WFTDA Playoffs

ToRD’s 2015 Entry Draft Defined by Experience; Features First Junior Grad

“I feel like Beyonce herself parted the seas and said ‘let there be joy.'” 2015 Chicks Ahoy draftee Vag Lightning on being selected by the team in the entry draft.

ToRD BannerThis was yet another big draft for  Toronto Roller Derby bringing in a total of 24 new skaters to the home teams (plus three skaters either returning from a hiatus or who will also skate for CN Power), with the defending champion Death Track Dolls  pulling in the largest numbers of skaters for the second year in a row, with eight new skaters added to the roster. Once again there was a great number of home grown D-VAS in the draft, mixed with some very impressive transfers.

While this year’s transfers may not come from locales quite as diverse as those in last year’s draft, the usual local transfers from the Rollergettes, the GTA Rollergirls, and DRRD (Durham Region Roller Derby) were also joined by skaters from Alliston (both Misfit Militia and Renegade Derby Dames) and one transfer all the way from New Zealand.

Smoke City Betties Logo

Smoke City Betties

Ann Bulance

Brickhouse Bardot

Fight of the Conchords

Isla B Damned

Juggernaut J

Smoka Cola

Experience is the word that defines the Smoke City Betties’ 2015 draft picks. Coming off of a disappointing 2014 that saw them slip to the bottom of the standings and miss the playoffs, the Betties ended up selecting one of the most experienced set of draftees ever, all of whom are capable of having an immediate impact on the team.

Even the two homegrown skaters, Juggernaut J and Fight of the Conchords come with considerable track experience. Juggernaut was co-captain of this year’s D-VAS and one of its most consistent blockers, while Fight has the distinct honour of being the first TJRD graduate drafted by ToRD. Moving from Saskatoon where she began as a junior, she was surprised that in TJRD’s four years, they had yet to graduate a skater. While she says she feels some pressure, she’s also confident that she is ready:  “Junior derby really gave me the fundamental skills to do what I do,” she said in the excitement of the moment. “I’m stoked to be part of this team and excited to be a part of ToRD.”

The Betties’ other five picks are all transfers with varying levels of experience. Isla B Damned comes all the way from New Zealand’s Richter City Roller Derby, Smoka Cola is a product of the highly competitive Misfit Militia out of Alliston, and Ann Bulance and Brickhouse Bardot are familiar to any fans of roller derby in the city, having most recently played for the Rollergettes. “There was a vibe; the universe was telling me I was going to be in black and blue,” said Ann who was not surprised to be picked by the Betties. “Heavy hitting and alt jamming,” Brickhouse said in response to what both she and Ann bring to the team. Both see this transfer to ToRD as the logical next step in their derby careers.

Chicks Ahoy! logo

Chicks Ahoy!

Annguard

Goreschach

Holly Mackinaw

Kimikaze

Monster Muffin

Slamureye

Vag Lightning

The Chicks Ahoy! had a bounce back season this year, returning to the playoffs after a year-long absence and looking much improved in every aspect of the game. They had a fairly substantial turn over this year, but picked players with a lot of depth of experience whether home grown or otherwise.

Annguard, Goreschach, Kimikaze and Vag Lightning were all core members of the 2014 D-VAS, while Slamureye, a 2013 transfer from Durham Region Roller Derby also payed some key minutes for the farm team. Holly Mackinaw is another more local transfer (Rollergettes) while the very experienced Monster Muffin brings vast experience and talent to the team (in particular to the Chicks’ now depleted jammer rotation) from her time with Alliston’s Renegade Derby Dames.

Vag lightning’s only comment on being drafted to the team summed up the positive energy around the draft party and the feeling of exhilaration of the draftees: “I feel like Beyonce herself parted the seas and said ‘let there be joy.'”

