Author: Derby Nerd

Writer, teacher, roller derby fan.

Toronto Teams Go 6-0 at a Thrilling 2015 Quad City Chaos

Toronto proved to be ungracious hosts on the track, sweeping both the A and B-team portions of an extraordinarily exciting tournament.

The 2015 QCC featured incredibly close action, with an average differential of 36 points in the six D1 games.

The 2015 QCC featured incredibly close action, with an average differential of 36 points in the six D1 games. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Early on in Toronto Roller Derby’s 6th annual Quad City Chaos, the dominant narrative looked as if it would the upsets, but as they games progressed that story was tweaked and what emerged was a tournament dominated by parity, at least on the A-team level, with the average point-differential over the six-game round robin tournament being a measly 36 points, with most (if not all) of the games looking like they could have gone either way. The widest gap of the weekend was a 55-point Toronto win over Boston that was actually much closer than even the score would indicate, evidenced by the seven lead changes that occurred in the game (although they all did occur in the opening half). It was an extraordinary bit of scheduling for the organizers from Toronto Roller Derby, so much so that all of the teams can leave feeling pretty happy about their results.

DIVISION 1 GAMES

An expected CN Power rebuild looks more like a rebirth after a 3-0 weekend. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

An expected CN Power rebuild looks more like a rebirth after a 3-0 weekend. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

One of the questions coming into the game was how a rebuilding Toronto roster would perform against three WFTDA D1 teams whose rosters remained relatively intact from the 2014 season; by the end of the weekend, it was clear that this CN Power team is going through a rebirth more than a rebuild: with a new jammer rotation and a completely new bench staff, Toronto actually looked reenergized and refocused after a somewhat bland 2014 season in which the team appeared to have plateaued. Bolstered by some experienced transfers and a core of internally developed skaters who represent the first wave of graduates of the B-team program, Toronto seems ready for a competitive push up the D1 rankings this season. It was the first time since 2012 (and only the second time ever) that 28th ranked Toronto has gone 3-0 at their own tournament, holding their rankings against the Rideau Valley Vixens (39th) and (29th) Steel City, while upsetting 25th ranked Boston.

Rideau Valley (1-2 on the weekend) also has to be incredibly happy with the results. With the same roster that brought them all the way to the WFTDA D2 championship last year, the Vixens continue to defy expectations and climb the ladder with a team whose core has been together for years now. The Ottawa-based team played above their rankings on the weekend, looking every-bit the equal to all of their opponents. Kicking off the tournament with a significant upset over Steel City, the Vixens gave Toronto all the hosts could handle on Saturday night in a game that featured an incredible eleven lead changes (including nine in the opening half), but as they did all weekend, Toronto seemed to get stronger deep into games and Rideau couldn’t replicate the upset they managed the last time the teams squared off at QCC 2013. The Vixens had a remarkably similar result against Boston, a game in which they could not maintain their intensity through to the end, but looked strong throughout.

Boston jammer Maya Mangleyou duels with Toronto's Renny Rumble while Lil Paine looks on. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Boston jammer Maya Mangleyou duels with Toronto’s Renny Rumble while Lil Paine looks on. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Boston (2-1) had an up and down weekend. Although they went nose-to-nose with Toronto for the first half of their Saturday showdown, the hosts pulled ahead early in the second, and Boston simply could not catch them. But the loss seemed to charge the team up, and after a shaky start against Steel City, managed to pull ahead of Pittsburgh at the midway point of the first half and held off their opponents through to the end; it was a similar performance against Rideau Valley on Sunday.

Steel City (0-3) went winless on the weekend, although they certainly didn’t seem like a team defeated and led for portions of all of their games; the difference early on in the 2015 season seemed to be consistency and focus for this Steel Hurtin’ team that had a hard time maintaining momentum. In particular, Pittsburgh led for much of the second half against Toronto, but could not put the team away, and CN Power patiently held on, eventually blowing by Steel Hurtin’ over a dominant final five minutes.

Despite the results, all four teams leave the 2015 Quad City Chaos having certainly improved their position in the WFTDA’s ranking system, showing that despite some criticism to the contrary, all things being equal, the ranking system rewards close, evenly matched games.

REGULATION GAMES

Rideau Valley's Sirens and Toronto's Bay Street Bruisers faced off for the first time ever. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Rideau Valley’s Sirens and Toronto’s Bay Street Bruisers faced off for the first time ever. (Photo by Joe Mac)

We didn’t see quite the parity in the B-team portion of the tournament, as the Bay Street Bruisers continued a three-year unbeaten streak (7-0) at the event with an at times dominant run through the competition (including a 250-point rout of the Steel Beamers). However, the hosts were certainly challenged against the B-Party, with Boston leading for the vast majority of the game, and virtually the whole second half. But they could not put the hosts away, with the Bruisers managing to stay within 20 for most of the game. And then in the final moments, they surged past their Boston counterparts for the most thrilling, not to mention closest, result of the weekend: a 4-point win that highlighted the perseverance of Toronto’s B-team.

THE PERFORMERS

Steel City's Nick Rollfiliac (seen here staying a step ahead of Boston's Ginger Kid) was named blocker MVP. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Steel City’s Nick Rollfiliac (seen here staying a step ahead of Boston’s Ginger Kid) was named blocker MVP. (Photo by Joe Mac)

On a weekend where there was barely anything separating the competition on the track, choosing MVPs was a challenging feat that lead to some interesting (but certainly always deserving) choices. Both Toronto and Boston’s packs were dominant at times, and pulling one out of the cohesive units was impossible, so it was Steel City’s relentless Nick Rollfiliac who took the honours as A-team blocker MVP. Most of the jammers also had a hard time maintaining consistency over the course of the weekend, but in the end it was Soul Rekker’s tireless play over all three games that led to her selection of MVP. Boston B-Party blocker MC SlamHer took home MVP for the regulation portion along side Bruisers’ jammer Devochka who had three strong, clean and consistent games for the hosts.

