ToRD‘s two undefeated teams will meet this Saturday night in a battle that could decide who gets the all important top playoff ranking. The Chicks Ahoy! and the The Gore-Gore Rollergirls also represent the two most successful teams in ToRD’s early history with the Gores’ two championships in ’07 and ’09 flanking the Chicks’ victory in ’08. In Their only matchup in ’09, the Gores managed a 93-87 victory in the season opener, a narrow margin of victory that wouldn’t be a surprise to see this weekend. The core of these teams remains, and have been fairly consistent over the years; these two teams know each other as well as two teams can and have done battle in some of the most important bouts in ToRD’s history. Which, of course, all adds up to a bout that you won’t want to miss.
KEYS TO VICTORY
1. Defense dominates: The Chicks have developed into the premier defensive power in ToRD. The only team to hold the Gores under a hundred points last season, the Chicks have played in more low scoring, super-close bouts than any other team in the league. If they can keep this bout low scoring against an offensive juggernaut like the Gores, they just could pull out a victory. The pivots will be key in this department and the Chicks are loaded with talent up front. Rebel Rock-It, Nasher the Smasher, and Hoff are just three of the players capable of donning the stripe.
2. Bout gets physical: A key to the Chicks’ defense is their ability to physically dominate a bout. The ultimate hit-and-run juggernaut, the Chicks are a physical team that can throw other teams off their games with bone-crunching hits and menacing walls. With the absence of hard hitting Mega Bouche and Dyna Hurtcha, the Chicks are missing two of their most physical players, so look for Nasher and Dolly Destructo to step it up and lead the charge. Not that these skaters can’t block positionally either. Mach Wheels, to name just one, is a one-woman wall capable to sending opposing jammers into fits with her exceptional ability to slow down and even stop opponents in their tracks.
3. Penalty box stays empty: The one drawback to playing such a physical game is the potential for penalties, and the Chicks are more susceptible than most (it seems) at drawing the attention of the refs. While the Chicks seemed to have reeled it in during their last bout against the Death Track Dolls (actually, they were able to sit back and watch the Dolls struggle with detrimental penalty woes late in the bout), they will need to maintain that kind of discipline throughout. The Gores have the kind of veteran lineup that can do serious damage with pack advantages and power jams.
1. Control the pack: The Chicks play a fairly wide open style game, with quick and crafty jammers dancing through gaping holes in the pack cleared by their blockers. One of the keys for the Gores will be to make sure the pack stays steady and tight throughout. While Brim Stone remains one of the league’s top pivots, she has been taking on more of a jammer role as of late and more of the responsibility with the stripe has fallen to veteran Junkie Jenny and second-year blocker Molly Boom, both of whom were exceptional at the position in the season opener. Also, keep an eye on rookie Hurlin’ Wall, who dominated positionally against the Smoke City Betties. Not to say they can’t get physical when needs be (Cases in point: Lady Gagya’s shoulders and hips and the return of hard-hitting Foxy Sinatra), but holding positions and dictating pace will be key for the Gores.
2. Dominate the jammer battle: The one clear advantage that the Gores have had over other teams is the strength and consistency of their jammers. Dust Bunny, Bambi and Lunchbox form an enviable threesome at the jam line and an inability to contain them could be detrimental. The consistency of their jammers is how the Gores have managed to run away with so many games in their recent history. In the ToRD season opener, the Gores showed that they are not only a three-jammer team by adding Brim Stone (successfully) to the fold. With Candy Crossbones returning and Mach Wheels looking in fine form early in the season, dominating could be easier said than done. Balanced, consistent jams from their jammers will be essential to wearing down the Chicks.
3. Contain Mach Wheels: While it’s hard to single out just one player on such a talented team, the performance that Mach Wheels put in against the Dolls last month makes it hard to ignore her. To put it simply, she was a monster. She put up huge numbers from the jam line including an amazing 79% lead percentage and a plus/minus of +47. While the return to form of Kari Mia-Beere and Candy Crossbones’ return to the lineup will take off some of the pressure on Mach Wheels, that just means the Gores will have to contend with her in the pack as well, where her abilities and stats are equally striking. After a so-so 2009 (relatively speaking!), the 2010 version of Mach Wheels has returned to her dominant form. She will need to be contained (or at least neutralized) for the Gores to assure a victory.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Based on history and standings, this Saturday’s bout will feature the best that ToRD has to offer. The Chicks have a veteran lineup (Marmighty is their sole rookie) that has been playing together for a long time; this familiarity translates into a certain chemistry on the track that few teams can match and this could be to their advantage. While the Gores picked up more rookies in the off season, their championship core remains essentially intact. Even taking into account the rookies (look for Santa Muerte and Hurlin’ Wall to step it up on Saturday), this could actually be a more solid lineup than the one that won The Boot last season. With even more depth at jammer, a few returning vets, a strong sense of identity and a championship to defend, the 2010 Gores remain the team to beat.
For a pre-bout primer, you can watch last year’s bout at layer9.
The spread of roller derby doesn’t seem to be abating any time soon, and this weekend a couple of ambassador teams are heading up north to play a neutral-site bout hosted by one such league. Sudbury’s Nickel City Roller Derby league is just getting started, and they are hosting Forest City’s Thames Fatales and GTAR’s Derby Debutantes in an exhibition. The bout is meant to act as both a learning experience for NCRD and as a way of introducing the sport to a new audience.
South of the border, The Rideau Valley Vixens continue their summer of roller derby road trips as they head to Massachusetts this weekend to take on Pioneer Valley‘s Western Mass Destruction . The Vixens are looking to build off of a big victory over Utica recently.