Gore-Gore Rollergirls logo

Gore-Gore Rollergirls

Extermi-knitter

Knocker Mom

Lady Gag-Ya

Murdercat

Stabbey Road

Tara Fying

After a roar-back season that saw them win the Beast of the East and climb back to the Battle for the Boot (for a record-setting seventh time). Things look solid for the skaters in leopard print moving forward, and despite their draft position, managed to stack the roster with a wide range of skaters, led by the return of long-time vet, the smooth-skating Lady Gag-Ya, who brings years of travel team experience back to her Gores. Similarly, Extermi-knitter and Murdercat both have a lot of track experience from their time in Durham Region Roller Derby (and elsewhere for Knitter). “I really liked their defensive game this season,” said Extermi-knitter who also has experience jamming. “The Gores have some amazing jammers…I’m more useful as a blocker and I like blocking a bit more,” she said. Her leaguemate Murdercat could immediately enter into the rotation, adding to that already existent depth.

Stabbey Road (who began skating with the GTA Rollergirls before transferring to ToRD), Tara Fying and Knocker Mom are homegrown talent who will help fill out a pack that was at times terrifying to play against last season.

death track dolls logo

The Death Track Dolls

April Cruel

Common Dominator

Elle Capwn

Goldie Lock N Load

Lace Frehley

PrEditor

Scarcasm

UpHer Cut

For the second year in a row the Death Track Dolls won the Boot, but yet again also have to deal with a massive roster turnaround (having eight open spaces for the second year in a row). The Dolls made it work in 2014 because they drafted wisely and they drafted for depth. And they just may have pulled it off again this year.

The new Dolls are lead by two returning skaters who were key pieces of the 2013 championship team: UpHer Cut (who returns after a year-long hiatus from the game), and Scarcasm (who will do double duty with CN Power this year). But there is experience also in returning veteran skater Goldie Lock N Load (who returns to ToRD for the first time since 2009 when she played two seasons for the Smoke City Betties). She’s been busy for those five years in between refereeing, doing a little announcing, and, of course, running the Rollergettes.

Speaking of refereeing; two of Dolls’ picks, April Cruel and Lace Frehley, both got their starts in roller derby as zebra-print enforcers so will bring a strong knowledge of the game to the defending champs. Finally, Common Dominator, PrEditor and Elle Capwn (who was actually a injury-call-up for the Dolls this season) round out the homegrown talent in the draft.

**Keep your eyes on Toronto Roller Derby.com for updates on what promises to be an incredible 2015 season!

The Long Road To Nashville: How the Rideau Valley Vixens Became Canada’s First Representative at the WFTDA Championship Tournament

The Rideau Valley Vixens get lead jammer during their 224-139 semi-final win against Gold Coast at 2014 WFTDA Division 2 playoffs. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The Rideau Valley Vixens get lead jammer during their 224-139 semi-final win against Gold Coast at the 2014 WFTDA Division 2 playoffs. (Photo by Joe Mac)

It’s March 2013, at The Bunker in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and the Rideau Valley Vixens are playing the hosts, Toronto’s CN Power, in the final game of the annual Quad City Chaos tournament. This is the fifth game between the two teams in three years, in what would have been a burgeoning rivalry had the games not all been so one-sided: Toronto had won all previous meetings by an average differential of 126 points.

There is under four minutes left on the clock and though Toronto has not run away with it as they have in previous bouts, they are up by 19 points and have led for the vast majority of the game. The Vixens have stuck with a very tight jammer rotation all weekend, barely veering from it, but suddenly Coach Adam Tasanko taps his blocker Jessica Kuehl on the helmet and hands her the star. A versatile skater, she has not jammed all game, rarely ever for the Vixens at this point, but it hardly seems to matter when the whistle blows. Lock down defense, physical jamming, 20 points and 90 seconds later and the Vixens have the lead. On another Coach’s hunch, a second blocker, Sister Disaster, is then sent out with the star to close out the game. She picks up lead and the Vixens hold on to win by 13 in what at the time would be characterized as the biggest upset in Canadian roller derby history.

While that win did not directly lead to the Vixens’ place in the 2014 WFTDA Division 2 Championship game (they didn’t even make the D2 playoffs in 2013), it was a definite and noticeable turning point. From that moment on, the team—from its long-serving and well-respected coach to its core of veteran and well-respected blockers—began to carry itself with a little more confidence, even a hint of swagger. An attitude well-earned, as it’s been a long road for the Vixens; full of obstacles and potholes, peaks and valleys, including its fair share of strife and heartbreak. But then, isn’t that what champions are made of?

