Beast of the East

La Racaille Becomes First Team to Repeat at Beast 10.

BOE 2017

There’s just something about the Beast of the East.

With the flat track roller derby community on the eve of its biggest regular season weekend of the year—where dozens of the best men’s and women’s flat track teams in the game will converge upon Eugene, Oregon, for three days of brutal WFTDA and MRDA action over three tracks—it seems remarkable that in the day and age of competitive algorithms and opponent weight, a comparatively modest house league tournament in a similarly modest neighbourhood rink in Montreal has captured the hearts of so many. And the fact that it continues to do so year after year is a testament to the importance of the grass roots movement at the heart of modern roller derby.

Celebrating its tenth year, the Beast of the East—a two-day double elimination tournament featuring home teams primarily from Quebec and Ontario—has over the years developed its own mythology. The longest continuously running tournament in Canada’s modern roller derby revival, the event has weaved its way into the very genetics of the sport in eastern Canada. And this year, for the first time since 2012, the tournament was reopened to teams from Canada’s east coast, and the Muddy River and Anchor City Rollers represented the region well.

wench beast 17 Neil

La Racaille was in the mix yet again with Iron Wench leading the way. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

In the mythology of the Beast, the team that has muscled its way into the centre of the narrative is Montreal Roller Derby’s La Racaille; and the skater who is the undeniable hero in this mythology is the Iron Wench. Arguably our nation’s best and, at one point in time, most well-known jammer, Wench stepped away from the spotlight (and briefly the sport) after a heartbreaking 2013 WFTDA Division 1 playoff tournament. Back on the track with La Racaille since 2016, the public outside of Montreal must wait until April of every year to see her skate. And in the past two years, that legend at the centre of the Beast mythos has continued to grow.

La Racaille entered Beast 10 as the defending champs and the tournament’s most successful squad. The only team to have won over 30 games in the tournament’s history, they were two-time champions (2009, 16), five-time finalists (2008, 10, 13), and had managed a third-place finish in 2014 as well. The one thing that La Racaille (nor any other team) had ever done was to successfully defend the Beast. And in an all-Montreal final for the second year in a row, they pulled it off: yet another accomplishment in the incredible history that the team has already established. And they did so in dramatic fashion: the 124-122 two-point victory over leaguemates Les Contrabanditas was the closest since the Slaughter Daughters pulled off a last-jam comeback to defeat the Gore-Gore Rollergirls 87-85 in 2011.

Double Elimination Round

The double elimination round featured an interesting mix of traditional powers dominating along with some unexpected underdogs pulling off some impressive wins. Ten-time participants Les Contrabanditas, La Racaille, and the Death Track Dolls (with a combined eleven Top 3 finishes between them) advanced directly to the quarterfinals with two-straight wins on Saturday morning (although the Dolls were tested mightily in a two-point win over Quebec’s Casse-Gueules). The fourth team to do so, however, were Halifax’s Harbour Grudges who pulled off 63-54 and 56-34 victories over Durham Region’s Atom Smashers and Toronto’s Smoke City Bandits respectively to be the surprise team of the opening round.

Grudges BOE 17 Neil

The east coast teams provided the biggest surprises of the tournament, with Anchor City’s Harbour Grudges advancing out of the first round with two straight wins. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

There were tougher roads to the quarterfinals for cohosts Les Filles du Roi and (who dominated the Bandits in the must-win game after a narrow loss to Casse-Gueules); Capital City’s Cupquakes (who won the Beasts’ second ever overtime game when they eliminated the Gore-Gore Rollergirls 69-67 after a wild, thrilling 24-22 OT jam); Moncton’s Mad Hitters (who eliminated the Smashers and Les Casse); and Toronto’s Chicks Ahoy! who, despite an early loss to the Ditas, dominated their way out of day one with a record-setting 181-39 win over tournament debutantes Les Rebelles out of Sherbrooke (a game that featured a remarkable 40-point jam from ToRD’s Monster Muffin).

Playoff Round

Chicks Neil

Despite a first round loss to the Ditas, Chicks Ahoy! advanced to the quarterfinals with a record-setting scoring performance. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The quarterfinals did not deliver the kind of tense matchups that the elimination round saw, but was most notable for strong performances in losing causes. The Mad Hitters’ tournament came to an end at the hands of La Racaille in a more-than-respectable 53-29 loss. The last time a Muddy River team came to the Beast—the now defunct Reines of Terror in 2012—they were two and done after being outscored 210-34 in those two games (including a 139-0 shutout), a far cry from the competitive performance put forth by the Hitters. Similarly, The Harbour Grudges gave the Chicks Ahoy! all they could handle before the traditional ToRD power pulled away. A severely shorthanded Death Track Dolls also pulled away from the Cupquakes late in their quarterfinal showdown to make the final four for the first time since 2013.

The Dolls simply didn’t have the fire power to match up against an inspired Ditas in the semi finals (falling 91-54), before a thrilling, last gasp effort from Iron Wench helped La Racaille stun the Chicks 65-63 in the other.

What it all led to was a classic medal round showdown featuring two league-on-league battles. The Chicks and Dolls last met in the third-place game all the way back in 2011 with the Death Track Dolls picked up the team’s first (of two) Beast trophies; this year, the Chicks got some measure of delayed revenge picking up their own second Beast trophy with a 157-79 victory.

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Watch the Beast of the East final on layer9.ca.

You’ve got to go back even further, to 2009, to find the last time Montreal’s Contrabanditas and La Racaille squared off for the Beast title. Iron Wench is the only remaining member of that great 2009 Racaille team that took down the Ditas 49-34, and once again she led her team back to the crown again, though this time getting help from her other throw-back counterparts: Squarrior (returning to the league) and the freshly unretired Greta Bobo were part of the team’s old-school jammer rotation (and it was Bobo who was out for the critical final jam). And all three were needed to contend with a determined Ditas team who were led offensively by Wild Card (the former Dyna Hurtcha), who similarly retired from travel team play to focus on home teams, and who over the Ditas inspired run, put her own statement on this legendary tournament.

Beast by the Numbers

2: The differential in the final, tying the previous record set in 2011.

2: The number of overtime games in Beast history after the Gore-Gore Rollergirls and the Cupquakes played the Beasts’ second overtime game (the first was a 2014 quarterfinal won by the Riot Squad 71-62 over the Luscious Lunch Ladies).

36: The number of games won by La Racaille in Beast history (only two other teams have won over 20).

39: Number of points scored by Iron Wench in a single jam against Les Rebelles in the first round.

40: Number of points scored by Monster Muffin in a single jam against Les Rebelles in the first round.

181: Points scored by Chicks Ahoy! in first round. A team scoring record (the previous being 164).

220: Combined points scored by Chicks Ahoy! and Les Rebelles in their first-round game (181-39). Also a record.

Nerd Glasses

Review the full bracket here.

Select trackside footage available on layer9.ca.

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The Neon Army Advances

How Montreal’s New Skids on the Block Became Canada’s First Team to Play for the WFTDA D1 Championship

Photo by Sean Murphy (girlsofderby.com)

1. The Moment

It was set up to be a frantic finish.

With one jam to go in the third-place game of the opening weekend of the 2016 Women’s Flat Track Derby Association Division 1 playoffs, the home team, Montreal’s New Skids on the Block, held a 10-point lead (167-157) over Bay Area Derby.

The penultimate jam had been a wild one; offsetting jammer penalties had necessitated a two-minute jam. Bay Area’s Brawllen Angel had managed to outscore Montreal’s Falcon Punch 13-8 to narrow the gap to 10.

B.A.D., one of the founding members of the WFTDA, had been there before. After appearing at the inaugural Dust Devil Championship in 2006, they had qualified for six of the next nine championship tournaments including the previous four consecutive seasons from 2012-15, finishing third overall in 2013 and ’14.

In a sense, Montreal had been there before as well: never to Champs, but on the cusp. Close enough to feel it and to be crushed by the disappointment of not making it. In the same game just the year before, they’d led Minnesota by as much as 30 points and were still leading late before a 48-18 run over the last seven jams secured the win for Minnesota.

Montreal’s Miracle Whips came to the line with the star on her helmet for the final jam against B.A.D. with memories of the previous year’s late collapse buried behind a straight-ahead focus. April Bloodgate was her jammer-line opponent. The crowd—substantial for a Division playoff tournament—was tense. Eerily quiet. The whistle blew and with blockers in the box, both jammers were able to shake free of the pack at turn one with Whips one step ahead; then the Montreal jammer, with the inside position staked out, threw a shoulder into the unsuspecting Bloodgate, who went down hard and was swallowed up by the swarming Montreal defense. The crowd roared in relief.

