toronto roller derby

Steady Dolls Hold off Relentless Gores to Retain ToRD Title

The Dolls defended the Boot in a tight, scrappy bout against the Gores, while the Betties closed out a challenging season with a big win over the Renegade Derby Dames’ Striking Vikings.

The Dolls joined the Gores (2009-10) and the Chicks (2011-2012) as back-to-back ToRD champs. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Dolls joined the Gores (2009-10) and the Chicks (2011-2012) as back-to-back ToRD champs. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

There was an old-school vibe at the Bunker on Saturday night: a lively crowd, active mascots, and rising beeramids lined the track, while tutus and face-paint made their way back onto it, but the game itself was new-school flat track roller derby at its frenetic best. It was one of those fine balances unique to the sport; a dichotomy that only roller derby at its best is able to pull off. Fueled by this richness of narrative, the dueling opponents  rose up to meet expectations and delivered. When the smoke cleared and the dust settled, it was the Death Track Dolls who survived the duel, able to hold off the three-time champion Gore-Gore Rollergirls 184-139 to take home their second straight Toronto Roller Derby championship.

The defending champion Dolls came in focused and unified. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The defending champion Dolls came in focused and unified. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Coming off of a record-setting season capped by a record-setting Battle for the Boot mauling against the Betties in 2013, the defending-champion Dolls, rebuilt and not as fine-tuned or weapon-stacked as they were last year, relied on a different sort of chemistry to make it work in 2014. It was a challenge that could have understandably felled a lot of teams, but the combination of trust and positivity that fueled the 2014 Dolls was evident from the opening whistle of the 2014 Battle for the Boot.

Not to discredit the Gores, who themselves were dealing with a largely rebuilt roster and had to find a way to fuse multiple-generations of skaters into a cohesive unit. They succeeded, and rebounded in 2014 from their worst season ever in 2013 to return to their seventh championship game and, of course, in April became the first team from Toronto to win Montreal’s Beast of the East. And despite a near 100-point loss to them earlier this season, in this game they gave the Dolls all that they could handle.

Dolls' jammer Bellefast and Gores' Lexi Con were both excellent for their teams. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Dolls’ jammer Bellefast and Gores’ Lexi Con were both excellent for their teams. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The league’s leading scorer Bellefast got things started on the jam line for the Dolls, and it was clockwork for the defending champs as they lept out to a quick 4-0 lead. But the Gores roared back showing some offensive savvy in ringing off five straight lead jammer statuses (and seven of the first ten), but could manage only 9 points on the run to hold a slim 9-4 lead, a testament to the Dolls’ stifling defense and quick offense-defense transitions to free jammers and make sure any damage was limited. Early on the Gores were able to contain Dolls’ first-year jammers Devochka and Sleeper Hold, but had virtually no answer for veteran Bellefast.

Belle managed the third highest regular season lead percentage in ToRD history this year (77%) and kept the Dolls in the championship game early on as they got their offensive blocking going. She scored the first 25 points for the Dolls and had 67 at half on a 78% lead percentage in a dominating performance¹. While Devochka eventually managed to start putting up points midway through the first, it would take Sleeper seven jams to pick up lead and get on the board. Once the pack settled in though, all three jammers eventually got going (for example, Sleeper put up 16 points in the second half on 60% lead percentage, while Devo would finish the game with 49 points on 53%).

Gores' Chronic and Kandy Barr hold back Dolls' jammer Devochka. (Photo be Neil Gunner)

Gores’ Chronic and Kandy Barr hold back Dolls’ jammer Devochka. (Photo be Neil Gunner)

The game was incredibly tight early on, with the Dolls slipping ahead 33-25 at the midway point in the first period, and the game’s true highlight was the duel going on the pack. Skater for skater, the Gores arguably had the deeper pack, led by veterans Santa Muerte, Chronic, Gamma Rei, Emma Dilemma and the retiring league founder Kandy Barr, and the Gores did win many one-on-one battles, but as the game went on the Dolls’ walls tightened and what the team lacked in individual brilliance, they made up for in collective unity.

Mirroring the Gores’ opening run, the Dolls steered the game into half picking up eight of the final ten lead jammers and building the game’s largest lead—30 points—up 95-65 at the break.

It wasn’t that the Gores’ jammers weren’t having strong games: they were; it was just that they so rarely had an opportunity to make a pass without a Dolls jammer hot on their tails. Both Lexi Con and Lumberjack Flash finished the game with impressive lead percentages, 71% and 60% respectively, and Beaver Mansbridge made the most of her leads putting up 25 points on a 38% lead percentage (Taranosaurus Rex would have a similar high points-per-lead ratio, managing 18 points on only a 20%).

Dawson and Wheatabitch wrap up Gores' jammer Beaver Mansbridge. (Photo be Neil Gunner)

Dolls’ blockers Dawson and Wheatabitch wrap up Gores’ jammer Beaver Mansbridge. (Photo be Neil Gunner)

While the Dolls played with a hive-mind sensibility, they were anchored by strong performances from their key skaters and veterans. After a number of retirements and CN Power call ups last season there was a big on-track leadership void in the pack and long-time Doll Dawson stepped up in a big way this season, and was at her best in the championship game, anchoring a line alongside veteran co-captain Getcha Kicks and retiring long-time Doll Audrey Hellborn (who joined the jammer rotation late in the game and picked up, fittingly, the final lead of the half to close out the win).

Meanwhile the same sort of pressure was heaped on second-year skaters Android W.K. and Robotmy who were tasked with anchoring the other half of the pack and did well to live up to the challenge, aided in part by the presence of and ever-improving Hannibelle and another long-time Doll Slam Wow. Finally, yet another retiring league founder, Demolition Dawn, provided the foundational and emotional stability that was key to this team’s year-long success. And the Dolls needed this veteran poise in the second half as the Gores poured on wave after wave of energetic pushbacks, managing to get as close as 19 points after a 20-point Lexi Con jammed power jam midway through the half (Lexi managed to pick up lead on her first six jams of the second half in a fantastic, clutch performance).

A veteran Gores line of Emma Dilemma, Kandy Barr, Chronic and Santa Muerte talk with their bench during a time out. (photo by Greg Russell)

A veteran Gores line of Emma Dilemma, Kandy Barr, Chronic and Santa Muerte talk with their bench during a time out. (photo by Greg Russell)

The Gores too have a solid young core to build around. Full Deck is emerging as a strong pivot and potential triple-threat, while both Moose Knuckles and Viktory Lapp saved their best for the when it mattered most this season, showing that they can be called upon in big-game situations. There is a ton of depth on the Gores roster as well, from veterans Miss Kitty La Peur and Purple Pain to newcomers like Machu Beatchu and Guardian Paingel (who were both absent with injury).

Prior to the game, sixteen retiring skaters were singled out for their contributions to the league. It was a humbling list including many first-generation ToRD skaters including Betty Bomber, Candy Crossbones, Demolition Dawn, Dusty, Dyna Hurtcha, Hoff, Kandy Barr, and Rebel Rock-It. It leaves a gaping absence in the centre of the organization, but it is one that the league has the infrastructure to fill. As a whole, the league should take notice of the Dolls model of smart drafting: This year’s pick ups in Stringer Belle, Wheatabitch and Free Range Clam were model skaters for the Dolls, making up for any lack of experience by buying into the team model and playing within the established system.

