CN Power (ToRD) 156 vs. Vixens (RVRG) 40
It had been a year since these two teams last faced off and while this one was closer than 2010’s 150 point Toronto victory, CN Power still looked a step ahead of their cross-province rivals. Defecaitlin, Candy Crossbones and Land Shark tore up the track, and despite taking some bruises from Semi-Precious and Surgical Strike in the pack, dominated offensively for the hosts. It was only after a well-taken timeout about 12 minutes in that the Vixens were able to pick up lead jammer and put up a few points, down 37-2.
But the real difference in the bout was in the pack, and CN Power looked strong there as well. The familiarity of a set roster seems obvious early in 2011 with a taughtness on the lines that has been lacking in the past. While the pack looked strong as a unit from pivot down to the last blocker on the bench (with Mega Mouth and Scorcher forming a nice complement), Jubilee stood out physically and positionally, including a few jams where she single-handedly took Vixens’ star jammer Soul Rekker out of the play and dominated one on one. With Rideau Valley getting consistently better as the bout went on, and Ripper A. Part emerging as a legitimate offensive threat, a late surge could only take a chip out of CN Power’s 116 point victory.
Thunder (TCRG) 109 vs. Rideau Valley Vixens (RVRG) 84
Coming off of a tough, WFTDA sanctioned closed bout against Montreal, Thunder dressed a travel-team-rookie heavy roster that also featured new Hammer City transfer Perky Set. It didn’t seem to affect the team’s play though as they stormed off to a quick lead early on, against a Rideau Valley squad playing back-to-back games. Freudian Whip took on the star in this bout, adding to a strong jammer contingent featuring Lippy Wrongstockings, Kitty Krasher, Skate Pastor and Motorhead Molly. Pack control was the difference early, with Leigh-zzie Borden setting the tone with some physical play and Skate Pastor picking up 15 points on a well-executed power jam mid-way through the half leading to a 64-29 halftime lead.
After a physical bout against ToRD to kick things off, Rideau Valley showed a lot of fight in against the Thunder, and an adaptability that bodes well for the future of the Vixens (they recycled strategies used against them quickly). A strong start to the second half led by some scrappy jamming by Dee Dee Tee, and increasingly capable pack work kept the Vixens in it. Individually, Ripper A. Part came alive in the second half Semi-Precious continued to be a menace in the pack, and Soul Rekker dominated two major-point power jams to top off a solid push back that made things close at the end; but it was too little too late, and the experienced, confident Thunder capitalized on mistakes and a few strategic miscues from the Vixens to hold on for a 25 point victory.
New Skids on the Block (MTLRD) 284 vs. CN Power (ToRD) 21
CN Power entered Saturday’s prime-time bout with the confidence built from a very big victory. A year ago, these two teams were at very different stages in their development. And in that final bout of the Quad City Chaos 2010, the hosts looked overwhelmed and were outplayed handily, to the point where it didn’t look like the two teams were even playing the same sport. Although the final outcome was similar in 2011, this was a CN Power team that had learned a lot from its previous loss and a revamped, refocused lineup might have still looked a step or two behind the Skids, but they are now employing the same strategies and playing a similar style of derby. Defecaitlin proved to be the best matchup for Iron Wench all weekend, managing to have the best lead % against the Montreal superstar in the tourney. Her strong play (aided by great positional work from Nasher the Smasher) helped CN Power get off to a very good start, keeping it close early on before a devastating jammer take out by Trash N Smash on Land Shark knocked Toronto’s jammer out of the bout and allowed Georgia W. Tush to pick up 15 and open up a 25-5 lead.