In The Beginning

Roller derby is a pretty big deal in Ottawa. Despite its relatively small size (just under a million people), outside of Greater Toronto and British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, there is no region in the nation that has more active roller derby players than Canada’s capital. Spread out over three senior women’s leagues, a men’s team and a burgeoning junior program, during the spring and summer months, it’s easy to catch roller derby every weekend in the city. And while having multiple leagues is not generally conducive to on-track success (for every distinct roller derby league in a city there is probably at least one melodramatic email chain and a string of broken hearts to go with it), the Vixens have (eventually) made it work.

Roller derby in Ottawa began in late 2007, and the roots of the Vixens can be traced all the way back to a meeting at the Babylon, a hard-to-define nightclub/dive bar on Bank St. It was there that the first meeting of Ottawa Roller Derby (ORD) took place. Founded by Kelly McAlear (AKA: Honey Bee), within months the league had a team, the Bytown Blackhearts, and had struck up an integral friendship with Montreal Roller Derby, who at the time was the closest league to Ottawa.

By April 2008, the team was set to debut at the Montreal’s inaugural Beast of the East, a tournament featuring the fifteen house league teams in Ontario and Quebec at the time and filled out by Queen City’s Devil Dollies out of Buffalo. Now seen as a seminal event in the development of roller derby in the country, it would be baptism by fire for the Blackhearts who were drawn to face off against one of the co-hosts, Montreal’s La Racaille, in the opener. They would lose 65-29, but for a roster that contained many of the key early league stalwarts, including current Vixens members Hannah Murphy, Sister Disaster and Drunky Brewster, it sparked in them a lifelong love of the sport.

The Blackhearts had more success later that summer at the Virgin Suicides Brawl, a Toronto-based tournament hosted by the Greater Toronto Area Rollergirls and designed to feature new teams and inexperienced skaters (that has since been rebranded as the Fresh and the Furious). Advancing to the final, Ottawa squared off against Hammer City’s Death Row Dames and after a tense last jam, appeared to have won the tournament, only to have the win stricken down after a recounting of the scores. They lost by a single point.

Both of these early performances proved to be incredibly important team-building trips for the young team, and provided essential foundational development for the skaters. However, despite the on-track success, behind the scenes, things were tense at Ottawa Roller Derby. The early days of new roller derby leagues, existing as they do in a sport that especially in 2008 lacked consistent and reliable organizational precedents, can be tumultuous at times and there were rifts forming in the new league. Citing disagreements in organization (single-owner business vs. non profit) and competitive direction, in the fall of 2008, the Bytown Blackhearts walked away from Ottawa Roller Derby and established itself as an independent, not-for-profit roller derby team.

Roller Derby Returns to Ottawa

In a 2010 interview, Jerry Seltzer told the story of roller derby’s first foray into Ottawa in 1961. Only two years removed from taking over the reigns of roller derby from his father Leo, Jerry ventured north of the border in the winter of that year. He joked that it was on that trip that the first ever flat track game was played when the truck carrying the banked track froze in Sudbury and didn’t make it to Ottawa in time.

On January 31st, 2009, the first modern game of women’s flat track roller derby would be played in Ottawa, a full 48 years after the sport had first passed through the city. On that day, in front of a sold-out crowd, the newly independent Blackhearts would host Montreal’s very strong B-travel team, Les Sexpos, with a roster featuring some of the key figures in the eventual founding and development of Rideau Valley: DDT, Soul Rekker, Blackout Susan, Scotch Minx and Screaming Meanie Massacre all helped round out the roster that would lose that first game, 108-65. It proved a valuable learning experience, and when the team travelled to Vermont to play Green Mountain the following week, they won narrowly 136-131.

Rideau Valley Roller Girls LogoAs winter 2009 played out and the Blackhearts were preparing to return to Montreal for the second annual Beast of the East tournament, further strain and disagreements with ORD forced the Blackhearts to abandon their name. However, they were able to keep the logo and, undaunted, pushed forward. Within weeks a new league was born, the Rideau Valley Roller Girls, featuring the old Blackhearts logo: a roller girl with one hand on a cocked hip and the other thrusting a still-beating heart into the air—and its first team was named: The Slaughter Daughters.