They were integral pieces in the Dolls’ complete-game performance in the final, and the team went toe-to-toe with their opponents during the Gores’ final desperate push where they had the offense going but couldn’t fully shut down the Dolls in a 25-11 run over the final four jams. The Dolls remained focused and held on for the 45-point victory.

Despite the retirements and the feeling of finality to this championship game, ToRD as a whole has a chance to do the same sort of on-the-fly rebuild that the Dolls did, only on a larger scale. With a deep house league entry draft loaded with both homegrown and transfer talent coming up, and an internal development system strongly in place in place from fresh meat all the way up to CN Power, this entertaining and successful eighth championship game should be looked at as much as an augur of a successful future as it was a celebration of a strong history.

"The Boot" Photo by Neil Gunner (neilgunner.com)

The Betties led 135-55 at half in their win over the Striking Vikings. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Betties led 135-55 at half in their win over the Striking Vikings. (Photo by Greg Russell)

***In the opener, the Smoke City Betties picked up a much-needed win over the Renegade Derby Dames’ travel team, the Striking Vikings, 237-167. After climbing all the way to the 2013 Battle for the Boot, the Betties stumbled this season, finishing last in ToRD and missing the playoffs. They played, arguably, their most complete game on the season on Saturday and beat a tough opponent that featured some talented skaters.

***The 2014 Battle for the Boot will be rebroadcast intermittently on Rogers TV beginning next Saturday. Check listings for air times and dates. Visit layer9.ca for track side video coverage.

¹These stats are all unofficial and will be updated for accuracy if necessary.

Battle for the Boot 8: Dolls vs. Gores

On Saturday night the Dolls and Gores meet in the Battle for the Boot for the first time in history. The defending champ Dolls will try to hold off the three-time champion Gores to successfully defend the Boot.

ToRD_Oct-18-2014-Poster-Ver2_RS_100214Before 2013’s year of Dollmination, the Death Track Dolls had defeated the Gore-Gore Rollergirls only once in the team’s history, a close, controversial decision in 2008. From 2009-2012, the Gores dominated the rivalry and won a few championships along the way, while the Dolls struggled through losing season after losing season. All of that changed in 2013 when an undefeated record and a record-setting Battle for the Boot victory ushered in the Dolls’ era in ToRD.

Despite a slew of retirements and CN Power call-ups after the championship run, that era continued unabated through the early months of this year’s regular season as well. For the second-straight year the Dolls finished atop the regular season standings with a perfect 3-0 record. On top of that, their 652 points was the second most ever scored in a ToRD regular season (just below their own 2013 record-setting clip). The Dolls even dominated the other playoff-bound teams, notching a 100-point win over the Gores and a smothering 272-35 mauling of the Chicks Ahoy!. Everything seemed to be coming up Doll in 2014.

However, you should never count out the Dynasty.

Things started slowly this season for the Gores, but not as direly as you might expect for a supposedly rebuilding team. They managed to wind up second in the regular season standings after knocking off last year’s finalists, the Smoke City Betties, in the last game of the regular season and looked very impressive in dispatching a scrappy Chicks team in the semifinal. But the biggest indicator of how far this Gores team has come may have been their performance at the Beast of the East at the end of spring. It was a thrilling, often grueling run, where they won games they had no right winning, dominated teams they had no right dominating, yet struggled and fought and never gave up on their way to the shocking tournament win. It showed, clearly, the depth of heart on this team; the kinds of intangibles that can win championships.

Read the recap of the ToRD house league regular season double header in March. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Read the recap of the Gores and Dolls regular season meeting, a 172-79 win for the Dolls. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

But if the Gores want to win the championship, they will have to contain the Dolls explosive offense; an offense that has put up nearly 1400 points over their last six regular season games. In the teams’ one meeting earlier this year, the Dolls threw everything that had at the Gores, with five different jammers scoring at least 17 points (four of them had at least 24). It is that varied offense that is so dangerous, but look for the Dolls to keep the jammer rotation tight: Bellefast (who led the league with 164 points and a 77% lead percentage); Sleeper Hold (98 and 59%); and Devochka (156 and 59%); with captain Android WK as relief. In the pack, the Dolls may be vulnerable, with some mid-season retirements having eroded their once menacing depth; it will be a comparatively inexperienced pack that goes to the track on Saturday led by veterans Android WK, Getcha Kicks, Audrey Hellborn, and Dawson, but supported by a new generation of skaters led by second-year Doll Robotomy.

But the Gores have come into their own in 2014. In the regular-season meeting between the two teams, Lexi Con was the mos successful Gore jammer against the Dolls defense—but the Gores have a rotation of jammers that has improved as the season has gone on. The Dolls managed to contain Lumberjack Flash in the regular season game, but she has since taken the league by storm, and was second on the Gores in scoring with 24 points in the semifinal win gains the Chicks (Lexi Con tore up the track with 86 points on a 69% lead percentage in that game). Double threat Beaver Mansbridge was also called into considerable action in the semifinal, but with Taranosaurus Rex back from injury, she may be able to slip back into the pack a little more. But despite the developing jammer rotation, the real depth of the Gores is in its pack. Led by veterans Santa Muerte, Chronic, and Kandy Barr, there is an increasingly intimidating bench alongside that core, beginning with veterans Gamma Rei and Miss Kitty La Peur and extending all the way to next-generation Gores like Moose Knuckles and Full Deck.

While both teams are suffering injuries to key pieces (including two up-and-coming blocking stars in Beast MVP Machu Beatchu and first-year Doll Block Quebecois, but extending even further into each roster), don’t expect anything less than a brawl on the track. The Dolls are looking to join the Chicks and the Gores as back-to-back titleists, while the Gores are looking to break a historic tie with the Chicks and win their unprecedented fourth ToRD championship.

Battle for the Boot 2014 by the Numbers

8

This is the 8th Battle for the Boot.

7

The number of times the Gores have battled for the Boot (followed by the Chicks [5], and the Dolls and Betties [2]).

3

The number of ToRD championships the Gores have won (the Chicks have also won 3; the Dolls 1.).

652

The amount of points the Dolls scored during the regular season.

498

The amount of points the Gores scored during the regular season.

187.5

The average point differential the Dolls had in victories against the Chicks and the Betties this season.

64

The average point differential the Gores had in victories against the Chicks and the Betties this season.

93

The amount the Dolls beat the Gores by when they met in March.

1

The number of skaters playing on each team Saturday night who were active during ToRD’s first season (the Dolls’ Demolition Dawn played for the Smoke City Betties, while Kandy Barr is the sole remaining skater from the Gores’ 2007 championship run).

***The championship game will be preceded by an exhibition match featuring the hometown Smoke City Betties hosting the Renegade Derby Dames’ Striking Vikings out of Alliston, Ontario. The Vikings are a WFTDA travel team and should provide a strong challenge to the Betties, who missed the ToRD playoffs in 2014 after Battling for the Boot last season.