THE PENALTIES

Early on in the tournament, during the first B-team game, there were over 100 penalties called, filling the board and leading to large stretches of chaos on the track. It became, momentarily, a thrilling anomaly, with pictures of the white board snapped and buzz spreading from the venue and onto social media; but then, it quickly became clear that this was actually going to be close to a norm for the weekend, and the giddy buzz dissipated. Not only that, there were murmurs on social media indicating that early in 2015 this is a trend certainly not limited to the Quad City Chaos.

I write this not as a criticism of the officiating (the ref crew was staffed with some of the finest, highest certified refs in the region), but just to point out the apparent disconnect between the way the game is being officiated right now and the way it is being played on the track; it was, for some, as fascinating as it was frustrating, but it is clear that something’s got to give. It is reminiscent of the way things were leading up to the elimination of minors.

In sports, the roles of the officials are generally to ensure safety and fairness; in roller derby there is also a third, punitive arm to officiating; however, we’ve started to move away from this (with the slight relaxing of inadvertent cutting penalties, for example), but there still seems to be genuine confusion at times on behalf of the skaters on impact assessment but also on failure to return/reform penalties that were often called in rapid-fire succession against multiple players simultaneously, making it challenging (and confusing) for skaters to quickly and clearly reform (for example, there were twenty two out of play penalties called in the Toronto vs. Steel City game (and 116 penalties in total), leading to multiple instances of only four, three, or even just two blockers on the track). Historically, the WFTDA has shown the willingness and ability to cautiously evolve over time, and certainly these issues will be resolved. But in a time when the new norm seems to be 80, 90, and even 100 penalties in a game, there is a conversation that needs to happen, and it should be a constructive one, because I think everyone (officials and skaters alike) would agree that the current norm is not sustainable.

Nonetheless, the consistency with which calls were made across teams and games did mean that the parity between the clubs still won out in the end, providing the spectators with thrilling games and narrow results despite of the steady stream of skaters to the penalty box.

Quad City Chaos 2015 Banner

WFTDA DIVISION 1 RESULTS

Steel City Roller Derby (Steel Hurtin’) (29th) 142 vs. Rideau Valley Roller Girls (Vixens) (39th) 165 (watch)

Boston Derby Dames (Boston Massacre) (25th) 174 vs. Toronto Roller Derby (CN Power) (28th) 229 (watch)

Boston 169 vs. Steel City 127 (watch)

Toronto 186 vs. Rideau Valley 154 (watch)

Boston 182 vs. Rideau Valley 159 (watch)

Toronto 235 vs. Steel City 191 (watch)

REGULATION RESULTS

Bay Street Bruisers 253 vs. Rideau Valley Sirens 144 (watch)

Bay Street Bruisers 184 vs. Boston B-Party 180 (watch)

Bay Street Bruisers 319 vs. Steel Beamers 69 (watch)

Nerd Glasses

 

**The games were streamed live by layer9.ca, with Saturday night’s games and the final game on Sunday simulcast on WFTDA.TV. Watch the archives here.

**Toronto Roller Derby skater Pr’Editor provided game-by-game recaps for Derby Central all weekend. You can read her work here.

Quad City Chaos 2015 Preview

This marks the sixth edition of the two-day round robin tournament featuring four WFTDA Division 1 teams and three B-team games.

Quad_City_Chaos_2015Since 2010, Toronto Roller Derby’s Quad City Chaos has been a launching point for the Canadian travel-team season, and while last year’s technically featured four WFTDA D1 teams for the first time (Bleeding Heartland had slipped out of the Top 40 just weeks before the tournament began), this year it is official: this will be a complete WFTDA D1 tournament. And it features four teams with a lot to prove.

Hosts Toronto, looking to get off the plateau they’ve found themselves on for the past year, welcome Rideau Valley back to the QCC for the fourth time and first since 2013, while the historic Boston Derby Dames and Pittsburgh’s Steel City Roller Derby make their QCC debuts, both having begun to develop histories with the tournament’s host. The 2014 QCC was arguably the most thrilling on record, but given the quality and the relatively close rankings of the combatants, this year’s could top even that.

CNPOWER 2015

Toronto Roller Derby: CN Power (28th)

The hosts have not always fared well at QCC, and after going 3-0 in 2012, have managed only a 2-4 record at the event since then. Last year, they played in two of the most thrilling games in the tournament’s history, a 17-point loss to Montreal (which remains the closest a Canadian team has come to defeating the Skids in regulation/sanctioned play), followed by a 14-point defeat at the hands of Ohio. Overall, Toronto has a QCC record of 9-6.

Toronto also has some form of a relationship with all three combatants. Although they sport a 4-1 record against the Rideau Valley Vixens, their last meeting at QCC 2013 (and the only sanctioned bout between the two) ended with a 13-point Vixens’ upset. Last year, they squared off against Steel City twice, both outstanding games, with Steel Hurtin’ taking the regular season showdown by 20 before falling in the consolation round of the playoffs to Toronto by 14. Boston and Toronto have only faced each other once, in the 2013 playoffs, with Toronto scoring a miniscule 6-point win.

Toronto has had little action so far this season, with only a closed, unsanctioned win over Queen City under its belt. And it is a slightly rebuilt roster from the one that went 8-12 last season, most notably in the jammer rotation (and of the four QCC teams, it is certainly the roster with the most changes). Last year’s core playoff rotation will not be on the bench at QCC, whether due to unavailability (Kookie Doe) or retirement (Dusty, Motorhead Molly). But bolstered by some very experienced transfers and a returning blocking core, Toronto may be able to weather this rebuild.

Boston 2015

Boston Derby Dames: Boston Massacre (25th)

One of flat track’s most venerable teams, Boston returns this season with its 2014 playoff lineup virtually in tact (one noticeable absence is playoff track-time leader Vixen Ta Hitcha). Although first time QCCers, Boston has a long history in Canada, largely as long-time frenemies of Montreal, but they do potentially enter the tournament with revenge on their minds, having last met Toronto in the 2013 playoffs, losing a heartbreaker by only 6 points.

Boston had a tough 2014, going 2-7 in sanctioned play (4-7 overall), and a 2-2 playoff record saw them finish 7th in their Division. They have never faced off against Rideau Valley and haven’t seen Steel City on the track since 2011, but with a roster full of holdovers led by veterans Maya Mangleyou (no stranger to Canadian fans as a key piece of Team Canada 2014), Shark Week, Ginger Kid and Lil’ Pain, Boston may be the team to watch at this year’s Quad City Chaos.

