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Chicks, Gores Pick up Wins at ToRD Opener

Betties Gores Neil

ToRD’s 10th season kicked off with a rematch of last year’s championship game between the Smoke City Betties and the Gore-Gore Rollergirls. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

It was a packed house at the Bunker to kick off Toronto Roller Derby’s historic 10th season, and the fans in attendance (a number that included wide representation from nearby roller derby leagues) were treated to two solid games of flat track roller derby that showed a level of four-team parity not seen in ToRD for quite some time (both games had differentials under 30 points). Coming into the season, one of the worries was what kind of talent gaps may exist due to a large off-season turnover; however, a mix of talented transfers and emerging stars showed that the league is continuing to build depth.

That was just one of many stories told on this night that also included a potential change in power as 2015’s last-place team, the Chicks Ahoy!, seems to have completed a multi-year rebuild and looks ready for contention. On an individual note, Gore-Gore Rollergirls’ fourth-year jammer Lexi Con became just the fourth skater in league history to reach the 500-point plateau in the Gores’ victory over the defending champion Smoke City Betties.

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 138 vs. Smoke City Betties 119

Kazi Beav Greg

Betties’ jammer Caume-A-Kazi and Gores’ Beaver Mansbridge duel in the season opener. (Photo by Greg Russell)

ToRD’s 10th kicked off with a rematch of last year’s Battle for the Boot, only this time the tables were turned as the Gores meted out some revenge with the 19-point victory over the team that defeated them in the championship game.

 

The Betties got off to a great start with Kingston transfer Caume-A-Kazi putting up 9 points with some help from internal (Chicks) transfer Emmy Kilmister (AKA: Morton). The lead was short-lived, however, as a Beaver Mansbridge 8-pointer followed by a Lexi Con 14-point jam gave the Gores a lead that would be threatened throughout but never lost. After such an explosive start, it seemed that Lexi Con would reach her milestone quickly, but she faced some tough Betties defence on her next few jams, stuck on 498, before finally breaking through and picking up the two she needed.

The core of the Gores pack remains relatively unchanged, led by veterans Jill Em All and Chronic and bolstered by strong performances from Stabbey Road and Viktory Lapp (among others), the most notable newcomer in the season opener was hard-hitting South Simcoe transfer Suzy Scalp-Her. This consistency in the pack allowed the Gores to get off to a strong start, pulling ahead 52-36 with ten minutes remaining in the half.

A penalty to Gores’ jammer Murdercat! gave the Betties a late power jam that they took advantage of with Kazi picking up 15 points to pull the Betties within 4, down 63-59 with four minutes left in the half. Kazi’s strong performance and apparently seamless transition to the Betties rotation is a huge boost for the defending champs who lost virtually their whole jammer rotation in the off season and aside from the Kingston transfer, were forced to look internally to fill the gaps. Long-time Bettie Genuine Risk played her first career game with the star and Honey Boom Boom was called into action as well, though her absence in the pack was noticed. Noodle Kaboodle, the lone jammer drafted by the Betties, looked comfortable on the track as well and will undoubtedly be a key component to the team as the season progresses.

Low Neil

LowBlowPalooza (483) leads a strong Betties’ line of AnneBulance, Juggernaut J, and Emmy Kilmister. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

But it was Gores jammer Beaver Mansbridge who turned it on in the final moments of the half, completing a fantastic thirty minutes with the star to help the Gores rebuild their lead, up 83-59 at the half.

One of those former Betties jammers, WackedHer, was strong in her leopard-print debut and completes a strong rotation for the Gores that was clearly the difference in this one. And that’s because the Betties pack looks to be as strong—with a potentially higher ceiling—than even the pack that led the team to the Boot last year. Terminal City transfer Booty Quake was outstanding adding to a deep back that includes the aforementioned Emmy, and co-captains AnnBulance and LowblowPalooza (whose instinct for offense is exceptional).

The Gores were never able to shake off the Betties in the second half, never leading by more than 25, but the Betties were never able to cut into the lead as well (never getting within 19 in the second half). The final thirty minutes were a virtual stalemate as the Gores held on for the 19-point win.

Chicks Ahoy! 134 vs. Death Track Dolls 109

Boxcar v Dolls neil

Veteran transfer Boxcar (with the star in her hand) looks to get past a Dolls’ blocking trio.  (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The second game of the evening was every bit as entertaining (not to mention close) as the first. Although it didn’t seem as if it was going to be that way by the end of first half as the Chicks pulled away significantly (up by 55 points) at the break. But a determined Dolls team that got stronger as the game went on chipped away but couldn’t get closer than the 25-point deficit in the second half.

In the three seasons since the Chicks’ last Boot victory in 2012, they have finished last twice and second last once in the regular season standings, but after opening night of the 2016 season, the team finds itself back atop the ToRD standings.

The game started off tight, with Thunder Bay transfer (and long-time roller derby vet) Boxcar making her ToRD debut and taking the first jam with the star against another veteran Getcha Kicks (who was making her return to the regular jammer rotation in place of the injured rookie Holly Rocket). An early power jam allowed the Chicks to take a 10-6 lead, but the Dolls would respond immediately and took the lead after a Kicks 10-point pick up gave them a 16-12 advantage. The lead would be short lived, however, as the Chicks retook the lead 22-20 moments later. The score would remain tight after the teams traded a few scoring passes. It wasn’t until the midway point of the half that the Chicks (on the strength of a power jam) would begin to pull away taking an, at that time, game-high 15-point lead.