***Doors open at 4:00 PM, with opening whistle of game 1 at 5:00 PM. The Battle for the Boot 2014 will begin at 7:00 PM. Tickets are available online.

Skull on Fire: Coping with Multiple Concussions in Roller Derby (Guest Post)

Guest blogger and retired skater Speedin’ Hawking discusses her history of concussions and provides resources on diagnoses, rehabilitation, and how to ease yourself back into play.

“When you feel like this looks”

“When you feel like this looks”

My 5-year derby-versary was approaching in only a few months. I was extremely excited to re-join our B travel team after a spot opened up, and brought that enthusiasm to my first practice back that night. Towards the end of practice we scrimmaged our A-team, as we often would. At one point when I was blocking, I got caught in a pick and took a clean hit in the chest. It caught me off guard and took me off my feet. My head flung backwards, and as I was falling, I am told that the back of my head made contact with another skater in motion who was behind me, thrusting it forward. My immediate reaction was a panic attack. I started hyperventilating and crying and was ultimately confused and really distraught. I quietly moved off the track to gain control of what I thought was just a weird emotional outburst, withdrew myself from the group and hid behind a pillar so as not to bring attention to my embarrassing reaction. I sat out for the few remaining minutes of the practice while our first responders and my loving derby wife checked me out and tried to put me at ease.

Speedin' Hawking pivots for the Bay Street Bruisers in a game against Royal City in October 2012. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The author, Speedin’ Hawking, pivots for the Bay Street Bruisers in a game against Royal City in October 2012. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

I didn’t lose consciousness or forget my name, but I didn’t know exactly what had happened or how. I was really confused, and that is unusual for me as a fairly aware skater. I felt like I got my bell rung and immediately felt ‘out of it’. I drove myself home alone, which was a challenge in itself, as the road looked like that  drunk driving commercial from the 80s. Bad idea.

If this was a concussion, it would have been my fourth in a year and a half. Given that I am a shorter skater at 5’2″, it’s not a surprise that half of these were due to being hit in the chin or jaw and made worse with the whiplash that came with it. The other half are because I am a bit of a spaz in my day-to-day life. I wish I could tell you it’s from being bad-ass.

Needless to say I took some time to stay off skates, and since have had to pack it in for roller derby. As sad as this is, I have found that since I have become a vet at this concussion thing lately, and more and more leaguemates of mine have been asking about it: What does it feel like? What can you do about it? Who do you go see? Should I get a hockey helmet? Face shield? You too??!! And so on. Or sharing quietly that they think they have one and ask what they should do.

I am not sure if you have noticed in your leagues, but I have never seen so many people off skates at the same time due to this injury. We have become fitter, better, more agile, faster and more aggressive skaters. We are weapons on wheels. We are making fancier moves on our skates. Our style of play has evolved to be more scrum-like. Our rules have recently changed to allow some clockwise movement. I am not sure if all these things are linked, but they can’t be ignored either. If this is the way things are going, then let’s look after our brains cause we only get one (at least for now: c’mon science, where are you on this one?).

I also sucked up precious screen time searching the Internet for answers as to how I was feeling, what’s normal, and what I should do as a coping mechanism to counter the fear and anxiety I was experiencing. Now that I am mostly symptom-free 5 months later (hurray!) I thought I would compile some resources as well as share my learning from a derby perspective. This way, they are on-hand for others with symptoms who might be new to this or for teammates, captains and coaches to refer to in case of future injuries. Thanks to others who have gone through this too who shared their tips and resources with me.

I am not a doctor, or a professional healthcare provider, just a gal who has been searching for more and more answers on the Internet every time she bonks her face in roller derby.

If you think you or your buddy might have suffered a concussion, please visit a physician (sports or specialist if you can rather than a walk-in clinic or even your family doctor. Get checked out as soon as you can. Even if you think it’s no big deal and you feel mostly fine. Even if you only feel “just a bit off”. It’s very easy to talk yourself out of your injury, especially if you have a game coming up, or are super busy in life, so you really need others close to you to call you on your bullshit.

Following is a summary of things you might be wondering about concussions along with some handy references.

WHAT IS A CONCUSSION?

Your skull is your body’s built-in helmet. Your brain sits in your skull suspended in fluid. When you get rocked by a hit, your brain bounces around inside your skull, which can result in “bruising.” This could be because you fell and hit your head, but can also occur by being jostled or shaken.

Watch this! Science!

Also watch this: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Concussions

Also read:

What Happens to the Brain During a Concussion” from Scientific American

What a Bump to the Head Looks Like Inside Your Brain” from PBS.

WHIPLASH AND CONCUSSION-LIKE SYMPTOMS

Found to be highly related to concussions, whiplash can produce similar symptoms. Sometimes the tension or alignment in the neck that results can cause a pinching in your spine, which can have the same weird neurological effects as a concussion.

Read:

Whiplash: 5 Things You Should Know” from spineuniverse.com

POSSIBLE CAUSES OF CONCUSSION

I am sure you are creative and can find more ways but here are some common ones:

- impact to the head from a hit or a fall

- impact to the face or jaw causing the head and neck to jostle and may include whiplash

- impact to the body causing the head and neck to jostle and may include whiplash

Read the Mayo Clinic’s list of basic causes here.

DIAGNOSIS AND TESTING

On-Track:

Ensure that your first-responders or coaches and managers in your league have been trained to screen and assess if a concussion may have occurred or can help with triaging the injury. Review WFTDA Safety Protocol Section 6 carefully as well as Appendix C-D for concussion info.

The SCAT (Sport Concussion Assessment Tool) is quite commonly used. The current version is SCAT3: Sport Concussion Assessment Tool

Here’s an offline sheet that you can keep a few copies of near the track or in your bags:  Sport Concussion Assessment Tool PDF

The CDC also offers this palm card that walks through the assessment: Palm card assessment

And, of course there’s an app for that! Here’s a great breakdown of the popular concussion apps.

Post-Concussion:

You might end up getting a CT Scan or in bad cases an MRI to be sure there’s no head trauma or blood clotting, but because it’s really hard to “see” bruising on your brain, there is really no conclusive way at this time to see how bad your concussion is. You break a bone, you get an x-ray and can see it. We don’t have that kind of thing yet for concussions.
So the best you can do is monitor your symptoms which is why it’s super important to see a doctor and talk this out with them. Bonus points if they have a specialty or are a sports physician who deals with this a lot.

There are tests that rely on testing your neurological responses, cognition and balance, but their accuracy is debated and there aren’t any broadly accepted tools at this time for diagnosis. A couple of them are:

As for finding a physician, many in our league here in Toronto have visited the David L. MacIntosh Sport Medicine Clinic at the University of Toronto for help

Also check out:

The clinic you visit already for physio for your myriad of other derby injuries might also have someone there with a specialty in treating sports concussions.


SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Here is a list of common symptoms. This is your best way to track your progress, so really try to monitor how you feel. Write it down every day even. You might start seeing patterns emerge after certain stimulus. For example, during a regular work day post-concussion, it was normal for me to get a pressure headache between 3 and 4 pm due to computer usage and thinking so darn hard. I knew I was getting better when that would start to go away.

