Death Track Dolls 35 vs. Chicks Ahoy! 194
Toronto Roller Derby closed out its regular season on Saturday night with a matchup between its two fiercest rivals, the Death Track Dolls and the Chicks Ahoy!. These two had most recently faced off twice in Montreal’s Beast of the East tournament, splitting two exciting games which included an exciting 42-31 victory by the Death Track Dolls in the third place bout. But this one did not live up to the lofty expectations that are usually satisfied when these two teams meet, as the Chicks Ahoy! looked calm, cool and collected on their way to a definitive victory, the 159 point win constituting the largest margin ever recorded between these two teams.
Things started off as tight as expected. Riding rookie jammer Santilly In Yo Face in the early going, the Dolls stayed close to the Chicks who managed to jump out to a slight lead, 7-5, on the strength of confident jamming from veteran skaters Dyna Hurtcha and Candy Crossbones. But things quickly went awry for the Dolls who were playing without star jammer Land Shark. A Slam Wow cutting major (the first of four jamming majors for the second-year skater) allowed the Chicks to pull away 29-5. But the difference in the early going was in the excellent pack work of the Chicks. Composed and tight, the once vaunted and feared Chicks hit-and-run offense has been refined to a much more effective and strategically controlled style of play and dominated the pace and formation of the packs all night. Not that these Chicks can’t lay down the law with some big hits (as evidenced by the pounding that Marmighty and Mega Bouche in particular laid on Santilly In Yo Face), but the hits were properly timed and never seemed frivolous. The Dolls, on the other hand, couldn’t manage much pack control and actually seemed rattled early on, overly concerned by some inconsistent reffing that, while affecting both teams, only seemed to get under the skin of the Dolls. The Chicks were cruising at the half, well ahead of the Dolls 111-13.
The Dolls regrouped and refocused to kick off the second half and came out with a much more focused effort. Betty Bomber, who’d taken over jamming duties late in the first, continued to keep her team in it with some extraordinary jamming, the only Dolls jammer who was capable of consistently getting leads, but they still couldn’t make up much ground down by 100 ten minutes in. Santilly proved to be a scrappy force for her team and kept going despite the relentless and punishing blocking from Marmighty. A stand out in her rookie season in 2010, Marmighty has quickly developed into one of the smartest and most effective blockers in the league whether positionally (one-on-one) or as a striking jammer killer. Her phenomenal play was a big reason for the Chicks’ pack dominance. Jubilee came in to jam for the Dolls in the second half to relieve the penalty-laden Slam Wow and did well despite limited experience this season. But the composure of the Chicks allowed them to ride out the push back and eventually wrestled control and momentum back from their opponents, adding to their lead, 134-29, mid way through the half.
With such a big lead, the Chicks were able to experiment with their lineups late and the crowd was treated to some unconventional jammers: blocker Hum Dinger, for example, and Bala Reina who had a real breakout tournament at the BOE 2011 and has very quietly put together a solid rookie season for the Chicks. And speaking of rookies, if there was any question left coming into this one, Kookie Doe may have quieted any remaining skeptics in her pursuit for rookie of the year as she put together yet another consistent bout with the star. Kookie also got her skates wet in the pack on this night as the Chicks continued to rotate their jammers late in the game. In the end, the Chicks were far too much for the Dolls on this night, pulling away for an extraordinary 194-35 victory.
Having finished second and third in ToRD’s regular season, these two teams will do it all over again on June 11 in the semifinals, with the winner earning a shot at the defending champion Gore-Gore Rollergirls in Battle for the Boot 5. While the two lineups will be far different from those seen on this night, the Dolls will have to make some major adjustments (both on and off the track) to have a shot at taking down this Chicks team that has gotten better as the season has gone on. Once known for showing their emotions on the track and being penalty prone, the 2011 version of the Chicks Ahoy! is one of the most composed and disciplined ever. While certainly not an impossible task, it will take a much more consistent and focused effort from the Death Track Dolls to have a shot at taking them down.
* Tickets are already on sale for the June 11th semifinal.