Two quick scoring passes extended the lead substantially, but with the Bay Area bench cradling one more team time out in its back pocket, the Skids needed to kill the final minute of the jam, so Whips pulled up on the back stretch to join her depleted pack to bolster the defense. After a second Bloodgate scoring pass—and with all of the Skids’ blockers now back on the track—Whips suddenly skated back from the pack to meet the fast-advancing Bay Area jammer. Whips took Bloodgate’s momentum and ushered her to the outside, finishing her with a little shove; then the drag back began. Whips went back. And she kept going back. And back. She drew the jammer all the way to Turn 4. Waited a second after the jam clock had ticked away for good measure and slowly, with a stone-faced calm, tapped her hips.

The partisan crowd went wild, danced in the aisles, chanted. Across Canada, from 709 in the east to the Eves of Destruction in the west, the jubilant track-side celebrations were matched in living-room viewing parties.

Montreal’s New Skids on the Block had become the first Canadian team to advance to the WFTDA Championship tournament.

2. So Bad It Hurts

On Friday, March 3, 2006 somebody going by the handle MissTheMeaner posted a message in Rollergirl.ca’s online roller skating forum with the subject line “Rollerderby in Montreal.”

She asked, simply, if anyone was interested in becoming part of a roller derby team in the city. The post got exactly one response, seventeen days later, from someone posting as Georgia W. Tush:

“i am! i am!! so bad it hurts.”

In 2006, Alyssa Kwasny had just moved to the big city of Montreal from Thunder Bay to study at Concordia University.

Cover image from the January/February 2007 issue of the Mirror, featuring a preview of Montreal's first game, a pre-season showdown with Toronto's Gore-Gore Rollergirls,

Cover image from the January/February 2007 issue of the Mirror, featuring a preview of Montreal’s first game, a pre-season showdown with Toronto’s Gore-Gore Rollergirls.

Early in that same year, a friend of hers in Chicago had joined one of that city’s roller derby leagues. While the idea of roller derby intrigued her, Kwasny quickly discovered that there was no roller derby league in Montreal. Indeed, her early Internet snooping led her to the realization that there were no roller derby leagues in Canada. She did find MySpace pages and websites for leagues south of the border and was immediately taken in by the riot grrrl imagery and the punk rock aesthetic.

Eventually her online sleuthing led her to the Rollergirl.ca website and a web forum devoted to starting roller derby in Canada. There she discovered that there were discussions about roller derby ongoing in Toronto, Hamilton, Edmonton and Vancouver, and then she saw that lone post about Montreal.

Kwasny, now officially Georgia W. Tush, ran with that MissTheMeaner post, starting a MySpace page and checking out roller rinks. Eventually, after getting enough traffic on the site, she organized a meeting at Foufounes Electriques, one of the city’s most venerable underground music venues.

Fourteen people came to the initial meeting, and the first person through the door was someone Tush already knew from the music scene, Marie-Chantal Trachy, the woman who would come to be known as Trash ’n’ Smash, another key figure in the development of roller derby in Montreal.

Just as Tush and Trash were really getting things started in Montreal that spring, on Saturday, July 22, 2006, at a sold out Burlington arena, the Hamilton Harlots and the Steel Town Tank Girls welcomed the sport of roller derby back to Canada, playing in the first public house league game in Canadian flat track history.

Inspired by the the success of Hammer City’s opening game, one of Toronto’s first teams, the Smoke City Betties, began to consider hosting a public event as well. In the end, they decided on a semi-closed tournament, or a “day of derby,” featuring a tournament of mini-games with the winner crowned Derby Queens of the Pre-Season. These Derby Queens would then take on the host Betties in a full-length regulation contest.

Poster for Betties' D-Day. Held in August 2006, it was the first tournament in Canadian flat-track roller derby.

Poster for Betties’ D-Day. Held in August 2006; it was the first tournament in Canadian flat-track roller derby.

The Betties D-Day took place at George Bell Arena in downtown Toronto’s west end on August 19, 2006. On that day, the formation of the Canadian roller derby community began. For many of the skaters there, despite having skated for months, it would be the first time they had ever seen a flat track roller derby game actually played.

Montreal had not even named teams yet and for this event divided its skaters into two squads, called the Cougars and the Felines. On the track, Hammer City’s established teams, not surprisingly, led the way. But it was Montreal who proved the biggest surprise, playing each other in the best game of the first round (a one-pointer won by the Cougars) before defeating the newly named Chicks Ahoy! out of Toronto in the semifinals.

While they did lose in the final to the Hamilton Harlots, the league’s performance provided a certain kind of foreshadowing for the dominant league it would quickly become.

*                                  *                                  *

Montreal's New Skids on the Block at the 2010 Quad City Chaos (Photo by Derek Lang)

Montreal’s New Skids on the Block at the 2010 Quad City Chaos (Photo by Derek Lang)

In March 2010 Toronto Roller Derby’s travel team, CN Power, hosted what was essentially an unofficial Canadian championship. The two-day tournament, called the Quad City Chaos, featured the four top teams in Canada at the time. Hammer City’s Eh! Team, Montreal’s New Skids on the Block and Vancouver’s Terminal City All-Stars joined Toronto for a round robin tournament.

One of the most anticipated moments of that first Quad City Chaos was the opening game between Hammer City and Montreal. Within the past year, both had become the first Canadian—and first non-US—members of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, which meant that they were going to be a part of the WFTDA’s ranking system and were eligible to compete for a spot in the association’s annual playoffs. This historic game not only contained the first WFTDA-sanctioned game in Canada, but it was also the first between two non-US teams and the first to ever be played outside of that country.

Montreal had been on somewhat of a tear at the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010, playing anyone and everyone and going wherever they needed to go to do so. In the weeks leading up to the Quad City Chaos they’d gone on a two-game weekend road trip to Arizona, followed by a three-game road trip down the east coast of the US, going 4-1 in the process. Although none of the games were broadcast, through textcasts on the Derby News Network and live twitter updates it was clear that Montreal was soaking up new slow-style strategies that were just being developed south of the border and had yet to reach Canada. By the time the Skids rolled into Toronto in March, they had become a changed team.

The Hamilton-Montreal showdown was a very early Saturday morning game at ToRD’s Hangar; there were only insiders and superfans lining the track for this highly anticipated moment. The first hint that something might be different came while watching Montreal begin their warm-up off skates. While it’s since become the norm, roller derby in early 2010, certainly in Canada, was still deeply cloaked in its punk rock attitude and the notion of working out off skates to improve on-skates performance was new. It seemed to many skaters to be a waste of valuable track time. But there was Montreal, running laps around the space, doing leaps and stretches and planks.

Montreal baffled Hammer City and send a clear message to the Canadian roller derby scene at QCC 2010. (Photo by Derek Lang)

Montreal baffled Hammer City and sent a clear message to the Canadian roller derby scene at QCC 2010. (Photo by Derek Lang)

Within a few minutes of the opening whistle of that first game, it was clear that it was not going to be a pretty sight. Montreal dominated from the start; they baffled Hammer City with what at the time was strange play, alternating blazing speed with grinding slowness, an intentional duality that had never been witnessed in the Canadian game before. During the first New Skids power jam, when the Hammer City jammer was in the penalty box, the relentless Montreal blockers isolated a lone Hammer City blocker and then held her behind her counterparts who struggled to stay in play (i.e., to remain part of the pack). The jammer sped by the stopped skaters and Hammer City could only watch it all unfold, bewildered. Whatever game Montreal was playing was not the same as the one being played by their opponents.

To put things in context: within the previous eighteen months, Montreal’s and Hamilton’s travel teams had met twice in thrilling, incredibly closely matched contests. Montreal had been able to pull off both wins – but just barely – with fairly regular, though low scoring, results for the time: 58–48 and then 84–80. A combined difference of fourteen points over two games.

When the final whistle blew in that WFTDA-sanctioned game at the Quad City Chaos in March 2010 in Toronto, the scoreboard read 208–26.

Montreal would go on to beat Vancouver and Toronto with similar ease that weekend. Never before had one Canadian team so thoroughly dominated another, and especially not teams that shared such a similar history. But the game had changed: it had changed quickly and it had changed remarkably and it was obvious that Montreal was at the forefront of this evolution.

Montreal Roller Derby distanced itself from its Canadian peers in 2010, but then again, the team distanced itself from a lot of teams in 2010. The Skids would go on to skate to an 11–3 record that season, notching big wins against Tampa, DC, and Arizona.

By September of that year, the New Skids on the Block made flat track roller derby history when they laced up against their increasingly intense rivals Boston for a quarterfinal showdown in the WFTDA’s Eastern Region playoffs. It was the fifth year of the WFTDA playoffs, and Montreal, qualifying sixth out of the twelve teams in the Eastern Region tournament, was the first non-US-based team to play in them.

This was the second year that the Derby News Network would broadcast the entire playoffs and there was a slowly growing global interest in the games. For pretty much the first time, the derby community was seeing the game being played in a way that was no longer comparable to their local version. The teams in the playoffs, and particularly those top twelve teams that would qualify for the championship tournament, were playing at a completely different level strategically and athletically from everyone else. And because Montreal was involved, there were plenty of Canadian eyes trained on the playoffs for the first time.