Dolls Muffin greg

The Dolls’ Will Wrecker, Dawson, and Babushkill look to force Monster Muffin out of bounds. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Dolls’ former jammer and ToRD’s 2015 leading scorer Sleeper Hold transferred to the Chicks in the off season, but also transferred to the pack and was dominant with the pivot stripe all night. Instead, the offense was paced by Boxcar, second-year Chick Monster Muffin and rookie Banshee. The Chicks actually have a deep, multi-talented bench that also includes double threats R2 Smack U and Wheels of Misfortune. Along with Getcha Kicks, the Dolls saw Devochka return with the star and welcomed long-serving D-VAS skater Bat Ma’am to the fold (Ma’am actually made her Dolls’ debut last season as an injury call up). But it was the Chicks’ offense that was firing on all cylinders to close out the half, building up that commanding 88-33 lead, while the team’s defense held the Dolls off the board for the final 12 minutes of the first.

However, the story of this game was not the offense, but the defense. Both packs looked much tighter than those in the opening game, with each team employing strong VRDL-style cube defenses that led to some long, grinding jams. The Dolls pack remains similar to last year’s with one side of the pack being led by Tri-City transfer Commander Will Wrecker, 8-year Doll Dawson and co-captain Robotomy, and the other anchored by co-captain Dasilva (formerly Hannibelle), veteran Betty Bomber (who returns to the track after a one-year hiatus) and Block Quebecois, who looked like she hadn’t missed a step after being out with injury for nearly a year. The strong Dolls “D” allowed them to slowly, but consistently chip away at the Chicks’ lead. They were down 111-67 at the midway point of the second half, but seemed to slowly be taking back the momentum.

But the Chicks are led by a core of experienced blockers in the pack who ensured that the game never got that far from them. Along with Sleeper Hold, Biggley Smallz, co-captain Joss Wheelin and Rosemary’s Rabies were key in maintaining the Chicks’ lead, and big, timely hits from Vag Lightning and noticeably improved play from Slamureye kept the team in the game.

Overall, it was evident that the Dolls were getting stronger as the game went on, outscoring the Chicks 42-23 over the final 15 minutes (and 76-46 overall in the second half), but the hole was too deep to dig out of and the Chicks were able to skate away with the 25-point win.

*For some track side film of the game check out layer9.ca. Next regular season double header is on February 6th with the Dolls facing the Gores and the Chicks squaring off against the Betties.

A Look Back at 10 Seasons of ToRD

ToRD 2016 Season Opener Banner

In real time it’s been a decade. In derby time, it’s been forever. On May 29th, 2007, over a year after two distinct groups began to meet and plan on how to play the sport, Toronto Roller Derby made its debut. The two teams who took to the track that night represented both arms of the founding teams of ToRD: the Smoke City Betties—one of only two Canadian flat track teams formed in 2006 still operating—squared off against the Bay Street Bruisers at George Bell Arena. The Bruisers themselves had formed after Toronto’s other original team, the Terrors, had divided into four separate teams.

Bruisers Betties 2007 Angela Hayes

The Smoke City Betties and the Bay Street Bruisers squared off in the first game in ToRD history in May 2007. (Photo by Angela Hayes)

The game played that night would now be nearly unrecognizable to the fans who will line the track at the Bunker on Saturday night to kick off ToRD’s 10th season. For one, the game was played in three twenty minute periods, but on the track the teams were still trying to figure out what flat track roller derby was all about. At that point in the sport’s development, the game looked closer to its banked-track antecedent than to what flat track derby would eventually become: there was a lot of skating and chasing and little of the aggressive grinding contact seen in the game now. That opening match in ToRD’s history would see the Betties outlast the Bruisers 83-81. It would be as close as the Bruisers would ever come to a victory in ToRD.

On Saturday, Chicks Ahoy! will take on the Death Track Dolls while the Gore-Gore Roller Girls will challenge those Betties in fitting historical games to kick off this historical season. These are long rivalries in the sport, as long as any in the Canadian game. Like the Bruisers, the Dolls and Chicks both sprung forth from the Terrors in the summer of 2006 and first squared off in ToRD regular season play in August 2007 with the Chicks taking a narrow victory 138-123. The Gores sprung directly from the Betties in the fall of 2006 when that team’s numbers become too large. The two would not meet in ToRD’s first season, but would face each other for the first time early in the 2008 season with the Gores trouncing the Betties 120-47.

Much has changed in the interim, most notably, two of ToRD’s original six house league teams survived only the first two seasons in that form. The D-VAS, after going 2-6 over that span and not making the playoffs, would fold. Following in their footsteps would be the Bruisers, who had never managed to pick up a win in eight attempts. The D-VAS, of course, would be resurrected as the league’s farm team in 2010, while the Bruisers would also return, serving as ToRD’s B-travel team from 2012-2015.

To prepare for this historic season, let’s take a further look into Toronto Roller Derby’s rich history.