Think of it as a “buffet” of options, or a “portfolio”. You might not feel all of them at any given time, but even feeling one of them counts. Don’t tell yourself that you don’t have a concussion if you feel a bunch of these but then don’t feel nauseous, for example. A good sign is thinking that something is out of the ordinary for you. Also, you aren’t better until your symptoms go away completely.

If you decide to take anything to treat these symptoms (like ibuprofen or anti-nauseants), just be aware that you could be masking your symptoms which is your only reliable way to measure progress in your rehab.

  1. Headache
  2. Pressure in head
  3. Neck Pain
  4. Nausea or Vomiting
  5. Dizziness
  6. Blurred vision
  7. Balance problems
  8. Light sensitivity
  9. Noise Sensitivity
  10. Feeling slowed down
  11. Feeling “in a fog”
  12. “Don’t feel right”
  13. Difficulty concentrating
  14. Difficulty remembering
  15. Fatigue or low energy
  16. Confusion
  17. Drowsiness
  18. Trouble falling asleep
  19. More emotional
  20. Irritability
  21. Sadness
  22. Nervousness or anxiousness

Read more:

Concussion Signs and Symptoms” from momsteam.com

Concussion Signs and Symptoms” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

POST-CONCUSSIVE DISORDER

This is actually a thing! You are not on crazy pills! You may have rolled away from a practice or game feeling alright after a hit, but then start feeling the effects later or a month later. Post-concussive disorder symptoms skew more on the psycho-behavioural side of things rather than physiological. So if you are seeing behavioural or emotional changes in yourself, this could be why. Like feeling extra “hulk-smash-y” or like you are PMS’ing, or like your old anxiety challenges have been triggered again. Try not to get too paranoid about it and go see a doctor to put you at ease and work on next steps to rehab.

REHABILITATION

Rest. That’s it. Cognitive and physical rest. Nothing fancy. Unfortunately this often means laying down and doing nothing, no brain stimulation. This includes abstaining from watching videos, listening to music, reading, writing, audiobooks. Stay off your smart phone! It’s like your body is now grounded as punishment for doing something dumb to your brain.  You might be sensitive to light and certain frequencies of sound, so hang out in a dim and / or quiet room. Earplugs and sunglasses become your best friends.

ETY Plugs by Etymotics have been the best ever, I take them everywhere with me.

Work with your physician to determine a plan for what’s best for you as far as timing, rest and return to activities and exercise. Determine if you have to take a leave from work or school, and if there is any disability support in place to assist you with keeping up. If you are typically a busy-body, then you might need someone to explicitly tell you how to rest.

Stay away from practice. Watching your teammates skate fast around and around while whistles go off can be overstimulating. As much as you might want to participate off-skates and be with your team, this environment does not help with your rehab. Hopefully your coaches and teammates understand.

Supplements: Unlike taking something to treat your symptoms, your doctor might prescribe supplements that promote brain healing and cognitive improvement. This might include:

  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) – promotes the production of energy in the brain’s blood vessels (1)
  • Magnesium – improves synaptic plasticity, aids memory and learning (2)
  • Vinpocetine – enhances cerebral blood flow and neuroprotective effects (3)
  • DHA Omega-3 or Fish oil – brain development (4)
  1.  Vitamin B22 (From howstuffworks.com)
  2. “Magnesium Boosts Brain Function” from wellnessresources.com
  3. Vinpocetine (Wikipedia)
  4. Docosahexaenoic Acid (Wikipedia)

Physio / massage: Your treatment plan from your doctor might also include cranial massage or acupuncture to help with the pressure release and stimulate circulation to the brain to aid the healing process. I have had cranial massages, skull pecking, acupuncture in my head and even a deep neck flexor massage for whiplash. I have also been prescribed neck strengthening exercises as part of my physio.

Your treatment plan might even include some low-impact exercise to help increase blood flow to your brain. I found it also helps get those feel-good endorphins going to counter those downer feelings you might be experiencing.


RETURN TO PLAY

This is going to take time, and like all injuries, rushing back will only harm you in the long run. You want to be sure that you are fully recovered before trying to skate again in order to avoid aggravation or re-injury. Since multiple concussions have a cumulative effect, you don’t want to experience another, and especially not right away. It will set you back exponentially and can leave you with lingering or long-term effects.

Most concussion guidelines for sports have a pretty explicit return to play outline, however, ensure that your doctor clears you to skate initially (your sport is skating around and around for hours!) and then again to resume contact.

Here are a few good ones:

Captains and managers should also treat this injury as they would any other player injury. Depending on your league policies, a doctors note would be ideal. Know the steps:

  1. No activity, complete rest
  2. Light aerobic exercise
  3. Sport-specific activities – like skating
  4. Drills, no contact
  5. Drills with contact
  6. Game play

Take it step by step.

Start with light, low impact activity, like biking, walking or swimming, and move through the levels only if you are completely symptom-free. Not even a little headache. If you do feel your symptoms as a result, you need to continue your rest and rehab. Then try again at that level. This can sometimes be a slow, frustrating process.

There are also newer studies that suggest some exercise might also accelerate your progress. Best to just monitor how you are feeling. Try and see what might work for you and how you feel.

If you have suffered from multiples or even a single major event, know when it’s time to pack it in. Look at your risks vs rewards if you are considering returning, and consider how to avoid long-term damage (Decrease competitiveness? Try low contact? Take a couple of years off?)

As much as we are in love with our sport and the derby community, you only get one brain.

PREVENTION

Like my catholic upbringing taught me, the surefire way to avoid accidents is abstinence from engagement in risky activities. But really, we can’t skate around in a safety bubble like in bubble sports, can we? No really, can we??!!!

We play a contact sport that celebrates our athletes’ differences in size and shape, and we would hate to see that change. We have complete understanding that sometimes accidents just happen in contact sports.

Here are some ideas, however, that could help avoid first or future concussions in roller derby, or at least reduce the frequency we are seeing. It would also be wonderful if the ruleset was evaluated for safety by medical professionals and revised accordingly in addition to considering changes related to improvement of game play and spectator experience.

  • Helmets and face shields: Helmets can be great for helping absorb impact when hit, and protect your skull, but can’t help as much when you get a shot in the face or whiplash. At least, start with a legit multi-impact helmet for real! With the hard foam. Take that rubberized helmet you bought and throw it in the garbage. Don’t let your fresh meat buy them when they are investing in gear at the beginning. Check out section 9.1.3 of the rules to find out what equipment variations pass. Just like all of your other gear try options on, or borrow from your pals till you find the proper fit. Acknowledge that your head shape just might not fit properly with certain models. Look for a balance of protection and functionality (lightweight, not too hot, etc.) Some might find that hockey-style helmets stabilize the jarring and head and neck a bit more. Some find that face shields help prevent face hits. There are many options, just don’t cheap out on this body part when it comes to protection.
  • Practice backwards blocking as a skill: This is a newer blocking style that is becoming more prominent in game play, however not one commonly taught as a foundation in fresh meat programs. Practice greater control when transitioning quickly. Practice more upper body blocking techniques, giving and receiving, with the aim of avoiding flailing limbs or head/face hits. Especially try safely backwards blocking and side blocking or “picking” with a variety of different-sized opponents.
  • Strengthen your neck and upper body: Roller derby is definitely a total body sport, so don’t forget these body parts in your dry land training. Now that there is much more backwards blocking and shoulder blocking, strengthen this part of your body so that you can safely absorb and deliver these upper body hits. For blockers, this may also help dealing with that transfer of momentum from jammers coming in hot to a slow or stopped pack.
  • Call out head and face hits: For coaches and managers, try to pay attention to these hits as much as you would cutting and back blocking if refs aren’t at practice to call the high blocks. I feel like we let this one slide a lot because “it just happens”, meanwhile, we might be enforcing sloppy play and letting repeated hits to the face or head happen, which over time could increase susceptibility if a bigger hit is received. Remember that this injury is cumulative. Pull or bench any players for egregious play for sure.