Montreal would lose that quarterfinal game to the higher ranked Boston and be relegated to the Consolation Bracket that they were expected to dominate, and for the most part, they did, crushing the Dutchland Derby Rollers from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, by two hundred sixty-five points before Raleigh’s Carolina Rollergirls scored a controversial last-gasp two-point win over Montreal.

Montreal’s appearance would resonate even beyond the borders of Canada. In 2011, London, England, would qualify for the playoffs and the two teams would meet up in the first all-international WFTDA playoff game in the consolation final of the 2011 Eastern Region tournament.

In only five years, Montreal had emerged as a potential flat track roller derby super power.

3. Fresher and Furiouser

Montreal's Arena St. Louis (Photo by Leslie Schachter for The Link)

Montreal’s Arena St. Louis (Photo by Leslie Schachter for The Link)

Walking into Montreal’s Arena St. Louis is for fans of roller derby what walking in to the old Montreal Forum would have been like for fans of hockey. After the closing of Edmonton’s Grindhouse (AKA: the Metro Sportsplex) in the summer of 2014, Arena St. Louis became the single oldest continuously used arena for roller derby. It isn’t a particularly special arena, and despite its location just off Rue St. Laurent in a trendy part of downtown Montreal, is pretty non-descript: A squat, rectangular brick arena that wouldn’t look out of place in any small Canadian town.

In the summer of 2008, on the heels of hosting two successful house league seasons and one of Canada’s first flat track roller derby tournaments (that April’s inaugural Beast of the East), Arena St. Louis hosted Montreal’s recruitment training sessions, also called “fresh meant.” The goal was to get potential skaters from zero skill to ready for competition by the opening of the next season. The annual group of loosely organized skaters would eventually form their own rookie-team called the Smash Squad. It was a process and model that would become standard throughout the sport in Canada, the first step toward becoming a competitive skater, and in Montreal, the first step toward eventually becoming a member of the New Skids on the Block.

The Smash Squad builds into a houseleague-Bteam-Ateam system. The houseleague consists of three teams: Les Contrabanditas (Montreal’s first official team, who debuted in February 2007 when they faced Toronto’s Gore-Gore Rollergirls); Les Filles du Roi (who won the first house league Championship in 2007); and La Racaille. Their B-team, Les Sexpos, has been competing since 2008, virtually as long as the league has had a travel team, and has had continued success, including winning the 2015 B-Cup Challenge and finishing 9th in the 2015 Full Metal Bracket (which was essentially a WFTDA championship for B-teams).

While this is a model that is pretty standard in the sport, in Canada, no league has been able to use this structure to its advantage or replace talent at the top as consistently as Montreal Roller Derby has. From the very beginning, this consistency has been evident, and while over the past eight years they have tinkered with the model (creating more blend between the A and B-travel teams for example), they have held the course and the commitment to consistency has paid off in consistent results.

While their house league hosts the annual Beast of the Beast tournament and the Sexpos and Skids are two of the busiest travel teams in the country, given Montreal’s lack of proximity to other leagues of a similar calibre, the Smash Squad didn’t debut to the larger Canadian public until the summer of 2012. Montreal, by then, had clearly pulled ahead of the Canadian flat track pack, but there was one tournament where the league had yet to make a splash: the Fresh and the Furious.

Montreal's Fresh and Furious debut was a record-setting victory over Woodstock. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Montreal’s Fresh and Furious debut was a record-setting victory over Woodstock. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Spawned from 2008’s Virgin Suicides Brawl, a five-team tournament featuring new teams in established leagues that had been hosted by the GTA Rollergirls, the league resurrected the rookie-focused tournament in 2011 as a sixteen-team double elimination tournament played out in 20-minute games. Taking place over the course of one (long) day on two tracks, the tournament has become the launching point for virtually every skater in Quebec and Ontario. In 2012, Montreal’s Smash Squad entered their first Fresh tournament as virtual unknowns, and promptly opened with a then record-setting 127-10 victory over Woodstock and proceeded to destroy the competition from there, rolling all the way to the championship game.

In the thirty-minute final against Royal City’s Top Herloins, the Smash Squad were trailing for much of the first half of the game and were down 50-42 with thirteen minutes to go. With a power start and some momentum building, the Smash Squad decided to go with a lean, powerful—though sometimes erratic—jammer who seemed loaded with as-of-yet unrefined talent, but who had been inconsistent and had picked up a few penalties in this game already. She promptly powered through Royal City’s defensive wall and along with the help of some good offense, carved up the Guelph defense for a 19-point, game-changing jam. It would be the first of a game-deciding 44 points scored over the next ten-minutes of the game by a first-year jammer named Miracle Whips.

The Smash Squad would go on to dominate that final third of the game, cruising to a 122-61 win. While the team would feature other future stars of the league like Demanda Lashing and Saucisse, the tournament-clinching win had provided the derby community with the first glimpse of the game-changing potential of Miracle Whips, but mostly reminded the community that from the ground on up, Montreal Roller Derby was a step ahead.

4. Mending a Broken Heart

Montreal's home bench at Centre Pierre Charbonneau, site of a 2016 WFTDA Division 1 playoff tournament. (Photo by Sean Murphy)

Montreal’s home bench at Centre Pierre Charbonneau, site of a 2016 WFTDA Division 1 playoff tournament. (Photo by Sean Murphy)

It is probably safe to say that no one thought 2016 would be the year. At least, not by the time playoffs rolled around.

By September 2016, Montreal Roller Derby and fans of the New Skids on the Block had become accustomed to playoff heartbreak; so much so that you could say it had become like a yearly ritual:

  • 2010: Carolina 127 vs. Montreal 125. Although expectations were muted for 6th seeded Montreal in their debut at Eastern Regionals, they were expected to at least improve their ranking, but after leading Carolina for much of the game, they entered the final jam up by 3 only to receive a controversial jammer penalty and give up 5 points. It was a shocking loss considering Montreal had destroyed Carolina (in Carolina) 135-29 during the regular season.
  • 2011: London 137 vs. Montreal 135. The fifth-place game at the 2011 Eastern Regionals was an instant classic and one of the great games of the era. But yet again, a regular season win over London had expectations high for Montreal. After a close first half, Montreal had to overcome a 70-point deficit in the second, coming up just short after a furious comeback. It also just happened to be the first WFTDA playoff game between two non-US opponents.
  • 2012: London 191 vs. Montreal 122.This highly anticipated quarterfinal rematch between third seed Montreal and sixth seed London was won midway through the second half when Montreal failed to field a jammer resulting in a 35-0 London jam from which the Skids could not recover.
  • 2013: Ohio 212 vs. Montreal 149. The path to champs was laid out perfectly for second-seed Montreal, who were upset by sixth-seed Ohio in the semifinals after an inexplicably lacklustre performance. Despite an extraordinary game from legendary jammer Iron Wench (in her last playoff appearance), who jammed 22 out of 43 jams for a game-high 84 points (four other jammers on Montreal skated the other 21 jams), the team looked unprepared and unfocused. Poor clock management on the bench cut short a potential late comeback.
  • 2014: Charm City 143 vs. Montreal 142. This heartbreak came in the Division quarterfinals and it came after leading the game for all but one jam in the second half (and by as much as 31 points with 8 minutes to go). A penultimate 23-point jam from Charm City to take the lead stunned Montreal, who would go on to destroy the consolation bracket by an average differential of 142 points, leaving everyone to wonder “What if?”
  • 2015: Minnesota 162 vs. Montreal 134. 28 points was the difference between a Championship berth and heartbreak last year. The third place Division playoff game was another classic, featuring six lead changes in total. Montreal led by 1 at halftime and then again, 116-112, with 12 minutes to go but couldn’t hold off Minnesota in the waning moments.

Despite the oh-so-close loss to Minnesota in the 2015 Division playoffs, Montreal had to be feeling good about themselves after coming on strong at the end of what was expected to be a rebuilding year.

The Skids were pushed by Canadian teams like never before in 2015, and seemed to have lost their stranglehold on the Canadian flat track scene. In successive games in late April and early May, Toronto had come within 9 points of knocking off Montreal before Terminal City finally accomplished the feat at the Big O with a thrilling 182-177 win.

Terminal City’s win at the Big O tournament put an end to a streak of national dominance that Canada will probably ever see again. Although Terminal had defeated Montreal once before in a shortened, non-regulation game, beginning in July 2008, the Skids had been on a nearly eight year, seventeen-game winning streak against the top teams that Canada had to offer. During that time, Montreal defeated Hammer City (twice), Toronto (six times), Rideau Valley (twice), Tri-City (twice), Oil City, Calgary and Terminal City (also twice); essentially, the cream of the crop of Canadian flat track.

But despite the early season growing pains, by the end of the year, they had clearly distanced themselves from their national rivals and after the playoff success of 2015, hopes were much higher coming into the 2016 season.

