Recap

Canadian Power Rankings: August 1, 2015

Captain Lou El Bammo, Dick Dafone, Dr. Jenny Fever and Derby Nerd rank Canada’s top A-level travel teams every two months (or so). Read the June 1st Power Ranking here.

TEAM (League) CHANGE NOTES (Rollergirl.ca /WFTDA rank)
1. New Skids on the Block (Montreal Roller Derby)

Montreal Roller Derby: New Skids on the Block

 +1 This league just keeps finding a way to replenish itself. After a very minor slip at the beginning of the season, the Skids have pulled (slightly) away from its Canadian competition once again. Since losing to Terminal City in May, Montreal has been on a tear, winning six in a row  including crushing the likes of Windy City and Charm City by 200 points. (1 / 16)
2. Terminal City All Stars (Terminal City Roller Girls)Terminal City All Stars
 -1  A bit of a slip as they have not shown the same level of late-season consistency that their Montreal counterparts have. A shaky win against Calgary was somewhat tempered by a better win over Toronto. Suffered some heavy losses in June, but to the best-of-the-best (including Rose City and B.A.D.) (2 / 27)
3.CN Power (Toronto Roller Derby)New CNP Logo  After being neck-and-neck early in 2015, Toronto has lost pace with Terminal City and Montreal (losing to Vancouver by 117 points). They also suffered June loss to tumbling Ohio and just narrowly defeated D2 team Naptown (186-175). (3 / 32)
4.Rideau Valley Vixens (Rideau Valley Roller Girls)

Vixens Logo

 – The Vixens have been quiet since the last rankings (as the league focused on its house league season), with a tough but reasonable loss to Charm City on the books (182-120). The Vixens managed to cling to the final 2015 D1 playoff spot. (4 / 41)
5. Calgary All Stars (Calgary Roller Derby Association)Calgary All Stars Logo +1  Calgary has had quite a season of growth. Late-season inconsistency saw them slip from a D2 playoff spot, but strong performances in recent losses against Terminal City (242-216) and Toronto (243-171) show that they still have plenty of fight left in them. (8/65)
6Tri-City Thunder (Tri-City Rller Derby)Tri-City Thunder Logo -1  After surging back into the Top 5 in June, Thunder slip a spot after a recent loss to D2 Chicago Outfit (186-100) and a lacklustre win over Brewcity (196-122). Nonetheless, they held onto a D1 playoff spot and will return for the second year in a row.(6 / 40)

7.Les Duchesses (Roller Derby Quebec)Duchesses Logo

 – Quebec’s travel team continues to roll. Although they lost handily to Montreal, they managed to stay ahead of their Muddy River Rivals in a July win (242-210) and then shocked 85th Suburbia 428-50. It’s time to see this team against some top-flight competition. (9 / -)
8. All Stars (Winnipeg Roller Derby League) winnipeg logo +1  Winnipeg leaps up a spot on the strength of a pretty incredible summer. After losing to Muddy River in May, Winnipeg has reeled off five straight victories, including four crushing sanctioned wins over D3 opponents and another over Minnesota’s B-team. (11 / 112)
9. Lumbersmacks (Muddy River Rollers)Lumbersmacks Logo -1  After going 8-1 to start the season, Muddy River has been quiet since the last Power Rankings with only one result, a 242-210 loss to Quebec, on the books. (12 / 105)
10. Anarchy Angels (Mainland Misfits Roller Derby)

Angel-logo-bw

The Anarchy Angels remain in the Top 10 after slowing things down over the summer with a respectable 207-123 loss to Rat City’s Rain of Terror since the last rankings. (10/ -)

The Changes

While the Power Rankings did not have any major shifts in this addition, there were some noticeable minor changes to the Top 10. At the top of the list, Montreal takes over top spot from Terminal City heading in to the WFTDA playoffs. This season began with Montreal, Terminal City and Toronto neck-and-neck, but as its gone on and the New Skids considerable roster changes began to settle, Montreal has surged ahead and while Terminal City has kept pace better than Toronto, MTLRD remains Canada’s greatest hope heading in to the WFTDA D1 playoffs, continuing to find ways to replenish its roster, a mix of excellent internal training and some solid impressive transfers (Team Canada’s Dyna Hurtcha [Toronto] and KonichiWow [Windy City] joined the team mid-season)

Although Tri-City managed to defeat Calgary in the spring, this summer, Calgary’s play has pulled the team slightly ahead of their counterparts. Calgary’s impressive play in losses to high-ranked competition (culminating in a surprisingly close 242-216 loss to Terminal City) gives it the edge over Tri-City who has been quieter and has less impressive performances against lower ranked teams. And finally, Winnipeg has been simply crushing it this summer, defeating its four D3 opponents by an average differential of 191, clearly distancing itself form its D3 competitors.

The Watch List

Dolly Rogers (Capital City Derby Dolls) (13th)

E-Ville Dead (E-Ville Roller Derby) (14th)

Avalanche City Roller Girls (Fernie Roller Derby Society) (15th)

Shipyard Sirens (Fog City Rollers) (16th)

Brute-Leggers (Royal City Roller Girls) (17th)

Two more teams have popped up on the Rankings Crew’s radar: joining E-Ville, Avalanche City and the Brute-Leggers are Capital City’s Dolly Rogers and Fog City’s Shipyard Sirens. Both of these teams have been on and off the Power Rankings bubble before and strong recent play sees them both return. The Dolly Rogers opened the season with a loss to Montreal’s Sexpos, but since then have managed six-straight one-sided wins that have demonstrated an increasing level of play (in May they defeated Kingston’s Disloyalists by 194 points; in an August rematch, they’d increased the differential to 325). The Shipyard Sirens have been, and remain, Muddy River’s primary competition on Canada’s East Coast. Another late start to the season sees them pop up on the Watch List late, but they’ve kicked things off impressively with a smothering 354-69 win over Fredericton’s Capital City Rollers. More recently, they crushed Bangor with a slightly better margin of victory than Muddy River (163 vs. 132), which certainly piqued our interest.