TALK ABOUT IT

Finally, talk this out with others in your league or reach out to our amazingly supportive sports community. As horrible as it was that a number of us got injured at the same time in our league, we’ve become a great little support group for each other. It has also helped raise awareness about the injury in our league. There’s a great deal of comfort in knowing that you have leaguemates concerned for your well-being that have experienced the same symptoms and are going through rehab with you, especially in dealing with the psycho behavioural effects. We have also shared a great deal of knowledge and referred others to the right doctors, as well as have some ideas for future projects in this area, so stay tuned!

We play an adrenaline-driven sport that on top of it all, we put our hearts into organizing, building, running and progressing. This can make it extra challenging to pull back when the time comes, whether it’s taking a short break or a long one.

There’s a great documentary called The Crash Reel that helps puts things into perspective and does a great job illustrating how passion for our sport can take over. Thanks Kamikaze Kitten for the recommendation and for being just a random Facebook message away!

Watch Trailer: The Crash Reel

Save your brain, you may need it later.

And if you are currently rehabbing a concussion, thanks for using up some of your screen time here.

Feel free to keep the conversation going here in the comments section, or by sharing your resources and experiences too!

Guest Blogger Speedin’ Hawking skated with Toronto Roller Derby from 2009 to 2014 as a member of the Death Track Dolls (2013 co-captain) and the Bay Street Bruisers B-level travel team (‎2012-2013).
Speedin Hawking blocking in a preseason game against Tri-City's Venus Fly Tramps before her 2010 rookie season with ToRD. (Photo by Chrissie Woo)

Speedin Hawking blocking in a preseason game against Tri-City’s Venus Fly Tramps before her 2010 rookie season with ToRD. (Photo by Chrissie Woo)

***Would you like to be a guest blogger?? Contact the Derby Nerd with questions, proposals, or recommendations at thederbynerd@gmail.com***

Gores to Battle for the Boot After Semi-Final Win

The Gore-Gore Rollergirls held off Chicks Ahoy! in a highly competitive semi-final showdown, while the D-VAS impressed against South Simcoe in their final performance before the 2015 entry draft.

This was the sixth playoff meeting between the Chicks and the Gores, but the first time they have faced off in the semi-final instead of the final. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

This was the sixth playoff meeting between the Chicks and the Gores, but the first time they have faced off in the semi-final instead of the final. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The “Dynasty” has completed one more step on its quest to return to the top. After reaching 6 consecutive ToRD championships from 2007-2012, the Gore-Gore Rollergirls were stunned in last year’s semi-finals by the Smoke City Betties leaving them and their co-perennial power house leaguemates Chicks Ahoy! out of the championship game for the first time ever. It would be a league turn around that would not last long, as both are clearly back in the mix. The Gores booked their ticket to the Battle for the Boot with a tight, entertaining 152-97 victory over the Chicks on Saturday at the Bunker.

There was an old-school feel to the game brought on not only by the two teams’ long history together, but also by the fast-paced, grinding style of play they brought to the track. The Gores got off to a light advantage from the start, but were unable to pull away in the early going, never leading by more than 20-30 points. They were getting a strong game from their core of reliable veterans led by Santa Muerta, Chronic, and Kandy Barr, who were incredibly physical and, at least in the early going, never let the Chicks get into any sort of rhythm.

Chicks jammer Roadside BombShel made her return to the roster after a long injury lay off. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Chicks jammer Roadside BombShel made her return to the roster after a long injury layoff. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Chicks, however, looked strong as well, and seem well passed the brief drop to the bottom of the league that they endured last season. Led by their own core of blocker veterans (notably Rosemary’s Rabies, Biggley Smallz, Robber Blind and Emraged), the Chicks played a simple, old school, fast-pack defense to offset the lead-jammer advantage that the Gores had early on and it kept the score close. They played with a spark and intensity that was perhaps tied to the emotional return of jammer Roadside BombShel (who missed a season and a half recovering from injury): the scrappy jammer picked up right where she left off playing a more jukey style of game that was able to separate some of the Gore walls.

Both teams were suffering from injuries to key skaters and relied on call-ups from the D-VAS to bolster their jammer rotations; the Chicks call-up (and recent league transfer) Smoka Cola was simply extraordinary in the game, and in particular in the opening half, leading her temporary team in scoring (20 points) and the game in lead percentage (71%) through the first 30, looking incredibly comfortable on the track with exquisite footwork and powerful acceleration.

Gores jammer Lexi Con (evading a hit from Joss Wheelin) led the game in scoring with 91 points, including 59 in the opening half. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Gores jammer Lexi Con (evading a hit from Joss Wheelin) led the game in scoring with 91 points, including 59 in the opening half. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

2013 league leading scorer Lexi Con, saw her chances to repeat as scoring champion fade away when a late season injury kept her out of the Gores’ lineup; however, she looks none the worse for wear, and has arguably returned from injury even stronger. It was a late first half power jam skated by Lexi (and adding to her game-leading total of 91 points, of which 59 came in the first) that allowed the Gores to add a bit of a cushion at the break as the Chicks had roared back. Suddenly a 30-point deficit bad been stretched to 50, with the Gores leading 93-43 at half.

One thing that has changed about this Chicks Ahoy! team from their rough 2013 rebuild to now is their resiliency: whenever it seemed as if they were done in this game, they found that internal strength and motivation to fight back and stay in it. It was the quality that put them over the edge in a thrilling regular season win over the Betties and that was what kept them in this one when it threatened to get away from them.

The Gores picked up the second half right where they left off in the first, going on a 26-4 run to increase their lead to 119-47. The Gores’ depth shined through in the second as well as Purple Pain and Miss Kitty La Peur played some of their strongest derby of the season, with Purple locking down the front of the pack and Kitty often playing from the back.

The Gores' Chronic, Santa Muerte and Purple Pain work to contain Hyena Koffinkat. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Gores’ Chronic, Santa Muerte and Purple Pain work to contain Hyena Koffinkat. (Photo by Greg Russell)

But the Chicks just wouldn’t go away. Hyena Koffinkat brought her now expected intensity to the game and was a force particularly in the second half, often going toe-to-toe with (arguably) the only jammer in the league who could match her in on-track intensity: Lumberjack Flash; but after being contained for much of the first half, Hyena broke free in the second. This, coupled with a heads up half-time decision to flip the roles of R2 Smack You and Heavy Knitter (from pivot to jammer and vice versa), had the Chicks come storming back in the second, going on a 27-2 ten minute run of their own to pull back within reach, down 126-74 at the midway point of the second.