This weekend will mark the first action of the year for Boston.

HurtinTeam2014

Steel City Roller Derby: Steel Hurtin’ (29th)

As with Boston, Steel City makes its Quad City Chaos debut with its 2014 roster largely unchanged (also like Boston, there is one noticeable absence, with playoff track-time leader Athena gone from Steel Hurtin’s lineup). Pittsburgh managed a decent 2014 going 7-7 on the season, which forced it into a tough Division Play-in game against Arizona that it lost narrowly. Its tight games against Toronto last season make that match-up intriguing, and with a consistent roster, they could have an edge.

Steel City kicked off its 2015 season with a 215-154 victory over 73rd ranked Charlottesville Derby Dames, and as with Boston is led into battle by a very experienced core led by Team USA skater Snot Rocket Science, but also long-time double threat Hurricane Heather, jammer Leannibal Lector, and blockers Stark Raven and Ally McKill.

 vixens2014_logo-resize

Rideau Valley Roller Girls: Vixens (39th)

Last year’s darlings of Division 2, RVRG’s 2014 success means the road will be that much more challenging in 2015, but also has the potential to be considerably more rewarding. The Vixens tore up their Division 2 playoff tournament last season, crushing the competition in the early rounds before holding off Bear City in the final, in one of the more thrilling games of the season. They fell to Detroit in the D2 final, but the appearance at Champs was enough to vault them into Division 1 for the first time.

In 2015, the Vixens are looking to build off of their most successful season to date, one in which they compiled a 9-2 sanctioned record (10-2 overall) with losses only to Calgary (by 28 points) and Detroit in the D2 final. Similar to Steel City and Boston, The Vixens return with virtually the same lineup this season. And the question remains not how good the likes of Soul Rekker, Shania Pain (jammers), Murphy, Reyes, Brennan, Bottema, Sister Disaster and Rudolph will be, but how much the supporting cast rises up around them. This team’s been riding a short bench for a few years now, and will need to start building depth looking forward, so against the level of competition at QCC, the key could be in skaters like Melanie Austin, Lackey and Restless Rose.

This is the fourth QCC for the Vixens, and the first since 2013. They’ve compiled a career record of 3-6 at the tournament

BRUISERS

B-Team Showdown

Since 2013, the Bay Street Bruisers have hosted B-team games along side their big sisters, and this season, that portion of the tournament has expanded to three games, showcasing the B-squads of each A-team participant. The Bruisers have yet to be defeated at the QCC, compiling a 4-0 record. However, this year’s competition could be the fiercest yet. While they have never faced Rideau Valley’s Sirens or the Boston B Party, they did managed a one-sided 288-97 victory over the Steel Beamers in Pittsburgh last season. But in B-team age, a year can be an eternity.

Neither the Beamers nor the B Party have seen competition yet this season, while the Bruisers are coming off of a tough 170-155 win over Royal City (Guelph’s WFTDA team), and the Sirens tasted defeat against Montreal’s Sexpos. While that initial track time may give the Canadian teams a slight edge, it probably won’t be enough to intimidate their American opponents.

Nerd Glasses

**Action begins at 10:00 AM sharp on Saturday, March 21. Day and weekend passes are available; separate tickets for Saturday night’s double header are also available.

**Every moment of QCC 2015 will be boutcast live by layer9.ca, with Saturday night’s double header and Sunday’s final game simulcast on WFTDA.TV. Full viewing schedule is available here.

**Check out this QCC 2015 trailer (produced by Tiffany Beaudin):

 

Catch Up on the Past QCCs!

 

2011 Quad City Chaos Poster.

2011 Quad City Chaos Poster.

Quad City Chaos 2014

Quad City Chaos 2013

Quad City Chaos 2012

Quad City Chaos 2011

Quad City Chaos 2010

Weekend Round Up: Dolls Edge Betties to Close Out ToRD Regular Season on Busy Night in Canadian Derby

The Dolls wrapped up second spot in the regular season standings with the victory over the Betties. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Dolls wrapped up second spot in the regular season standings with the victory over the Betties. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Canadian roller derby season truly got underway this weekend with teams clear across the nation in action. In Toronto, ToRD closed out its house league regular season with a highly anticipated showdown between the defending champion Death Track Dolls and the Smoke City Betties. Tied in the standings heading into the game, the Dolls clinched second spot and a bye to the semifinals with a tense 175-138 victory that was not sewn up until the final moments of the second half. The Betties will now face off against the Chicks Ahoy! in a second-chance quarterfinal matchup.

Dolls' rookie jammer PrEditor had a breakout game. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Dolls’ rookie jammer PrEditor had a breakout game. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Dolls led from start to finish, but the 37-point differential in the end was actually the largest lead of the game. There was some concern over the Dolls’ jammer rotation coming into this one: with veteran blocker Dawson out after an off-track injury, Scarcasm slipped from the rotation back into the pack leaving rookies PrEditor and Common Dominator with a bulk of the track time, but the first-year jammers did not disappoint, with PrEditor in particular skating a break-out performance with the star. But it was the more experienced jammers, Devochka and especially Sleeper Hold, who were the difference makers in this one.

It was tight at the start, with the Betties countering with their usual jammer rotation of the jukey Wolverina, WackerHer, Kil’Her At Large and the tireless Smoka Cola; it wasn’t until seven minutes into the opening half when a Dolls’ power jam let them pull ahead 29-7 that either team seemed to make a move. But whenever the Dolls threatened to pull away, the Betties responded, and the biggest lead of the half (30 points with ten to go) was whittled back down to 12 points after a 23-0 Betties run. The teams traded leads and points the rest of the way with the Dolls ahead narrowly, 93-83, at the break.