Nerd Glasses

*These rankings were compiled by the Derby Nerd, Captain Lou El Bammo, Dick Dafone, and Dr. Jenny Fever.

*Get caught up by reading the June Power Rankings here.

-Respectful disagreement and debate is encouraged!-

Smashers Topple Madames for Fourth Straight Gibson’s Cup

The 2015 Atom Smashers

The 2015 Atom Smashers

In the annual all-Durham Region showdown, the Atom Smashers won their fourth consecutive Gibson’s Cup over the Motor City Madames on Saturday night in recording-setting fashion, managing to set records for most points, fewest points against and largest margin of victory in the 312-75 win. Despite the lopsided nature of the score, it was a celebratory and entertaining evening featuring the best crowd of the season with Rogers TV on board for a full broadcast.

The Gibson's Cup is named for a young fan who passed away in 2010 after an extended battle with cancer. Once again, Hearth Place was the charity partner for the event. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The Gibson’s Cup is named for a young fan who passed away in 2010 after an extended battle with cancer. Once again, Hearth Place was the charity partner for the event. (Photo by Joe Mac)

After forming in 2010, Durham Region Roller Derby put together its first full season in 2011, concluding with the inaugural Gibson’s Cup. That first season, the Smashers and the Madames were virtually even, with the Madames taking that initial showdown 145-114. It would mark the last time the Madames would notch a victory over their leaguemates.

The Smashers eventual dominance was not born overnight, but took time. In 2012, they won the event 257-152, and then in 2013, the Madames managed to make up some of the gap, losing by only 66 points; however, last year the gap widened, and this year the difference on the track was immense.

In a two-team house, league it’s truly impossible to find a single event or reason for a growing gap between teams, but differences in drafting, inconsistent retention rates, and simply individual skill are all factors that play into it. Also, nearly from the start, DRRD’s travel team, the Devils (on hiatus in 2015), was comprised of a majority number of Smashers. No doubt, the advanced training and competitive schedule also played into the growing chasm between the clubs.

The Madames entered the 2015 Gibson’s Cup on the heels of an up-and-down season. A final four appearance at Wellington Roller Derby’s Winter Wipeout (where they were eliminated by the Smashers) was followed by a one-sided loss to Royal City’s talented Killer Queens. This loss preceded a two-game winning streak over Lindsay and Niagara that brought the team into the Cup on a high note.

The Smashers are coming off of, arguably, their best season ever (they went undefeated in 2013, but given the nature of the competition and the amount of games, 2015 may still be better overall). They dominated the aforementioned Winter Wipeout tournament, taking home the trophy after defeating Orangeville in the final, and then made their second consecutive appearance at the Beast of the East, where they lost to Rideau Valley’s defending champion Prime Sinisters and then a heart-breaking one-point elimination game against Toronto’s Chicks Ahoy!. But the team followed that event with three straight wins (including handily taking the rematch with the Chicks) before a very narrow 136-122 loss to Wellington’s Feims ended the run.

Led by its longest serving core members Mozilla, Karma Screwya and Reject Barbie, the Madames entered the Cup with a 12-skater short bench, and the team got caught on its back wheels at the opening whistle, as the Smashers roared out to a 43-0 lead that extended to 84-10 only eight jams in; at the midway point of the opening period, a 37-point jam by Betty Fugetaboutit extended that already impressive lead to 125-19, essentially putting the game out of reach.

There wasn’t any one aspect of the game that Madames seemed lacking in when put up next to their counterparts, and the team has managed to build up a solid, albeit short handed, roster. Daisy TripHer, Astro Girl and Roller Mitch form a developing jammer rotation with a ton of potential, while the core blockers have built up a solid-multi-generational group around them, led by the excellent Pac-Ma’am.

But the Smashers have somehow managed to remain one skate ahead and keep building off of the already solid base. As a team, the Smashers are built a little differently, eschewing a set jammer rotation and instead passing around the star to a group of double threats, led by Piptonium and Fugetaboutit. This season, they’ve added Iggy PopHer, Code Blue, and Birdie, all similar, multi-position players who played big roles in this year’s Gibson Cup win: Not that they don’t have designated blockers (Amefyst, Psycho Magnet) and jammers (Scarlita), but they are a team with options.

With a commanding 187-39 lead at the break, the second half was all about managing the game. The Smashers used the big lead as an opportunity to give the star to some designated blockers including Natitude, Psycho Magnet and long-time veteran Goldie Lock N Load.

Word on the track is that there have been some discussions around DRRD about a possibly restructuring of the current league model, so the future of the Gibson’s Cup—at least in this form—remains in doubt. If so, this was a great sending off: celebratory, hard fought, and fun. On the track, the league remains healthy with a thriving farm team in the DRRD’y Farmers and a whole crop of 2015 rookies that seems destined to lead the league into the future.