And the Chicks just kept coming, pouring it on until the end, with the Gores frantically able to hold on, getting incredibly strong jamming late from Beaver Mansbridge, who played with the star more than at any other time in her ToRD career thus far. When it was all said and done, despite getting stronger as the game went on, the Chicks simply ran out of time , and the Gores own tenaciousness allowed them to seal the deal and book their ticket back to the Battle for the Boot with the 55-point victory.

**The Gores will face off against defending champion Death Track Dolls in the 2014 ToRD Championship on October 18. Tickets are on sale now.

D-VAS 213 vs. South Simcoe 172

The least experienced members of these two teams squared off at Fresh and Furious 2014 in July with the D-VAS winning narrowly. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The least-experienced members of these two teams squared off at Fresh and Furious 2014 in July with the D-VAS winning narrowly. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

In the opening game of the double header, the D-VAS ended their 2014 on a high note with a big win against a scrappy team in the South Simcoe Rebel Rollers to improve their season record to 5-2 (not including a third place finish at this year’s Fresh and Furious tournament) and leave an excellent impression ahead of this year’s entry draft.

The teams were virtually deadlocked early on, with only D-VAS’ power jams keeping the home team ahead (including an incredible 27 point jam from top prospect Smoka Cola), up only slightly, 59-43 at the midway point, the D-VAS opened things up a bit at half, up 119-74. South Simcoe was led in the pack by captain Mis Terplow, Painkiller Jane, Luna-Zee (who eventually fouled out) and Suzy Scalp-Her, with Crash Brownie coming on strong late. South Simcoe was liberal with their jammer rotation early on, before locking in the trio of Amazon, Axe Attack and Brand Her (all of whom had successes at one point or another during the game).

Battering Ma'am, pivoting for the D-VAS, had a strong night at all three positions. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Battering Ma’am, pivoting for the D-VAS, had a strong night at all three positions. (Photo by Greg Russell)

There were three separate occasions where a South Simcoe jammer picked up multiple penalties on the same jam, and this was certainly the difference in the end as the D-VAS led the whole way during the second half , but were never able to pull away, instead holding on in the end for the 41-point win.

There were a variety of D-VAS standouts in this final game before the entry draft, with Vag Lightning standing out in the pack and Smoka Cola dominating at times with the star, while Battering Ma’am was all over the track in a strong triple-threat performance. But all season there have been a variety of players who have stepped up for the D-VAS making draft-day decisions all that much harder.

**Both games were filmed by Rogers TV. Stay tuned to local listings for re-airing dates and times.

Chicks Gores Set for Semi-Final Showdown. D-VAS host South Simcoe.

After a summer hiatus, Toronto Roller Derby returns with a semi-final showdown between the Gore-Gore Rollergirls and Chicks Ahoy! A matchup between ToRD’s D-VAS and South Simcoe will kick off the double header at the Bunker.

2014 ToRD Semi-final PosterThe Gore-Gore Rollergirls (2-1) and Chicks Ahoy! (1-2) share a long playoff history. They competed for back-to-back Boots in ToRD’s first two seasons and met in three-straight finals from 2010-2012. They share the record of three titles, accounting for six of the first seven ToRD championships. But on Saturday at the Bunker, they will write a new, as of yet unprecedented chapter in their significant history: for the first time ever, the Chicks and Gores will face off in the ToRD semi-final.

After reluctantly handing over the reigns of power to their leaguemates the Smoke City Betties and Death Track Dolls (who last year met in the final for the first time), one of either the Chicks or the Gores will have a chance to get back to the top of the ToRD pyramid. Coming into this season, the Chicks took the fall harder than the Gores did, dropping all the way to the bottom of the regular season standings and missing the playoffs for the first time ever in 2013.

2014 has seen both teams surge past the stumbling Betties to get back into the playoffs, but it was the Gores who took out the Chicks in the season opener way back in January with a 218-157 win. The win secured them second place in the regular season standings.

Read the recap of the Gores and Chicks regular season meeting. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Read the recap of the Gores and Chicks regular season meeting. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

But it’s hard to tell how relevant those early results are as the league took a summer hiatus after its regular season concluded in early June, leaving the home teams dormant while the travel teams put in some time on the road (and returning to the Bunker a few weeks ago as well). As it were, the Gores surged as the season went on, while the Chicks held steady, eking out a win over the Betties in March before getting completely overwhelmed by the Dolls who managed to hold the Chicks to only 35 points—the team’s lowest point total ever.

However, both teams are also built around comparatively inexperienced players who had also been evolving as the season went on, with a handful from each roster playing for the Bay Street Bruisers as well; with that in mind, there is no telling how far they have come and what kind of impact on the game they could have.

Read the recap of the ToRD house league regular season double header in March. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Read the recap of the ToRD house league regular season double header in March. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Chicks welcomed virtually a completely rebuilt jammer rotation in 2014. Second-year Chicks Chevy Chase-Her and Heavy Knitter provided as much of a veteran presence as possible, but experienced transfers Hyena Koffinkat and Sneaky Dee led the way in scoring with 71 and 147 points respectively. Actually, Sneaky Dee put together one of the best seasons in the league in 2014. Finishing 4th in scoring (but first in points per jam with 6.4), second in lead percentage (65%), she eventually tied for third overall with a 34 Jammer Quotient (JQ) Rating.

The Gores also welcomed new jammers in transfers Guardian Paingel and Lumberjack Flash. Flash had an immediate impact in the league and in her first year in ToRD finished third in the league in scoring with 153 points (on 3.3 PPJ), tied for third with a 61% lead percentage, and tied for third overall in total JQ. This picked up some of the slack for an injured Lexi Con. Lexi finished atop the JQ standings in 2013 and was well on her way to another dominant season before missing the final game with an injury. Nonetheless she managed 4.89 points per jam and a 56% lead percentage before her injury. Taranosaurus Rex, who joined Lexi and Flash by scoring over 100 points (112), finished with a 49% lead percentage.

Read about the stats and the ToRD standings here.

Both teams rely on more veteran presences in the pack. Marmighty, Hoff and Rebel Rock-It returned to the Chicks roster this season and along with Biggley Smallz, Robber Blind, Emraged, Rosemary’s Rabies and Tess D’Urb Evil have a solid core at the heart of the team. The Gores are similarly experienced in the pack, led by Santa Muerte, Chronic and Kandy Barr, we’ve seen the likes of Emma Dilemma, Full Deck and transfer Machu Beatchu step up into big roles this season. Double threats like Beaver Mansbridge also give the team options on offense.

The Double Header will kick off with a showdown between ToRD’s D-VAS and the South Simcoe Rebel Rollers. The D-VAS are 4-2 on the season, and this represents one of their final opportunities to leave a public impression before the 2015 house league entry draft.

Doors at the Bunker open at 4, with the opening whistle on the D-VAS game scheduled for 5:00 PM. The semi-final is schedule for 7:00 PM. Tickets will be available at the door, but are available online as well.