Entering the Beast of the East in 2009, most eyes were on Montreal and Hammer City, the two leagues that had dominated the earliest days of Canadian Roller Derby, but three years in, the Canadian roller derby landscape had changed considerably at this point and the tournament also featured hopeful and up-and-coming leagues from Tri-City (Kitchener-Waterloo) and London, Ontario.

While ORD’s new team Capital Carnage would get eliminated early, the Slaughter Daughters would go on to be the breakout team of the tournament, trouncing Tri-City’s Venus Fly Tramps and Forest City’s Thames Fatales before taking Montreal’s heavily favoured (and eventual finalists) Les Contrabanditas to the limit in a three-point quarterfinal loss.

It would be a launching point for the new league and within months they’d named a second house league team (the Riot Squad) and began talks to form a distinct travel team, one that could play against the newly formed travel teams in Hammer City, Montreal and Toronto.

The Vixens Come out to Play

It was snowing heavily in Toronto on February 27th, 2010, but nonetheless, ToRD’s venue at the time, The Hangar, was packed for the team’s first game of the new season. Toronto’s CN Power was preparing for a big year, and to kick things off, they were facing the newest team on Canada’s competitive travel team circuit: The Rideau Valley Vixens. The Vixens were overwhelmed on that night against their big sisters from Toronto, getting beaten 199-49; nonetheless, the game represented a new era for roller derby in Ottawa and momentum would only build from there, even while yet another league, Capital City Derby Dolls, formed in the city.

For virtually the next two years the Vixens would slog it out primarily on the road, and between one-sided losses to vastly more experienced Canadian travel teams, they would gain hard-earned road victories against WFTDA B-teams and smaller US leagues like Ithaca, Central New York, and Morristown. It was a tough, hard road that every aspiring WFTDA team goes through early on. While some never make it out, many eventually learn to thrive on the adversity and the travel. The Vixens persevered.

In June 2012, two years after the team’s debut, the Vixens would play their first WFTDA-sanctioned game on the road against Central New York. It would be a narrow loss–9 points–but would typify some of the consistency problems that the team would have in its early days in the Association (they had defeated CNY only a year before). For example, the Vixens would crush Buffalo’s Queen City by 89 points, only to turn around and lose by virtually the same score to the same team five months later. Or the 2013 upset win over CN Power would be followed by a smothering loss to the less talented New Hampshire Roller Derby.

In all, the Vixens would play thirteen games in 2013, going 7-6 for the season (6-6 in sanctioned Play) finishing 68th in the WFTDA and just outside of the Division 2 playoffs. But there was undeniably a new, single-minded competitive focus on the team and in the league, starting with the desire for many of the skaters to begin playing under their real names (at least at the WFTDA level) and the formation of a B-level travel team (the Sirens) that would become a key breeding ground for future Vixens. Similarly, in the 2013 off-season a new home team would be formed (The Prime Sinisters) and all three rosters would be shaken up to help create parity at the house league level in hopes of raising the league’s competitive level as a whole.

The Vixens began the 2014 season with a pre-season, non-sanctioned game against Alliston, Ontario’s, Misfit Militia, largely considered Canada’s top non-WFTDA team, and they’d win the scrappy affair, kicking off a five-game WFTDA winning streak that would see them solidify their Division 2 Playoff spot. They’d end up 7-1 on the season (6-1 in sanctioned play to improve 21 spots in the ranking to 47th) with only a late-season upset loss to Calgary spoiling their perfect record—but the loss provided a healthy late-season shot in the arm to refocus them for the playoffs.

The team was drawn to play in the Kitchener-Waterloo D-2 tournament, and in August became the first Canadian team to play a WFTDA playoff game on home soil. And they did not disappoint.

In one of the closest playoff tournaments in the WFTDA’s history, the Rideau Valley Vixens would be the outliers, dominating their quarterfinal and semifinal games (the 89 and 105 point differentials were the two largest of the tournament—only two other games all weekend had differentials higher than 50). When they squared off against Bear City Roller Derby’s Berlin Bombshells in the final, they would be part of history as one half of the first ever all-international WFTDA tournament final. It would, of course, go down as one of the great tournament finals in history as well, when the Vixens were able to hold on to a narrow lead in a frantic and thrilling last jam, getting outscored 20-18, but holding on for the three-point win and a berth in the Division 2 final against the legendary Detroit Derby Girls.