And it started off with a bang.

Rideau Valley and Toronto were the first victims of Montreal this year, and despite 13-point and 9-point nail biters in their two most recent meetings, the Skids stomped a rebuilding Toronto team by 363 points in April. By June’s ECDX tournament, Montreal was sporting a 6-1 record with the sole loss coming to London.

Philly handled Montreal with surprising ease in a June showdown at ECDX (Photo by Joe Mac)

Philly handled Montreal with surprising ease in a June showdown at ECDX (Photo by Joe Mac)

However, word on the track heading into Philadelphia was that all was not right on the bench with the Skids, and although they were able—as expected—to handle Boston in their opening game, Montreal completely came apart against Philly in the ECDX closer. After a tight start to the game, Philly went on an early 56-4 run and barely looked back on their way to a surprisingly easy 256-139 victory. Although expectations had been high for a first-ever Montreal win over their rivals, the Skids lacked cohesion on the track, and at three separate times during the game were held scoreless for stretches of at least five jams. While they were lacking injured veterans Jes Bandit and KonichiWow, the team, to put it mildly, looked out of sorts.

After that weekend, behind-the-scenes tension led to a mid-season roster shakeup that saw core veteran skaters Scores Easy and national team member Demanda Lashing  (and up-and-comer Russian Cruelette) leave the team. By the time Montreal rolled into the Division playoffs, the Skids were a team thin on experience. First-year Skids Lau-Rider, Ptite Pouliche and Sneaky Devil all saw track time in playoff games, and as the team prepared to face off against Bay Area in the third-place game, they had just seven skaters on the roster who’d played in the third-place game only a year previous. Al K Traz, Cracker Jass, Why So Sirius and Ti-Coune, all in their first year as regulars on the all-star lineup, were suddenly thrust into major competitive roles in the pack in the biggest game of their league’s history.

While the jammer rotation had retained Miracle Whips and the French national-team skater Falcon Punch (both of whom played the derby of their lives in the tournament), it was bolstered by transfer TerminateHer (from Green Mountain) and the return of Honey Badger after a year skating with Tri-City in southern Ontario.

Bolstered by a raucous home-town crowd at the Centre Pierre-Charbonneau, The Skids got off to a ferocious start against Dallas in the quarterfinals, going on a 44-6 run over the opening 10 minutes of the game. Dallas would not get within 30 the rest of the way. That game was followed by a tough semi-final loss to London, setting up the must-win game against Bay Area.

Montreal's New Skids on the Block moments after clinching their spot at the 2016 WFTDA Championship tournament. (Photo by Sean Murphy)

Montreal’s New Skids on the Block moments after clinching their spot at the 2016 WFTDA Championship tournament. (Photo by Sean Murphy)

Although the roster lacked playoff experience overall, it was anchored by some core skaters who played their hearts out in the game. From double threat Mange Moi El Cul and long-time skater Chees Grater (literally one of the most experienced skaters in the Canadian game; she’d played in that inaugural Hammer City game in Burlington on 2006), to the late-season return of national-team member KonichiWOW, the veterans came to play when it mattered. Surgical Strike was a stalwart blocker, whose seemingly unflappable (and unmoveable) presence on the track acted as both a literal and figurative anchor. But given the situation and the stakes, perhaps the greatest performance came from the sole-remaining original New Skid, Jess Bandit.

After missing most of the season due to injury, not too much was expected of the decade-long member of Montreal Roller Derby and two-time member of the Team Canada, but when it mattered most, Bandit’s even-headed play and veteran poise kept the team in check. She was stunning in the final against B.A.D., elevating her game when it mattered most, reminding the Canadian crowd that she is one of the great blockers in our country’s history with the sport.

At the draw for the 2016 WFTDA Championships in Madison, Wisconsin, a few weeks after the emotional victory, the Skids ended up with arguably the most unfortunate first-round opponent in the tournament: Los Angeles’s surging Angel City Derby Girls. It will be a tough match up, but regardless of the outcome, after such a long, heartbreaking wait, it is one that will be savoured  by not only Montreal Roller Derby and the New Skids on the Block, but also the legions of fans in the Neon Army marching behind them.

Nerd Glasses

*Most of the historical elements in this profile are adapted from Eight-Wheeled Freedom: The Derby Nerd’s Short History of Flat Track Roller Derby. Now available in bookstores and online.

*Montreal is not the first Canadian team to play at the WFTDA Championship tournament. Read a similar profile of the Rideau Valley Vixens, chronicling their march to the 2014 Division 2 championship game here.

The Fresh and the Furious Returns to Give Glimpse of the Future of Flat Track

Fresh 15 PosterIf you want to know what the future of eastern Canadian roller derby looks like, head on down to Ted Reeve Arena this weekend for the 2015 Fresh and the Furious tournament. This is the fifth year this GTA Rollergirls-hosted fresh-meat tournament will be held under this moniker, but it has its roots as far back as 2008 when it was called the Virgin Suicides Brawl, and has proven an incredibly important launching point for not only individual skaters in Ontario and Quebec, but for whole leagues as well. Actually, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that a majority of the current generation of skaters in Ontario and Quebec made their debuts at this very event, and the WFTDA teams in the two provinces are full of past participants.

A Beast of the East style, 16-team double-elimination tournament (held over one day on two tracks, mind you), this year’s bracket has a slight hitch as only 15 teams will be competing (Kingston and ToRD have merged their fresh meat teams for the event, neither having enough skaters who qualified under the “fresh” rules); however, this year’s tournament excitingly welcomes some new leagues as well.

Once again, layer9.ca will be there to live stream the complete event, with single cameras on each track until the later knock out rounds when a full boutcast will bring you the medal-round action.

For a link to the bracket, click here. And here’s a breakdown of where you can find each team. Beginning at 7:00 PM (seminfinals), the tournament shifts to one track.

THE BUBBLE

An amalgamation of the freshest skaters from six Northern Ontario leagues, The NEO Fights return to Fresh after an interesting 2014 tournament saw them become the highest scoring team to be eliminated in two games (they scored 219 points in their two losses and despite the early elimination, were the second highest scoring team in the first round); they kick things off against long-time participants South Simcoe at 11:00 AM, in the opening game of the tournament.

The Bubble track actually features a who’s who of Fresh history. Roller Derby Quebec (who formerly participated as part of a Quebec provincial fresh meat team) will debut against Buffalo’s Queen’s Court (Queen City remains the lone US team in the tournament—they’ve been a part of it since the start). The Kingston/Toronto mixed team, the Rogue DVAS, will take on Forest City’s Thickets (quarterfinalists last year). Wrapping up the opening round games in the Bubble are two perennial Fresh participants, the Renegade Derby Dames and Royal City’s Our Ladies of Pain.

*Catch the Bubble live stream here.

THE ARENA

Wellington Roller Derby’s Bloody Marys will get a bye past their opening match, but will face the winners of the Arena’s opening game, featuring Durhams DRRD’y Farmers and the 705 Bombshells (another amalgam team featuring leagues in and around the 705 area code). 2012 champs Montreal’s Smash Squad returns to the tournament (after being part of the Quebec provincial team in the last two tournaments) and will square off against the team that won it all last year, Capital City’s Cannon Dolls. Finally, the host Derby Debutantes will close out the opening round games with a showdown against Les Rebelles, who represent the debuting Roller Derby Sherbrooke.

*Catch the Arena live stream here.

 

PAST WINNERS OF THE “SLOPPY CUP”

Sloppy Cup

 

YEAR WINNER RUNNER-UP THIRD PLACE
2008 Death Row Dames (HCRG) Venus Fly Tramps (TCRD) Slaughter Daughters(RVRG—then ORD)
2011 Gold Miner’s Daughters (GCRG) D-VAS (ToRD) Queens of Pain (RCRG)
2012 Smash Squad (MTLRD) Top Herloins (RCRG) D-VAS (ToRD)
2013 Les Bûches (Quebec) D-VAS (ToRD) Hammer City/Pulp Affliction (ORG)
2014 Cannon Dolls (CCDD) Les Bûches (Quebec) D-VAS (ToRD)

 

**Remember to tune in to layer9.ca starting at 11:00 AM on Saturday morning to catch all of the fresh and furious action. As an added bonus, games featuring teams from Quebec will have a bilingual live stream.

All Quebec Final at Beast 2015

Photo by Ulrick Wery (www.ulrick.be)

Casse-Gueules came out on top of an all Roller Derby Quebec final (161-142) to win Beast of the East 2015. (Photo by Ulrick Wery / http://www.ulrick.be)

Only moments had passed since Les Filles du Roi’s unlikely last-jam comeback in the third place game of the 2015 Beast of the East and Arena St. Louis was still abuzz. The raw emotion generated by the sole remaining host team in the tournament coming back mightily against a former champion had threatened to blow the roof off the place. The roar of the partisan crowd lingered.