Bruisers Hold Off Muddy River in Tight Bout at the Bunker

The Bay Street Bruisers hosted (and managed to hold off) Moncton’s Muddy River Rollers over the weekend, while the D-VAS overcame some early penalty troubles to outpace Ottawa’s Capital City.

Chronic leads the Bruisers victory lap after a hard-fought win against the Lumbersmacks. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Chronic leads the Bruisers victory lap after a hard-fought win against the Lumbersmacks. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Muddy River’s Lumbersmacks (5-4 on the 2014 season) rolled into Toronto this past weekend for a much-anticipated showdown against Toronto’s Bay Street Bruisers (6-3). Both teams were coming off of big wins to end mini-losing streaks: The Bruisers ended a two-game slide with a massive win over Nashville’s B-team last month (avenging a loss from earlier in the season), while Muddy River had won two in a row (by a combined score of 707 points) over east competition after an early summer three-game losing streak had dampened their momentum. Muddy River is a WFTDA apprentice league and has picked up great experience this season against other apprentice leagues (Quebec, Fog City) and WFTDA B-Teams (Montreal’s Sexpos). The showdown in the Bunker did not disappoint, with both teams showing up to play and the Bruisers holding on for a narrow 235-214 win.

With their jammer approaching, Android WK and Tushy Galore look to clear Box Blocker from the front of the pack. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

With their jammer approaching, Android WK and Tushy Galore look to clear Box Blocker from the front of the pack. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The opening few jams were indicative of the type of battle that would ensue: when five on five, both teams played a stifling lock-down defense that left little room for offensive maneuvering. The score was knotted 2-2 three minutes in before Bruisers veteran jammer titmouse was able to power her way past a dynamic two wall of Hail Destroyer and Knocker Walker and pick up 3 points to give the Bruisers an early lead.

Speaking of duos, the Bruisers’ Android WK and Tushy Galore were devastating together and did a nice job of counteracting some timely offense from Moncton’s ShamRock Her and drew the first power jam of the game (titmouse the jammer recipient). Toronto took advantage of this first error and extended their lead to 29-9 ten minutes into the opening half.

ShamRock Her and Hail Destroyer attempt to hold back titmouse. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

ShamRock Her and Hail Destroyer attempt to hold back titmouse. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

But Muddy River roared back almost immediately. Aided by Walker, ShamRock Her locked in some effective one-on-one work against the Bruisers’ jammer Lexi Con (who looks to be back to nearly 100% after a bad leg break early this season), allowing Moncton super-jammer Burn’N RubHer to rip up the track for 14 points to pull the Lumbersmacks back to within 6 (29-23) and force a Bruisers time out.

Along with Burn’N, Muddy River jammer Snipress also gave the Brusiers defense fits all night and with Muddy River pivot Godley leading a strong offensive push, the visitors picked up a power jam and took advantage, forcing the first lead change of the game and giving Moncton a 61-59 point lead. The teams would trade leads after that until a Sleeper Hold 12-point jam extended the home team’s margin to 85-73.

While Muddy River pushed hard late in the first, the Bruisers attempted to lock things down, getting strong play from all across the experience spectrum. Bruisers veteran (and former CN Power skater) Chronic, laying out some big hits, was devastating at times, while first-year Bruiser Lowblowpalooza rose to the occasion in the first half as well. A chaotic final jam in which both teams picked up jammer penalties almost made all of the work of the opening half for naught as things remained virtually even at the break, with the Bruisers ahead just slightly 104-102.

Bruisers jammer Sleeper Hold approaches a two wall of Billie and Knocker Walker. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Bruisers jammer Sleeper Hold approaches a two wall of Billie and Knocker Walker. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Bruisers came out flying in the second half, putting together the longest sustained stretch of control from one team in the game. Things kicked off with Bruiser jammer Bellefast taking advantage of a power start to pad the home team’s lead. Five minutes into the second Lexi Con was the recipient of another power jam and suddenly the Bruisers had built the most significant lead of the game, up 144-107, 10 minutes into the second.

Muddy River was able to briefly cut the lead back down to 20 points when Snipress took advantage of a power jam, only to herself pick up a cutting penalty on the same jam, allowing the Bruisers to pick up a quick 9 points and reestablish a 171-146 margin.

The Lumbersmacks’ third jammer Tootsie Valentino seemed to get stronger as the game wore on, gaining comfort within the tight-pack defense from Toronto and helped keep her team close, down by 25 at the midway point of the second.

Misery Mae hold up Burn'N RubHer on the inside line. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Misery Mae hold up Burn’N RubHer on the inside line. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The last half of the game was typified by one-on-one battles (typified by the agressive play of Bruisers’ Misery Mae–which eventually caused her to foul out–and the strong positional blocking of Just Jes for the hosts, and the relentless chest-to-chest blocking of Moncton’s Box Blocker for the guests) and the continuing trend of dueling defenses, so long as neither team slipped into penalty trouble (early on the Lumbersmacks had some troubles with multi-player blocks, but adjusted as the game went on). Walker and Destroyer continued their strong play late and were key in helping the Lumbersmacks narrow the lead to 209-197 with only 4 minutes to play.

Mid-season Bruisers call-up (and skating her first year in ToRD) Sleeper Hold was strong all game and picked up a vital lead against Snipress with only 3 minutes to go to pad the home team’s lead 218-201 and force a time out call from the visitors. Bellefast responded with another critical lead pick up, followed by a Burn’N RubHer vs. Sleeper Hold final jam matchup. While Burn’N would pick up lead, she’d be drawn into a track cut. A tired Sleeper was forced to pass the star to pivot Android WK, and a key hit from Tushy Galore on a returning Burn’N would prove to be the final blow as the Bruisers held on for the thrilling, hard fought 21-point victory.

Muddy River went on to continue their Ontario road trip with a 311-86 loss against Alliston’s Misfit Militia on Sunday, who also happens to be the Bruisers next opponent (on October 25th in Aliston as part of a double header also featuring Team Canada and Team Ontario). While the skaters from Moncton continue to impress, their weakness at this point seems simply to be depth. If they can continue to grow as a league (and carry on picking up these vital matchups against top tier teams), they will remain a team to watch.

Dollinquents (Capital City) 97 vs. D-VAS 210

Battering Ma'am comes face to face with Traffic Kisser. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Battering Ma’am comes face to face with Traffic Kisser. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The night kicked off with a 2014 Fresh and the Furious semi-final rematch between Capital City and ToRD’s D-VAS (won by Capital City, though both rosters were significantly different). Inspired by revenge, the D-VAS burst out after the opening whistle, with all four jammers in their rotation (Wheels of Misfortune, Battering Ma’am, Murdercat!, and Vag Lightning) picking up lead status and spotting the team a 29-0 lead early.

The D-VAS mostly dominated during five-on-five situations, but ran into considerable penalty trouble in the first half, spotting Capital City a power jam whenever it seemed as if the home team were about to pull away. This kept things close, with the D-VAS leading 93-45 at half.

Capital City was lead by a core of strong players who were capable (and successful) at playing multiple positions on the track. RebelLion was dominant at times, particularly in the pack in the opening half, while Traffic Kisser took over in the second. Both were viable double threats throughout the game. Ruby Wreckage was also key with the star for the visitors, jamming nearly every second jam at the start of the game before getting some relief later.