**The 2015 Gibson’s Cup was broadcast by Rogers TV. It will be rebroadcast beginning Saturday, August 1, 2015, at 6:00 PM.

**The DRRD’y Famers hosted Royal City’s Our Ladies of Pain to kick things off, falling 410-131. That game will be broadcast on Rogers TV this Thursday, July 30, at 8:00 PM.

Cold Cuts and Charcuterie Reigns Supreme as Roller Derby Quebec Dominates Fresh ’15

It was an all-Quebec final at the Fresh and the Furious 2015 as Roller Derby Quebec squared off against Montreal Roller Derby (Photo by Jeff Davad courtesy of Jammer Line Magazine)

It was an all-Quebec final at the Fresh and the Furious 2015 as Roller Derby Quebec squared off against Montreal Roller Derby (Photo by Jeff Davad courtesy of Jammer Line Magazine)

So, Canada, in case you haven’t been paying attention, there’s a new flat track roller derby power rising in the east, and it is looking more and more ready to ascend to the top.

On Saturday, Roller Derby Quebec’s Viande Froide et Charcuteries (take a moment to let that great name sink in!) won the Fresh and the Furious 2015 in absolutely dominant fashion, completing a summer season in which the league’s two house league teams finished 1-2 at the Beast of the East and the travel team, Les Duchesses, has been quietly training at a high level, including one unsanctioned game each against Montreal’s two travel teams.

Quebec's Divacop and Taminator wrap up a Queen's Court jammer in a first round matchup. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Quebec’s Divacop and Taminator wrap up a Queen’s Court jammer in a first round matchup. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Roller Derby Quebec was already on most people’s radars, especially after the Beast run, but after this weekend’s performance by the league’s freshest skaters, there should remain no doubt that this is the league to watch. It was as dominant a run as we’ve ever seen at the one day, sixteen-team event: Five straight wins with an average differential of 87 points; 584 total points scored (a record), with a per-game average of 117 points; and the second highest scoring single game in tournament history (155).

And did I mention that they managed to do all this with seven skaters?

Rogue D-VAS' jammer Noodle Kaboodle attempts to get past Thicket blocker Erin Blockabitch in a first round game. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Rogue D-VAS’ jammer Noodle Kaboodle attempts to get past Thicket blocker Erin Blockabitch in a first round game. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Amalgamated leagues and tiny benches were the story of the grueling fifteen-team, one-day tournament (played on one of the hottest days of the summer at that), with a majority of teams skating with mixed rosters (including perennial powers Toronto Roller Derby, whose D-VAS—mixed with Kingston skaters—finished out of the Top 3 for the first time ever), and while for the past two years the Quebec teams had optioned to skate as a unified provincial team, this year Montreal sent a fully loaded Smash Squad (eventually finishing second) while the debuting Roller Derby Sherbrooke bolstered its numbers with a few extra bodies from Trois-Rivieres. With many teams under the 14-skater norm, two teams, the Thicket from Forest City and Quebec, ended up with less than 10. Quebec actually started with 8 skaters, but one of the team’s top jammers, Chlomydia, was injured early in the first game. The Viande Froide handled the loss brilliantly, showing the perseverance and incredible endurance that has become the hallmark of this league.

Eventual third-place finishers Our Ladies of Pain opened the tournament with a win over the Renegade Derby Dames. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Eventual third-place finishers Our Ladies of Pain opened the tournament with a win over the Renegade Derby Dames. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Quebec’s growing provincial dominance was a big part of the Fresh story in 2015. Montreal’s Smash Squad returned as an independent team for the first time since winning it all in 2012 and played wonderfully, dominating usually strong entries from Toronto, Royal City (in the semifinal), and the defending champion Cannon Dolls (from Capital City) in the opening game of the tournament. Sherbrooke’s Les Rebelles also surprised, and did so in dramatic fashion. After dropping the opening game to the Hamutantes (a GTA/Hammer City mixed team that also performed exceptionally), Les Rebelles needed to win two in a row to advance; first, they eliminated Ottawa’s Cannon Dolls in a thrilling 94-92 game, before managing to score one point as time expired to cancel a final-jam 10-point comeback by the DRRD’y Farmers in an 81-80 win that sent them to the quarterfinal knock-out round.

Sherbrooke's impressive run to the quarterfinals included a thrilling, last second one-point victory over the DRRD'y Farmers in a must-win elimination game. (Photo by Jeff Davad courtesy of Jammer Line)

Sherbrooke’s impressive run to the quarterfinals included a thrilling, last second one-point victory over the DRRD’y Farmers in a must-win elimination game. (Photo by Jeff Davad courtesy of Jammer Line)

Sherbrooke’s run eventually ended at the hands of Royal City’s Our Ladies of Pain, who had a fantastic day (buoyed by the largest cheering section of the tournament). After a third place finish in 2011 and reaching the Fresh final in 2012 (as the Top Herloins), Royal City had not advanced beyond the quarters since, but did so this year, falling in the semifinals to the Smash Squad in a rematch of that 2012 final. Another league that quietly had a bounce back tournament was the lone US entrant, Queen City’s Queen’s Court. After a final four finish at the inaugural Fresh in 2011, the team had failed to advance beyond the first round since, but they narrowly knocked off Wellington’s surprising Bloody Marys to do so this year.

