In a fitting kick off to ToRD’s 2012 home season, the farm team skaters who make up the D-VAS (Deadly Viper Assassination Squad), duked it out in a split squad bout featuring the skaters who will be eligible for the 2013 ToRD entry draft: a glimpse of the future stars of local roller derby. Divided into evenly matched Red and Black uniforms (and featuring a smattering of recently drafted skaters and one retiree to round out the rosters), the D-VAS got a sold out crowd at The Bunker at Downsview park riled up and ready for the regular season bout between the Gore-Gore Rollergirls and the Chicks Ahoy! that followed in the double header. The matchup never disappointed either, right down to the white-knuckled finish that saw Red hold on for a 2 point victory.
Red’s Bridget Bones skated to the pivot line leading her pack against Black’s Margaret Smackwood (one of your 2012 D-VAS’s captains). Joss Wheelin kicked things off on the jam line against Black’s Wacked Her. Joss picked up a natural grand slam behind some stiff pack defense; a Red strength that carried over to the second jam as well as Lexi Con picked up 4 more. It wasn’t until newly transferred D-VAS Elektrick Maverick took the star for Black that they were able to get on the board, as some physical jamming cut the score to 9-5. The score would continue to sway back and forth as some of the more experienced skaters left their marks. Newly drafted Death Track Doll Scarcasm was outstanding one-on-one, while retired ToRD vet (and mentor D-VAS) G-Force showed her superior track sense always leading Red’s blockers in the right direction, and Purple Pain (the other 2012 D-VAS’s captain) looked very comfortable with some solid positional blocking. With Babushkill warming up at the end of the first half (she seemed to own the inside line when jamming for Red), the Red D-VAS were able to pull ahead slightly at half, 31-24.
The most positive aspect of the bout was how slow and steady both teams were playing. Younger, more inexperienced players have a tendency to go all out in the early going, electing for the simplicity of skating fast and hitting hard, but these D-VAS showed much more track sense than that, and with a respect for the strategies of the flat track game, the play began to tighten up in the second half. Mean Streak added yet another hot jammer to Red’s arsenal that helped them begin to pull ahead early as they quickly increased their half time lead to 41-26 five minutes into the second half. Increasingly improved play by the Black pack (led by some strong jams from Mazel Tough and Maverick) led to a Black power jam where Wacked Her picked up 9 points to tighten the gap. The jamming was virtually even on both sides with Black’s Armageddon Rose and Viktory Lap picking up the pace for their team in the late going to counter continuously strong jams from a Red rotation featuring Joss, Mean Streak, Lexi Con and an impressive Babushkill (who was making her D-VAS debut). Despite all this excellent jamming, it was actually a nice block by Black pivot Margaret Smackwood that would begin to turn the tide late in the second half.
Down by 19 points with under five to go, a well timed Smackwood block on Red’s Bellefast allowing Viktory Lap through and seemed to shift momentum Black’s way. LowBlowPalooza managed a huge ten-point pick up with only two left to bring Black back within 4, 54-40. Mean Streak nabbed a lead for red to pick up a few points and preserve the lead and set up a final jam between Viktory Lap (Black) and Lexi Con (Red) with the bout on the line. Viktory got lead for Black and had a clean first pass but the Black pack could only hold Lexi for so long before she was able to break through; despite Vik’s 9 point jam to close it out, Lexi’s 4 preserved the victory for team Red, 61-59.
It was as good a 2012 debut as one could imagine for the D-VAS; an impressive display of derby by such an inexperienced crew that bodes well for ToRD’s future. These skaters have a full year of bouting to get through before next year’s entry draft. Based on the display that was put on in the season opener, that draft will be graduating an impressive draft class.
***Next up for ToRD is another double header on March 3rd when the Death Track Dolls and the Smoke City Betties kick off their 2012 season. Make sure to be their early though, as the opening bout will feature CN Power hosting the Roc City Roc Stars from Rochester, New York, in a WFTDA sanctioned match up. Tickets are on sale now!***