Gore-Gore Rollergirls logo

Gore-Gore Rollergirls

Total Regular Season Record: 24-5

Battle for the Boot Appearances: 8 (2007-’12, ’14-’15)

Battle for the Boot Championships: 3 (2007, ’09, ’10)

Despite not winning The Boot since 2010, the Gores remain the most successful team in ToRD history. With a dominant record in regular season play (83% winning percentage) and eight appearances in the championship game, add to that a victory (2014) in two finals appearances (2011, ’14) in the venerable Beast of the East tournament, and the Gores have never had a down year in their existence.

The Gores’ early seasons were defined by a killer offence led by ToRD’s two all-time leading scorers Bambi and Dust Bunny (the only jammers in ToRD’s history to score over 800 career points). This offensive trend has continued allowing them to place six skaters in ToRD’s Top 10 career scoring list. One of those skaters, Lexi Con, remains with the team in 2016 and will anchor a jammer rotation that also potentially features Beaver Mansbridge, Murdercat! and Betties’ transfer Wackedher. But this team is also known for its standout blockers, including two of the greats of all time Brim Stone and Foxy Sinatra. The 2016 Gores are led by two long-serving veterans, Santa Muerte and Jill Em All and are bolstered by a core of experienced players (Chronic, Gamma Rei) and emerging on and off-track leaders (Moose Knuckles, Viktory Lapp, Full Deck and Stabby Road). A capable contingent of rookies and transfers (including Murdermom! who completes a rare mother-daughter duo) ensures that this should be another successful season for “The Dynasty.”

Chicks Ahoy! logo

Chicks Ahoy!

Total Regular Season Record: 16-13

Battle for the Boot Appearances: 5 (2007-’08, ‘10-’12)

Battle for the Boot Championships: 3 (2008, ’11, ’12)

ToRD’s second great team (though their regular season record is not much different from the Dolls’), the Chicks made five appearances in ToRD’s first six championship games, facing off against the Gores every single time and winning three Boots. Although featuring offensive superstars like Candy Crossbones (ToRD’s third all-time leading scorer) and Bala Reina (who had one of the most dominant seasons ever in 2012, becoming the only jammer to lead the league in every offensive category in a single season), the Chicks have actually been more known for their pack work, and their long line of dominant blockers and pivots speaks to that: Mach Wheels, Nasher the Smasher, Tara Part, Rebel Rock-It and Mega Bouche are just some of the historically great blockers who have taken the track for the Chicks.

Although success has been hard to come by for the Chicks since 2012, they may have built themselves back into contention. Led in the pack by veterans Biggley Smallz, Robber Blind, Rosemary’s Rabies, and off-season transfer Boxcar, the Chicks also feature the emerging leadership of Joss Wheelin’, Vag Lightning; however, the Chicks now have a potentially explosive offense as well. Anchored by Monster Muffin (who had a breakout year last year scoring 131 points), R2 Smack U and Wheels of Misfortune, the jammer rotation has been bolstered by the arrival of transfers Pink Slamminade and last year’s league leading scorer (with a record-tying 228 points) Sleeper Hold, who comes over from the Dolls. All indications point to a bounce back year for the Chicks.

Death Track Dolls Logo

Death Track Dolls

Total Regular Season Record: 15-14

Battle for the Boot Appearances: 2 (2013, ’14)

Battle for the Boot Championships: 2 (2013, ’14)

Although the Death Track Dolls have historically had success outside of ToRD (along with the Gores, they are the only ToRD team to record two podium finishes at the Beast of the East, for example), it wasn’t until 2013 that the Dolls were able to break through the stranglehold that the Gores and Chicks had held on the league (and this after missing the playoffs in 2012). That 2013 Dolls team was, arguably, the most dominant team in league history, setting a record for points per game (237, counting their record-setting Battle for the Boot score) and was the first team since the Gores in 2008 (who played two more games) to register two skaters with over 200 points in scoring for the season: Santilly In Yo Face and Rainbow Fight—whose records for points per jam (8) and lead percentage (88%) may never be touched. Despite big roster losses after that season, the Dolls continued to roll through ToRD in 2014 winning their second straight Boot in similarly dominant fashion, including setting a single season point differential record in the process (+468), a record that the Gores had held since 2008. While the Dolls managed one more solid regular season in 2015, retirements and roster shuffles finally caught up to the team, and they were defeated in the semi-finals.

The Dolls come back in 2016 as a team rebuilt, and it looks strong in the pack. While the team is being led by a core of next-generation Dolls, including co-captains Hannibelle and Robotomy, Getcha Kicks, and Block Québécois, the longest-serving Doll, Dawson (who begins her 8th season) has been rejoined by her long-time teammate Betty Bomber, who returns after a few years spent focusing on travel-team play followed by a brief retirement last year. Recent transfer Commander Will Wrecker bolsters the pack. While the pack depth has been rebuilt, the jammer rotation may still be a work in progress. Third-year Doll Devochka will lead a new offensive contingent this season that could include Bat Ma’am, Holly Rocket and Ellen Rage (with support from double threat Getcha Kicks).