D-VAS' Kimikaze leads the defense. (Photo by Joe Mac)

D-VAS’ Kimikaze leads the defense. (Photo by Joe Mac)

In the second half, the D-VAS cleaned up their act and kept the jammer penalties to a minimum, allowing them to pull away. Captain April Cruel was once again strong for the hosts (and took over some jamming in the second too as Vag Lightning and Wheels of Misfortune shifted into some more pack work). Slamureye was a strong pivot all night for Toronto, while Juggernaut J was her usual steady self and Kimikaze continues to emerge as a prospect worth watching.

Outscoring the opposition 117-52 in the second gave the ToRD future stars some padding and they skated away with a 113-point win.

The D-VAS have one more game to impress before the 2015 ToRD house league entry draft, and you can see them at home, facing off against South Simcoe on September 27th (to kick off the ToRD semifinal showdown between Chicks Ahoy! and the Gore-Gore Rollergirls).

Canadian Power Rankings: August 1, 2014

Captain Lou El Bammo, Dick Pounder, Dr. Jenny Fever and Derby Nerd rank Canada’s top A-level travel teams every two months. Read the June 1st Power Rankings here.

TEAM (League) CHANGE NOTES (Rollergirl.ca /WFTDA rank)
1. New Skids on the Block (Montreal Roller Derby)

Montreal Roller Derby: New Skids on the Block

- Sometimes experience can overcome everything else. Despite finally slipping to second in both the Canadian Rankings and WFTDA (one spot behind Terminal City), the Skids keep overcoming the odds and winning when they need to. Their 199-177 victory over Terminal City at ECDX allows them to maintain their power ranking lead. However, they looked inconsistent in a blowout loss to Victorian followed by a strong showing against Windy City.  (/ 19).
2. Terminal City All Stars (Terminal City Roller Girls)Terminal City All Stars - Vancouver enters the  WFTDA playoffs as the top Canadian team by virtually every metric out there except on: wins and losses. Terminal City’s only loss in the last three months has come against the Skids, but they are most recently coming off of solid wins against Boston and Houston.  (1 / 18)
3.CN Power (Toronto Roller Derby)New CNP Logo - After an inconsistent start to the season (including a nine-game losing streak), Toronto had knocked off three wins in a row before a fairly one-sided loss to Charm City (282-146) ended the streak. They seem to be reeling as they prepare for playoffs, but last season came together when it mattered most, so don’t count them out just yet. (3 / 23)
4. Tri-City Thunder (Tri-City Roller Derby)Tri-City Thunder Logo - Since the last Power Rankings, Tri-City has knocked off three-straight wins (including a crushing 281-67 win over former D1ers Bleeding Heartland) and, of course, became the fourth Canadian team to qualify for the D1 Playoffs, thereby missing out on their own party.  (4 / 40)
5. Rideau Valley Vixens (Rideau Valley Roller Girls)

Vixens Logo

- The Vixens have only played two games since the last Power Rankings, but they were both solid wins over NEO and Green Mountain that allowed them to continue their meteoric rise up the D2 standings. They will have the pleasure of being the first Canadian team to play a playoff game on home soil, and are positioned well for a solid run through the D2 playoffs. (5 / 48)
6.Calgary All Stars (Calgary Roller Derby Association)Calgary All Stars Logo +1 (7)  The reality of the WFTDA slog has seen Calgary slip back a  bit after a ferocious start. Nonetheless, they have continued to impress against Canadian competition, winning three in a row against tough teams in the Kannibelles, The Belladonnas and Winnipeg. They’ll have a chance to live up to this ranking this weekend at the Maple Stir-Up.  (7/105)

7.Misfit Militia (Misfit Militia Roller Derby)
Misfit Militia Logo

+1 (8)  The Misfit Militia continue to baffle. With sometimes seemingly makeshift rosters, the team continues to compete at an incredibly high level. Although they’ve only played once since the last rankings, that game was a monstrous 441-97 win over Forest City. There still doesn’t seem to be much interest in making the leap to the WFTDA, so they may be hard pressed to get many games with top-level competition. (8 / -)
8. The Eh! Team (Hammer City Roller Girls)Hammer City Logo -2 (6) In 2013, Hammer City was one of the hottest teams in the WFTDA. Unfortunately, that hasn’t completely carried over to 2014. Although still favourably ranked in D2, Hammer City has lost all seven of its sanctioned bouts this year by increasingly larger margins. They will be in tough this weekend at their first ever Maple Stir Up tournament, but will have a chance to redeem themselves on their home track. (20 / 83)
9. Belladonnas (Red Deer Roller Derby Association)Belladonnas Logo Unranked The perennial Top 10ers were late to the party this season, but are back and sneak into the Top 10. Tough losses to Treasure Valley and Calgary (despite solid offensive performances) should harden them for the rest of the season. (9 / -)
10. Les Duchesses (Roller Derby Quebec)Duchesses Logo  (-) Les Duchesses were able to hold off another hot team in Muddy River in a home-and-home series that allows them to retain their spot. From the bottom up, this remains an organization on the rise and certainly one to watch as a potential new consistent Canadian powerhouse. (12 / – )

With Hammer City’s historic Maple Stir Up coming up this weekend, the Rankings Crew decided to stagger the release of this month’s Power Rankings. While there wasn’t much change, what there was, was significant. Notably, Calgary jumps two spots based on the Power Rankings Crew’s prediction of a strong showing at the tournament in Hamilton.

Speaking of Maple Stir Up, Hammer City, the hosts, tumble two spots based on increasingly inconsistent play and another long losing streak. The Belladonnas return to action and to the Top 10, knocking out the injury-riddled and roster-shuffling Sugar Skulls, who may have some rebuilding to do. Les Duchesses faced off twice against a bubble team, the Muddy River Rollers, and won both games, if not definitively, then certainly close to that. Finally, the Kootenay Kannibelles are hanging up their skates for the season, so slip from the list for now.

ON THE BUBBLE

Lumbersmacks (Muddy River Rollers)

All Stars (Winnipeg Roller Derby League)

Sugar Skulls (Pile ‘O Bones Derby Club)

The Sugar Skulls have had some roster adjustments recently, and it remains to be seen how the teams respond. Nonetheless, they have proven resilient in the past and remain on the Bubble. Both Winnipeg and Muddy River continue to impress, but each missed opportunities to climb into the Top 10 after suffering losses to ranked opponents.

TEAMS TO WATCH

Anarchy Angels (Mainland Misfits)

E-Ville Dead (E-Ville Roller Derby)

Arch Angels (St. Albert Heavenly Rollers)

Avalanche City Roller Girls (Fernie Roller Derby Society)

Not much change here, except to see the addition of Fernie’s Avalanche City, which has been a hard working team in 2014, compiling an impressive 13-4 record that includes a current six-game winning streak.

*These rankings were compiled by the Derby Nerd, Captain Lou El Bammo, Dick Pounder, and Dr. Jenny Fever.

*Read the Canadian Power Rankings preview and explanation here.

-Respectful disagreement and debate is encouraged!-