs. The next twenty teams will play in two Division Two playoff tournaments (locations recently announced). The Division Two finals will also take place on the same weekend as the Division One Championships in Milwaukee, Wisconsin).

As of today, Montreal (17th) and Vancouver’s Terminal City (39th) are both in Division One, while Toronto (49th), Tri-City (50th), and Rideau Valley (71st) are firmly placed into Division Two. Hammer City, Canada’s other full-WFTDA team, is in Division Three (133rd  overall).

All Division One teams make the playoffs, but in Division Two only the top twenty teams make it, which means that while Toronto and Tri-City are in solid positions, Rideau Valley Vixens have some work to do to move up the ten spots to nab a playoff spot. Both Toronto and Rideau Valley will be playing in this weekend’s Quad City Chaos, a good opportunity to advance their positions.

CANADIAN POWER RANKINGS ANNOUNCED

Just in case you missed it, last week it was announced on The Derby Nerd that The Nerd will be joined by Captain Lou El Bammo, Dick Pounder and Andi Struction in producing Canada’s first National Power Ranking. Read all about it here.

Nerd Glasses

Introducing: The Canadian Power Ranking

On Monday, April 1st, the first ever truly national Canadian Power Ranking will be released on the Derby Nerd.

Captain Lou brings years of coaching and announcing to the Power Rankings.

Captain Lou brings years of coaching and announcing experience to the Power Rankings.

For the past two years, Rollergirl.ca, most recently in conjunction with flattrackstats.com, has been doing a fantastic job in providing a consistent numbers-based ranking system for Canadian teams, which has provided an excellent source of comparative information about the burgeoning Canadian roller derby community and has led to some great cross-country discussion. In much the same way that the Derby News Network’s Power Rankings complement flattrackstats.com, the Canadian Power Ranking will be working to complement this great endeavor by adding a slightly more subjective look at things—although through objective lenses, of course.

Power rankings simply add value to the comparative discussion of teams; unlike purely statistical ranking systems, power rankings are a human (some would say opinion)-based system able to take a much wider range of variables into play. Power rankings can account for circumstances beyond the control of numbers, like changes in rosters (through injury, transfer etc.) and winning streaks—things that stats-based systems need time to account for. The best, most reliable power rankings, therefore, require more than one brain to be truly representational.

So, the Nerd is not going about this alone: to ensure broad, regional, unbiased decision making, some of our country’s finest derby nerds will be working together equally on the power rankings.

Captain Lou El Bammo comes to the team armed with an overwhelming amount of knowledge gleaned from days as a coach and bench manager with the Tri-City Roller Girls, where he worked with house league team the Venus Fly Tramps and the WFTDA travel team, the Thunder. Currently he’s on the coaching staff of the Royal City Roller Girls’ travel team, the Brute-Leggers. Along with watching the game from that side of the bench, he’s also been active on the mic, acting as a play-by-play and colour commentator for Rogers TV, Canuck Derby TV, and WFTDA.TV.

Andi Struction brings both a skater and an announcer's perspective to the sport. (Photo by Stephen Giang for SeattleWeekly.com)

Andi Struction brings both a skater and an announcer’s perspective. (Photo by Stephen Giang for SeattleWeekly.com)

The Nerd and Capt. Lou will be joined by a few representatives from western Canada. Dick Pounder was recently appointed Head Announcer for the Roller Derby Association of Canada (RDAC) and has been announcing games in Alberta and for the emerging Calgary Roller Derby Association for years. On top of that, he’s been known to lace up the skates and get out there on the track as well (skating previously for the Glenmore Reservoir Dogs and currently with the Red Deer Dreadnauts), so knows the game from inside and out.