Despite the variety of fine performances, the narrative of this tournament ran directly through the winning team. A five-skater pack (featuring blockers Divacop, Dildodo Bombass, Ninge Turtle, Cunts’n’Roses, and pivot KillEasy) and a two-jammer rotation (Taminator and Izzy Gonzales, who seemed light years ahead of the competition) ran roughshod over the competition, dominating from start to finish and showing that even if Roller Derby Quebec has not ascended to the top of the pyramid of competitive Canadian derby just yet, the strength of its base (seemingly so far ahead of everyone else’s), means that it’s just a matter of time.

THE RESULTS

Double Elimination: ArenaNEO Fights 75 vs. South Simcoe Rebel Rollers 73Roller Derby Quebec 124 vs. Queen’s Court 10

Rogue D-VAS 47 vs. Thicket 67

Renegade Derby Dames 59 vs. Our Ladies of Pain 76

NEO Fights 14 vs. Quebec 155

South Simcoe (elim.) 69 vs. Queen’s Court 107

Thicket 58 vs. Our Ladies of Pain 114

Rogue D-VAS 102 vs. Renegade Derby Dames (elim.) 59

NEO Fights (elim.) 56 vs. D-VAS 70

Thicket (elim.) 91 vs. Queen’s Court 111

Double Elimination: Bubble 705 Bombshells 42 vs. DRRD’y Farmers 53Smash Squad 121 vs. Cannon Dolls 50

Les Rebelles 43 vs. Derby Hamutantes 136

DRRD’y Farmers 56 vs. Bloody Marys 96

Smash Squad 76 vs. Hamutantes 57

Cannon Dolls (elim.) vs. Les Rebelles 94

DRRD’y Farmers (elim.) 80 vs. Les Rebelles 81

Hamutantes 107 vs. 705 Bombshells (elim.) 37

Quarterfinals

 Our Ladies of Pain 102 vs. Les Rebelles 54

Roller Derby Quebec 102 vs. Hamutantes 45

Smash Squad 97 vs. Rogue D-VAS 37

Bloody Marys 59 vs. Queen’s Court 62

Semifinals

Roller Derby Quebec 103 vs. Queen’s Court 16

Our Ladies of Pain 76 vs. Smash Squad 153

Third Place

Our Ladies of Pain 119 vs. Queen’s Court 101

Championship

Roller Derby Quebec 100 vs. Smash Squad 46

**This year’s Louisa Kalimeris Heart Award went to Les Rebelle’s Malicious, who always seemed to jam with a smile.

**Once again, Layer9.ca was there to provide a live feed of all the action on both tracks. The archives are already up, so be sure to check them out. As an added bonus, most of the games featuring teams from Quebec include bilingual commentary.

Different Name, Same Awesome Event: Uhaul Brawl Proudly Kicks off Toronto Pride

Tight walls from the Plaid Mafia at the 2015 Uhaul Brawl. (Photography by Neil Gunner)

Tight walls from the Plaid Mafia at the 2015 Uhaul Brawl. (Photography by Neil Gunner)

At the end of the week of Pride Toronto 2015, on the eve of the biggest annual Pride weekend in North America, the United States of America kind of stole the show. When that country’s Supreme Court rendered the decision to allow same-sex marriage across the board, the world, including those already well caught up in the midst of the rainbow wave in Toronto, rejoiced. It was a monumental moment in the ongoing mainstream shift in Western attitudes toward the LGBTQ2 community and will undoubtedly be looked back upon as a decisive moment in our march toward universal human rights. But, of course, we’re not quite there yet. On the morning of Friday, June 26, 2015, as news of the Supreme Court’s decision dominated headlines, roller derby fans in Toronto were only slowly awaking and shaking off the previous night’s festivities. It had been a long Thursday for those who’d attended the Uhaul Brawl, the city’s annual all-queer all-star roller derby event, which, for the third year in a row was co-organized between Toronto Roller Derby and the GTA Rollergirls. It’s been an important event in the history and development of the sport in this city, and arguably represents contemporary roller derby in its purest form: fun, athletic, and with a clear progressive agenda.While this was the seventh year for the event (first held in 2009 at the George Bell Arena), this was the first year since letting go of the event’s original moniker, the Clam Slam.

The Blundstone Brigade and The Glitterrazzi kicked off the night with an exciting game that went down to the final jam.

The Blundstone Brigade and The Glitterrazzi kicked off the night with an exciting game that went down to the final jam.

Since re-emerging in Austin in the early part of the 21st Century, women’s flat track roller derby has occupied a fascinating space in the North American sports community. Initially the flat track movement was a riot-grrrl inspired, third-wave feminist spectacle that made a mockery of sports culture, all the while flaunting a certain form of hyper-femininity that in equal parts drew people in and kept them out. The game and the places where it was played were celebrated as safe, celebratory spaces for women. The Clam Slam rose out of this ideology: celebratory, hyper-feminine, and even as the competitive level of the sport arose around it (and thus within the event as well), those core values remained. However, the justifiably giddy response around the Supreme Court’s decision hid many problematic issues. For one, it highlighted how slow progress can be in the planet’s richest democracy (Canada and many other Western nations had legalized same-sex marriage for at least a decade), and it also masked the plight of those in the trans community, for whom progress and acceptance have been much harder to come by. While homophobia is still undeniably rampant in North America (primarily driven by the religious right), the lives of those in the LGB community have never been more protected as they are now. The laws of the land have indeed shifted, and while the members of the lesbian, gay and bisexual communities still face discrimination, they now have institutional protection and a guarantee of equal rights across the board (even if, sometimes, they still have to fight for them). The same cannot yet be said for the members in the trans community. Although it has been three years since Ontario passed Toby’s Act into law, trans people, whether it be through a simple lack of access to washrooms or being placed in detention with those of the opposite gender (just to name two examples), still face the kind of surface—and institutional—discrimination that members of the LGB community have been mostly able to find protection from. It was out of this murky climate that the movement to change the name of Toronto’s annual Pride-affiliated roller derby game arose. “We knew that [the name] was something that we had to address because we know that it’s transmisogynist and we know that there are problems with that in roller derby as well as in other queer spaces,” explains Uhaul Brawl co-organizer, Vag Lightning (skating at Uhaul Brawl as the Notorious V.A.G.).