In the upper reaches of the stands, first-time attendee and Kingston Derby Girl announcer Dr. Sneaks was standing dumbfounded, glowing from the emotion, taking long sweeping glances to reel it all in. He had that look in his eye that only a first-timer truly has; it’s that look that people get when in they are wrapped up in the early throes of a new love.

After taking a moment to gather himself, he turned to me and said without hesitation, “I’m never missing another Beast of the East.”

It’s a moment that has happened countless times in the eight-year history of what, many argue, remains flat track roller derby’s greatest weekend of the year. There is just something about it: maybe it’s the downtownish venue, the raucous crowd, the cheap PBR, or maybe just the city of Montreal itself, but the Beast of the East is like the beating heart of the flat track roller derby in this country and every year offers something amazing.

While this year’s version of the tournament didn’t have the across-the-board parity of last year’s, what the 2015 Beast did have in abundance was engrossing narratives. It was a tournament of stories.

Storyline #1: The Rise of the Roller Derby Quebec

This is actually a story that has been playing out over the past three Beasts (and really, since 2011 when the league debuted), but this year the narrative reached its dramatic conclusion. It was the first time since 2010 that two teams from the same league faced off in the final (Montreal did it two years in a row from ‘09-10), and eventual champions Casse-Gueules joined La Racaille (2008-2010) and the Slaughter Daughters (2011-2013) as the only teams to reach consecutive finals.

Two years ago, the Rouge et Gore shocked the tournament, first by setting a scoring record (159 points—a record that was broken this weekend) and then by advancing to the quarterfinals. Not to be outdone, their leaguemates did one better last year by advancing all the way to the final, losing in a heartbreaker. But this year, both teams stole the show.

The Casse-Gueules started slowly (as they did last year), but eventually got rolling, including eliminating the team that had defeated them the year previously (the Gore-Gore Rollergirls) in a low-scoring, yet still fairly one–sided game (55-25) before putting together a truly dominant quarterfinal win and eventually holding off their surging sisters in the final. The Rouge et Gore also saved their best for the later stages of the tournament playing their most complete game in a dominant semifinal win over the Slaughter Daughters (84-10).

Their final was a thrilling one, with Casse pulling away early and holding on in the end for the 161-142 win (the Rouge et Gore outscored them in the second half 84-61).

How this all translates to Roller Derby Quebec’s travel-team season will be remarkable to watch.

Storyline #2: Team Breakout Story: Skateful Dead

It’s so predictable by now that no one should be surprised when a team comes from out of nowhere and goes on a spirited run. In its somewhat fractious history, Kingston Derby Girls have had to deal with division (there was a second Kingston league in the early going) and debates over direction, but they have remained a strong league in spite of it all. Their travel team Disloyalists have been up and down over the years, but if the strength of this Skateful Dead home team is any indication, things seems to be improving from the ground on up.

After a one-sided trouncing at the hands of Rouge et Gore in their opener, you’d be excused for thinking that the tournament would be short for the Dead. But then stunning back-to-back upsets of perennial powerhouses (ToRD’s Death Track Dolls followed by Montreal’s La Racaille) sent shockwaves through the tournament. Although their tournament ended in the quarterfinals, they acquitted themselves exceptionally well there, losing by 10 (88-78) to the Slaughter Daughters in the closest game of the round.

Story #3: Skater Breakout Story: Le Grande Noirceur

FDR's Le Grande Noirceur tries to power her way through a Casse-Gueules wall. (Photo by Joe Mac)

FDR’s Le Grande Noirceur tries to power her way through a Casse-Gueules wall. (Photo by Joe Mac)

There are always so many breakout stories at the Beast that it’s hard to keep track. This year was no exception with Kingston’s Kazi anchoring the most surprising offense of the tournament, Rouge et Gore’s Minnie Small showing the depth of Quebec’s rotation, and the Slaughter Daughter’s Wreck Therapy emerging from Rideau Valley shadows, it was a weekend where new jammers stole the show.

But in one jam, Les Filles du Roi’s Le Grande Noirceur broke out in the biggest way. It was she who, despite an apparent upper-leg injury, flung herself viciously around the track on that final jam of the third-place game to win the beastly trophy for FDR. This is a story that close watchers of the eastern game have seen coming. First, at last year’s Clam Slam she surprised with her poise in the opening game, and then poured it on again at the Fresh and the Furious, playing for Quebec’s Les Bûches.

Actually, many of the breakout stories from this weekend can, not surprisingly, trace their tales back to last year’s Fresh and Furious. Kingston’s Kazi formed part of a strong—tournament winning—Capital City jammer rotation along with Labrosse and Kaio-kensi (both of whom also made their Beast debuts with their CCDD home team, the Beauty School Dropouts).

Story #4: The Return of the Slaughter Daughters

After completely rebuilding the roster two years ago, this Daughters team could have fallen into the “breakout team” category with their performance this year. Last season after a massive Rideau Valley re-rostering, the traditional powerhouses had slipped all the way to the bottom of the three-team league. But this team has rebuilt and rebuilt quickly. With two of (arguably) our nation’s top-ten jammers on the bench (Shania Pain and Melanie Austin[Tatious]), the Daughters stuck to their guns and kept those weapons in the pack (where they were awesome) and instead allowed their newer jammers to flourish; and flourish they did. Wreck Therapy, Angel Poison, and Knotty Knitter were solid all weekend (and got some great support from double threat Anderson). The pack was led by another new Vixen (and former junior skater) Jamie’s Got a Gun. The Daughter’s reemergence should make for a very interesting houseleague season in Ottawa in 2015.

In the end, it was another successful Beast, but then, that’s never truly in question. There’s been a power shift at the home team level with a Quebec taking over (it was the first time in five years a ToRD team did not make the Top 3) and fascinatingly, it’s not Montreal at the helm.

Nerd Glasses

***As has become tradition, on Friday night Montreal’s New Skids on the Block hosted Toronto’s CN Power. It was another incredibly tight match-up between these two teams with The Skids eventually taking it by a measly 9 points (180-171) to maintain top spot in the country. Layer9 has posted his track-side footage; watch it here.

Beast of the East 8: A Preview of BOE 2015

BOE 2015 PosterOne thing that the Beast of the East has proven over the years is that it is virtually unpredictable: sixteen house league teams randomly selected from a variety of leagues in Ontario and Quebec; no accurate ranking system for teams that may—at most—face off once a year; and a twenty-minute game format that punishes mistakes brutally. It equals a recipe for bracket breaking.

So here’re two predictions for the unpredictable:

1. This year’s tournament could even be more unpredictable than most.

2. It’s going to be awesome.

Two years ago, in 2013, I declared that tournament to be the Beast of Beasts: unbelievable action, completely unpredictable (except, it turns out, for the finalists), and some of the most exciting moments in the tournament’s history. Then along came 2014 and the tournament managed to top even that historic event. This is simply, a tournament that just keeps getting better.

2014 was not only arguably the best Beast ever, it was actually one of the best roller derby tournaments I’ve ever been to. In the two Sunday playoff rounds, the average point differential was 8 points, with three games being settled by 4 points or less and one more going to overtime. And the two medal games (played in two twenty-minute halves) continued the trend with co-hosts La Racaille taking third by 17 points and Toronto’s Gore-Gore Rollergirls winning the tournament with a 15-point win, capping a most unlikely run to the final. Actually, no championship team has ever faced such adversity as the Gores did last year. After a one-sided tournament-opening win over Durham’s Motor City Madames, the Gores won their next three games by a combined score of 10 points to advance to a final that was tied at half-time. It was a heart-stuttering run unlike any seen before from a team that simply refused to lose.

This year brings back a handful of tournament regulars with the three Montreal teams joining Toronto’s Death Track Dolls and Gore-Gore Rollergirls and Forest City’s Thames Fatales as the sole remaining OBers (Original Beasters), while Kingston Derby Girls (Skateful Dead) and Ottawa’s Capital City Derby Dolls (Beauty School Dropouts) make their league debuts.

THE CONTENDERS

The Casses-Gueules caught many off guard in their run to the final. They're favourites this year. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The Casse-Gueules caught many off guard in their run to the final. They’re favourites this year. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Particularly after teams had such a hard time distancing themselves from each other last year, this year’s collection of competitors boasts its fair share of contenders. Although a Montreal team has not won this tournament since 2010, they are always contenders (and La Racaille—the tournament’s most successful team historically—has made two straight final fours). At this year’s annual round robin tournament, Les Fills du Roi defeated their leaguemates (though narrowly) to immediately launch themselves into the position of being potential favourites.

However, don’t count out the defending champion Gore-Gore Rollergirls. Exhibiting the same tenacity that won them the Beast last year, the Gores have clawed and fought their way to first overall in the ToRD standings in a season where there doesn’t seem to be much separating the teams.