Smoke City Betties Logo

Smoke City Betties

Total Regular Season Record: 9-20

Battle for the Boot Appearances: 3 (2009, ’13, ’15)

Battle for the Boot Championships: 1 (2015)

Last year, the oldest team in Canadian roller derby finally had its breakthrough. Although their three trips to the Battle for the Boot trails only the Gores and the Chicks in terms of appearances, the Betties won their first Boot last season, fittingly, against the Gores. Historically, it doesn’t get much deeper than the Betties in Canadian flat track. From 2006-2009 the first generation of flat track stars tore up the track, and jammer Jewel Kicker remains in ToRD’s Top 10 career scoring, one of only ten skaters in league history to record over 300 career points. She was part of the 2009 Betties team that became the first team other than the Gores or Chicks to Battle for the Boot (a team loaded with talent including Dyna Hurtcha, Memphis Kitty, Slaughter Lauder, Pretty Peeved and Demolition Dawn).

Last year’s season was one for the ages when after finishing third in the regular season, the Betties peaked at the right time romping through three rounds of playoffs to win the Boot (the first team to win three playoff games on route to the Boot). However, this year’s iteration of the team looks much different after considerable retirements and transfers following the championship win; interestingly though, the roster is bolstered by experienced transfers both from outside of the league (Booty Quake, Caume A Kazi) and within (Emmy Klimster, Extermiknitter) and the return of Mia Culprit to house league play. That being said, a strong core from last year’s champs does remain. Co-captains Lowblow Palooza and Anne Bulance, hard-hitting Brickhouse Bardot, triple-threat Honey Boom Boom , Jammer’head Shark, Fight of the Conchords, and long-serving Genuine Risk all return in the pack. One big loss is the jammer Smoka Cola (whose 183 points last season was the tenth highest total in league history), so while the rotation continues to be led by titmouse (the Betties’ all-time leading scorer) and could be bolstered by the return of Kil’Her At Large after a one-season absence, the team will need to develop its offense from within.

 Nerd Glasses

TORONTO ROLLER DERBY RECORDS AND STATS HISTORY

Gores Betties 09 Kevin

ToRD’s all-time leading scorer, Bambi, sneaks through on the inside as Gores’ pivot Brim Stone lines up Betties’ jammer Jewel Kicker in a 2009 regular season showdown. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

In honour of ToRD’s 10 season, take a look back at some of the league scoring records. One interesting thing to watch this season is ToRD’s career scoring numbers as three skaters in the Top 10 are still active. The Gores’ Lexi Con is set to become just the fourth skater in history to record 500 career points, while the Betties’ titmouse and Chicks’ Sleeper Hold should both advance up the Top 10 (and either could, with a strong season, join Lexi in the 500-point club).

ToRD Team Records

Points Per Game/Season: Dolls 237 (2013)

Highest Score/Game: Gores 323 vs. Chicks (2013)

Highest Score/Combined: 398 (Dolls 245 vs. Chicks 148 [2015])

Lowest Score/Game: Betties 22 vs. Chicks (2011)

Lowest Score/Combined: 129 (Betties 68 vs. Chicks 61 [2009])

Winning Streak (playoffs included): 12 Games (Gores 2009-2011)

Losing Streak (playoffs included): 10 games (Betties 2009-2012)

Individual Scoring Records

Career Points

Skater (Team) Career Points Years Played
*Bambi (GGR)

*Dust Bunny (GGR)

*Candy Crossbones (CA!)

Lexi Con (GGR)

Taranosaurus Rex (GGR)

*Lunchbox (GGR)

*Land Shark (DTD)

titmouse (SCB)

*Jewel Kicker (SCB)

Sleeper Hold (DTD)

*Desmond Deck (GGR)

986

896

640

479

392

373

372

354

344

326

304

2007-2012

2007-2012

2007-2012

2013-Present

2013-2015

2008-2010

2008-2011

2010-Present

2007-2009

2014-Present

2007-2008

Lead Percentage (Season)

Skater (Team) Lead % Year
Rainbow Fight (DDT)

Mach Wheels (CA!)

Bellefast (DTD)

Lunchbox (GGR)

Lexi Con (GGR)

Mach Wheels (CA!)

Dyna Hurtcha (CA!)

Dust Bunny (GGR)

Dust Bunny (GGR)

Candy Crossbones (CA!)

88%

78%

77%

76%

76%

75%

74%

72%

72%

70%

2013

2009

2014

2010

2013

2010

2011

2010

2011

2009

 Points Per Jam (Season)

Skater (Team) Points Per Jam Year
Rainbow Fight (DTD)

Sneaky Dee (CA!)

Candy Crossbones (CA!)

Lexi Con (GGR)

Sleeper Hold(DTD)

Santilly In Yo Face (DTD)

Bellefast (DTD)

Ice Pick (D-VAS)

Desmond Deck Her (GGR)

Bambi (GGR)

Bala Reina (CA!)

8.0

6.0

5.5

6.0

5.8

5.6

5.3

5.3

5.2

5.1

5.0

2013

2014

2007

2013

2015

2013

2014

2007

2007

2010

2012

Highest Points in a Single Season

Skater (Team) Total Points Year
*Bambi (GGR)

Lexi Con (GGR)

Sleeper Hold (DTD)

*Dust Bunny (GGR)

*Sista Fista (DTD)

Bala Reina (CA!)

Santilly In Yo Face (DTD)

Rainbow Fight (DTD)

Bambi (GGR)

Smoka Cola (SCB)

286

228

228

227

218

211

211

200

197

183

2008

2013

2015

2008

2008

2012

2013

2013

2010

2015

*The 2008 season consisted of five games per team. Every other season, three.