And finally, Vancouver’s Andi Struction also brings that inside/out perspective to the proceedings. A skater with Terminal City Roller Girls since 2006 and currently an assistant captain with the house league team, Faster Pussycats, Andi is also a noted commentator and announcer. A former co-host of the Derby Deeds podcast, she’s been honing her chops on the mic at such major events as the Big O, Flat Track Fever and the RDAC regionals over the past few years

Announcer Dick Pounder has also played the game so knows the game from the inside as well. (Photo by Steve Recsky)

Announcer Dick Pounder has also played the game, so knows the game from the inside as well. (Photo by Steve Recsky)

Captain Lou also sees the Canadian Power Rankings as being an important part of the Canadian roller derby discussion: “Canada is really big and teams are really far apart…which makes it harder for the math to be properly predictive. There just isn’t enough correlative games to make a truly accurate list (based purely on stats),” he says, discussing the importance of this endeavor, and “since we don’t have a proper cross-pollination of games, creating a Power Rankings crew filled with people who have a lot of derby knowledge and are able to sift through disparate datasets to filter out the best of the best is the optimal solution.”

Andi Struction thinks the timing is right and is excited about the future of the sport in this country. ” ‘Canadian’ roller derby didn’t really exist because the east and west teams didn’t really have a chance to play each other,” she said. Dick Pounder agrees that this will be a big year for Canadian derby: “The WFTDA factor should prove to be interesting in Canada this year.”

Andi is also optimistic about the top leagues joining the WFTDA, which would encourage more top-level play. “With Calgary and Kootenay joining the ranks (soon), the eastern teams could potentially do western Canadian tours and hit three WFTDA birds with one stone.”

As alluded to, the Power Rankings Team will be limited by some of the challenges of living in a massive country like Canada with very little cross-region play. Some things to keep in mind about the Canadian Power Rankings:

  • The rankings will be a consensus-based: much like the system used by the DNN (and consistent across many sports). All four voters will present their personal choices to each other and then engage in debate until a consensus is reached.
  • The rankings will be quarterly: at least to start. Due to the lack of inter-region play, allowing time for a wider number of games seems advantageous right now.
  • The rankings will only consider A-level travel teams. It’s just simpler that way, and as more and more Canadian leagues follow the WFTDA model, the opportunity for A-level interleague play has been increasing as well, and it is becoming much easier to speculate how these teams would fare against one another.

    The Derby Nerd rounds out the Power Rankings team. (Photo by Todd Burgess)

    The Derby Nerd rounds out the Power Rankings team. (Photo by Todd Burgess)

We’re only a few weeks away from the inaugural ranking on April 1st, but there is a lot going down in those few weeks that will affect that premier ranking: The RDAC Championship is this weekend in Edmonton featuring A-level travel teams from the West, Saskatchewan and the Maritimes, while ToRD’s fourth annual Quad City Chaos (March 23rd, 24th) will feature two of Canada’s top teams, ToRD’s CN Power and the Rideau Valley Vixens, facing off against top level WFTDA competition. Both tournaments will be boutcast on Canuck Derby TV.

It’s going to be an exciting year for Canadian roller derby, all involved in putting together this Canadian Power Ranking are proud to be bringing another angle to the exciting discussion that will take place. Captain Lou also hopes that these rankings will inspire more than just healthy debate: “I’m hoping that new leagues just starting out will be able to look at the Power Rankings list and use it as inspiration to keep going through the hard times (and) I really hope that a Canadian Roller Derby Power Rankings list will inspire more cross-Canada roller derby bouts, so that east will meet west more often than they have in the past.”

Check back in on April 1st for the first Canadian Power Ranking.

Word on the Track (Rankings Update Part 1: WFTDA)

WFTDA UPDATE

The first quarter WFTDA rankings have now been released, and already the playoff races are starting to take shape.  While a lot of the top teams in each region are just starting to play, the fight to reach the top 10 is well under way. For complete rankings, visit the WFTDA Rankings.

North Central:

1.  Windy City Rollers (1)

2. Minnesota RollerGirls (2)

3. Naptown Roller Girls (3)

4. Detroit Derby Girls (4)

5. The Chicago Outfit (5)

6. Brewcity Bruisers (7)

7. Ohio Roller Girls (9)

8. Arch Rival Roller Girls (6)

9. Cincinnati Rollergirls (8)

10. Mad Rollin’ Dolls (10)

**15. Toronto Roller Derby (17)

**17. Tri-City Roller Girls (16)

While the teams in the North Central’s Top 10 stay the same, the order has been shaken up. 1-5 remain unchanged with the two Chicago teams sandwiching Minnesota (who are 5-0 on the season including a huge 155 point victory over 9th ranked Cincinnati), Naptown (5-2, whose only losses this season have come to the two teams ahead of them in the North Central), and Detroit  (yet to play in 2012). After this, things get interesting.

