BACK IN BLACK: BLOOD & THUNDER ALL-STARS RECAP

Mega Bouche of the White Team was one of many ToRD skaters taking part. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Team Black (Mamas) 144 vs. Team White (Trash) 141

For the three days preceding Saturday’s Blood & Thunder All Stars Bout, skaters from all across Canada (and even a few from south of the border) descended on the ToRD Hangar for the first Training Camp the popular magazine has hosted in the city. Mirroring the expedited growth of the sport in Canada, the camp was jammed full of some of the most talented skaters this country has to offer (fittingly, on the eve of the camp, Tri-City was declared Canada’s third full WFTDA member). With such a deep pool of talented athletes, it was no wonder that two impressively skilled lineups were thrown together for Saturday’s bout. And after a rocky first half for the girls in white, the second half brought the level of back-and-forth strategic play that was expected from the two all-star squads, with Black managing to hold on for the nail-biting victory in a bout that came right down to the final contested jam.

FIRST HALF: BLACK’S EARLY DOMINANCE

ToRD's Bambi and Terminal City's Luludemon were both key for their teams. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The key to the kinds of bouts that feature teams of hastily thrown-together talent is how well—and how quickly—the skaters can come together. So while Terminal City’s Luludemon spotted White a quick 4-0 lead, it was clear in the early going that Black was gelling just a little bit quicker. This could have, in large part, been due to the core of five Rideau Valley Roller Girls and four ToRD skaters that shaped the lineup, providing a lot of much-needed familiarity. Nonetheless, there was a lot of line juggling going on as teams figured out who was playing well with whom. The RVRG pack-powerhouse Semi Precious controlled things in the pack early on, while ToRD vet Bambi and Montreal legend Georgia W. Tush took control of things from the jam line; Tush was especially solid early, quickly reeling in Rainbow Fight after the precocious Newfie battled her way through the pack to take the lead (Rainbow Fight and Nickel City’s Low Ride Her were the two least inexperienced skaters on the rosters, both playing for rookie leagues, although neither looked out of place on this night).

Forest City's Tamahawk was a revelation; while RVRG's Soul Rekker was business as usual. (Photo by Joe Mac)

In what was quickly becoming the story of the bout, it was another RVRG skater who would blow the game wide open as Slaughter Daughter/Vixen Soul Rekker put up an impressive 20 points. A subsequent power jam by Dyna Hurtcha capped a run of 56 consecutive points for Black as they opened up a commanding 56-4 lead half way through the first. Things opened up a bit in the later stages of the first half, with White finally finding their footing and way back into the bout. Luludemon and Soul Rekker had some great first half battles, but the story was in the pack; strong positional pairings like Tush and Precious or 8 Mean Wheeler (Terminal City) and Brim Stone (ToRD) complemented by big hitting from Assassinista (RVRG) and Mia Culprit (returning to competitive roller derby after a year-long hiatus) made up the difference in Black’s 83-26 half-time lead.

SECOND HALF: WHITE’S PUSHBACK

With the teams fully comfortable with each other, and the play opening up considerably near the end of the first half, if was no surprise that the second half featured more strategic play, and a big pushback from White. Having watched the first half from behind the benches, E-Ville’s Coach Pauly and Quadzilla (both instructors at the camp) couldn’t help it, and found themselves getting more and more involved over the duration of the second half. Knowing they needed to do something different than what they’d done in the first half to make up the gap, White set the tone for the half with an early star pass between Rainbow and Lulu that worked brilliantly breaking up a long and potentially tiring jam to rack up 17 points for White and getting them back into the bout. There were more RVRG players standing out for the White squad as well, with Surgical Strike doing her part in the pack to help White’s chances. Yet another in a long line of up-and-coming Montreal skaters, Hustle Rose was a huge triple threat for White as well, busting out of traps and picking up points in the early going to keep her team in the game. It was a Hustle power jam that pulled White within striking distance, 113-111, midway through the second.

Hustle Rose (MTLRD) gets some help from RVRG's Surgical Strike. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Another strong contingent in the bout emerged as the bout progressed; the four Forest City skaters on White—Mirambo, Anya Face, Commiekaze and Tamahawk—were all key elements in the White comeback. Mirambo was solid all bout, while Anya helped orchestrate a key 20 point power jam (made possible by a well-executed trap in a 4-1 pack advantage) that had White take the lead for the first time since the opening jam, 121-113. The pairing of Chicks Ahoy/CN Power teammates Mega Bouche and Tara Part was also effective for White, creating solid walls up front, along with Montreal’s Trash N Smash. But the experienced players on Black remained unfazed by the quick loss of their lead; Tush was key in the final jams of the bout, with Bambi confidently taking back the lead with a 14 point jam with under five minutes to go. After trading the lead back and forth, and only two minutes remaining White jammer Luludemon gave her team the lead on a grueling jam, only to find herself sent to the box, leaving Tush with just enough time to lap the pack and pick up a grand slam to pull ahead 142-141. With three seconds left on the clock, White called a time out. But in the final jam, the reliable Bambi, who is coming off of another strong ToRD season that concluded with a championship only weeks ago, took the lead for Black and after a brief, heart-stopping delay, called the jam to give her team the 144-141 victory.

It was, literally, a cross-Canada collection of talent. (Photo by Joe Mac)

CONCLUDING 2010

For most of the skaters in Toronto this weekend, this camp represents the end to a 2010 season that was groundbreaking in many ways for the sport in general, but for the sport in Canada in particular. Montreal broke through the international boundaries to announce Canada’s burgeoning emergence as a potential roller derby power. Their finishing the season with a run at WFTDA’s Eastern Regionals and a 7th place ranking in the Region are major accomplishments, especially considering how far they have come, and quickly they managed it. ToRD’s early season success at the Quad City Chaos showed that CN Power has the potential to compete at the top level of Canadian derby, but Tri-City’s October victory over their big-city rivals, and

Dyna Hurtcha had a solid night for Black. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

their recent earning of full WFTDA status, proved a reminder to ToRD (and all the other top Canadian leagues) that the “top level” is rising quickly. 2011 promises to take it to yet another level, with  Terminal City beginning their WFTDA Apprenticeship, Forest City continuing their forays into the U.S., and the Rideau Valley Vixens poised to be Eastern Canada’s next big breakout team. If 2010 was the year flat track roller derby grew up, then 2011 will be the year it matures.

Check out Layer9’s bout footage at ToRD.TV.

Check here for the full rosters.

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4 comments

    1. Had you asked me a year ago, I’d have said not; but after seeing such a dedicated and fast improvements they made this year, I certainly think it is possible. Also, the North Central is a comparatively weak Region and I think that what it needs is an exciting, preococious team to make a run for it and shake things up! Montreal went from unknown to contender within a year in the East, so it is certainly possible!

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