Rideau Valley’s Prime Sinisters debuted at the Beast last season and got noticeably better as the tournament progressed (losing narrowly in the quarters to eventual finalists, Casse-Gueules) eventually using that tournament as a launching point to winning the RVRG house league championship.

Finally, Roller Derby Quebec’s Casse-Guelles and Rouge at Gore have managed to slip under the radar for the last two seasons and turned heads with thrilling performances: they won’t have the element of surprise in 2015 and, indeed, should both be seen as potential contenders for the tournament.

This is the fourth appearance for the Tramps, but the first since 2011.

This is the fourth appearance for the Tramps, but the first since 2011 (Photo by Joe Mac).

THE DARK HORSES

With past dark horses like Roller Derby Quebec’s teams and Durham’s Atom Smashers establishing themselves as solid competitors (the Smashers won the 2015 Winter Wipeout, a Beast-style tournament), this year’s potential surprises may be harder to see. So I’m looking to two returning teams as potential troublemakers: Tri-City’s Venus Fly Tramps and Total Knock Outs. Both have histories at the tournament but haven’t appeared since 2011 and 2013 respectively. Only one Tri-City team has ever podiumed (2012 champs Vicious Dishes), so this established league is due for another strong showing.

NERD’S PICKS

Every year it seems more and more futile to try to establish picks for the tournament, but that doesn’t stop derby prognosticators from trying (and last year, I did managed to pick six of the eight quarterfinalists, which provides undoubtedly false confidence).

Look for possibly two Montreal teams to advance in Les Filles du Roi and Les Contrabanditas (though the Ditas could be in tough against the TKOs for that final spot), with ToRD (The Gore-Gore Rollergirls, Death Track Dolls) and RDQ (Casse-Gueules, Rouge et Gore) sending through two as well. That leaves only two spots open, one for RVRG’s Prime Sinisters and the last for Tri-City’s Venus Fly Tramps. In three previous appearances, the Tramps have failed to advance beyond the opening round (the only Tri-City team that has yet to do so), look for that to change this year.

However, take these predictions with a grain of salt. One thing that you can always guarantee at the Beast is that somewhere along the line, your bracket will be busted.

Nerd Glasses

**The Beast takes place at Arena St. Louis. Full weekend and daily passes are available here.

**Sadly, this year’s Beast will not be boutcast. But follow The Derby Nerd on Facebook and Twitter for updates throughout the event.

Montreal and Toronto Kick Off Beast with Highly Anticipated WFTDA D1 Showdown

On April 24th, 2015, two of Canada’s top roller derby teams—Toronto’s CN Power and Montreal’s New Skids on the Block—will meet for the sixth time.

The Skids and CN Power first met at the 2010 Quad City Chaos. (Photo by Derek Lang)

Two distinct cities and two distinct leagues. A history apart, yet deeply interwoven.

The history of roller derby in this country runs through a few leagues in a few major cities: Vancouver, Edmonton, Hamilton, and, of course, Toronto and Montreal. And yet while roller derby has existed for virtually the same amount of time in both Toronto and Montreal, the paths they have taken through the game’s first decade in Canada couldn’t have been more different.

This will be the third consecutive year that CN Power and the Skids will kick off the Beast of the East.

This will be the third consecutive year that CN Power and the Skids will kick off the Beast of the East.

ToRD sits smack dab in the centre of the most active community of roller derby in the country, if not the world. You can’t go more than 50 kms in any direction and not run into a roller derby league of some size. And though leagues and numbers have fluctuated, there have been up to four leagues operating in the city of Toronto alone (and that’s not counting Durham in the GTA’s eastern end). And ToRD’s own remarkable history reflects this diversity and division.

Beginning, essentially, as a merger of a handful of teams that had sprouted up in the city in 2006, ToRD kicked off its first public season in 2007 as an unwieldy six-team house league: the biggest in the sport at the time. The focus was local, and in the midst of splits and new leagues, the focus was insular and then siloed within that closed community: so that the allegiances formed were to team, not necessarily league.

Montreal, on the other hand, has had a much more linear history, aided, in part, by the scarcity of surrounding leagues and influences. Even now 10 years later with provinces like Alberta, BC and Ontario bursting at the seams with leagues, Quebec remains slow in its embrace of the sport outside of Montreal.

In this isolation, the league began as a group of unified skaters, and Montreal Roller Derby grew as those skaters were parceled off into teams, eventually bringing together enough skaters for three teams to kick off their inaugural season in 2007.

Within a year of going public, both leagues had also formed travel teams, and that’s where the story goes in two different directions.

On Friday, April 24, CN Power and the New Skids on the Block will meet for the sixth time, with Montreal holding the dominant 5-0 edge coming into it. But where once a Montreal win would be guaranteed against any Canadian opponent, this time, Toronto comes in on relatively equal footing.

The Skids won narrowly, 233-216, at the 2014 Quad City Chaos. (Photography by Neil Gunner)

The Skids won narrowly, 233-216, at the 2014 Quad City Chaos. (Photography by Neil Gunner)

When the two teams first met in March 2010, Montreal was on the verge of distancing itself from the rest of the country. Early adopters of the pace strategies that would come to define the flat track game, the Skids also understood at a very early stage the importance of off-skates training and fitness as being key to the team’s success. Beginning in that 2010 season, Montreal went on a four-year run of dominance in this country, a run so dominant, that for many years, the Skids barely even bothered with Canadian competition. It wasn’t until 2013 when that began to change.

In the first two meetings between the rivals, the Skids won with an average differential of 224 points. Then, at the Beast of the East 2013, Toronto pulled noticeably closer, losing by 89 points. This kicked off a year in which the Toronto team would play its most competitive season, qualifying for the D1 playoffs for the first time. It was an organizational leap forward years in the making, as Toronto finally turned away from its internal focus to set its sights on the lofty heights of the WFTDA competitive game.

Then in March 2014, CN Power lost to the Skids narrowly on its home track by only 17 points. This remains the closest score that any Canadian team has come to the Skids in a regulation or sanctioned game. Thirteen months later, and the teams are arguably dead even.

Both rosters have gone through their share of changes since those early days of the rivalry, and this year there are new looks as well. Toronto has gone through a noticeable generational change, shifting out virtually its whole core jammer rotation while tweaking the pack. Montreal similarly has seen great change, with this season boasting seven new Skids on the roster. However, the strong organizational underpinnings in each of these leagues has allowed for a relatively seamless transition to these new generations of all stars.

Toronto has kicked off 2015 with a 3-0 record so far, while Montreal has been slightly quieter, winning its lone bout of the season. Interestingly, both teams have faced off against the Rideau Valley Vixens only weeks apart with remarkably similar results: Toronto won by 32, Montreal by 26, a difference that is statistically insignificant.

For perhaps the first time ever, on Friday, April 24, when Montreal and Toronto face off, it really is anybody’s game.

***CN Power and the New Skids on the Block face off at Arena St. Louis in Montreal on the 24th. Doors open at 6:00 PM with first whistle at 7:00 PM. Tickets are available online.

Beast of the East: 2008-2014

To get ready for the 2015 Beast of the East, take a look back at the history of the tournament.

Beast 15 BannerBeast of the East: By the Numbers

YEAR

CHAMPION

RUNNER UP

THIRD PLACE

2008 Hamilton Harlots (HCRG) La Racaille (MTLRD) Les Filles du Roi / Les Contrabanditas (MTLRD)
2009 La Racaille Les Contrabanditas Les Filles du Roi / Smoke City Betties (ToRD)
2010 Les Filles du Roi La Racaille Les Contrabanditas
2011 Slaughter Daughters (RVRG) Gore-Gore Rollergirls (ToRD) Death Track Dolls (ToRD)
2012 Vicious Dishes (TCRD) Slaughter Daughters Chicks Ahoy! (ToRD)
2013 Slaughter Daughters La Racaille Death Track Dolls
2014 Gore-Gore Rollergirls Casse-Gueules (RDQ) La Racaille

Hamilton Harlots won the first Beast of the East in 2008. (Photo by Derek Lang; AKA: Bagelhot)

NOTABLE NUMBERS (Records etc.)

Wins: 25 (La Racaille 2008-2014); La Racaille has the most podiums (1 champ, 3 runners up, 1 third place)

Points Per Game (tournament): 110 (Death Track Dolls 2013)/ 109.5 (Slaughter Daughters 2013) / 102.5 (La Racaille 2013)

Points Against (tournament): 9 (Les Filles du Roi, 2010)

Most Points (single game–20 mins): 159 (Rouge et Gore 2013) / 148 (Les Contrabanditas 2011)

Combined Points (single game–20 mins): 184 (Rouge et Gore 159 vs. Debutantes 32 2013)/ 181 (La Racaille 117 vs. Contrabanditas 64 2013)

Biggest Differential: 148 (Les Contrabanditas 148 vs. Chrome Mollys [GTAR] 0, 2011)

[*The Gore-Gore Rollergirls were the first team to score 100 points in a bout–a 103-11 victory over Capital Carnage in 2009; Les Filles du Roi did it vs. the Vicious Dishes in 2010; four different teams accomplished it in 2011; the Vicious Dishes did it three times themselves in 2012, while three other teams did it that year as well. Since then, it has become common].