ToRD Playoff Preview: Nerd Guest Blogs on torontorollerdebry.com

The Chicks and Betties meet in ToRD's 2015 quarterfinal under a new playoff format. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Chicks and Betties meet in ToRD’s 2015 quarterfinal under a new playoff format. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Over the years, ToRD has consistently tweaked its regular season/playoff model. Back in Season 1 in 2007, the then six teams in the ToRD house league were divided into two pools (the Bruisers and D-VAS were both still run as home teams at that point), but only the top two teams made the championship (regardless of the team’s pool). For the following season, four of the six teams made the playoffs, but by 2009, with the league down to four squads, once again only two teams made the Battle for the Boot. Since that time, the league has been (mostly) consistent in having a three-team playoff with the top team getting a bye to the championship game (in 2010, all four teams were given a spot).

This season, ToRD is experimenting with a new “tiered” playoff system that gives all four teams a shot at the Boot, but gives a marked advantage to the top team, who now gains a huge two-round bye directly to the championship game. This year, by the slimmest of margins, that advantage goes to the Gore-Gore Rollergirls… [continue]

**This preview was written as a guest blogger on the ToRD site. You can read the rest, and get all the information about this year’s playoffs, at torontorollerderby.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nerd Glasses

CANADIAN ROUND-UP

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flat Track Overload! Fresh and Furious, ToRD vs. Charm City, Toban Tussle and Gotham vs. London ALL Compete for Attention This Weekend.

From WFTDA Division 1 match ups to a Canadian provincial teams showdown to an annual eastern Canadian fresh meat tournament, this weekend has something for every derby fan.

Fresh and Furious 2014 posterFRESH AND FURIOUS

It’s that time of year again! Once again the GTA Rollergirls have invited fresh meat teams from across Ontario and Quebec to compete in The Fresh and The Furious, a one-day, two-track, double-elimination tournament featuring the up-and-coming stars from some of eastern Canada’s top leagues.

There will be fifteen teams competing in the tournament this year, with teams divided between two tracks until the quarterfinals (which will feature crossover match ups) and then a final four that will take place on the main track in Ted Reeve Arena (the second track is located in Ted Reeve’s “Bubble”).

Last year, ToRD, Hammer City, and the mixed Quebec Team (Les Bûches) dominated the event. Hammer City won’t be returning this season, but ToRD’s D-VAS return and Les Bûches will be back to defend their crown (last year marked the second year in a row that a team from Quebec won the tournament).

Both tracks will be boutcast live all day long beginning at 11:00 AM and concluding with the championship game at 9:00 PM. Catch all the action live here.

PARTICIPANTS (including first-round matchups)

The Bubble

Northumberland Roller Girls’ Ganaraska Gravediggers will kick things off with the South Simcoe Rebel Rollers at 11:00 AM. The only US participants Queen City Roller Girls will face off against Border City Brawlers Windsor A-salt at 11:40 (Queen City is a regular at the event). Two multi-league teams are up next with the NEOFights representing Northeastern Ontario Roller Derby (NORD), which is a conglomeration of leagues from Northern Ontario, facing off against Les Bûches, the defending champs from Quebec, at 12:20. Finally, Forest City Derby Girls Thickets will take on the Renegade Derby Dames to close out the opening matches in the Bubble at 1:00 PM.

Ted Reeve Arena

Due to the odd number of teams in this year’s tournament, Our Ladies of Pain, representing the Royal City Roller Girls will get a bye past the first round, but will be in tough at 1:40 as they face the winners of a GTA showdown between ToRD’s D-VAS (finalists last year) and the DRRD’y Farmers representing Durham Region Roller Derby (11:40). The Orangeville Roller Girls’ Fox Force Five will open up their tournament facing off against the hosts, GTAR’s Derby Debutantes, at 12:20. Finally, Belleville Roller Derby’s Belleville Bombshells will be taking on Ottawa’s Cannon Dolls, representing the Capital City Derby Dolls at 1:00 PM.

Click here for the complete schedule. And don’t forget to tune in live!

WFTDA PRE-PLAYOFF SHOWDOWNSLondon Gotham 2014 Poster

While the 2014 WFTDA regular season is officially complete (teams are eagerly awaiting release of the final standings on July 15th), there are some key match ups this weekend, including a number that will feature Division 1 teams facing off.

Close to home, Toronto, Tri-City and Hammer City will be in action. Although they will not make the Division 2 playoffs this season, Hammer City (currently ranked 86th) has made massive strides in the past two years after suffering through years of futility. This weekend, they will be hosting another non-playoff squad in Ithaca (84th). Given the close ranking of these teams, the result is incredibly important. A big victory for either team would help propel them ever closer to one of those coveted D2 playoff spots. Speaking of playoff spots, Tri-City (42nd) is hoping to shore up a top-40 D1 spot, but either way will be playing playoff derby again this season. Ithaca should provide a good warm up when the two square off in a “hangover” bout on Sunday.

Toronto (20th and currently 5-9 on the season) and Charm City (26th, and 6-1 on the season) both know that they will be in the D1 playoffs, the question is where? These two teams have been on opposite trajectories over the last season and a half, with Toronto marching upward (briefly hitting a franchise high of 13th earlier this season) and Charm slipping downward from a high of 12th in 2013. Toronto has been inconsistent as of late (and will undoubtedly slip a little in the next ranking), and could use a big victory to build confidence heading in to this year’s playoffs. Both CN Power and the Bay Street Bruisers will be heading to Baltimore on the weekend for a Saturday night double header.