There were twelve different leagues represented over the two games at Uhaul Brawl.

There were twelve different leagues represented over the two games at Uhaul Brawl.

The initial idea was to change the name moving forward and to find something that didn’t focus on women’s genitals. But as the event neared, it became more and more obvious that the time for change was now: “We were going to do it for next year but we got called out—rightfully so,” Vag admits, adding that “there are people who didn’t sign up this year because of it.” Specifically, Vag cites the criticism of new D-VAS skater The Lavender Menace as catalyst for the change, as it was she who first publicly articulated her feelings of exclusion, feelings that were quickly echoed across social media.

As the realization that people were being hurt and excluded from the event because of the name became more and more obvious (which is counter to the very essence of the event), change was instituted immediately. While the name and attitude surrounding the event had left some on the outside looking in, the event itself had never had a policy of exclusion, and trans women have been skating in the games since the inaugural Clam Slam in 2009. However, Vag acknowledges that while trans women have skated in the event, none had ever been involved in the planning, which is common: “that is something the event has suffered from as well as other events for queer women. Maybe if more trans women had been involved in an organizing position, these changes would have been made sooner. We have to talk about why trans women aren’t involved in the planning.” But, she’s quick to point out, “It shouldn’t be up to trans women to tell other queer women that what we’re doing is problematic.” The birth of the Uhaul Brawl seems to be part of a larger change in the roller derby community, built around a redefinition of inclusion. The reasoning behind the change, explains Vag, was that “The name itself perpetuates the assumption of what a woman is in queer womanhood.”

This problematic assumption, when you sit down and think about it, is rampant in the roller derby community (“Beaver Fever” comes to mind), a vestige of its riot grrrl roots. “We like to pat ourselves on the back and talk about how progressive we are,” points out Vag, citing the recent Vagine Regime-focused film In the Turn as being a surprisingly disappointing example of the community making assumptions about what a woman is in queer womanhood. “We want to push for a bigger conversation,” Vag says, “as well as push for more change at the WFTDA level, including with the gender policy,” which, she, and others, have pointed out, is problematic.

Many skaters skated under different names, including Montreal's La Grande Noirceur, who skated as Le Petite Mort.

Many skaters skated under different names, including Montreal’s La Grande Noirceur, who skated as Le Petite Mort.

What the name change has already accomplished is opening up the discussion to the community, and while there was some quiet resistance to the change, it was mostly accepted with open arms, celebrated even. And when the whistle blew, it didn’t change what happened on the track: fast, fun, fantastic roller derby. For the record, The Blundstone Brigade won the opening game 156-154 after a furious last-jam comeback against the The Gliterrazzi, while Team Uhaul defeated The Plaid Mafia 187-133. While the US Supreme Court’s decision was undeniably monumental, instead of seeing it as an end point in a battle, it should be seen as a beginning point of a push for the rights of those who are still excluded. While changing the name of one all-star roller derby event in Toronto seems a small gesture, it is the accumulation of those small gestures that will inspire change. “Hopefully doing stuff like this will ripple out to other leagues and we can all start doing a little better because we owe it to ourselves,” Vag concludes. “We owe it to our community, and we owe it to trans women.”

**The 2015 Uhaul Brawl was live streamed on layer9.ca. You can watch the archives here.**

Betties Knock off Gores to Capture First Boot

One of the loudest crowds in Battle for the Boot history was treated to a stunning championship game. (Photo by Greg Russell)

One of the loudest crowds in Battle for the Boot history was treated to a stunning championship game, ToRD’s 9th Battle for the Boot. (Photo by Greg Russell)

For the vast majority of their third attempt at winning Toronto Roller Derby’s championship it seemed as if the Smoke City Betties were destined to suffer the same fate that had befallen them on their first two attempts. For 51 minutes, the game and the coveted Boot both seemed out of reach.

Until suddenly, it wasn’t.

In the end, Toronto’s oldest flat track roller derby team managed to find some deep reserve of desire that fueled a thrilling late-game comeback, stunning eight-time finalists (and three-time champions) the Gore-Gore Rollergirls, 171-140, in what many immediately declared to be the most satisfying Battle for the Boot in league history.

It is true that ToRD’s championship game has often been a letdown. Adjusting for style of game play, it is easy to argue that between 2009 (when the Betties lost to the Gores 129-88) and 2013 (when the Betties were on the losing end of record-setting 258-73 defeat to the Death Track Dolls), every championship game was a blowout. Even last year’s 184-139 showdown between the Dolls and Gores, while not a blowout by any means, was never really in question as the Dolls led from start to finish. But in a year of league parity (at least between the top three teams), it should really have come as no surprise that this championship game delivered.