Betties' pivot LowBlowPalooza had another strong game (blocking here with Genuine Risk and Mazel Tough). (Photo by Greg Russell)

Betties’ pivot LowBlowPalooza had another strong game (blocking here with Genuine Risk and Mazel Tough). (Photo by Greg Russell)

A late-half collision between the Dolls’ Hannibelle and the Betties’ Honey Boom Boom, saw Boom bloodied and taken out of the game, a huge loss for the Betties’ pack, who got strong performances from the usual suspects including SewWhat? and Tushy Galore (not to mention another monster performance from LowBlowPalooza), but were also debuting rookie Juggernaut J and saw first games of the year for Jenny Spector and Genuine Risk. The Dolls’ packs took advantage of the comparative lack of experience with two solid lines held down by offensive-blocking leader Getcha Kicks, Stringer Belle and Scarcasm on one side and Robotomy and Hannibelle on the other, but also welcomed to the track converted referee Lace Frehley in her Dolls’ debut.

The Dolls held the lead for the opening five minutes of the second before the Betties put forth their most sustained offensive push of the game, going on a 22-3 run over the next ten minutes to pull within 3, down 117-114, nearing the midway point of the second.

Betties' jammer Smoka Cola and Dolls' jammer Sleeper Hold duel in the second half. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Betties’ jammer Smoka Cola and Dolls’ jammer Sleeper Hold duel in the second half. (Photo by Greg Russell)

In the end, you could boil the difference in the game down to two things: match-ups and discipline. First off, the Dolls played one of the cleanest games in recent ToRD history, picking up a total of eighteen penalties (and no jammer penalties, to the Betties’ four), while they also made subtle matchup adjustments throughout the game. Both of these things were the in play at the turning point of the game.

Throughout the first half, Smoke Cola had often found herself matched up against the Dolls’ rookie jammers, and the experienced jammer took advantage (including picking up lead on her first five jams); however, in the second half, Smoka could barely move an inch without Dolls’ more experienced Sleeper Hold stuck to her side, and it was a shift that worked: with the Betties threatening and within three points, Sleeper was actively involved in drawing a cut on Smoka Cola to give the Dolls a crucial power jam and letting them pull away. Another power jam on the final jam sealed the deal and allowed the Dolls to hold on for the statement-making 37-point victory, wrapping up second place in the 2015 regular season standings.

**This game was boutcast live on Layer9.ca. Watch the archive here.

**The ToRD house league teams get a break now as they gear up for Montreal’s Beast of the East, with the quarterfinal showdown tentatively scheduled for May 9th.

Nerd Glasses

CANADIAN ROUND-UP

Calgary All Stars LogoIt was a busy weekend all across the country at all levels of play. Perhaps most significantly, Calgary (60th and in WFTDA’s Division 2) was making its 2015 WFTDA sanctioned debut at How the West Was Won and seemed to pick up right where they left off in 2014, scoring a major upset win over St. Chux Derby Chix (38th in D1) 137-103 before falling to a strong Arizona (34th) team, 270-139. They wrapped up the weekend with another upset, this time a 187-108 win against Brew City (50th). Calgary closed out 2014 by surging into a D2 playoff spot, but at this rate they may just propel themselves right into D1 before the year is out! Full results from HTWWW are available here.

Royal City’s Brute-Leggers were on the road for their WFTDA debut this weekend, and picked up two big wins, first 253-102 over Hellions of Troy (126th, D3) and then 157-109 over other WFTDA newcomers Albany Roller Derby.

Speaking of regular seasons, while Toronto’s was ending, Montreal’s was just getting under way with Les Filles du Roi winning this year’s annual round-robin tournament to kick off the season. FDR defeated Les Contrabanditas 125-99 and La Racaille 136-92 to emerge as front-runners in the league this season. The Ditas and La Racaille played a tight bout, 110-100 for the Ditas, to round out the night.

Also, Orangeville hosted a full-day men’s and women’s round robin tournament that saw the GTA Rollergirls G-sTARs go 2-0, knocking off Kingston Disloyalists 195-66 and Orangeville 243-139. The hosts, Orangeville Pulp Affliction, defeated Kingston 228-141. At the same event, Toronto Men’s Roller Derby put in a strong showing against Montreal’s Mont Royals, holding the 15th ranked MRDA team to a respectable 278-86. Full results available here.

Finally, the Border City Brawlers B-team, the Canadian Clubbers, managed to knock off the Woodstock Warriors 159-133 in Woodstock.

**Other Canadian roller derby scores? Please post them in the comments section below.

Beast of the East 2015 Participants Named

Beast of the East 2015 is the eighth annual house league roller derby tournament hosted by Montreal Roller Derby. It is a sixteen team, two-day, double elimination tournament featuring teams exclusively from eastern Canada. Listed are this year’s participants by league.

Montreal Roller Derby logoMontreal Roller Derby

La Racaille

Les Contrabanditas

Les Filles du Roi

All three Montreal teams return once again. Last year, only La Racaille (champs in 2009, runners up in 2008 and 2010), made it as far as the semifinal. After Les Filles du Roi’s victory in 2010, Les Contrabanditas (runners up in 2009) remain the only Montreal team to have yet won the tournament.

ToRD logoToronto Roller Derby

Death Track Dolls

Gore-Gore Rollergirls

Chicks Ahoy!

For the second Beast in a row, three teams will represent Toronto Roller Derby in the tournament (the Chicks Ahoy! return after a year-long absence). The defending champion Gore-Gore Rollergirls (also runners up in 2011) return to defend their crown, while 2013 third-place finishers, the Dolls (also third place in 2011) join the Gores, the Montreal teams, and Thames Fatales as the lone participants in every Beast.

Rideau Valley ROller Gilrs logoRideau Valley Roller Girls

Slaughter Daughters

Prime Sinisters

Although the Slaughter Daughters last won in 2013 (along with a title in 2011), Last year, after RVRG did a league-wide roster shuffle, the Prime Sinisters eliminated Slaughter Daughters in first round, while the Riot Squad (who will not be appearing this season) made the final four for the first time; however, it was the Prime Sinisters (back for their second appearance) that ended up winning the first RVRG house league championship at the end of last season.

Forest City logoForest City Derby Girls

Thames Fatales

The Thames Fatales continue their run of appearing in every Beast of the East tournament. In 2013, Thames made the quarter finals for the first time since 2010. Last season they fell in the first round while their leaguemates (Luscious Lunch Ladies) made the quarterfinals.