One of the busiest teams in the WFTDA (9-1), Ohio has made the biggest  jump moving from 9th to 7th based, especially, on a 53-point victory over Arch Rival (4-1) who has the biggest drop from 6th to 8th. For Canadian derby fans, Toronto’s CN Power, on the strength of their 5-0 record, leaps two spots to 15th just behind Fort Wayne (1-3) despite defeating that team in their season opener. The Tri-City Thunder  (2-1) drop one spot after losing to CN Power at this year’s Quad City Chaos. The playoffs are still in reach for these two teams, but they will both need to pull off major upsets over Ohio this month (May 19th, and 20th) and hope for 10th ranked Mad Rollin Dolls (0-2) to continue their losing streak if either hopes to sneak in.

East:

1. Gotham Girls Roller Derby (1)

2. Philly Roller Girls (2)

3. Charm City Roller Girls (3)

4. Steel City Derby Demons (4)

5. London Rollergirls (5)

6. Montreal Roller Derby (6)

7. Boston Derby Dames (7)

8. Carolina Rollergirls (8)

9. Dutchland Derby Rollers (9)

10. DC Rollergirls (11)

Remarkably, only one change so far in the Eastern Region: DC Rollergirls spent all of last season on the fringe unable to break into the top 10. Determined to do so, they have embarked on an ambitious 2012 schedule so far, travelling coast to coast and compiling a 6-3 record.  But their biggest victory came just last month when they defeated Maine (3-3), the formerly 10th ranked team in the region, 197-131, as part of their current four game winning streak that has vaulted them into the top 10. For the most part, things are just getting underway in the East with Gotham recently getting rolling (they’ve outscored their opposition 1135-84 in only two games) and Charm City winning a banked track tournament. Montreal has been the busiest of the top 6 teams so far, but has stumbled to a 4-4 record (with those losses coming against stiff competition from Naptown, Minnesota, Kansas City and Philly), and have unable to make up any ground on the teams ahead of them.

South Central:

1. Texas Rollergirls (1)

2. Kansas City Roller Warriors (2)

3. Nashville Rollergirls (3)

4. Houston Roller Derby (5)

5. Atlanta Rollergirls (4)

6. Tampa Roller Derby (8)

7. Omaha Rollergirls (10)

8. No Coast Derby Girls (6)

9. Jacksonville Rollergirls (11)

10. Tallahassee Rollergirls (15)

Things start to get interesting in the South Central with some massive changes from last year’s final quarterly rankings.  Out of the top 10 are Green Country (who had occupied 7th spot but are 1-6 in 2012 including 5 losses to teams ranked below them) and Gold Coast (9th with a very similar 1-5 record in 2012) who represent some big swings in placement in this region. Even the top 5 saw a switch up between Atlanta (now 5th) and Houston (4th). Houston had been, and still is, one of the hotter teams in the Region and kicked off the year on a 6-0 run including a dominant tournament win at the 2012 Clover Cup. That streak came to an end last week with a 139 point loss to North Central powerhouse Windy City.

This shake up at the bottom of the top 10 has allowed Omaha to jump three spots to 7th. Omaha has worked hard for the placement, compiling an 8-3 record  that includes a 3rd place finish at the Clover Cup. Jacksonville at 9th (from 11th after a 5th place finish at the Clover Cup and wins over Green Country and Gold Coast) and Tallahassee 10th (who makes one of the biggest jumps of the quarter from 15th) now have a spot to hold for Regionals. Since 2009, Tallahassee has never been ranked higher than 13th, so this represents a big step for the team.

West:

1. Oly Rollers (1)

2. Rocky Mountain Rollergirls (2)

3. Rose City Rollers (3)

4. Denver Roller Dolls (5)

5. Rat City Rollergirls (4)

6. B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls (6)

7. Sacred City Derby Girls (7)

8. Angel City Derby Girls (9)

9. Jet City Rollergirls (8)

10. Arizona Roller Derby (13)

**16. Terminal City Roller Girls (23)

The West is about to get wild.

