If there was ever a time for the Smoke City Betties to pounce on the Gore-Gore Rollergirls and end a losing streak that dates back to 2008 (spanning all seven of the matchups that these two teams have had in Toronto Roller Derby), the time is now. These two teams have met at every level from regular season to semfinals (2008, 2010) to finals (2009) and the score differentials have ranged from 28 points to 190 points, but through it all one thing has remained the same: the Gores have won every single time.
In 2009 during ToRD’s third season, it seemed as if the Death Track Dolls were onthe verge of breaking through and overtaking Chicks Ahoy! as the top
contenders to the Gores’ dynasty. In the final bout of the season, the Chicks barely held on for a two-point victory. The Dolls were never quite able to take that next step, and instead the Chicks rebuilt and have emerged as, arguably, ToRD’s greatest team ever.
This Saturday marks the conclusion of ToRD’s 2012 regular season and features a rare houseleague double header. Not since 2008 have four ToRD hometeams all faced off on the same evening. The Death Track Dolls and the Chicks Ahoy! (who have met in the last two semifinals) kick things off followed by the Gore-Gore Rollergirls and the Smoke City Betties. While the Chicks Ahoy! would book their third-straight birth in the final (and fifth in six years), the semifinal spots are up for grabs. A Betties’ victory would create a three-way tie for second that would have to come down to a tie-breaker. Needless to say, there is a lot on the line.
Death Track Dolls:
The Dolls have two things going for them in 2012: a core of skaters with diverse talents, and a stable of exceptional rookies that may be unprecedented in the league’s history. The Dolls have employed seven different jammers in its two games this season, with only one (rookie Bellefast) skating in more than 20% of her team’s jams (in contrast, two skaters account for 74% of the Gores’ jamming this season). While this has given them diversity and options, it hasn’t necessarily led to more scoring. And with a heavier workload going to two of the league’s top triple threats in Betty Bomber and Panty Hoser, the team, at times, has had a hard time finding its groove this season (they were even losing for the first half of the win against the Betties before roaring back in the second). But veteran pack trio of Lucid Lou, Downright Dirty Dawson and double threat Slam Wow have all stepped up and put in big minutes in the pack this season, largely anchored by the pivoting of Sinead O’Clobber and the steady blocking of Jubilee. Despite the talented core of rookies, a competitive showing against the Chicks will be predicated on the strength of this veteran leadership.
Devastated by injuries to some of the team’s (and the league’s) top skaters, Chicks Ahoy! hasn’t skipped a beat. The defending champs have been flaunting their depth this season, winning two games without top jammer Candy Crossbones, and while she will be returning to action this weekend, the team will be without the services of ToRD’s top double threat Dyna Hurtcha for the second straight game. Bala Reina (current JQ leader), Kookie Doe, and Rebel Rock-It have picked up the slack in a big way. Aside from the opening five minutes of the matchup against the Betties (in which they feel behind 22-0), the Chicks have been their usual dominant selves, anchored, as always, by the formidable duo of Nasher the Smasher and Tara Part. And with a supporting cast that starts with Mega Bouche and Marmighty and is filled out with veterans like Robber Blind, Hoff, Snapp’n Cooter and Tess D’Urb-evil, the champs have looked comfortable and confident all season. On top of that, the Chicks impressive drafting record has continued, as Doris Doomsday and Roadside BombShel have paid off immediately, handling a lot of track time, while Biggley Smallz was a fixture in the game against the Betties. The deep just keep getting deeper.
For the first time in the team’s six-year history, the Gores are in full rebuild mode. Three-time champions and holders of a record 12-game winning streak, the Gores lost a regular season game for the first time in four years this season and almost lost the grip on a big lead late against the Death Track Dolls. But they have persevered, led by a phenomenal core that will be tested yet again this weekend against a resurgent Betties. In a season of losses, the loss of all-star jammer Bambi to injury will be a further test on a team that has not developed a lot of depth at the position (Bambi has jammed more than a third of her team’s jams and has accounted for virtually half of all points scored [47%]). Meanwhile, both Aston Martini and Santa Muerte were coming on strong before being sidelined by injury as well. This puts pressure on Dust Bunny to perform and Draculaura to pick up a lot of slack on the jam line, while the veteran blockers will need to be on top of their games.
Smoke City Betties:
It’s been a long, hard road for the Betties over the past three years. A competitive team in ToRD’s first three seasons (culminating in an appearance in the Battle for the Boot 2009), since 2010 the team has been rebuilding from the ground on up. With (virtually) every player from that 2009 team now gone, the Betties have gone through a complete roster change, and in 2012 it looks like this team is finally finding its groove. With an experienced core of Mia Culprit, Lady Scorcher and BruiseBerry Pie (all, interestingly, have experience with different teams), the packs have been filled out by a range of skaters, from veterans coming into their own (Sin D Drop-Her, Platinum Bomb, Tropic Thunder Mouth of the South), a second-year leader rounding into form (Misery Mae), and a rookie who plays like a vet (Renny Rumble). The jamming core has a similar pedigree featuring Wolverina (veteran coming into her own), titmouse (a leader rounding into form), and Slaptick Swayze (a rookie who has the poise of a vet).
***For full stats and standings visit here.
***Doors open at 5:00 PM with the Dolls and Chicks kicking things off at 6:00 PM and the Gores and Betties starting around 8:00 PM. The Toronto Junior Roller Derby League will also be on hand with a mini-scrimmage between games. Tickets are on sale online or at a number of downtown vendors.