Roller Derby Quebec logoRoller Derby Quebec

Le Rouge et Gore

Les Casse Gueules

Although they competed as Les Duchesses in 2011 and 2012, in 2013, RDQ divided its travel team into two home teams, both of whom made their Beast debuts. Le Rouge et Gore turned some heads with an impressive run to the quarterfinals that year, while last year it was Les Casse Gueules’ turn to make a run, one that took them all the way to the final. They may have had the element of surprise on their sides in the last two tournaments, but there will be no underestimating either team this year.

Durham Region Roller Derby LogoDurham Region Roller Derby

Atom Smashers

After first making an appearance in 2012, the Motor City Madames made their second appearance last season with leaguemates the Atom Smashers, but their leagumates stole the show, putting up a strong fight in the opening round taking a win before losing in the double elimination bout. The Smashers will have  a chance to build on that this year.

New name, new logo. Tri City Roller Derby 2014 Logo

Tri-City Roller Derby

Total Knock-Outs

Venus Fly Tramps

After having no participants last year, Tri-City sends the TKOs and the Venus Fly Tramps this season. This will be the fourth Beast appearance for the Tramps (but the first since 2011), while the TKOs make their third appearance and first since a run to the quarterfinals in 2013.

Kingston Derby Girls LogoKingston Derby Girls

Skateful Dead

Kingston makes its long-awaited debut at the Beast with the appearance of Skateful Dead. The Dead defeated their leaguemates the Rogue Warriors in last year’s KDG Championship.

Capital City Derby Dolls LogoCapital City Derby Dolls

Beauty School Dropouts

Capital City joins Kingston in making its Beast debut. The Dropouts are one of three house league teams in CCDD and with their appearance, will help CCDD become the third league  to represent Ottawa at the Beast of the East.

Nerd Glasses

The Beast of the East will take place over two days beginning on April 25th. For more information stay tuned to Montreal Roller Derby’s website.

Gores Clinch Top Spot in ToRD Standings with Win Over Chicks; Woodstock Tops DVAS

This was the fourth straight victory for the Gores over the Chicks dating back to 2012. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

This was the fourth straight victory for the Gores over the Chicks dating back to 2012. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

For the eighth time in nine years, the Gore-Gore Rollergirls will be battling for the boot as participants in Toronto Roller Derby’s annual championship game, but now the team that refers to itself as the Dynasty will have to wait to find out its opponents under ToRD’s new playoff system that will see the top team get what amounts to a two-round bye to the final. It has been an impressive run of consistency that has spanned generations and delivered three championships already. And if Saturday’s clockwork-like 152-point rout of Chicks Ahoy! is any indication, the Gores are far and away the team to beat this season.

Chicks' jammer Rosemary's Rabies sneaks past Murdercat! on the outside. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Chicks’ jammer Rosemary’s Rabies sneaks past Murdercat! on the outside. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Unlike their games against the Death Track Dolls and the Smoke City Betties where they were able to start well before fading, the Chicks were overwhelmed from the opening whistle against the Gores finding themselves down 11-0 three jams in. However, the Chicks did rebound briefly after that, picking up three straight leads beginning with a big pick up from Rosemary’s Rabies who seems to be slipping back into a jamming role on this Chicks’ team that lacks a bit of depth at the position and was missing a key jammer on Saturday in Wheels of Misfortune. Monster Muffin and R2 Smack-U followed that up with lead jammer pick ups of their own, a run that actually saw the Chicks take the lead 14-13. It was a short lived comeback.

The Gores picked up the first power jam of the game and went on a run centered on some nice offense from Jill ‘Em All that eventually saw the lead retaken and the expanded to 54-14 just over thirteen minutes into the half. It was evident early on that the Gores’ packs were running on a different level than those of the Chicks: the timing, execution and togetherness was exceptional, often overtly moving the Chicks packs around the track at will. This will be something that the Chicks will have to contend with moving forward, as skater-for-skater, there were some exceptional performances by players in green but as a whole they lacked cohesion.

By the midway point of half the Gores had completely wrestled control of the game away from the Chicks and after a third-straight power jam, had built a 63-14 lead. Two more power jams followed as the Chicks’ offense fell apart somewhat, forcing a focus on defense. CN Power skater Biggley Smallz was once again the standout for the Chicks, playing some heavy defense and engaging in some fantastic one-on-one battles with her CN Power counterpart Santa Muerte, while long-time vet Furious Georgia looked surprisingly comfortable on the track despite playing her first game in over a year. Rookie Vag Lightning was also excellent defensively, and some timely big hits at the back of the pack on rapidly advancing Gores’ jammers saved her point (and others) on more than one occasion. But these brief flashes of great defense didn’t translate to much offense and by the end of the half, the Gores had pulled comfortably ahead 102-21 (holding the Chicks to only 7 points over the final 20 minutes or so of the half).

Chicks' pivot Biggley Smallz oversees the pack. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Chicks’ pivot Biggley Smallz oversees the pack. (Photo by Joe Mac)

It should be noted that defensively, this was the best performance of the season for the Chicks, 219 points being the least amount they’d given up in three games on the year, but their 67 points was the lowest total of the season, although they did managed to nearly triple their score in the second half of this one. They got some very physical jamming from Hoff early and then Emraged later in the game (Em had another strong game for the Chicks and is emerging as a key skater at the core of this team) and R2 Smack-U and especially Monster Muffin had some fine moments. Early on in her ToRD career, Monster Muffin has shown some explosive skills and speed but also a penchant for some liberal play that has led to penalty troubles this season, but she is the obvious offensive lynchpin moving forward for the Chicks.

The Gores are slowly broadening their jammer rotation as well. Beaver Mansbridge continues to put together an incredible season for the Gores, whether in the pack or jamming, a dynamic duality also being displayed by Lexi Con, who is getting more time in the pack in 2015. Sophomore jammer Lumberjack Flash continues to develop, and on Saturday rookie Mudercat! shared a spot in the rotation with Taranosaurus Rex.

