Battle for the Boot 5: A preview of ToRD’s 2011 Championship

This will be the fourth time in five years these two teams battle for the boot.

#2Chicks Ahoy! vs. #1 Gore-Gore Rollergirls

It is the defining rivalry of ToRD’s early history. They are the only two teams to earn the coveted Boot as league champions, and when the Chicks Ahoy! face off against the defending champion Gore-Gore Rollergirls on Saturday for the second year in a row and the fourth time in five years, the most compelling chapter may be written. The Gores are on a remarkable 12-bout winning streak dating back to the 2008 championship when the Chicks defeated them in what many consider to be the most exciting Battle for the Boot ever (114-97 was the final). Last year these two teams collided again, with the Gores earning some measure of revenge. Year in and year out the Chicks and Gores have shown a remarkable consistency and poise, and this year has been no different. Best ever performances at the Beast of the East (2nd and 4th place) and dominant regular-season victories for both teams over the Death Track Dolls and Smoke City Betties proved that these two squads are undeniably at the top of their games.

Given the exposure of these two teams over the years, some common misconceptions and expectations have arisen. But any attempt to pigeonhole them is a dangerous act as they have both proven adaptable and creative throughout the season.

MISCONCEPTIONS EXPLORED

Chicks Ahoy! led the league in scoring with 408 points in the regular season. (photo by Sean Murphy)

Chicks Ahoy!
1) Only a Defensive Juggernaut.

The big-hitting fast-skating tactics that defined the early years of the Chicks’ existence have certainly evolved over the years, and the 2011 Chicks Ahoy! may be the most well-rounded yet. To overlook the offensive power of this team would be a great folly. Anchored by a stable of smart veteran pivots (Rebel Rock-It, Nasher the Smasher, Mega Bouche and Tara Part), the girls in green have developed the most explosive jammer threesome in the league. Long-time Chick Candy Crossbones leads the way in what has been a career season for her, while rookie Kookie Doe has done the rare feat of being a reliable and successful rookie jammer. And after spending most of  last season nursing injuries and pondering her role in the league, Dyna Hurtcha has emerged in 2011 as one of ToRD’s best and most feared jammers. What it amounts to is an extraordinary offense that was the only team to top 400 points scored in the regular season (408), while their 194 points against the Dolls in the season-closer was the highest score recorded by a team this year.

Despite the retirement of seven players, the Chicks still boast an experienced lineup. (photo by Sean Murphy)

2) Don’t have enough experience to win.

After reaching the final and falling in a one-sided loss, seven key member of last year’s team retired in the offseason meaning that the 2011 Chicks would have the biggest rookie corps ever. But even with those seven losses, the Chicks roster a remarkably experienced crew. Aside from the aforementioned players, the likes of Dolly Destructo, Hoff, Furious Georgia, G-Force, Hum Dinger and Robber Blind round out a pack with an impressive amount of experience, all of whom have at least one appearance in ToRD’s championship game. And despite being only in her second-year, Marmighty works the pack like a wily veteran and has been a dominant force on the track all season.

3) The Chicks can’t defeat the Gores.

The Chicks led for much of the first half of this year’s regular season showdown, and were in it for a lot of the second as well, but just couldn’t hold it together down the stretch and seemed to take their foot off the gas as the Gores roared ahead late to take the bout 132-83. But what that first half proved, was that at their best, this Chicks team can compete with and even get the better of the Gores. On top of that, a lot has happened since that April bout and the Chicks have matured as the season went on and this year’s rookie group (led by Kookie Doe and Bala Reina) has emerged as a reliable support group, but more importantly they provide an excited, wide-eyed energy and appreciation for the moment that the team so desperately lacked last year.

Gore-Gore Rollergirls

The Gores only gave up 185 points during ToRD's regular season. (photo by Kevin Konnyu)

1) Only an offensive machine

While it’s true that the early Gores were clearly (and perhaps even unfairly) defined by their extraordinary 1-2-3 jammer rotation, the retirement of Lunchbox after last year’s championship victory forced the team to do some recalibrating, and much to the chagrin of the league, their  adjustment proved successful. With the lowest points against in the league (185 in the regular season), the team also put together some of the top defensive performances of the season, holding both the Dolls and Betties under 60 points (and the offensively powerful Chicks to a comparatively low 83). Led by a core of smart, positionally sound veteran pivots and blockers (Brim Stone, Molly Boom, Lady GagYa, Junkie Jenny, Kandy Barr and Foxy Sinatra), this defensive excellence actually began at last year’s Battle for the Boot when a rookie blocking crew of Aston Martini, Santa Muerte and Chronic were a key part of one of the most dominant defensive performances in ToRD’s history as they held an overmatched Chicks team to an all-time low of 31 points.

The Gores are looking for the first three-peat in ToRD history. (photo by Kevin Konnyu)

2) Don’t have depth at jammer with loss of Lunchbox

With the Chicks putting together a solid jammer lineup, the Gores have had to contend with the loss of one of their greatest skaters, Lunchbox. But the team has responded well sending the agile Brim Stone to the jam line for the most times in her career (she recorded a JQ of 19 on the strength of a 58% lead percentage that was good enough for fourth in the league) while second-year skater Pinky Violence and 2011 rookie Lulu Cthulhu have both served apprenticeships this year. But when it all comes down to it (as it did in the regular season match up between these two teams) the scrappy Dust Bunny and the speedy Bambi (the only two players to ever lead the league in JQ Ratings) are experienced and reliable enough to take on the bulk of the work themselves. And for a two-jammer rotation, that’s pretty intimidating.

3) Resting on the laurels of their dynasty

Although they have admittedly taken a more relaxed approach to the game this season, the Gores are not a team that is resting on past successes. They train hard, plan extensively and have put together the most varied play-book in the league. And as they showed in last year’s thoroughly dominant performance in the championship, they know how to step it up for the big game. Featuring some of the hardest working skaters in the league and a handful of CN Power all stars, this is not a team that is going to sit back and expect success.

EXPECTATIONS
Their lone regular-season match up in April provided some of the most exciting derby played at the Hangar this year, and while the Gores have held the course since then, the Chicks seem to have only gotten stronger. The Chicks may have collapsed in last year’s final, but this year’s edition of the team seems to have a much stronger constitution. Expect them to come out flying, playing simple, pace-control derby. And, of course, one should never expect anything less than the best from the defending champions. Gores and Chicks battling for the boot: it’s almost a tradition now.

**Tickets are available online or at numerous retailers downtown. Doors open at 6:30 PM, with opening whistle at 7:30 PM.

**The bout will be broadcast by Rogers TV. Keep an eye out for dates and times.

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