On the west coast, D1 playoff bound Terminal City (25th, 4-4) hosts Houston (33rd, 2-3). Terminal City is expected to nab a slightly higher playoff rank than it currently has, while Houston recently slipped six spots and will undoubtedly open the playoffs having to take part in a 7-10 play-in game.

Finally, in Europe, while Copenhagen (183rd) will face off against the historic (but unranked) Stuttgart Valley Rollergirlz in Germany, the spotlight has been stolen by the impending showdown between defending WFTDA champs Gotham and surging London in England. London (5-0 on the season), currently ranked 5th, had peaked at 3rd earlier in the season, while Gotham (also 5-0) has been firmly ensconced at 1st for a few years now. It would be a massive understatement to say that this is a highly anticipated matchup. While Gotham is, well, Gotham, the London Rollergirls have been playing like a team possessed this season. At the 2014 Anarchy in the UK, London crushed competition from Rocky Mountain, Detroit and Toronto, playing at a level even higher than they brought to the WFTDA Championship tournament last year. The game will be boutcast live (here at 7:00 PM BST).

THE TOBAN TUSSLE

Provincial teams have begun to sprout up across our nation, and while Saskatchewan and Alberta faced off last year, this weekend in Portage La Prairie, three provincial teams will face off in a round-robin tournament. Roller Derby Manitoba will be hosting its first ever tournament, the Toban Tussle. At the Tussle, Manitoba, Alberta and Ontario. will face off alongside a tournament featuring B-level travel teams from across the province of Manitoba. Unfortunately for Ontario, a number of Team Ontario’s skaters will be with their WFTDA teams this weeked, but it will still be sending a very strong roster including a core of skaters from the Rideau Valley Vixens.

In terms of provincial team games, Alberta and Ontario kick things off at 11:10 AM on Saturday, with Ontario and Manitoba squaring off at 3:50 PM. Manitoba and Alberta will face off on Sunday at 10:20 AM.

Along with the three provincial teams, squads representing PLAP City Rollers (Portage La Prairie’s Headstone Honeys), Winnipeg Roller Derby (Bombshell Brawlers), and Wheat City Roller Derby (Brandon’s Gang Green) will face off against a mixed-league team, Prairie Fusion.

For details and a complete schedule, visit the Toban Tussle Facebook page.

Toban Tussle Poster

Big Wins for Rideau Valley and Toronto in WFTDA Showdowns over the Weekend

Toronto stomps Brandywine, while Rideau Valley held off Roc City in an important D2 battle with playoff implications. Meanwhile, the Dolls in ToRD and Riot Squad in RVRG both take strides toward their respective house league championships.

It was a busy weekend of derby all across the nation with Flat Track Fever dominating stories from the west and Ontario overwhelmed with derby in its WFTDA centres (non-sanctioned or house league matchups were happening in both Tri-City and Forest City on Saturday). But the key games were in Toronto and Ottawa, which featured mirroring house league/WFTDA double headers.

Rideau Valley Hosts Roc City

RVRG's Soul Rekker battles one-on-one with Roc City's Terminal Trend. (Photography by James Rosster; ionaphoto.ca)

RVRG’s Soul Rekker battles one-on-one with Roc City’s Terminal Trend. (Photography by James Rosster; ionaphoto.ca)

With a five-spot jump in the last WFTDA rankings, the Rideau Valley Vixens found themselves ranked 64th (24th in Division 2) and on the cusp of the 20-team D2 playoffs. Coming off of an impressive win over 72nd Maine last weekend, the Vixens knew that they would need a convincing win over their Rochester rivals if they were to make that final leap forward. And an impressive performance they got, riding two hot jammers and the usual relentless pack work you’ve come to expect to pull of the 199-116 victory.

The Vixens jumped out to a 4-0 start on the back of a quick lead pick up from breakout jammer Shania Pain. While the Roc Stars were able to get right back into it on the next jam with a Kell’d on Impact 4-pointer, the hosts took the lead on Jam 3, built that lead to 21-6 by the five minute mark of the first, and never looked back after that.

RVRG's Shania Pain picks up lead jammer status.

RVRG’s Shania Pain picks up lead jammer status.

The Vixens, known traditionally for running a short bench, have now even tightened up the jammer rotation in their quest for a first WFTDA playoff berth, and it’s a roster that would be more than qualified to play in the D-2 event. Using only two jammers (blocker Brennan would skate two jams in relief—and would pick up 18 points in those two jams) the Vixens rode Shania Pain and Soul Rekker for the whole game, an impressive feat of endurance from the two jammers. Rekker’s endurance and skill is no secret to fans of Canadian roller derby: a skater on Team Canada 2011 and currently on the roster of Team Ontario, Rekker will return to the World Cup in 2014, and picked up 35 points in the opening half on Saturday night.

Shania Pain, on the other hand, is probably under a lot of people’s radars. She won’t be for long. A potential game-changer for Rideau Valley, Shania Pain is one of a young generation of uber-athletic jammers who are taking the game by storm out east and giving a glimpse of what the future of the sport will look like in these parts (Montreal’s Miracle Whips and Toronto’s Rainbow Fight are also in that category). She led all scorers with 45 at the half, and just seemed to be getting warmed up.