Although the Gores got a little sloppy defensively late in the game, they’d already amassed a considerable 155-38 lead at the midway point of the half and seemed to lock on the cruise control late, coasting to the 219-67 win and top spot in the regular season standings. This is the first time that the Gores have topped the standings since 2011, and it ends the two-year reign at the top by the Death Track Dolls. And under the new ToRD playoff system, this win books their spot in the June 6th Battle for the Boot.

However, despite finishing at the bottom of the standings, the Chicks will get a second chance under the new tiered playoff system. They will face the third place team (either the Dolls or Betties) in the 3vs4 quarterfinal on May 9th. This will mark the first time since 2010 that all four ToRD teams will qualify for the playoffs.

Nerd Glasses

Jail Mary looked impressive in her D-VAS debut. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Jail Mary looked impressive in her D-VAS debut. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The 2015 D-VAS also continued their development on Saturday night, facing another stiff test against a vastly more experienced team in the Woodstock Warriors. Led offensively by former Forest City jammer Slacker Smacker and current Royal City jammer Stefi Spitfire and defensively by Vegas, Wrench Bendin’ Betty, and Iron Fist (and featuring the return of former Forest City veteran Back Ally Sally), Woodstock overwhelmed the D-VAS in the first half. Although things started fairly tight (ten minutes in, the D-VAS were within reach, down 29-19), by the end of the first, Woodstock had jumped ahead considerably 130-28.

But for the D-VAS, success is marked not in victories, but in progress, and in those terms this game was a huge success. Although only two weeks removed from their season opener, the D-VAS looked like a different team from the one that lost to Orangeville to kick off 2015. Buoyed, in part, by the debut of London Middlesex Roller Derby transfer Jail Mary (who looked comfortable in both the star and the stripe), the D-VAS got the expected strong performance from Battering Maam, Francesca Fiure and GigaWatts; there were improved performances from jammer Ellen Rage and emerging double threats Noodle Kaboodle and Banshee (jammer Rubyfruit Rumble took a big hit late in the game and needed to be helped off the track by the paramedic and was favouring her ankle; something to keep an eye on as the D-VAS’ season picks up steam).

Overall, there were noticeable improvements on both offense and defense from the team, despite the 243-99 loss, and things certainly seem to be trending in the right direction for ToRD’s future stars.

D-VAS jammer Battering Maam attempts to bear the pack on the outside. (Photo by Greg Russell)

D-VAS jammer Battering Ma’am attempts to beat the pack on the outside. (Photo by Greg Russell)

***Next up for ToRD is the final regular season showdown of 2015 with second place and a bye to the semifinals on the line when the Dolls and the Betties face off on March 7. A game so important that it’s not even a double header.

Bruisers Hold Off Brute-Leggers in a Another Nail Biter at the Bunker; D-VAS Debut with tough loss to Orangeville.

Bruisers pivot Monster Muffin works with Lucid Lou to contain Mangles the Clown. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Bruisers’ pivot Monster Muffin works with Lucid Lou to contain Annie Time. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

There is less than two minutes on the clock. It has been a ferocious bout, featuring six lead changes in total and no single leads greater than 21 points throughout. Two teams, virtually evenly matched have performed wonderfully: smart, tenacious, powerful and fast, they have provided the crowd with everything that a roller derby fan could want. And now it is coming down to one final jam.

The home team Bay Street Bruisers have managed to carve out a slight 157-150 lead over the visitors, the Brute-Leggers from Guelph’s Royal City Roller Girls. They’ve put Wolverina on the line; she’s been a steady and agile presence all game and is actually in the midst of a great season for her home team, the Smoke City Betties as well. A ToRD veteran (who began her career in New Zealand before transferring to Toronto in 2010), this is her first season on a travel team roster. Next to her on the jam line is Annie Time, a strong physical jammer who’s been powering her way through Bruisers’ walls all night.

Bruisers' jammer Wolverina is involved in a pile up with the Brute-Leggers' pack. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Bruisers’ jammer Wolverina is involved in a pile up with the Brute-Leggers’ pack. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The whistle blows and the jammers are off. Annie Time tries to take the inside on the Bruisers, but the line of Hannibelle, SewWhat?, Lucid Lou and Honey Boom Boom works her out of bounds and in the confusion off the start, draws a cut. Wolverina bursts through to pick up lead and begins to carve up the pack on the power jam, extending the lead to 20 points, the largest for the Bruisers all game, and the home team seems to have the game in hand. But the Brute-Leggers kick into frantic mode and both teams start to accumulate penalties at an alarming rate; it works and ‘Rina is eventually drawn into a penalty as the game clock expires and with time winding down, the visitors have one last desperate chance to get back into it. Rushing out of the box, Annie Time picks up 5, and a flurry of penalty calls leaves only Lucid Lou on the track for the Bruisers. She turns to square herself to the advancing ‘Leggers’ jammer and gets plowed over, falling awkwardly. She stays down and the referees whistle the jam dead. There is 35 seconds left on the jam clock, but the game is over. An anti-climactic finish to a thrilling game.

It was an important first game of the seasons for both teams who will have very different paths this year. Royal City is the most recent Canadian league to get elevated to full WFTDA status and next month the Brute-Leggers begin their WFTDA odyssey with their first sanctioned games (against Hellions of Troy and Albany) on their way to their initial ranking, and, hopefully, a quick run up the standings into Division 2 play. And they seem to have the team to do it. An experienced bench (Professor Wrex and veteran announcer Captain Lou El Bammo) leads a solidly built roster, anchored by an excellent jammer rotation of Mangles the Clown, Stefi Spitfire and Annie Time (a revelation in this game, who just began skating in 2013), along with Tri-City transfer Praying Man Tease, who was phenomenal with both the star and the stripe in the bout, and seems to be the key to this team’s success in 2015. But they also have a smart pack, led by the intelligent offensive play of Olivia Nuke ‘Em Bomb, and the hard-hitting Built Ford Rough, but filled out by Rugburn (who has made a fantastic transition into the pack) and Tragic Pyro-ny as well.

