Smoke City Betties 86 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 166.
Some teams just know how to win. They’ve done it so long, the know what it takes, and they know how to bring it when the situation calls for something a little extra special. After this weekend’s dominant performance, there can be no question left about what kind of team the Gore-Gore Rollergirls are. Coming off of their worst ToRD regular season ever (they’d finished atop the standings after all five of the previous regular seasons) and having sustained their largest ever defeat (a 142-point loss to this same Smoke City Betties team), it seemed that the streak of appearing in every championship game in ToRD’s history was in jeopardy. But with an offense led by ToRD’s all-time leading scorer, Bambi (returning from injury), and a pack of fiercely determined blockers clearing the path, the Gores led from start to finish in the semifinal showdown with the Betties and looked like a team renewed as they booked their ticket to the 2012 Battle for the Boot and set up a showdown with their long-time rivals, the defending champion Chicks Ahoy!
Facing adversity all season and feeling the strain of injuries and mid-season retirements, the Gores limped into the post season (actually only qualifying after a very close plus/minus tiebreaker with the Dolls). With an offence run by committee, the Gores could not get any momentum in their season closer. With Bambi returning from the first major injury layoff of her career, the Gores offense got going early. A 3-0 jam by co-captain and regular pivot Lady Gagya got things started, but on the second jam disaster struck for the Betties. With Bambi skating her first jam since May, the Gores were rewarded with a power jam and the Betties paid dearly. A remarkable 34 points later, and the Betties found themselves floundering in a 37-0 deficit only three minutes in.
That power jam would prove to be the difference maker in the first half: at the halfway point, the lead remained similar, 54-11. Early penalty woes both in the pack and with their jammers had the Betties scrambling in a way that they hadn’t done all season. Indeed, this was truly the first setback in what has been a banner season for the skaters in black and blue. After two years of rebuilding, it seemed that this was finally the year the Betties would claw their way back to the top. After promising performances against the Death Track Dolls and the Chicks Ahoy! and culminating in their lopsided victory over the Gores (not to mention a quarterfinal appearance at the Beast of the East) it had been a season of steady progression. Led by a core of skaters having breakout seasons (the finally healthy titmouse and rookie Slaptrick Swayze jamming; Sin D Drop-her and Platinum Bomb in the pack), the Betties seemed poised to make their first appearance in the championship since 2009. Down 86-40 at the half, the Betties were certainly still within reach, but the Gores seemed to be gaining confidence by the jam.
The Gores received standout performances from some usual suspects. With jammer corps depleted, it was Lady Gagya, Santa Muerte , Chronic and Kandy Barr who did double duty to support Bambi (D-VAS call up Getcha Kicks also got her skates wet in her first ever on-track action in ToRD). While Lady Gagya’s phenomenal footwork makes her a natural fit to jam, Santa Muerte’s tireless determination helped her have her best ever game with the star. But since the Betties had a jammer core at least equal to the Gores on this night, the difference was in the pack; and where they Betties had been tight and consistent during the regular season, they were stretched and penalty prone in this one. Chronic had another fantastic bout in the pack, and Foxy Sinatra added another top-notch bout to what has been, arguably, the best season of the long-time veteran’s career. It was this relentless attack and punishing defence that allowed the Gores to increase their stranglehold to 123-53 at the halfway mark of the second half.
But despite the loss, the Betties had standouts as well. titmouse capped a remarkable season with another consistent performance with the star, while BruiseBerry Pie continues to develop into one of the true superstars of the league (and had the possible highlight of the night late in the game on an apex-jumping steal of four points). Rookie of the year candidate Renny Rumble had another strong performance as well showing extraordinary track sense and impeccable one-on-one positional blocking. Renny diversified her game tonight as well, entering the jammer rotation (a position she has experience playing, though not for the Betties). Regardless of the strong individual performances, they seemed overwhelmed on this stage (falling behind by 100 points at one point late in the half) and were never able to claw their way back in the 166-86 loss.
***In the first half of the double header, The Death Track Dolls closed out what by all accounts was a disappointing season with a massive 282-102 victory over the shorthanded Queen City champions the Nickel City Knockouts (out of Buffalo). It was an emotional game for the last-place Dolls, who will see the retirement or loss of some key skaters in the off season including long-time Doll Lucid Lou and the last original Doll, Jubilee. They cruised from start to finish, leading by whopping 163-18 at half on the back of some super-strong defence and steady jamming. It was an inspiring victory for the team, a big confidence builder heading into the off season.
*** The Battle for the Boot 6 (Toronto Roller Derby’s 2012 championship game) will go on September 22nd. Three-time champs The Gore-Gore Rollergirls with try to unseat the defending champion Chicks Ahoy!. Tickets are available online in select retail locations.