Montreal will make roller derby history on Friday night when they become the first international team to take part in the WFTDA playoffs. In a fitting coincidence, the sixth seeded New Skids on the Block will square off against the American team they have the longest history against: The third ranked Boston Massacre.
At this time last year, Montreal was little more than a novelty in WFTDA; a loud (in more ways than one), easy-going, bi-lingual Canadian team whose greatest claim to fame was their raucous cheering and after-party antics at Rollercon and the WFDTA Nationals. They charged into competition gamely but were often swatted away by their much more experienced opponents; 100 point loses were the norm for the Skids on their way to a 1-6 record in 2009 WFTDA sanctioned bouts. They ended the season ranked 13th in the East and not even on the radar on DNN’s WFTDA Power Rankings (though Flat Track Stats had them at 52nd).
2010 began with a big loss against the fantastic Charm City All Stars (Baltimore), and a much tighter loss to Tucson. But for anyone who watched them, it was evident that something had changed. The persistence, patience and commitment to progress had begun to pay off. Absorbing everything they could during their string of losses, Montreal had emerged from its inaugural season as a much smarter, much more fit and more prepared team than perhaps any other had after their first season. While many had prophetically dubbed them a team to watch in the future, the Skids had every intention of being a contender in the present.
Montreal earned its sixth seed (and bye directly into the quarterfinals) by going on an absolute tear in 2010. Following the opening loses, they’ve won nine of their next ten bouts (not including unsanctioned victories over Toronto and Vancouver), many by considerable margins (including an extraordinary 261 point victory over Dominion at this year’s ECE). That one loss, though, is intriguing as it was against their Friday-night opponents: Boston Massacre (read a review of that bout here; watch it here). The difference in that
May bout ended up being discipline and consistency, two things that come only by experience. But Montreal showed (for one half at least) that they have finally reached a point where they can compete with the best (the margin was 8 points at halftime), and certainly have all the pieces of the puzzle, whether dominant, position-defining pivots (Jess Bandit), exhilarating jammers (Iron Wench) or triple threats (Smack Daddy). It will be interesting to see how far they have come since May. While DNN still separates these two teams quite a bit in their power-rankings (Boston at 12th with Montreal 21st), Flat Track Stats has them much closer at 15th and 17th.
Montreal and Boston play Friday at 4pm. All bouts will be boutcast live on DNN. While Gotham and Philly are heavily favoured to dominate the Eastern Regionals, the third and final spot in the WFTDA Championship is up for grabs. Montreal will look to pull a Minnesota, and upset its way into the Championship (the 7th seed in the North Central eliminated heavily favoured Detroit on its way to a shocking second-place finish two weeks ago). Windy City, Minnesota and Madison have already qualified.
CN Power (3-2 in 2010) looks to rebound from its August loss to recent WFTDA apprentice graduates the Lake Effect Furies (110-79). Looking to take on all comers as they progress through their own apprenticeship, CN Power will travel to New Jersey this weekend to take on The Garden State Rollergirls. Garden State is another team that recently attained WFTDA status, and they too are coming off of a tough loss (to Harrisburg 216-99), so both these teams are looking to rebound and get things back on track.
CN Power had a strong start to 2010 going 3-1 out of the gates, including a lop-sided victory over the Rideau Valley Vixens (199-49) and victories over challenging opponents in Vancouver (97-79) and arch rivals Hamilton (89-87). Their only early-season loss came to powerhouse Montreal (229-45). Taking a break for ToRD’s home season throughout most of the spring and summer, CN Power returned in late August with the loss to Queen City (read a review of that bout here).
Now, they face another stiff test.
CN Power has juggled its lineup quite a bit this season, and once again there’s a new look heading south. Lacking key jammers Dust Bunny, Bambi, Lunchbox and Candy Crossbones, CN Power will look to Land Shark to lead the attack with triple threats Dyna Hurthca and Betty Bomber also taking up some of the slack. This could also be an opportunity to see highly-coveted rookie import Wolverina in action against top North American competition (she looked impressive in her DVAS debut). Things seem fairly solid up front with pivots Rebel Rock-It, Nasher the Smasher and Brim Stone all making the trip. The absence of emerging pivot Panty Hoser and triple threat Mach Wheels could be offset by the return of Tara Part and the positional strength of Hoser’s Dolls teammate Monichrome. 2010 Betties’ stand out Lady Scorcher will join veteran teammates Pretty Peeved and Hot Roller on the squad, while CN Power stalwarts (and heavy hitters) Lady Gagya and Mega Bouche round out the lineup.
CN Power’s next opponents, the Tri-City Thunder, will be heading to Detroit this weekend to face the Disassembly Line in their final tune-up before October’s big showdown between Canada’s two WFTDA apprentice leagues.