[*2012 was the first time both finalists (Vicious Dishes, Slaughters Daughters) lost a game on the way to the finals]

PARTICIPANT HISTORY

(BOE 8: 2015 participants first)

Team League BOE Record Notes
thames-fatales-logoThames Fatales FCDG 7 – 13 Eighth appearance. Quarter final in 2010, 13.
la-racaille-logoLa Racaille MTLRD 25 – 10 Semis 12. Second in 08, 10, 13. Champs in 09. 3rd in 2014
Contrabanditas LogoLes Contrabanditas MTLRD 17 – 10 2nd place in 2009. 3rd in 2010. Quarters 2011,12, 13.
Les Filles du Roi LogoLes Filles du Roi MTLRD 19 – 8 Semi-final 08, 09, 13. Champs in 2010. Quarters 2012
prime sinsiters logoPrime Sinisters RVRG 2 – 2 Second appearance
slaughter daughters logoSlaughter Daughters RVRG 17 – 8 Sixth appearance. Champs 2011, 13; 2nd place 2012
Tramps logoVenus Fly Tramps TCRD 2 – 6 Fourth appearance (2009-2011)
tko logoTotal Knock Outs TCRD 2 – 4 Third appearance (2011, 13). Quarterfinals 2013
deathtrackdolls_logoDeath Track Dolls ToRD 12 – 11 Quarter finals in 2009, 14; 3rd place in 2011, 13.
Chicks Ahoy! logoChicks Ahoy! ToRD 10 – 10 Seventh appearance. 2008-2013. 4th in 2011. 3rd 2012
Gore-Gore Rollergirls logoGore-Gore Rollergirls ToRD 16 – 8 Forfeit 2009 at 3-0. Runners-up 2011; Champs 2014
casse gueules logoLes Casse-Gueules RDQ 4 – 3 Finals 2014
rouge et gore logoLe Rouge & Gore RDQ 4 – 4 Quarter final 2013, 14
Atom Smashers logo 2013Atom Smashers DRRD 1 – 2 Second appearance (2014)
SkatefulDead_logoSkateful Dead KDG First appearance
Beauty School logoBeauty School Dropouts CCDD First appearance
 

Past Participants

Hamilton Harlots HCRG 8 – 6 2008-2010, 2012. Champs in 08.
Death Row Dames HCRG 3 – 5 2008-2010. Quarter final in 2010.
Steel Town Tanks Girls HCRG 1 – 1 2008
Bay Street Bruisers ToRD 1 – 3 2008, 2009. Now ToRD B-travel team.
D-VAS ToRD 0 – 1 2008. Now ToRD houseleague farm team.
Smoke City Betties ToRD 6 – 12 2008-2014. Semi final 2009, quarter final 2012
London Thrashers FCDG 0 – 1 2008
Bytown Blackhearts ORD 0 – 1 2008
Capital Carnage ORD 0 – 2 2009
Devil Dollies QCRG 1 – 1 1st US team (2008)
Derby Dames Grn Mtn 2 – 1 2nd US team, 1st to reach quarter finals (2010)
Derby Debutantes GTAR 2-10 2009-2013
Chrome Mollys GTAR 0 – 2 2011
Vicious Dishes TCRG 10-9 2009-2013. Quarter finals 2010, 11. Champs 2012
Riot Squad RVRG 5-8 Four appearances (2010, 11, 13, 14). Quarterfinals 2014
Luscious Lunch Ladies FCDG 2-3 Quarterfinals in 2014
Les Duchesses de Quebec RDQ 1-4 2011, 2012. Promoted to RDQ travel team
Babes of Thunder TBRD  2-2 2012. Quarter finals in 2012
Reines of Terror MRR  0-2 2012

YEAR-BY-YEAR RESULTS

(Generally, all games 20 minutes until final, which was 30, but by 2012 had become 2 20s)

Beast of the East 2008 PosterBeast of the East 1: 2008

First Round

POOL A

Steel Town Tank Girls 40 vs Smoke City Betties 18
La Racaille 65 vs The Bytown Blackhearts 29
Death Row Dames 17 vs Devil Dollies 54
D-VAS 27 vs Les Contrabanditas 50

POOL B

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 13 vs. Hamilton Harlots 52

Bay Street Brusies 45 vs Thames Fatales 38
London Thrashers 13 vs Chicks Ahoy 65
Death Track Dolls 23 vs Les Filles du Roi 37

Quarter Finals

Steel Town Tank Girls 30 vs La Racaille 32

Devil Dollies 16 vs. Les Contrabanditas 42

Chicks Ahoy 30 vs Les Filles du Roi 38
Hamilton Harlots 53 vs Bay Street Bruisers 15

Semi Finals

Hamilton Harlots 58 vs Les Filles du Roi 29

Les Contrabanditas 32 vs La Racaille 39

Final

Hamilton Harlots 55 vs. La Racaille 18

* Read the Derby Nerd’s reflections.

Beast of the East 2009Beast of the East 2: 2009

First Round (Double Elimination)

Capital Carnage 11 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 103

Death Row Dames 23 vs. Thames Fatales 19

Les Contrabanditas 59 vs. Venus Fly Tramps 26

Slaughter Daughters 24 vs. Smoke City Betties 32

La Racaille 67 vs. Bay Street Bruisers 10

Chicks Ahoy! 48 vs. Vicisou Dishes 32

Les Filles du Roi 77 vs. Death Track Dolls 6

Derby Debutantes 6 vs. Hamilton Harlots 69

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 32 vs. Death Row Dames 5

Capital Carnage 20 (eliminated) vs. Thames Fatales 67

Les Contrabanditas 34 vs. Smoke City Betties 20

Venus Fly Tramps 14 (eliminated) vs. Slaughter Daughters 48

La Racaille 36 vs. Chicks Ahoy! 35

Bay Street Bruisers 16 (eliminated) vs. Vicious Dishes 21

Les Filles du Roi 34 vs. Hamilton Harlots 25

Death Track Dolls 61 vs. Derby Debutantes 20 (eliminated)

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 35 vs. Les Contrabanditas 26

Death Row Dames 15 (eliminated) vs. Smoke City Betties 24

Thames Fatales 28 (eliminated) vs. Slaughter Daughters 68

La Racaille 35 vs. Les Filles du Roi 43

Chicks Ahoy! 21 (eliminated) vs. Hamilton Harlots 38

Vicious Dishes 27 (eliminated) vs. Death Track Dolls 32

Quarter Finals

Gore-Gore Rollergirls (forfeit) vs. Smoke City Betties

Les Contrabanditas 28 vs. Slaughter Daughters 25

Les Filles du Roi 24 vs. Hamilton Harlots 11

La Racaille 77 vs. Death Track Dolls 17

Semi Finals

Smoke City Betties 23 vs. Les Contrabanditas 33

La Racaille 38 vs Les Filles du Roi 20

Final

Les Contrabanditas 34 vs. La Racaille 49

* Read the Derby Nerd’s commentary.

* Read DNN’s bout-by-bout recap by Justice Feelgood Marshall

Beast of the East 2010 PosterBeast of the East 3: 2010

First Round (Double Elimination)
Thames Fatales 38 vs. Smoke City Betties 11
La Racaille 81 vs. Chicks Ahoy!12
Green Mountain Derby Dames 40
vs. Riot Squad 17
Death Row Dames 63 vs. Venus Fly Tramps 6
Les Contrabanditas 72 vs. Death Track Dolls 9
Gore-Gore Rollergirls 43 vs. GTA Derby Debutantes 20
Vicious Dishes 37 vs. Slaughter Daughters 20
Les Filles du Roi 92 vs. Harlots 6
La Racaille 91 vs. Thames Fatales 0
Chicks Ahoy! 89 vs. Betties 15 (eliminated)
Green Mountain Derby Dames 29 vs. Death Row Dames 15
Venus Fly Tramps 43 vs. Riot Squad 14 (eliminated)
Les Contrabanditas 63 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 17

Derby Debutantes 38 vs. Death Track Dolls 29 (eliminated)
Les Filles du Roi 115 vs. Vicious Dishes 7
Harlots 28 vs. Slaughter Daughters 24 (eliminated)
Thames Fatales 24 vs. Venus Fly Tramps 15 (eliminated)
Death Row Dames 42 vs. Chicks Ahoy! 34 (eliminated)
Gore-Gore Rollergirls 45 vs. Harlots 20 (eliminated)
Vicious Dishes 52 vs. Derby Debutantes 24 (eliminated)

Quarter Finals

La Racaille 57 vs. Vicious Dishes 4
Les Contrabanditas 64 vs. Death Row Dames 11
Gore-Gore Rollergirls 45 vs. Green Mountain Derby Dames 22
Les Filles du Roi 91 vs. Thames Fatales 12

Semi Finals

La Racaille 69 vs. Les Contrabanditas 46
Les Filles du Roi 65 vs. Gore-Gore Roller Girls 1

Third Place

Les Contrabanditas 91 vs. Gores 21

Final

Les Filles du Roi 36 vs. La Racaille 20

*Read the Derby Nerd’s preview and recap.