The Gores got off to an exceptional start, led by their eventual leading scorer Beaver Mansbridge. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Gores got off to an exceptional start, led by their eventual leading scorer Beaver Mansbridge. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The game actually got off to an inauspicious start for the Betties, who, despite playing two playoff games over the last month, seemed the less prepared of the two teams. Behind some incredible defensive blocking, all four of the Gores’ primary jammers (Lumberjack Flash, Lexi Con, Beaver Mansbridge and Taranosaurus Rex) nabbed lead jammer status in their initial jams, eventually taking five of the opening six (which included a power jam) to take a commanding 28-3 lead.

Unfazed, the Betties roared back and flipped the board on the Gores, taking seven of the next ten leads to get back in it, yet still found themselves down 51-34 with ten minutes to play in the opening period.

The Gores got a fantastic opening half from jammer Lexi Con, who played, arguably, her best half of the season, and at the break led her team—and the game—in scoring (38 points) and lead percentage (87% over seven jams). However, on the Betties’ side of the score sheet, an interesting story was developing: after a slow start, ToRD’s second leading scoring in the regular season, Smoka Cola, seemed to be just getting warmed up: the first-year transfer nabbed lead in three of her final four jams scoring 28 of her 29 points over that stretch, while helping the Betties to get close at the break, down 89-67 at the half.

Strong Gores' packs were led by veteran blocker Jill 'Em All. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Strong Gores’ packs were led by veteran blocker Jill ‘Em All. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Gores had managed to hold their half-time lead by grabbing the final three lead jammer statuses and that momentum followed them into the second period. Although lead jammer status was about equal over the opening ten minutes, the Gores maintained clear control, getting phenomenal blocking from veteran Santa Muerte, while Jill ‘Em All (who returned to the Gores after a two-year hiatus to focus on the CN Power) led an, at times, devastating line along with Chronc, Gamma Rei and Emma Dilemma. One-third of the way through the second period and it seemed as if the Gores were in complete control: they used three power jams to build a substantial 30-point lead, 126-96.

But then, the game changed.

The Betties got some outstanding blocking across the board, including AnneBulance and Tushy Galore). (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Betties got some outstanding blocking across the board, including AnneBulance and Tushy Galore). (Photo by Greg Russell)

Led by some stand-out performances from across the board—including veterans, rookies, and transfers—the Betties slowly began to chip away. Heavy defense from Tushy Galore and Honey Boom Boom (who was outstanding in the game, playing perhaps the best derby of her career), was complemented by the calm on-track presence of rookie Fight of the Conchords, on-point line leadership from SewWhat?, and an increasingly larger role for first-year transfer AnneBulance. Six-straight lead jammers for the Betties anchored a series of ten consecutive jams where the Gores were held off the board, and after an incredible 14-point pick up from long-time Bettie titmouse (she finished with 41 points), the Betties found themselves within three—as close as they’d been since the opening whistle.

A Gores’ timeout did nothing to stop the Betties’ momentum, and when it was all said and done, a 64-0, ten jam run of complete dominance saw the Betties take their first lead of the game with nine minutes left to go; it was a run that sealed the Gores’ fate.

Smoka Cola (seen here pushing through a Jill 'Em All and Gamma Rei two-wall) was unstoppable in the second half. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Smoka Cola (seen here pushing through a Jill ‘Em All and Gamma Rei two-wall) was unstoppable in the second half. (Photo by Greg Russell)

In terms of offense, the story of the second half was Smoka Cola. After a strong first period, Smoka was simply unstoppable in the second: 100% lead percentage (seven for seven) and 50 points. At one point in the game-changing ten jam run, she even went back to back (grabbing lead on both), but it was a late power jam (the Betties’ second and final of the half) that sealed the deal.

After getting back-to-back leads, the Gores handed the star to Santa Muerte, who’d been somewhat of a secret weapon this season (in limited regular season action with the star she’d managed 3.7 points per jam and a remarkable 75% lead percentage). Unfortunately this time, matched up against Smoka Cola, it backfired. Drawing a cut, the Betties and Smoka Cola punished the Gores for 18 points (even with excellent penalty killing from Viktoty Lapp, Moose Knuckles and Miss Kitty La Peur).

It was the first Boot win in three attempts (2009, 2013) for the Betties. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

It was the first Boot win in three attempts (2009, 2013) for the Betties. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Despite a frantic push at the end (they would take lead in four of the final five jams, led by some fantastic jamming from Beaver Mansbridge, who eventually led the Gores in scoring—50—and lead percentage—50%), the Betties retained control of the scoreboard and held off the Gores for the 29-point win.

This win was a long-time coming for the Betties, who were the last team to have their name engraved on the Boot, and in particular for those longest-serving skaters (Tushy Galore, titmouse, and Genuine Risk were three of twelve rookies on the team in a challenging 2010 season), and with a strong core in the place, this could just be the start of something special.

**The Battle for the Boot was broadcast on Rogers TV; check local listings for rebroadcast, with the evening of June 13 the likely first rebroadcast. And, of course, layer9.ca was trackside to capture all of the action. You can watch his footage here.

**Next up for flat track roller derby fans in the city is the Pride-affiliated 2015 U-Haul Brawl at Ted Reeve Arena on Thursday, June 25th).

Canadian Power Rankings: June 1, 2015

Captain Lou El Bammo, Dick Dafone, Dr. Jenny Fever and Derby Nerd rank Canada’s top A-level travel teams every two months (or so). Read the April 1st Power Ranking here.