Although the first quarterly rankings show very little change, the small changes show hints of things to come. Starting at the top: the Oly Rollers, who have had a firm grip on this Region since 2009, have suffered some major losses to the lineup and with only one game played in 2012 (a victory over the so-far inconsistent Jet City), it remains to be seen the impact that this will have. Rocky Mountain has also suffered a shake up at the core, but looked like they were weathering those losses after winning the Dust Devil 2012 until losing to 6th ranked B.A.D. Girls last week 160-113. Denver, slipping up to 4th, also looks to be gearing up for a big 2012 as well, as they kicked off their season with a convincing 235-97 victory over the B.A.D. Girls.

Historic Tucson Roller Derby wasn’t able to hold its spot against another historic team that is surging: Arizona. Arizona’s Tent City Terrors are back in the mix with a new-look lineup featuring game-changing transfers in Joy Collision from Charm City along with Hockey Honey and Atomatrix from Oly.  While Arizona is one of the original WFTDA leagues, it has never had much success, winning only five of its first 18 games between 2005 and 2009. Since 2009, the team has never climbed higher than 12th in the region. But the team is off to a 3-1 start so far in 2012, with its only loss coming in an 11-point game against Rocky Mountain at the Dust Devil.

For Canadian fans, Terminal City is the talk of the West, leaping an amazing seven places in the standing from 23rd to 16th. They have been extremely busy as well, tearing through the Western Region and gong 9-2 in WFTDA action this year already (not to mention another 2-1 record in unsanctioned games). Their only losses were to playoff team Jet City and Santa Cruz, whom they turned around and beat in a rematch ensuring their 16th place spot. An upcoming showdown with 5th ranked Rat City could have a lot to say about their chances of making the West Region playoffs.

WORD on the Track: Columbia set to take WFTDA by storm

Even at this early stage in the year, teams are pushing for an all-important playoff spot.

Despite being so early in the season, there has been no shortage of thrilling WFTDA action. While most of the top seeds have yet to see any substantial flat track action this year (Oly took to the track this weekend, only the second top ranked team to appear in sanctioned action after Texas), the battle for the playoffs has begun in earnest. The amount of play of mid-range seeds (12-18) has been astonishing so far and has made for some exciting derby as teams jockey for that all-important top-ten ranking.

On March 1st, the WFTDA admitted its latest round of member leagues (bringing the total to 147 across five countries). The list included another UK team (Central City Roller Girls from Birmingham) and the first German league (Berlin’s Bear City Rollers). While new teams often take time to work their way up the competitive ladder, every once in a while the graduate list includes a team that is worth watching (think Montreal circa 2009/2010). This quarter’s graduating class features one such team: South Carolina’s Columbia Quad Squad.

EASTERN REGION

Columbia may be new to the WFTDA, but they are not a new league. Founded in 2007, the Quad Squad has seen a lot of success outside of the WFTDA including a 2009 South Carolina state championship and an undefeated 2010 season. During the 2011 season, it began to become clear that Columbia belonged in the WFTDA facing off against the top competition in flat track roller derby.  In the midst of a five-game winning streak to kick off the season, they hosted the Honky Tonk Heartbreakers, the famous Texas Rollergirls home team, who had travelled to Columbia to run a camp for the league and play the travel team. Columbia proved to be quick learners, crushing the Heartbreakers by a resounding score of 207-97. They went on to complete another perfect season, winning another state championship.

Despite just graduating from the Apprenticeship program, Columbia has already knocked off two WFTDA teams this year.

With their WFTDA Apprenticeship nearing an end, the Quad Squad has kicked off 2012 in grad fashion.  They opened the season with a crushing victory over (then) 15th ranked Dominion Derby Girls 223-88, before shocking the Eastern Region by heading into Raleigh last month and defeating the 8th ranked Carolina Rollergirls 99-88 (who were also ranked 21st in the sport by DNN). All eyes will be on their first sanctioned bout coming up on March 31st against the South Central’s 15th ranked Tallahassee Rollergirls.