*Watch the archived bouts.

Beast of the East 2011 posterBeast of the East 4: 2011

First Round (Double Elimination)

Duchesses de Quebec 4 vs. Derby Debutantes 124

La Racaille 55 vs. Riot Squad 7

Chicks Ahoy! 63 vs. Total Knockouts (TKOs) 7

Filles du Roi vs. Death Track Dolls 47

Vicious Dishes 50 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 48

Contrabanditas 148 vs. Chrome Mollys 0

Slaughter Daughters 38 vs. Venus Fly Tramps 28

Thames Fatales 75 vs. Smoke City Betties 12

Derby Debutants 8 vs. La Racaille 100

Duchesses du Quebec 4 vs. Riot Squad 97 (Duchesses eliminated)

Chicks Ahoy! 40 vs. Death Track Dolls 21

TKOs 0 vs. Filles du Roi 81 (TKOs eliminated)

Vicious Dishes 21 vs. Contrabanditas 27

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 131 vs. Chrome Mollys 10 (Mollys eliminated)

Slaughter Daughters 62 vs. Thames Fatales 12

Venus Fly Tramps 66 vs. Smoke City Betties 14 (Betties eliminated)

Derby Debutants 29 vs. Filles du Roi 62 (Debutantes eliminated)

Death Track Dolls 84 vs. Riot Squad 8 (Riot Squad elimanted)

Vicious Dishes 49 vs. Venus Fly Tramps 3 (Tramps eliminated)

Thames Fatales 36 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 49 (Thames eliminated)

Quarter Finals

La Racaille 11 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 88

Contrabanditas 49 vs. Death Track Dolls 58

Chicks Ahoy! 48 vs. Vicious Dishes 8

Slaughter Daughters 81 vs. Filles du Roi 3

Semi Finals

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 51 vs. Death Track Dolls 11

Chicks Ahoy! 19 vs. Slaughter Daughters 33

Third Place

Death Track Dolls 42 vs. Chicks Ahoy! 31

Final

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 85 vs. Slaughter Daughters 87

* Read the Derby Nerd’s preview and recap.

* Watch the archived bouts

Beast of the East 5 (2012)Beast of the East 5: 2012

First Round (Double Elimination)

Chicks Ahoy! 51 vs. Slaughter Daughters 41

La Racaille 46 vs. Gore-Gore Roller Girls 30

Motor City Madames 36 vs. Hammer City Harlots 57

Les Contrabanditas 54 vs. Death Track Dolls 20

Vicious Dishes 139 vs. Reines of Terror 0

Les Filles du Roi 79 vs. Babes of Thunder 8

Derby Debutantes 6 vs. Thames Fatales 112

Smoke City Betties 108 vs. Les Duchesses 13

Chicks Ahoy! 10 vs. La Racaille 39

Slaughter Daughters 72 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 52 (Gores eliminated)

Hamilton Harlots 39 vs. Les Contrabanditas 84

Motor City Madames 28 vs. Death Track Dolls 95 (Motor City eliminated)

Vicious Dishes 30 vs. Les Filles du Roi 47

Reines of Terror 34 vs. Babes of Thunder 71 (Reines eliminated)

Thames Fatales 64 vs. Smoke City Betties 69

Derby Debutantes 30 vs. Les Duchesses 120 (Debutantes eliminated)

La Racaille 59 vs. Death Track Dolls 31 (Dolls eliminated)

Hamilton Harlots 30 vs. Slaughter Daughters 131 (Harlots eliminated)

Vicious Dishes 123 vs. Les Duchesses 0 (Duchesses eliminated)

Thames Fatales 20 vs. Babes of Thunder 77 (Thames eliminated)

Quarter Finals

Chicks Ahoy! 83 vs. Babes of Thunder 22

Les Filles du Roi 67 vs. Slaughter Daughters 71

Les Contrabanditas 54 vs. Vicious Dishes 64

Smoke City Betties 59 vs. La Racaille 78

Semi Finals

Chicks Ahoy! 31 vs. Slaughter Daughters 65

Vicious Dishes 67 vs. La Racaille 48

Third Place

Chicks Ahoy! 87 vs. La Racaille 48

Final

Vicious Dishes 118 vs. Slaughter Daughters 63

* Read the Derby Nerd’s preview and recap

* Watch the archived bouts

BOE 2013 PosterBeast of the East 6: 2013

First Round (Double Elimination)

Chicks Ahoy! 58 vs. Riot Squad 50

Vicious Dishes 25 vs. Les Filles du Roi 50

Death Track Dolls 129 vs. Casses Gueules 7

Thames Fatales 34 vs. Les Contrabanditas 76

TKOs 133 vs. Debutantes 8

Rouge et Gore 12 vs. La Racaille 116

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 29 vs. Slaughter Daughters 105

Luscious Lunch Ladies 37 vs. Smoke City Betties 47

Les Filles du Roi 91 vs. Chicks Ahoy! 13

Vicious Dishes 33 vs. Riot Squad 44 (Dishes eliminated)

Contrabanditas 30 vs. Death Track Dolls 96

Thames Fatales 29 vs. Casses Gueules 18 (Gueules eliminated)

La Racaille 103 vs. TKOs 32

Rouge at Gore 159 vs. Debutantes 32 (Debutantes eliminated)

Smoke City Betties 2 vs. Slaughter Daughters 117

Luscious Lunch Ladies 50 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 94 (Ladies eliminated)

Thames Fatales 53 vs. Chicks Ahoy! 46 (Chicks eliminated)

Riot Squad 57 vs. Contrabanditas 86 (Riot Squad eliminated)

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 42 vs. TKOs 85 (Gores eliminated)

Smoke City Betties 56 vs. Rouge et Gore 58 (Betties eliminated)

Quarter Finals

Les Filles du Roi 76 vs. Rouge et Gore 26

Contrabanditas 64 vs. La Racaille 117

TKOs 35 vs. Death Track Dolls 79

Thames Fatales 31 vs. Slaughter Daughters 113

Semi Finals

Filles du Roi 60 vs. La Racaille 85

Death Track Dolls 40 vs. Slaughter Daughters 68

Third Place

Death Track Dolls 136 vs. Filles du Roi 29

Final

La Racaille 74 vs. Slaughter Daughters 103

Read the Derby Nerd’s preview and recap.

VIDEO: Watch Double Elimination Archives Part 1 here.  Watch Part 2 here. Watch quarter finals here. Watch the third place and championship games here.

BEAST 2014 posterBeast of the East 7: 2014

First Round (Double Elimination)

Smoke City Betties 49 vs. Casse Gueules 54

La Racaille 117 vs. Riot Squad 32

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 125 vs. Motor City Madames 22

Les Filles du Roi 78 vs. Atom Smashers 50

Slaughter Daughters 40 vs. Lunch Ladies 80

Les Contrabanditas 122 vs. Thames Fatales 23

Killer Queens 30 vs. Death Track Dolls 91

Rouge et Gore 61 vs. Prime Sinisters 79

Casses Gueules 106 vs. La Racaille 69

Smoke City Betties 36 vs. Riot Squad 66 (Betties eliminated)

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 53 vs. Les Filles du Roi 47

Motor City Madames 57 vs. Atom Smashers 122 (Madames eliminated)

Luscious Lunch Ladies 60 vs. Les Contrabanditas 39

Slaughter Daughters 60 vs. Thames Fatales 45 (Thames eliminated)

Death Track Dolls 55 vs. Prime Sinisters 26

Killer Queens 29 vs. Rouge et Gore 135 (Queens eliminated)

La Racaille 101 vs. Atom Smashers 33 (Smashers eliminated)

Les Filles du Roi 47 vs. Riot Squad 89 (FDR eliminated)

Les Contrabanditas 35 vs. Rouge et Gore 40 (Ditas eliminated)

Prime Sinisters 57 vs. Slaughter Daughters 21 (Daughters eliminated)

Quarter Finals

Casses-Gueules 50 vs. Prime Sinisters 46

Luscious Lunch Ladies 62 vs. Riot Squad 71 (Overtime)

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 64 vs. Rouge et Gore 61

Death Track Dolls 61 vs. La Racaille 86

Semi Finals

Casses-Gueules 75 vs. Riot Squad 68

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 68 vs. La Racaille 67

Third Place

La Racaille 148 vs. Riot Squad 131

Final

Casses Gueules 114 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 129

*Read the Derby Nerd’s preview and recap.

*Video: Watch Day 1 here (begins without commentary); Watch Day 2 here.