For the first time since their back-to-back undefeated championship seasons in 2013–2014, and just the third time in the eleven year history of the league, the Death Track Dolls will finish the Toronto Roller Derby regular season at the top of the standings after defeating the Smoke City Bandits on Saturday night. The win, coupled with Chicks Ahoy!’s season-closing victory over the Gore-Gore Rollergirls, ensures a page-playoff quarterfinal rematch between the Chicks and the Dolls after a thrilling one-point game earlier this season.
Smoke City Bandits 95 vs. Death Track Dolls 230
The Dolls got off to quick start when an opening jam power jam spotted them an early lead that they quickly stretched to 23-10 over the first five minutes. But just as the Dolls seemed on the verge of running away with this one early, a 17-0 power jam response from the Bandits pulled Smoke City right back into it, suddenly down only 8 (35-27) ten minutes into the half.
The Dolls have a deep jammer rotation this season, and have been getting excellent depth jamming from Ellen Rage who took a regular spot in the rotation against the Bandits and proved a game-changer in the opening half. Her calm, tireless jamming (aided by some excellent pack work) led to a 20-0 jam midway through the half, part of a 45-0 ten-minute run that all but put the game out of reach. When the Bandits took a time out to settle things down, they found themselves suddenly down 80-27 with ten left in the half.
Some excellent work in the pack from Jessica Rabid and Jammher’head Shark allowed rookie standout jammer Killa Hurtz to get the Bandits back on the board. Both teams ran into some penalty troubles late in the half, with the Dolls able to take better advantage going on another impressive 41-7 run to go into the break up comfortably 121-34.
The Dolls opened the second half the same way they opened the first: on a power jam, unsettling the Bandits from the start (important since they have been such a strong second-half team this season). The game ended up being a series of scoring runs and the Dolls opened the second half on a ten-minute 64-12 run, that they extended to a 190-54 lead at the midway point of the half. This did spark the most sustained push from the Bandits of the game, seeing them go toe-to-toe against the Dolls over the final fifteen minutes, able to outscore them 41-40 during that stretch; impressive, but still not enough to put a dent in the difference, and the Dolls were able to hold on for the definitive 135 point victory.
First-year jammer Brawnson led the Bandits in scoring with 32 points (on the strength of a 14-point power jam in the first half), while rookie Killa Hurtz scored 20 of her 24 points in the second half after being contained by the Dolls’ defence in the first. Morton once again led the way in the pack with excellent moments both on defence and offence, but also had a strong performance from Juggernaut J (particularly with some strong offence on second half power jams) and a breakout performance from Viper graduate Viris.
Offensively, the Dolls were led once again by Holly Rocket who took over the lead in the league scoring with a 79-point performance (to finish the regular season with 189 points). And on her busiest night with the star, Ellen Rage also came through putting up 48 points but also registering a game-high 78% lead percentage (including a perfect second half).
The Dolls pack remains strong across the board, with another outstanding game from Rainbow Fight (who also managed 19 points on her one jamming opportunity in the second half) playing well with team captain Wheatabitch and veteran Dasilva, but also from the trio of Dawson, Getcha Kicks and Kate Silver who continue to dominate defensively.
Gore-Gore Rollergirls 128 vs. Chicks Ahoy! 174
Coming into this game, the Chicks knew a win would secure the second seed in the 2017 playoffs, ensuring a spot in the all-important 1-2 page playoff quarterfinal that would guarantee them two chances to make the Battle for the Boot (and they did indeed need both chances on their way to the 2016 championship). They also knew they would have to do so without two of their three leading scorers on the season. So with no Sleeper Hold (skating Saturday night with Orangeville) and leading scorer Banshee on the sidelines with illness, they looked to their depth and brought veteran Boxcar back to the rotation (and after an excellent 72 point, 100% lead percentage performance last time she jammed, a pretty solid decision). They also had a resurgent Noodle Kaboodle to add as well, seemingly back in form in her second game after a long injury layoff; so despite the missing stars, the Chicks seemed unfazed early.
The Chicks shut out the Gores over the opening two jams on their way to a quick 14-5 lead five minutes in, a lead they stretched to 44-8 over the next five minutes before a 10-0 scoring from Murdercat! cut into the growing deficit. This was part of a 13-4 run that saw the Gores threatening. But also missing an explosive jammer in Beaver Mansbridge, the Gores couldn’t mount a sustained offensive push in the first and were forced into a team timeout with twelve minutes left in the half and suddenly down 64-26.
After the time out, the Gores roared out to 14-0 run forcing a timeout from the Chicks, who then responded with a 13-0 run of their own to rebuild their lead. A frantic 13-11 final jam in favour of the Gores had the skaters in leopard print within reach at the half, down 99-68.
The Chicks, however, came out hard to start the second half. A 20-4 opening jam skated by Monster Muffin was part of a dominant five-minute run after the break that saw the Chicks open up a 124-75 lead, the largest of the game.
Although there were back and forth surges through the rest of the half and the Chicks could never fully put a scrappy Gores away, the difference from this point on was never less than 40 points as the Chicks managed to hold on for the 46-point win. The loss marked the first time in league history that the Gores failed to get at least a win during the regular season.
The Gores got strong performances across the roster. Tara-Bush, Santa Muerte and Viktory Lapp supplied some moments of excellent offence, while Moose Knuckles and Stabbey Road were their usual steady selves; off-season transfer Psycho Magnet also played arguably her best game as a Gore. Offensively, scoring was spread out widely among all jammers and even pivots with Stabbey and Santa receiving a significant number of star passes. Rookie Mina Von Tease, however, led the way with 35 points.
Boxcar stepped in and stepped up for the Chicks with another impressive lead percentage (64%) helping to lead her team in scoring with 68 points. Monster Muffin had another strong game too, contributing 62 points on a game-high 73% lead percentage (her season high as well). The pack continues to employ tight walls, making their defence almost seamless, a difference maker in this game. The pack was bolstered by the return of Vag Lightning and veteran Robber Blind.
The April 8th quarterfinals are now set, with The Chicks and Dolls meeting in the 1-2 page playoff for a chance to advance directly to the Battle for the Boot (the loser of that one will get a second chance in the semifinal) while the Gores and Bandits will play with their seasons on the line and will have a tough road to climb to get to the championship game.
*Next up for ToRD is the 2017 debut of the All Stars with a WFTDA-sanctioned matchup against Rochester’s Roc City Roc Stars on March 25 at the Bunker, where we’ll also get to see the Vipers in action against Belleville.
*Archived footage available on Layer9.ca
*Stats are unofficial