Another league that has showed a lot of promise in the East got put in their place this weekend, as the 15th ranked Queen City Roller Girls fell to 11th ranked DC Rollergirls 175-77 (an important win for playoff aspirants DC) and were crushed by 3rd ranked Charm City 440-62. It was Charm’s second 400 point output in a WFTDA bout (409 vs. River City in 2010) and second largest margin of victory (after that River City bout as well). In another matchup with potential playoff implications, 10th ranked Maine came back from a loss to Atlanta by holding off 14th (and climbing) CT Rollergirls 200-75.

With Charm the only top team having seen action (in flat track action), the top 10 remains unchanged.

WFTDA Champion Gotham has yet to play a sanctioned bout this season.

1.Gotham Girls Roller Derby

2. Philly Roller Girls

3. Charm City Roller Girls

4. Steel City Derby Demons

5. London Rollergirls

6. Montréal Roller Derby

7. Boston Derby Dames

8. Carolina Rollergirls

9. Dutchland Derby Rollers

10. Maine Roller Derby

NORTH CENTRAL REGION

The competitively open North Central has been busier early in 2012, with a number of teams legitimately jockeying for a playoff position. With the top five holding steady, the bottom five playoff positions don’t seem nearly as secure.  Arch Rival (6th)was able to hold off Cincinnati (8th) last Saturday before falling to  Ohio (9th) 168-115, in the biggest upset so far this season. Ohio has been one of the busiest teams the WFTDA in 2012, and have stormed off to a 6-0 record. They’ve get a busy schedule planned ahead as well, with 13 bouts scheduled until August, the end of the playoff run. Included in that run will be a Canadian road swing to face off against the Tri-City Thunder (16th) and ToRD’s CN Power (17th).  Tri City had an impressive 2011, finishing 7-5 and setting themselves up as legitimate playoff contenders. They’ve only played one bout so far, but will get back in action at the end of the month with bouts against Hammer City and ToRD.

The Ohio Roller Girls don't seem content with simply qualifying for the playoffs.

Although the top ten didn’t change in the first quarter, expect Ohio’s sensational play to see them pick up a bump in the rankings. Chicago Outfit (5th) and Grand Raggidy (11th) face off this weekend in a big showdown that could affect the rankings.

1. Windy City Rollers

2. Minnesota RollerGirls

3. Naptown Roller Girls

4. Detroit Derby Girls

5. The Chicago Outfit

6. Arch Rival Roller Girls

7. Brewcity Bruisers

8. Cincinnati Rollergirls

9. Ohio Roller Girls

10. Mad Rollin’ Dolls

The Dallas Derby Devils will host the 2012 Clover Cup, which will feature key teams in the South Central Region's playoff battle.

SOUTH CENTRAL REGION

Things in the South Central have already been shaken up. No Coast  (6th) started the season with nailbiting loss to 10th ranked Omaha 154-151 before crushing Green Country (7th) 220-80. Green Country’s hold on a playoff spot looks shaky though, losing to 15th ranked Tallahassee 215-178 in their season opener. Green Country has a lot of tough bouts against top competition lined up (including at this weekend’s Clover Cup), so they have a chance to turn things around, but they will need to do it quickly with teams like Jackonsville, Hard Knox and Tallahassee pressing for a playoff spot.

Top ranked Texas has cruised so far in 2012 with three one-sided victories over lower ranked teams, while 2nd ranked Kansas City won’t kick off 2012 until April. 3rd and 4th ranked Nasville and Atlanta will kick things off this weekend when they face off in Nashville. But in Dallas this weekend at the 2012 Clover Cup, the South Central will really get going(Read DNN‘s preview here). The knockout bracket will feature 5th ranked Houston and a who’s who of teams on the cusp of leaping into or falling out of the playoffs: Green Country (7th), Tampa (8th), Gold Coast (9th), Omaho (10th), and  Jacksonville (11th). The Oklahoma Victory Dolls, ranked 17th in the region, have a whole lot to gain and not too much to lose, while the host Dallas Derby Devils will look for home-track advantage to help them rise from their 14th spot.

The South Central rankings look ripe for change.