Roc City's Asa Clubs tries to get around Vixens' Bottema at the froth of the pack.

Roc City’s Asa Clubs tries to get around Vixens’ Bottema at the front of the pack.

Roc City is a team whose fortunes have ebbed and flowed, and this loss will further distance them from a coveted playoff spot. Led by a core of vets, the team lacks the depth of Rideau Valley and the other potential playoff teams. Nonetheless, they are a scrappy, emotional team that seems to play in surges. The offense was paced by veteran Asa Clubs (who had 39 points at the half) and Kell’d on Impact (28 pts at half), while captain Natasha Musquasha led a solid group of pack skaters that featured the feisty Jacky Spades, the hard-hitting Roxy D. Sniper, Jojo Thrasher and eventual MVP Terminal Trend.

With about five minutes left in the opening half, Rideau Valley looked to be on the verge of running away with it, but a 22-9 run over the final minutes had the visitors back in it, down 25 (98-73).

The win helped move the Vixens one step closer to a WFTDA D2 playoff spot.

The win helped move the Vixens one step closer to a WFTDA D2 playoff spot.

The Rideau Valley packs were led by the usual suspects, with Team Canada’s Hannah Murphy continuing to lead the way. But the tenaciousness of Sister Disaster (who had some of the biggest hits on the night) and Bottema (who always seemed to the be the last line of defense) and the positional excellence of Brennan and Margaret Choke contribute so much to the front-line strength of the team. But the base of the team is growing. After missing much of last season, Rudolph has returned with a vengeance and Kiki Von Carnage and Restless Rose provide depth as they emerge as front-line players. Finally, transfer BLackeyE seems to have found the perfect derby fit after stints in Kingston and Toronto and is playing the best derby of her career.

The Vixens essentially put the game away over the opening ten-minute stretch of the second half. They outscored the Roc Stars 30-12 over the initial five, and then 12-0 over the next to secure a formidable 140-80 lead. While back-to-back power jams at the midway point would allow Roc City a bit of a resurgence (almost halving the lead), once the Vixens righted the ship, they were able to rebuild the gap, shutting out the visitors over the last five minutes of the game (and scoring 32 of their own) to secure the 199-116 win.

Nerd Glasses

With the win, the Riot Sqaud moves to 1-0, while the Sinisters drop to 1-1 on the season.

With the win, the Riot Sqaud moves to 1-0, while the Sinisters drop to 1-1 on the season.

The night opened with a very important houseleague showdown between traditional RVRG home team, the Riot Squad, facing off against its first-year counterpart, the Prime Sinisters. 2014 is the first season that Rideau Valley has organized a full regular season and championship, adding a third home team (and completely reshuffling the rosters of all three teams) to accommodate the new structure. The Sinisters opened the season with a 158-130 win over the Slaughter Daughters and were looking to stay undefeated.

The Riot Squad is lead by a strong core of vets including Hannah Murphy and Sister Disaster, but have a bench defined by depth. BLackeyE, Restless Rose, Kiki Von Carnage, and eventual blocker MVP Acute Bruiser led the charge for the team. The offense was paced by vet Amanda Pummeler and supported by Unita Bruisin and Savage Mind (with double threat Restless Rose offering relief). While things started off tight (the score was tied at 29 ten minutes in) Riot Squad took advantage of some late power jams to build their biggest lead (41) at half, up 91-50.

The Prime Sinisters also have a solid core to build around, led by a quadrant of veterans (Margaret Choke, Brennan, Rudolph, and Pix E. Cutz) with solid support offered by Drunky Brewster and Purella DeVille. CarnEDGE led the way on the jam line, with InfoMainiac and Slaughterberry Shortcake rounding out the rotation. The Sinisters found themselves down by as much as 60, but roared back with three straight power jams at the midway point. However, they couldn’t come all the way back and Riot Squad held on for the 191-142 victory.

Toronto Hosts Brandywine

There was an important double header in Toronto on Saturday night as well, with CN Power picking up its third-straight win in a one-sided stomping of Brandywine (296-90). It was an important win for CN Power, as they look to slip back into the WFTDA D1 Top 20 and secure a favourable playoff position.

The night was kicked off with a regular season showdown between the defending champion Death Track Dolls and the second place Chicks Ahoy!. The Dolls still look like the team to beat walking all over the short-handed Chicks. The Dolls held the Chicks to only 15 points in the opening half, and were almost as stingy in the second as they skated to a dominant 272-35 win. The win places the Dolls undefeated and in top spot at 3-0 at the midway point of the regular season and all but assures them of a playoff spot. The loss dropped the Chicks to 1-2 on the season and leaves them battling for a playoff berth.

Check out pictures of the double header courtesy of Neil Gunner and Greg Russell. Neil’s pics can be found here. Greg’s can be found here.

WFTDA and House League Showdowns in Toronto and Ottawa This Weekend

Both Rideau Valley’s Vixens and Toronto’s CN Power will have opportunities to confirm their rankings against less-ranked competition, while in house league competition, ToRD’s defending champs, The Death Track Dolls, have an opportunity to put a strangle hold on the regular season standings, and in Ottawa, the Riot Squad will take on the Prime Sinisters in their first-ever regular season meeting.

