You could look at the outcome of the Roller Derby Association of Canada’s 2012 Eastern Canadian Championship and see that the status-quo had been maintained: No one would have been surprised to see Toronto, Forest City and Royal City finish as the top three teams in the tournament. But if that is all that you took away from this weekend, you’d be missing almost the whole story. With four of the ten games being settled by 10 points or less and only two breaking the 100-point differential, the real story was in the parity. There was fantastic, exciting roller derby provided during nearly every game with the tournament’s only winless team, Capital City’s Dolly Rogers, providing some of the most exciting moments, losing by miniscule margins of 9, 6, and 5 points. The tournament’s lowest ranked team, Nickel City’s Sister Slag, grew almost exponentially. They started the tournament getting knocked around by the eventual champs in the opening game before pushing a vastly more experienced team to the limit in their second. Then in the second of back-to-back games, they upset their favoured opponents to claim 6th spot.
It was a tournament that delivered on both fronts: great derby, but a great learning experience for the teams as well.
The only significantly one-sided bouts occurred (unsurprisingly) in the opening round. Second seed Bay Street Bruisers (Toronto) took down seventh seed Nickel City’s Sister Slag (Sudbury) by 137 points, though the far less experienced team from Sudbury certainly had moments, and used a strong opening and then final ten minutes to keep the score down. In the only other lopsided score of the weekend, third seed Misfit Militia (from Aliston’s Renegade Derby Dames) tore up the track against the G-sTARs (GTAR), building on a 160-10 half-time lead and riding some stifling pack work to a 326-point victory. The win sent a clear message and set up a highly anticipated semifinal matchup up between the tournament’s second and third seeds.
The final first-round bout lived up to the billing as the closest seeds the Brute Leggers (fourth) and the Dolly Rogers (fifth) swapped leads throughout (Capital City was up at half) to kick off the tournament with a thoroughly entertaining game that would be indicative of much of the weekend’s matchups. The Royal City hosts were able to put together a customarily strong second half to pull ahead and hold on for the 142-131 victory and an opportunity to face off against the defending champions, Forest City, in the semfinal.
The opening round divided the teams into the consolation bracket and the single-elimination medal round, with the three losing teams from the opening round playing a round robin to determine the bottom three spots in the tournament. This round began with a showdown between the fifth and sixth ranked teams in the tournament, and it too did not disappoint finishing with the G-sTARs clutching a 140-134 victory against the Capital City Derby Dolls. Growing through a tough rebuild, the GTA skaters looked like a far different team this time around, shaking off their opening–round loss to win both of its consolation games. Built around veterans like Newfie Bullet, Lee Way Wreck’em and Holly de Havilland, and featuring a promising skater in Paper Jam, they were able to close out their tournament with a 19-point win over Sister Slag to secure fifth spot.
The Dolly Rogers used this tournament to announce its presence. Led by strong pack work from the likes of Whips N. Chaynes and eventual team MVP Delicate Plow’her, some crafty jamming from Sneaky Dekey and consistency from Ha-Lou-Ween (not to mention double-threat performances from Violently Jill and Deanna Destroi), Capital City impressed with their ability and preparation, but showed that they still lack the all-important game experience that allowed them to close out wins. They closed out their tournament the way they began it, with a thrilling back-and-forth game characterized by large swings in momentum, only this time it was with a surprisingly resilient Sister Slag. Led by Elle Hoar (whose role seemed to grow as the tournament went on), and paced offensively by Legzy Megzy and Red Hot and Anna Maul, the Nickel City skaters seemed to grow closer together during the tournament and finished as a much tighter and more polished team than they were when it began. They closed out the final consolation game with a natural grand slam to break a tie and secure sixth place with the 149-144 victory.
Perhaps the greatest level of tension and excitement came in the semifinals where the top four seeds squared off. In the first semi-final, the Brute Leggers dominated Forest City early on. With an offence paced by Hot Cross Guns and Hellcat of Panar and a pack anchored by Kim Scarsmashian, Forest City—responding with a jammer crew of Andi Slamberg, Mighty Thor and Torque e Mada and a veteran pack now ubiquitous in eastern Canadian derby—was only able to score 7 points over the first twenty minutes of the half. But with London blocker Mirambo raising the intensity level, knocking Royal City off balance, the defending champs began to claw back and were down 60-38 at half. Never able to get their heads back into it and thrown off by Forest City’s intense physicality, the hosts managed only 26 second-half points to fall 145-86.
In the second semi-final, the Misfit Militia roared off of the jammer line and barely looked back, throwing everything they could at the Bay Street Bruisers who could never really get anything going in the first half. Consistent jamming from Randy Roll-lin and Zombabe and dominant pack work from Renny Rumble had the Bruisers stumped throughout. The Militia had a 27-point half-time lead. The dominance continued in the second half, but the persistence of jammers Bala Reina and titmouse, and the on-track leadership of eventual team MVP Chronic had the Bruisers sticking around, never letting the lead grow past 50 points, and when the penalty calls started going their way, they were ready. A 29-point Bala Reina power jam (much of it orchestrated with the Bruisers having only two Blockers, Chronic and Miss Kitty La Peur, on the track) with only ten minutes remaining had Toronto within 12 points and holding all the momentum. They controlled things for the final ten minutes aas frustration mounted for the Renegade Derby Dames and were able to hold on to advance to the final.
The Misfit Militia never seemed to recover from the defeat, while the Brute Leggers pulled it together after their emotional loss to come back to control the third place bout most of the way and skated to the 190-129 victory. The championship game provided an entertaining first half that saw the Bruisers storm out 42-9 lead at the halfway mark. Strong jamming from Bala Reina and Bellefast continued to pace the Bruisers who were able to impose their style of play on the game early, and never let Forest City get comofortable. Although penalty troubles allowed London to get back into it only a few minutes later (they even briefly took the lead at the 10-minute mark), the Bruisers regained control to lead 78-54 at the half. The second half was all Bruisers with the lead increasing steadily to 135-86 at the midway point, before they held on for the 163-88 victory and took home the 2012 RDAC Eastern Canadian Championship.
The Bay Street Bruisers and Forest City All Stars (Eastern Region) join the Terminal City All Stars and Kootenay Kannibelles (West), Saskatoon Roller Derby and Pile O’ Bones Derby Club (central) at the Canadian championship. The Atlantic representatives will be determined at a tournament in St. John’s in September.
Brute Leggers (Royal City Roller Girls) 142 vs. Dolly Rogers (Capital City Derby Dolls) 131
Misfit Militia (Renegade Derby Dames) 354 vs. G-sTARs (GTA Rollergirls) 28
Bay Street Bruisers (Toronto Roller Derby) 253 vs. Sister Slag (Nichel City Roller Derby) 116
G-sTARs (1-0) 140 vs. Dolly Rogers (0-1) 134
G-sTARs (2-0) 194 vs. Sister Slag (0-1) 173
Sister Slag (1-1) 149 vs. Dolly Rogers (0-2) 144
Forest City All Stars 145 vs. Brute Leggers 86
Misfit Militia 130 vs. Bay Street Bruisers 140
Brute Leggers 190 vs. Misfit Militia 129
Forest City 88 vs. Bay Street Bruisers 163