1. Texas Rollergirls

2. Kansas City Roller Warriors

3. Nashville Rollergirls

4. Atlanta Rollergirls

5. Houston Roller Derby

6. No Coast Derby Girls

7. Green Country Roller Girls

8. Tampa Roller Derby

9. Gold Coast Derby Grrls

10. Omaha Rollergirls

WESTERN REGION

Along with Terminal City, Treasure Valley is another deceptively low-ranked Western Region team to watch in 2012.

While the top six seeds in the Western Region haven’t seen that much action so far in 2012, it seems like those six teams (in varying orders) have held the top six spots for an eternity. The bottom four positions though, seem less secure, and with 8th ranked Jet City (the busiest so far at 3-3) looking inconsistent so far in 2012, there is room for change. The West has been dominated by two tournaments so far in 2012, the Big O and the Wild West Showdown; two tournaments that have featured lower seeds in the Western Region. But it has been an eye opener and teams like 12th ranked Emerald City, Silicon Valley (14th) and Santa Cruz (15th) look ready to compete, while Vancouver’s Terminal City (23rd) and unranked Treasure Valley have proven to be teams on the rise (and look to be doing so quickly).

First to sixth looks solid, but there is room for change in the bottom half of the playoff positions.

1. Oly Rollers

2. Rocky Mountain Rollergirls

3. Rose City Rollers

4. Rat City Rollergirls

5. Denver Roller Dolls

6. B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls

7. Sacred City Derby Girls

8. Jet City Rollergirls

9. Angel City Derby Girls

10. Tucson Roller Derby

Stay tuned to DNN for live coverage.

There are upwards of 40 roller derby events going on globally this Saturday night (many with WFTDA connections) and another 10 or so on Sunday. Welcome to spring 2012 derby fans!

KEEP AN EYE ON: 2012 Clover Cup, Atlanta vs. Nasvhille (South Central), Chicago Outfit vs. Grand Raggidy (North Central), and Santa Cruz vs. Silicon Valley (West).

Word on the track: CN Power scores upset in a weekend full of WFTDA upsets

CN Power's upset win over Fort Wayne was aired live on Derby News Network.

FEATURED SHOWDOWN

CN Power 151 vs. Fort Wayne 138

In the ever-tightening North Central Region, Toronto Roller Derby upstarts CN Power (17th) scored an important upset win over 14th ranked Fort Wayne Derby Girls. While the two teams have never met before, Fort Wayne has a long history with Hammer City beginning back in 2007 when the southern Ontario team was invited to the Fall Brawl. While Fort Wayne never lost to Hammer City in their meetings, they faced a far greater challenge on Saturday when they hosted a very hungry CN Power. What resulted was a tense, penalty-filled affair that featured six lead changes and two ejections, but in the end saw CN Power inch one step closer to the WFTDA playoffs.

The bout began slowly, with each team getting a sense of the other as they jockeyed for control. The ToRD skaters seemed to be trying to keep things slow and controlled in the early going, while Fort Wayne looked to up the physical ante and draw CN Power into a physical showdown. What resulted was a defensive stalemate that saw CN Power hold on to a small 7-5 lead, six jams into the bout.  Fort Wayne used their physical advantage to win some of the early scrum starts to get back in the game, and the scrappy, physical packs began to take their toll on the teams and the penalties began to add up.  First Fort Wayne’s Pushycat and CN Power’s Dust Bunny exchanged power jams (and leads), before a 15 point Bambi power jam finally pulled CN Power ahead 38-20.

But as they would all bout, CN Power would build a solid lead only to see the Fort Wayne skaters claw their way back. Momentum began to shift as penalty problems forced Toronto away from its usual rotation and the hosts pounced on the confusion to retake the lead. Despite a strong final-jam push back from a determined CN Power pack (featuring a slick 9 points from an uncharacteristically jukey Dyna Hurtcha), the visitors were down 66-58 at the half.