Brute-Leggers' pivot Built Ford Rough works with Olivia Nuke'em Bomb to contain Devochka. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Brute-Leggers’ pivot Built Ford Rough works with Olivia Nuke’em Bomb to contain Devochka. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

This game proved a good start for the Brute-Leggers who managed to work out some kinks over the course of the game, and improved as time wore on. Right out of the gates, they seemed to be a step or two behind their Toronto counterparts who were also debuting a new, largely rebuilt roster of their own, that did feature some Bay Street stalwarts such as Tushy Galore and Robber Blind, but also a new generation of on-track leaders, as well as a new bench coach in former D-VAS bench boss Toque ‘n’ Ale. Lucid Lou made a successful return to ToRD on Saturday (she seemed ok after the game and was walking on her own), while Hannibelle and SewWhat? were keys in the pack and having experienced jammers Lexi Con and Monster Muffin donning the stripes is a massive advantage for the team who ran their offense through the aforementioned Wolverina, Devochka, the wily Beaver Mansbridge and co-captain Sleeper Hold, who was a clutch performer all night and finished the game with 54 points on a 75% lead percentage (Wolverina was second in scoring with 47 points, while Beaver notched a 58% lead percentage; and after a rough first half, Devochka came through after the break with 19 points in the second).

The Bruisers, playing some great lock-down defense, managed leads of 34-25 at the ten-minute mark and 39-33 at the midway point of the first half before the Brute-Leggers managed to tie it up with seven minutes to go and eventually Annie Time blew open the game with a 19-point jam to close out the first period and give the ‘Leggers the 82-61 halftime lead.

Royal City managed to hold onto the lead until the midway point of the second (up 120-118) before the teams began to trade lead off almost by the minute, setting up that thrilling final jam.

D-VAS' FirecrackHer goes in for the hit on Orangeville's Betty Bad Touch. (Photo by Joe Mac)

D-VAS’ FirecrackHer goes in for the hit on Orangeville’s Betty Bad Touch. (Photo by Joe Mac)

It was the third week in a row that Toronto Roller Derby has delivered, featuring games with point differentials of 5, 7, and now 15 points, fans have been treated to some fine roller derby and some thrilling games to kick off the 2015 season.

And speaking of kicking off the 2015 season, this year’s D-VAS, Toronto Roller Derby’s farm team, also took to the track for the first time in 2015 on Saturday night with the freshest roster the team has seen in years. With a limited number of transfers, this year’s team will undoubtedly suffer a lot of growing pains, but they’ve got a long way to go before next fall’s entry draft and ample time to fine-tune.

On Saturday, they began the season with a tough loss to a vastly more experienced Orangeville Roller Girls Fox Force Five team featuring members of its WFTDA-apprentice-level travel team. Anchored by a trio of veterans including blockers Francesca Fiure and Gigawatts and jammer Battering Ma’am, they had no answer for the likes of Orangeville jammers K-Smax, Pink Slamminade, Lil-Maehem and Betty Bad Touch, and were dominated in the pack by Boot E, Mercy D. Nide, Eleanor Rigamortis and Goodbye Kitty among others.

Diebrarian, Leggs Benedict (pivot) and Francesca Fiure work to contain Lil-Maehem. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Diebrarian, Leggs Benedict (pivot) and Francesca Fiure work to contain Lil-Maehem. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

But the future looks bright for the D-VAS who got some impressive performances from Wreck’n’ RollHer and Diebrarian in the pack and Ellen Rage and Noodle Kaboodle on the jam line. Losses seem to sting less for the D-VAS whose chief goal is to learn and develop as skaters, and there was much to be learned in the 411-87 loss. They’ll get a chance to put this new-found knowledge to the test in two weeks time when they host Woodstock on the 21st.

***Next up for Toronto Roller Derby is a double header on February 21st featuring the D-VAS hosting Woodstock Roller Derby, and a ToRD house league regular season matchup featuring the first-place Gore-Gore Rollergirls (2-0) and the last place Chicks Ahoy! (0-2). Tickets are on sale now.

Gores Pull into Top Spot in ToRD standings; Dolls improve to 1-1

The Gore-Gore Rollergirls and Smoke City Betties dueled for top spot in the standings. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The Gore-Gore Rollergirls and Smoke City Betties dueled for top spot in the standings. (Photo by Joe Mac)

For the second time this month all four of Toronto Roller Derby’s house league teams were in action and it was a scrappy night at The Bunker on Saturday. Big hits, tight defense and some explosive jamming defined the evening’s games, and when the dust settled on the track the Gore-Gore Rollergirls (2-0) found themselves in first-place in the league, while the defending champion Death Track Dolls (1-1) managed their first win of the season over the least-place Chicks Ahoy! (0-2) to pull even with the Smoke City Betties (1-1).

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 155 vs. The Smoke City Betties 148

The Gores led for most of the game, but only narrowly, including a 13-point lead at half. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Gores led for most of the game, but only narrowly, including a 13-point lead at half. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Right now it looks as if the ToRD regular season is a three-way race for the top and there doesn’t appear to be much distance between the competitors. For the second game in a row, the Gore-Gore Rollergirls held off a late charge from their opponents to win by the narrowest of margins, and the Smoke City Betties (who trounced the Chicks in their season opener) will be left to wonder, “What if…?”

It’s been a long road for the Betties since their last Battle for the Boot appearance, and after the season opener it seemed as if this could be the season that the venerable team bounces back. On Saturday, things started off spectacularly for the Betties, with Smoka Cola picking up lead and the Gore jammer Santa Muerte heading to the box, the Betties found themselves spotted an 11-0 lead right out of the gates. The Betties actually dominated the opening minutes of the game, taking advantage of a scattered Gores team to lunge ahead 26-0 nearly seven minutes into the opening period.

The Gores went with a broad jammer rotation (Taranosaurus Rex, Lexi Con, Santa Muerte, Beaver Mansbridge, and Lumberjack Flash, who was playing her first game of the season), and it took them awhile to get going as the packs couldn’t find a steady rhythm with their jammers. Speaking of packs, co-captain Chronic returned after missing the season opener and was a huge presence for the Gores, and former D-VAS Knoccer Mom also made her ToRD debut.

It took a while for the Gores to get going, but they had managed to stem the flow by the ten-minute mark and picked up 10 points in the opening third of the half, but were still down 40-10.