TEAM (League) CHANGE NOTES (Rollergirl.ca /WFTDA rank)
1.Terminal City All Stars (Terminal City Roller Girls)Terminal City All Stars  – Vancouver finally became the team to the end Montreal’s unbeaten streak. Since that win they’ve gone 2-3, but the losses have come against top-flight competition (Rat City, Rocky Mountain and Denver). (/ 17)
2. New Skids on the Block (Montreal Roller Derby)

Montreal Roller Derby: New Skids on the Block

 –  Their unbelievable Canadian winning streak finally ended, but it has seemed to inspire the team and they’ve been on a tear since, including a surprisingly one-sided win over Boston. (1 / 20)
3.CN Power (Toronto Roller Derby)New CNP Logo A strong showing against Montreal was followed by an up-and-down performance at Spring Roll However, the team seems to be integrating changes nicely and should still improve as the season goes on. (3 / 24)
4.Rideau Valley Vixens (Rideau Valley Roller Girls)

Vixens Logo

 – An inconsistent Beaver Fever saw them hold off Tri-City before inexplicably falling to Queen City. This inconsistency could threaten their playoff chances. (4 / 34)
5. Tri-City Thunder (Tri-City Rller Derby)Tri-City Thunder Logo +1 After some off-season adjusting, Thunder have been on a roll. Great showings at Beaver Fever and Spring Roll (including upset wins over Calgary and Queen City) has Tri-City back in the Top 5. (5/54)
6Calgary All Stars (Calgary Roller Derby Association)Calgary All Stars Logo -1 While briefly in D1 position, losses at Spring Roll (most notably to Tri-City) send them just out of the Top 5. Calgary has plateaued a bit after a surge up the rankings. (8 / 43)

7.Les Duchesses (Roller Derby Quebec)Duchesses Logo

 – Quebec’s travel team is just getting warmed up but holds its spot after a better result against Bangor than Muddy River had. Their upcoming showdown with the Lumbersmacks should be explosive.  (11 / -)
8. Lumbersmacks (Muddy River Rollers)Lumbersmacks Logo  +1  Muddy River keeps climbing after a second place finish at the grueling Mayday Mayhem tournament, where they defeated Winnipeg in the semifinals. (10 / -)
9. All Stars (Winnipeg Roller Derby League) winnipeg logo unranked Winnipeg finally enters the Top 10 after an impressive final-four appearance at Mayday Mayhem that helped improve their season record to 4-2 (all sanctioned play). (13 / -)
10. Anarchy Angels (Mainland Misfits Roller Derby)

Angel-logo-bw

-2 The Anarchy Angels remain in the Top 10 after a dominant performance at Flat Track Fever including a win over E-Ville. They are 5-0 on the season with an average differential of 250 points. (9/ -)

The Power Rankings had anticipated an end to Montreal New Skids on the Block’s all-time Canadian winning streak, and it finally happened in April. After coming back to take a narrow 9-point win over Toronto at home in Montreal, the Skids headed out west to the Big O where Terminal City had its chance. They took advantage. It was an intense, back-and-forth game that Vancouver was able to win on the final jam, 182-177. It ended a 17-game winning streak dating back to 2008 for Montreal and the results have the Power Rankings Crew holding the top three.

Rideau Valley also was able to hold on to its fourth spot with an up-and-down performance at Beaver Fever that included a solid 186-156 win over Tri-City. Speaking of Tri-City, Thunder returns to the Top 5 on a strong run at both Beaver Fever and Spring Roll that saw them upset Queen City and then Calgary. That loss is what sends Calgary tumbling a spot. The CRDA All Stars had briefly jumped into WFTDA’s Division 1, before slipping back to D2 where they hold a strong playoff position should they remain there.

While Les Duchesses barely hold the 7th spot, they will continue their burgeoning rivalry with Muddy River this summer, who has crept up next to them in the Power Rankings after a second-place performance at the Mayday Mayhem tournament in Colorado, where they knocked off Canadian counterparts Winnipeg (who are entering the Top 10 for the first time after a long time on the Watch List and then on the Bubble). As with Muddy River, expect a big WFTDA rankings debut for Winnipeg. Finally, Mainland Misfits Anarchy Angels are hard to judge as they have yet to truly face a challenge so far in 2015, but an impressive (dominant) run at Flat Track Fever keeps them safely in the Top 10.

On The Bubble

E-Ville Dead (E-Ville Roller Derby) (12th)

Avalanche City Roller Girls (Fernie Roller Derby Society) (17th)

Brute-Leggers (Royal City Roller Girls) (19th)

We’ve still got a long watch list to keep track of as the season progresses but there are three teams who remain directly on the Bubble. E-Ville, in particular, held off a strong challenge from Avalanche City at Flat Track Fever (keeping them both here on the Bubble), and finally Guelph’s Royal City Brute-Leggers started the season with an unsanctioned loss to Toronto’s Bay Street Bruisers only to go on a 3-0 run in their WFTDA sanctioned debut, securing an impressive initial ranking of 105th.

Nerd Glasses

*These rankings were compiled by the Derby Nerd, Captain Lou El Bammo, Dick Dafone, and Dr. Jenny Fever.

*Get caught up by reading the April Power Rankings here.

-Respectful disagreement and debate is encouraged!-

End of an Era: Betties Knock off Defending Champs in ToRD Semifinal

Smoke City Betties jammer WackerHer attempts to power through a Death Track Dolls wall in the ToRD semifinal. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Smoke City Betties jammer WackedHer attempts to power through a Death Track Dolls wall in the ToRD semifinal at The Bunker in Dowsnview Park on Saturday night. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

At the midway point of the opening half, it was still anyone’s game.