The second half featured much of the same dueling for momentum and control of the bout that had the teams neck-and-neck through the first ten minutes. In a fascinating sequence around the midway point of the second half, the fate of the game would be decided. First, on another multi-jammer-penalty jam CN Power took a 90-79 lead, then in a turnaround indicative of the game as a whole, the very next jam would see yet another wild swing in momentum as Fort Wayne picked up 15 points on a power jam to inch ahead; with Dust Bunny still in the box, they seemed to have control of the volatile game. But on the back of some strong pack defense, Dust Bunny was able to spring from the pack to steal 9 points; it was a blow that seemed to finally wrestle control of the game away from the hosts. What followed was CN Power’s strongest series of jams of the bout: clean, tight controlled packs led by great individual efforts from Lady Gagya and Nasher the Smasher, and patient conservative jamming from CN Power’s strong three-skater rotation, saw Toronto finally take control of things and pull ahead 134-96 with only eleven minutes left.

But in a game that was full of momentum changes and full penalty boxes, Fort Wayne was down but not out, and they continued to chip away at an increasingly undisciplined CN Power, but while they would outscore CN Power 42-17 in the final ten minutes of the game, they couldn’t climb all the way back, and the ToRD skaters held on for a very important 151-138 upset that could see them climb as high was 14th in the North Central rankings.

**Watch the archived bout here. Next up for CN Power is a home date on March 3rdagainst the Eastern Regions Roc City Roc Stars.

It was a busy weekend in the WFTDA, with eleven sanctioned bouts.

WFTDA ROUND UP

North Central

In other North Central matchups this weekend, Cincinnati (8th) and Grand Raggidy (11th) met in a hugely entertaining showdown  that saw Cincinnati fight their way back from a first half deficit to prevent the upset and win 140-116. For Grand Raggidy, a team that has been on the cusp of the North Central playoffs for the past two years, it was an important step in the right direction. And after a big loss to CN Power to close out 2011, 21st ranked Derby City continued their slide, getting crushed by 13th ranked Bleeding Heartland  220-76.

Despite being an apprentice league, Columbia has already knocked off two WFTDA teams this year.

East Region

Montreal’s New Skids on the Block (6th) kicked off their 2012 season on Friday in a non-sanctioned bout against Boston (7th); the mixed Boston squad was no match for the Montreal skaters who are hungry after two years of amazing regular seasons have led to disappointing playoff runs and skated away with a 172-83 victory. It was another unsanctioned bout that actually saw the biggest upset of the weekend. WFTDA Apprentice league Columbia Quadsquad All Stars (who began their season with an upset over 16th ranked Dominion) recorded a monstrous upset  in Carolina, stunning the 8th ranked Carolina Rollergirls 99-88. Carolina is also ranked 21st in the DNN Power Rankings, so the East, which seems to produce a stunning playoff-bound upstart every year (Montreal in ’10, London last year), could have their “next-big-thing” in Columbia.

In other Eastern Region action, 13th ranked Providence barely held off a challenge from 22nd ranked Green Mountain Derby Dames 174-161, only securing the win on the final jam. To continue the theme of surprising results, 25thranked Charlotte Roller Girls fell to unranked Lowcountry Highrollers 153-81.

11th ranked Jacksonville helped their playoff chances with win over 9th ranked Gold Coast.

South Central

The South Central was busy on Saturday night as well.  In a minor upset, Jacksonville (11th) blew past Gold Coast (9) 186-97 in a game with playoff implications; Unranked Des Moines handled themselves well in a 165-89 loss to 10th ranked Omaha (leaving Omaha clinging to that final playoff spot), while 16th ranked Memphis was able to hold off the Oklahoma Victory Dolls 87-77. Springfield (25th) took down Oklahoma City (27th) 204-76.

Inter-Region

There were a few intriguing inter-region matchups this weekend as well. In a stiff test, the South Central’s 4th ranked Atlanta Roller Girls held off the challenge from the Eastern Region’s 10th ranked Maine Roller Derby 181-114. Tri-City Thunder, ranked 16th in the North Central visited Roc City Roc Stars (17th in the East) and proved to be a handful. Only late in the game were the Thunder able to pull away from the Roc Stars, winning. 124-92

ONE MORE THING!

Finally, a big congratulations to the Yukon Roller Girls who beat Juneau in a cross-border, northern showdown, 164-161 in what by all accounts was an extraordinary game.  Yukon has a busy schedule lined up for 2012 featuring bouts against Fairbanks, Red Deer and Reign Valley.