As they did in their season opener, the Betties favoured a tighter rotation and it was clicking from the start. Led by Smoka Cola, Wolverina and Kil’Her At Large, it was WackedHer who truly got things going early on and was cutting up the Gores’ packs in the first half. Off-season transfer AnneBulance made her first appearance in the pack, and TJRD graduate Fight of the Chonchords debuted and looked very comfortable playing on a line with Tushy Galore, Honey Boom Boom and Brickhouse Bardot. But it was veterans SewWhat? And Lowblowpalooza who stood out when the Betties were controlling things early.

Taranosaurus Rex, who got knocked around last week against the Dolls, had a  bounce-back game against the Betties and sparked the Gores comeback midway through the first. Absorbing a big hit from Betties’ blocker Isla Be Damned, Rexy bounced right back, laying down a 19-point jam at the midway point to double up the Gores’ score and get them back into the game, down 59-38.

Betties' jammer Smoka Cola tore up the track and was key in her team's late-game comeback. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Betties’ jammer Smoka Cola tore up the track and was key in her team’s late-game comeback. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Gores started to come in waves over the last half of the opening period, with skaters like Viktory Lapp taking on bigger roles on the track and seeming to gain confidence with each passing moment (Vik supplied some nice offense during the comeback). Beaver Mansbridge was wearing the star for the first (and it turns out, only) lead change in the game when the Gores pulled ahead 72-69 with only five to go in the half. The Betties came undone over the final five, with jammers repeatedly in the box, and by the break, the Gores had taken a slim 83-70 lead.

The physicality ramped up in the second with both teams landing massive hits. But there had been a clear momentum shift in the game, and despite trying to mix it up by jamming SewWhat? and Honey Boom Boom, the Betties could not muster a sustained offensive push and by the midway point of the half found themselves facing the largest deficit of the game, down 132-85.

Then, at the 10-minute mark, Betties jammer Smoka Cola took over the game. It started with 21-point jam and continued through to the end, playing every second jam and almost single-handedly bringing the Betties back. With 2:30 left, the Betties were back within 19 and had outscored the Gores 37-18 over a twelve-minute stretch, but some questionable calls stalled the comeback. A few overextended jams (a 7-4 jam and 6-4 jam for the Betties) killed precious time on the clock, and inexplicably, with their team playing the best derby they had all night, the bench did not try to stop the clock in the last five minutes, leaving a time out and an official review on the board despite having pulled within 10 points (this would also have provided Smoka with time for a breather as well, as she began to run out of steam near the end of her heroic run). In the end, time ran out on the Betties and the Gores remained perfect on the season with the 155-148 win.

Death Track Dolls 245 vs. Chicks Ahoy! 151

Chicks' jammer Monster Muffin battles with Dolls' pivot Hannibelle

Chicks’ jammer Monster Muffin battles with Dolls’ pivot Hannibelle

The Chicks were coming off of a rough loss to the Betties in their season opener, and burst out of the gates after the opening whistle in the first game of the evening, seeming like a team obsessed and catching the Dolls off guard to hold a narrow 9-8 lead, five minutes in.

Another first-year transfer was the story in this one, as Monster Muffin, on the heels of her strong debut against the Gores, anchored an improved Chicks offense, and had a lot of success against the Dolls.  It took a while, but the defending champs finally blew open the game on a Scarcasm 25-point jam, all coming off of natural grand slams as the Dolls’ pack locked things down.

There weren’t many changes to the Dolls’ roster from the season opener, nor for the Chicks who stuck with their tight jammer rotation of Monster Muffin, R2 Smack U and Wheels of Misfortune (with Rosemary’s Rabies offering relief). The line of EmRaged, Biggley Smallz, Rabies and Joss Wheelin was outstanding for the Chicks all night, often shifting momentum with single, dominant jams, and kept the Chicks within reach, down 61-32 with 10 left in the opening period. The Dolls also maintained their season-opening rotation anchored by Devochka (who was steady all night), Sleeper Hold (who had three critical, game-changing jams), and Scar, but also gave track time to the rookie jammers Common Dominator and PrEditor.

The Chicks took advantage of some Dolls’ jammer-penalty issues, and despite excellent penalty killing from Hannibelle and Robotomy, pulled within 6 points with three minutes to go. It was only a Dolls’ power jam in the final moments that gave them a relatively secure 92-62 lead at the half.

The Dolls began the second half on a power start along with a 4-2 pack advantage, and despite the efforts of EmRaged (who was coming off of her second straight excellent game), they made the Chicks pay. A few 20+ point power jams in the opening ten minutes of the half saw the Dolls open up a substantial 144-69 lead. It was one that they would not relent.

Once again the Chicks faded after a great start. The Dolls led by 30 at the break. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Once again the Chicks faded after a great start. The Dolls led by 30 at the break. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Despite some penalty troubles Dawson had another strong game in the pack for the Dolls and along with Getcha Kicks (who has fully transitioned from jammer to key blocker for the Dolls) provided some timely offense for their team. Hannibelle, working well on a line with Robotomy, continues to emerge as a powerhouse in the pack for the Dolls who seem to have weathered yet another massive turnover and look strong in the build-up to the playoffs. UpHer Cut made her return to the Dolls after a year-long hiatus, and rookie, and former D-VAS standout, April Cruel made her debut.

The Chicks looked much better than they did two weeks ago, and with a strong core led by that phenomenal line of Biggley, Em, Rabies and Joss have a lot to build around. Rookie Vag Lightning continues to improve and was a strong physical presence in the pack, while returning veteran Hoff (who very briefly retired in the off season), is playing some of her best derby in years. Add to that a talent like Monster Muffin anchoring the offense, and the Chicks are trending upward and could be a dangerous foe come playoff time.

But on this night, the Dolls proved to be a step ahead, and looked much more consistent in skating away with the 245-151 victory to even up their record at 1-1.

** Layer9.ca was there track side to record the proceedings. Watch the archives here.

**ToRD is right back at it next week! It’ll be a travel team double header at The Bunker with the Bay Street Bruisers hosting their rivals the Bruteleggers (out of Royal City) and the D-VAS hosting Orangeville. Tickets are available now.