Six years, six regular season losses, three playoff defeats—that is the dominance that Chicks Ahoy! has had over the Death Track Dolls in Toronto Roller Derby’s first six seasons. And it all ended on Saturday night.
In front of a packed house, ToRD kicked off its sixth season with a doubleheader featuring all four Toronto house league teams. In the opener, years of frustration finally turned into a night of celebration as a deep, balanced Dolls team took a 79-point victory over the defending champions, signaling a shift in power in the league. While the Smoke City Betties ended their long losing streak over the Gore-Gore Rollergirls last season, they were not able to summon the same kind of performance in the opener, as the Gores played simple, well-controlled derby on their way to a 57 point win that declared that this Gores team may not be due for as major a rebuild as some thought.
Death Track Dolls 191 vs. Chicks Ahoy! 112
The Dolls burst out of the gate, taking the first two lead jammer statuses (going to Bellefast and Getcha Kicks) before Chicks’ rookie Chevy Chase Her broke the streak, only to find herself sent to the penalty box for a low block. Scrappy jammer Santilly In Yo Face did her best despite a tough penalty kill led by Dyna Hurtcha, pulling the Dolls ahead by 10 points. Two jams later the Dolls found themselves on a second power jam, this time skated by Bellefast. Early on, the Dolls were pounding on the Chicks, pulling ahead substantially, 41-8, only 8 minutes into the half.
The Chicks came alive at this point as the Dolls began to run into penalty troubles. The pushback was led by a Roadside BombShel skated power jam with only two Dolls blockers (Ames to Kill and Scacasm)on the track. With Getcha Kicks running into serious penalty issues midway through the half—and her blocker teammates following suit—the Chicks roared back and even took over the lead, 49-47, with 12 minutes to play in the period. Roadside—who converted back to jamming after a solid season of blocking in 2012—and Chevy Chase Her paced the offense, with Chevy scoring 24 points on a power jam to pad the lead. But as this Chicks team rebuilds, there will be ups and downs, and they weren’t able to maintain their lead.
Once the Dolls overcame their penalty issues and settled into the game, they were eventually able to chip away at that lead and virtually neutralized the Chicks offense for the final 10 minutes of the half, taking a 111-71 lead at the break.
The Dolls depth at jammer, with Bellefast, Getcha Kicks, Santilly and rookie transfer Rainbow Fight providing a variety of styles and approaches, kept the Chicks defense from any sort of consistency, and the Dolls packs had the same sort of dominant depth with a few solid lines led by Ames and Scarcasm on one side and Speedin Hawking and Sinead O’Clobber on the other. While co captains Dyna Hurtcha and Kookie Doe along with a strong veteran leadership from Biggley Smallz, Robber Blind and Furious Georgia (who continued her strong offensive play) held a young team together, it was that punishing Dolls pack work that led to a tragedy on the track.
Enjoying one of the games of her career (she was second in scoring on the Chicks with 19 points at half), Roadside suffered a tragic major leg break near the midway point of the second half. When the teams returned to action after a lengthy break, the Chicks couldn’t find the momentum to claw back, and even with Dyna Hurtcha taking a jam and Kookie Doe wearing the star more, managed only 18 points in the second half of the period, suffering their first loss to the Dolls ever and their first ToRD loss of any kind in two years.
Smoke City Betties 110 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 167
After an inconsistent, but promising 2012, the Smoke City Betties entered the season with high expectations. The Gores, after slowly losing a massive chunk of a roster that had taken part in every single Battle For the Boot, came into this season with much more muted expectations. From the opening whistle to the last, this Gores team showed that it doesn’t plan to rebuild this year. They made it quite clear that they plan on competing in 2013.
Co-captain Santa Muerte kicked things off jamming, taking 3 points before passing the star to one of many impressive rookies on the night, Lexi Con, who immediately made her presence known. The Betties packs looked loose early on, and they seemed a little caught off guard by the explosive Goes start and found themselves deep in a hole, down 20-6, 8 minutes in to he game. For a team that had relied so much on a few key jammers throughout the years, the Gores showed a variety of skaters in that position last night, led by Lexi Con but also veteran blocker Foxy Sinatra, whose explosive style was also hard to contain and co captain Kandy Barr. R.I.Pink continued her progress with the star and a few promising rookies, Taranosaurus Rex and Viktory Lapp, rounded out a surprisingly deep rotation.
Despite the early push from the Gores, they were unable to leave behind the Betties, and after a bench time out calmed down the skaters in blue, the Betties outscored the Gores 20-9 over the remaining few jams of the half, but remained down, 86-35 at the break.
The Betties looked solid from the jam line as well, led by co captain Hailey Copter (formerly titmouse) and featuring Woleverina, transfer skater Udre, and 2012 breakout skater Slaptrick Swayze who continues to make her presence felt with her calm, steady jamming. The Betties continued the strong play to start the second half, outscoring the Gores 39-18 over the first ten minutes.
While there were strong individual performances in the pack from the likes of Renny Rumble, Tomy Knockers (who may have sustained a wrist injury during the game), Platinum Bomb and Tushy Galore (formerly Sin D Drop-Her) to name a few, they were not able to sustain the same tight formations for long stretches as the Gores were, allowing the Gores to stay in it. For the Gores to be sucesful this season, they need veterans in the pack to step up and assume larger roles, which we saw especially from the likes of Junkie Jenny, but also from Emma Dilemma and Miss Kitty La Peur in the second half.
The Gores ran out the clock, closing out the game with strong, well-managed jams from Foxy, and then fittingly from rookies T-Rex and Lexi. Although the Gores led from start to finish, they never fully distanced themselves from the Betties, and while their 167-110 victory was definitive, the Betties always just seemed a jam or two away from putting it all together and getting back into it.
If there was an underlying story of the night, it was the strong play of the so-called rookies on the track. This is clearly the highest level of rookie class ever, based on the large number of transfers and the time many spent on the D-VAS last season. After a fantastically skilled night of derby, the future looks bright.
**I’ll take a look specifically at how that impressive rookie class performed in my next post on Thursday**
**Check out layer9.ca for archived videos of the bouts**