This fall ToRD’s CN Power attained full WFTDA status and began play in the North Central Region. In only a few short months the team has made staggering leaps forward and has turned a few heads in the process. It has been somewhat of a whirlwind season for the team, but one that has positioned them nicely to make a potential run at the playoffs next year, their first full year in the WFTDA, but it will certainly not be easy, and big losses to highly ranked playoff teams show that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. The final road trip of CN Power’s season took them to Indianapolis to play two games, games that would be representative of the highs and lows of this initial foray into the highest levels of contemporary roller derby: a stiff challenge against the 3rd ranked Naptown Roller Girls Tornado Sirens, and a thoroughly dominant performance against the 20th ranked Derby City Roller Girls.
Beginning WFTDA play in 2008, Naptown’s profile has risen steadily in the North Central Region, making the playoffs in 2010 and culminating in a run to the WFTDA Championships this year where they ran into a formidable wall called the Philly Roller Girls. They were bumped from the tournament in the first round; nonetheless, the team’s thrilling performance at the North Centrals, in which they often seemed down but not out, showed that Naptown has the depth of talent and certainly the will to be a continuous contender. Playing out of the 8000 seat Pepsi Coliseum on the Indiana State Fair grounds, Naptown has a big profile in its home city, and is part of the first wave of truly successful, big-stadium flat track roller derby teams in the WFTDA. For CN Power, it was the first taste of the big time.
The ToRD travel team was caught a little wide-eyed and in awe to open the bout against the Tornado Sirens, quickly falling behind 41-0 behind the steady jamming and solid pack recycling of the hosts. Missing a few key jammers, CN Power reached into its own deep bench to put some first-time jammers on the line, and it was one of those first-timers, regular pivot Rebel Rock-It, who put the first points up on the board for the visitors nabbing 6 points about five minutes in to break the goose egg and allow the team to relax. CN Power seemed to settle down after that and with strong pack work from Nasher the Smasher (who also fell into some uncharacteristic penalty trouble later in this one), Panty Hoser and Jubilee early were able to hold the hosts pack and prevent them from running away with it. In the team’s best jam of the bout, another regular blocker, Aston Martini, danced confidently through a solid pack to pick up 15 points in her first jam with the star for ToRD’s travel team. But behind amazing jamming from the likes of Maiden America (41 first half points), R.I.P. Tide (28) and Blue Messiah (27), the Sirens were able to pull ahead 115-35 at the half.
Perhaps displeased with allowing the visiting upstarts to contain them in the late stages of the first half, Naptown came out blazing to kick off the second. Asian Sinsation and Dora the Destroyer were dominant in the pack all night and the diverse Cereal Killer was a thorn both in the pack and with the star; and in a period of dominance that highlighted the experience gap between the two teams, Naptown took complete control of the game, scoring 74 points in the opening four jams of the half to pull ahead 189-35. A critical time-out calmed the nerves of CN Power and allowed the team to refocus (only giving up 76 points for the rest of the game). Tara Part and Brim Stone continued to show strong leadership and reliable blocking on the track, while Hurlin’ Wall stepped up and seemed to relish the physical challenge posed by the opposing team as she had one of her strongest games with the team. Dyna Hurtcha was a steadying presence on the jammer line and it was a late 19 point pick up on a power jam that breathed new life into CN Power and helped them finish strong and skate off the track with their heads held high. Penalty troubles were really the difference in this one (CN Power gave up 7 power jams in the second half) as the discipline and steadiness of the veteran Sirens allowed them to skate relatively cleanly and keep control of the game throughout. In the end, the 266-67 loss was actually a solid showing for CN Power, exceeding the predicted expectations of Flat Track Stats.
It was a different story on day two of the season-ending road trip as CN Power faced off against Louisville Kentucky’s Derby City Roller Girls (a team that last year was ranked as high as 17th in the North Central). After a sluggish start that saw both teams come out of the gates neck and neck, about half way through the first half, CN Power settled in and started to pull away for a 122-24 lead at the half.
In the second half the Toronto skaters completely took over the bout. Defensively, the Toronto packs were too much for the overwhelmed Derby City skaters as every skater on the CN Power bench contributed to the fierce pack work that typified the second half. The jamming core of Dyna Hurtcha, Betty Bomber and Rebel Rock-It had little trouble putting up points in the half (Bomber closed out the game with a natural 30 point jam to add an exclamation to the day), and CN Power eventually ran away with it, giving up only 4 points in the half and pacing themselves to a 295-28 victory to end 2011 on a high note.
Although only full members of WFTDA for a few months now, CN Power has certainly announced themselves as a team to watch in the North Central. Finishing 2011 with a 9-3 record, their only losses came to top-ranked WFTDA competition in Montreal’s New Skids on the Block (6th in the East) and Naptown (3rd in the North Central), and the far more experienced Grand Raggidy Roller Girls (11th NC). They thoroughly dominated lower ranked North Central teams all year and early on, at the Quad City Chaos, scored a big unsanctioned victory over the Tri-City Thunder (16th NC), Toronto’s closest WFTDA rivals. While it remains to be seen where CN Power falls in WFTDA’s year-end rankings (which will be the team’s first official ranking), Flat Track Stats has shown CN Power to be on a steady incline up the rankings, having them at 37th overall and 12th in the North Central to close out 2011. 2012 already looks to be an exciting year for Toronto’s premier roller derby team as they’ve got big sanctioned bouts lined up with Fort Wayne, Roc City and Grand Raggidy, not to mention tournament play including a Quad City Chaos that could be a full WFTDA sanctioned tournament for the first time.