Toronto Roller Derby Hosts Brandywine

ToRD_May-24-2014-Poster-Preview_RS_041614A double header in Toronto will kick off with a key showdown between ToRD’s Chicks Ahoy! (currently 1-1 and tied for second in the standings) and the Death Track Dolls (2-0, in top spot).

The Dolls have looked every bit the defending champs so far this season with surprisingly one-sided wins over the Gore-Gore Rollergirls, and more recently, the Smoke City Betties. The key to the season so far has been the ability to maintain form despite a fairly significant roster overhaul. Their offense, for example, has been built around skaters with mixed levels of experience (Sleeper Hold and Devochka are first-year Dolls, while Bellefast and Getcha Kicks have been the steadying forces for the team).

However, some rifts began to show in the Dolls’ seeming invincibility. At last month’s Beast of the East tournament in Montreal, the team looked vulnerable at times in a closer-than-expected win over Royals City’s Killer Queens and then couldn’t summon the focus or intensity in a loss to Montreal’s La Racaille. But despite missing some vets (including injured co-captain Getcha Kicks), the Dolls still have the depth to pull it off.

The Chicks have slowly gotten better as this season has progressed, and have a surprising depth that has taken some time to gel. It all seemed to have come together by late in their last ToRD game, when it took a late game comeback to overcome the Smoke City Betties by 20 points. The team already looked far different from the one that had struggled defensively against the Gores in January to kick off the season. The resurgence has been led by a development of a supporting cast around last year’s team leaders. They made some strong jammer draft picks (Sneaky Dee and Hyena Koffinkat) and found some veteran depth in the pack from a returning Rebel Rock-It and converted blocker Rosemary’s Rabies.

The Chicks didn’t play in this year’s Beast of the East, so they have not played a competitive game since that March victory over the Betties. It remains to be seen what impact this has on the team, but they have had some competitive scrimmages since then. As with the Dolls, they too will be missing some key players. You have to look back almost two years to June 9th 2012 to see the last time the Dolls lost a game in ToRD. It was, notably, against the Chicks.

The night will cap off with CN Power (23rd in the WFTDA) hosting the Brandywine Roller Girls (47th, out of Pennsylvania). Toronto has improved its record to 4-9 on the season after picking up back-to-back victories over Jet City and Cincinnati to snap a nine-game losing streak. It should be a favourable matchup for Toronto against a team that seems to have cooled down a bit after a scorching close to the 2013 season.

Brandywine is 5-1 on the season, but has had only so-so performances in wins against 90th ranked Charlotte (a 26-point win) and 66th ranked Green Mountain (34 points). Their one loss was a 103-point loss to Nashville. Toronto’s losing streak had a lot to do with the quality of their opponents who included 3rd ranked London, 8th ranked Rocky Mountain and 12th ranked Montreal. So the quality of opponent cannot be overlooked. However, they did get upset by Detroit (41st) and seemed to have already lost a step on Montreal, whom they have faced twice, and will need to use these last two wins as momentum builders.

While Toronto and Brandywine don’t have any common opponents this season, the last time Brandywine ventured north of the border, the team upset Tri-City 165-153. Last weekend Tri-City and Toronto both played Jet City, with the Thunder losing by 30 and CN Power winning by 149.

Rideau Valley Roller Girls Host Roc City

April6-Sirens-vs-DRRD_Rockland_Poster-LegalRideau Valley Roller Girls will be hosting a double header in Kanata this weekend as well with the same home-teams / travel-teams structure. The only difference being that many of the Rideau Valley skaters will be pulling double duty as members of the Vixens are sprinkled all through the rosters of the Prime Sinisters and the Riot Squad.

This will be the first ever meeting between these two teams, and the first regular season game for the Riot Squad in 2014 (the Prime Sinisters opened the season with a 158-130 win over the Slaughter Daughters). This season, Rideau Valley reshuffled its two home team rosters into three teams, and the effects are already showing. Both of these teams made it through to the quarterfinals at last month’s Beast of the East with the Riot Squad eventually finishing 4th. Both teams are loaded with talent with the Riot Squad led in the pack by veterans Hannah Murphy, Sister Disaster and Da Big Block, and on the jammer line by Amanda Pummeler and first-year transfer BLackeyE. The Prime Sinisters, meanwhile, are also built around a solid veteran core of Brennan, Margaret Choke, Rudolph, and Drunky Brewster in the pack with double threat Pix E. Cutz and CarnEDGE as their most experienced jammers. Both teams, though, are also deep in less experienced talent. It could be that bench depth that decides this game.

The night will end with the Vixens (64th in the WFTDA) facing off against their old rivals from Rochester, New York, the Roc City Roc Stars (84th). It’s been nearly two years since these two teams met with Roc City taking that one by 45 points (186-141). However, that was the Vixens’ second ever WFTDA game and they have rocketed past Roc City since then. They are currently 2-0 on the season (3-0 counting a regulation win against the Misfit Militia) and are coming off of a road win against Maine. Roc City has been much busier so far this season, going 2-3 so far, with wins over Ithaca and that same Maine team the Vixens defeated. The differential only slightly favours the Vixens (32-point win vs. 23-point win), but with home court advantage, the Vixens should have the edge.

***Skaters and fans in Ottawa, I will also be appearing as D.D. Miller at the Carleton Tavern on Friday night (details here) to promote my first book of fiction.