From the opening whistle, the Smoke City Betties had managed to keep one step ahead of the defending champion Death Track Dolls, but with a scoreline that read 66-40, they hadn’t been able to distance themselves. It was still anyone’s game.

And then, suddenly, it wasn’t: A methodical fourteen-minute, 50-0 run (in which they managed to nab eight out of nine lead jammers) extended the Bettie’s lead to 76 points. The Dolls would never get closer again, and after a second-place regular season and two-straight ToRD championships, they fell short in their attempt to make it three in a row in the 200-123 loss.

Betties blockers (l to r) Brickhouse Bardot, SewWhat?, and Jammher'head Shark contain Dolls jammer Common Dominator. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Betties blockers (l to r) Brickhouse Bardot, SewWhat?, and Jammher’head Shark contain Dolls jammer Common Dominator. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

On Saturday night the Betties (who finished third in the regular season) delivered a complete game effort from a determined, focused and unified team that seems to have saved its best efforts for the most important time of the season, and after dominant quarterfinal and semifinal wins looks poised to challenge the three-time champion Gore-Gore Rollergirls in Toronto Roller Derby’s ninth Battle for the Boot.

The Betties played such a complete game that it is actually difficult to pull out standout performances. Part of the key to the success that the team has displayed in this year’s playoff run seems to be that everyone is buying into her role on the track. In a post-game interview, blocker/pivot SewWhat? attributed this partially to an off-season turnover in leadership that required everyone to step up and take responsibility—something that the team obviously did not shy away from. And from emerging leaders like SewWhat?, Honey Boom Boom and LowblowPalooza, to first-year transfers like Anne Bulance and Brickhouse Bardot, to the veteran core of Tushy Galore and titmouse, the Betties have built the depth to compete against anyone in the league.

Dolls blocker Hannibelle looks to contain Betties jammer Wolverina. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Dolls blocker Hannibelle looks to contain Betties jammer Wolverina. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

As they have all season, the Betties used a deep, consistent jammer rotation led by the unflappable duo of WhackedHer (43 points and an 83% lead percentage at half, that translated to 51, 73% for the game) and Wolverina (who was the game’s leading scorer with 69 on a 77%) to terrorize the Death Track Dolls, who didn’t have the defensive depth to match the consistent turnover of diverse jammers. Overall the Betties had a 65% lead percentage at halftime (and an even more impressive 73% over the second half of the opening period, ) accounting in large part for the considerable 118-54 lead at the break.

Playing desperation derby, the Dolls actually had a better second half (eventually outscored 82-69 in the period) that was a little deceiving as their most sustained push (a 30-7 run) came over the last five minutes when the Betties had taken their skates off the gas and the game was out of reach.

The Dolls got a monumental effort from Sleeper Hold, who donned the star for a remarkable 22 jams on the night. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Dolls got a monumental effort from Sleeper Hold, who donned the star for a remarkable 22 jams on the night. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Part of the change could be attributed to a momentous effort from second-year jammer Sleeper Hold who appeared in twelve jams in the second half alone (and finished the game with 66 points and a 41% lead percentage on 22 jams). The lack of depth in the position was the result of the bad luck that seemed to follow the Dolls this season. With rookie of the year candidate PrEditor unavailable for the remainder of the season (along with Scarcasm being unavailable for this game) and Devochka having just returned from injury (she got stronger as the game went on, and was excellent as pivot—receiving some key passes and managing 15 points on 60% in limited action with the star), the Dolls were left with Sleeper, rookie Common Dominator (who only had 18 jams worth of experience under her belt coming into the game), and D-VAS call up Battering Ma’am (who didn’t look out of place at all, recording 20 on 42%) to try to match the Betties offensive depth. The Betties rotation was rounded out by CN Power jammer Smoka Kola (54, 69%) and six-year veteran titmouse, whose numbers seem to pale compared to her counterparts (18, 27%). But upon closer inspection, the crafty veteran found ways to deliver and had the Nerd’s “stat of the night”: an incredible 7 stolen points, including 4 in the second half.

Similarly, the Dolls’ pack was lacking some key pieces as well, as both Dawson and Bloc Quebecois were not yet ready to return (Slam Wow and Junkie Jenny were already gone for the season). Another D-VAS call up (and former Doll) Lucid Lou was excellent given the circumstances, and Robotomy, Getcha Kicks, Hannibelle and Stringer Belle continue to provide a consistent core to the pack, but it simply wasn’t enough against a Betties team that was firing on all cylinders.

In the end, the 77-point victory allows the Betties to return to battle for the boot for the third time in history. The showdown with the Gores marks a rematch of the 2009 Battle for the Boot, and is the first appearance for the Betties since a 2013 loss to the Dolls.

Nerd Glasses

* The game was broadcast on Rogers TV. Stay tuned for rebroadcasts. Also, the thrilling preliminary game between the D-VAS and Royal City’s Our Ladies of Pain was also broadcast. Definitely find the time to tune in to this thrilling game. (You can also watch track-side footage of both games on layer9.ca)

These two teams will be meeting again in Guelph on June 13th. If this game was any indication, it might be a road trip worth making for Toronto fans!

*Battle for the Boot 9 is on June 6th at the Bunker. Tickets are on sale now.