A few rookies were making their debuts this weekend, Aston Martini and titmouse (who didn’t look intimidated at all when lined up against Iron Wench) for CN Power, while Hustle Rose and Hymen Danger made their debuts for Montreal on Saturday (both graduates of the hometeam-B Team system in place in Montreal). The Toronto rookies (including Hurlin’ Wall) looked very good on the night, showing no fear playing against one of the top teams in the sport. The Skids seemed to settle in during this bout, as great teams usually do, and played flawless, mistake-free derby. At even strength CN Power was able to hold their own against the Skids, but with Montreal being so strong at the fundamentals, they took advantage of every mistake ToRD made and punished them on pack advantages and power jams helping to run up the score late in the second half to secure their big victory.
New Skids on the Block (MTLRD) 320 vs. Rideau Valley Vixens 23
Not surprisingly, given the expanse in experience levels between these two teams, this was the most one-sided bout of the tournament. At the same time, the Vixens didn’t look intimidated and took their game to the Skids. DDT continued her scrappy jamming for the Vixens and once again Assassinista emerged as a fearless blocker and capable pivot on the track. But there was only so much they could do against a team as unified and together as Montreal. It was 162-10 at half.
One interesting thing to note for the Skids was that they were debuting a rookie who had yet to play a bout in Montreal (or anywhere for that matter). Dame of Doom, a speed skater, is making the transition to roller derby this year and will play her first season in the Montreal Roller Derby League in 2011 (she’ll suit up for last year’s regular season runners-up Les Contrabanditas). This weekend, as an alternate, she looked steady in the pack and strong on her skates, but it will take some time for her to catch on to the nuances of the sport (something that was not a problem for the other Skids rookies this weekend). Montreal topped 300 points for the third time in their past five games to secure top spot in the tournament standings once again.
CN Power (ToRD) 112 vs. Thunder (TCRG) 98
The most anticipated bout of the weekend did not disappoint as southern Ontario rivals Thunder and CN Power met in a rematch of a 2010 bout in Tri-City won by the Thunder 122-50. In that one, Thunder looked much more composed and together than the Power and were able to impose their style of play on the bout and dominated in the end. Toronto looked focused and determined out of the blocks and caught Thunder off guard with some strong jamming from Defecaitlin, Candy Crossbones and Betty Bomber that had ToRD’s all stars out to a 15-0 lead five in. But in a bout that would be characterized by wide swings in momentum (and no shortage of lead changes), a well played power jam by Skate Pastor (aided by some great traps by the veteran Thunder blockers) saw Thunder take their first lead of the bout 21-17 ten minutes in. The usual crew of Jill Standing, Anita Martini, sin-e-star, and Bareleigh Legal were aided once again by strong play from Leigh-zzie Borden, Gunmoll Mindy and Freudian Whip who is emerging as a triple threat for Tri-City. CN Power took advantage of their own power jams to hold on to a 56-43 lead at the half.
At even strength these two teams were going hit for hit and momentum was shifting jam by jam. Great walls, fast-pack defense and slow traps made this one an exciting bout to watch. Tara Part, Mega Mouth and Jubilee were giving Thunder a hard time in the pack all bout, with Dyna Hurtcha racking up assists for her jammers (and pulled in a lot of points on a very physical power jam). Thunder switched things up early in the second with Leigh-zzie Borden taking a jam with the star and Tri-City pulled close again 65-56 five minutes in. Both teams, fatigued after a long weekend of competitive derby, began to run into some penalty trouble in the middle of the half, but it seemed to affect Thunder more, briefly taking them out of the bout for a period. The major difference could have been ToRD’s willingness and ability to play the kind of slow-pack, gritty, defensive bout that Thunder excels at. Signs of obvious frustration were evident from Tri-City as ToRD built up a forty point lead midway through the second half. But the sign of a good team is the ability to regroup in the midst of adversity, and Thunder adjusted. Some great team play (and a great whip from Gunmoll Mindy aiding Kitty Krasher to score 4 and get things rolling), saw Thunder pull close. CN Power managed to ride out the push back with some solid pack work and wall building, and more big hits from Hurlin’ Wall who is becoming a big part of this Toronto team, and held on for a 112-98 victory and second spot in QCC 2011.
** Thursday, the Commentary.