To Nashville and Beyond!

In 2014 the Rideau Valley Roller Girls have emerged from a potentially fractious Ottawa flat track scene to become one of the nation’s most competitive and successful leagues.

They currently have five skaters on Team Ontario (Murphy, Bottema, Margaret Choke, Soul Rekker and Sister Disaster—not to mention that Brennan, H.P. Lovecrash, and Melanie Austin are alternates); also, Soul Rekker and Murphy have both been on the national squad since 2011. In 2014, the league had its first house league regular season and championship (won by the Prime Sinisters), while its B-team continued to develop and extended its travel to outside of Canada (into Ohio and New York State). This all coming off of the Slaughter Daughters’ three-year run as the top house league team in the Canadian derbyverse, a run that included three straight appearances in the Beast of the East final, two of which they won. And now, of course, they have qualified for the WFTDA D2 championship game.

This Vixen’s roster is one that is built to win, and built to win now. They play a short bench relying on a few carefully crafted lines, and stick to tight jammer rotations. For example, in their playoff tournament, the team travelled with only 12 skaters, three who exclusively jammed. Of the nine remaining, seven of them played between 46% and 60% of the total jams in the tournament: basically two lines in an on-off rotation. Aside from a few star passes, their three primary jammers (Soul Rekker, Shania Pain, and Melanie Austin[Tatious]) jammed all but one of the team’s total jams on the weekend. All three of the jammers had strong weekends with Rekker scoring 345 points (second at the tournament) on 6.5 points per jam and a 66% lead percentage (both of which were tops on the weekend). Shania Pain finished fifth in scoring and recorded a 56% lead percentage. AustinTatious also cracked 50% (51.3%) and averaged a solid 42 points per game.

The roster is a strong mix of homegrown talent and well-integrated transfers. Four members of the charter (Murphy, Sister Disaster, Soul Rekker, and Da Big Block) remain from the Vixen’s very first game in Toronto in 2010, while another, Drunky Brewster, has become the bench manager. The team also features other homegrown talent in blockers (including Margaret Choke, Jane Rudolph, and Bottema) and jammers (AustinTatious). But some transfers are key as well. It’s been a few years since Brennan joined the league from Gainesville, Florida, while BlackeyE seems to have finally found a perfect fit after stints in Kingston and Toronto. Perhaps the biggest addition of the season has been jammer Shania Pain. Originally having learned her derby in the Yukon, Pain just completed her first season with the Vixens despite the challenge of studying in Saint John, New Brunswick, for the vast majority of the year. Although she missed a few games this season, she was incredibly impactful when present.

In Nashville on Sunday, November 1, 2014, the Rideau Valley Vixens will make history when they face off against Detroit for the D2 championship: it will be the first time that an international team will compete for a WFTDA title. Detroit will pose the biggest challenge that the team will have faced this season.

On a post on the Rideau Valley Roller Girls website after the tournament win in Kitchener-Waterloo, Coach Adam cited the biggest strength of the team as being their mental game, which has grown noticeably over the past few seasons: “I am beyond impressed with the mental fortitude and focus the team displayed,” he said. “We upped our mental game ten-fold and avoided every possible meltdown on the bench and on the track.”

It is true that there is something different about this Vixens team. You can see it in the focus of their gazes. It is the look of a team that has confidence in themselves and each other. It is the look of a team that is unified in its single-minded determination to win.

It has been a long, challenging road for the Rideau Valley Roller Girls and their Vixens, and even though it’s just one stop of many on a road that will continue long after this season, this particular one in Nashville has all the feel of being a bigger stop than most.

**Read the Nerd’s recap of Rideau Valley’s Division 2 tournament win here.

Bruisers Hold Off Muddy River in Tight Bout at the Bunker

The Bay Street Bruisers hosted (and managed to hold off) Moncton’s Muddy River Rollers over the weekend, while the D-VAS overcame some early penalty troubles to outpace Ottawa’s Capital City.

Chronic leads the Bruisers victory lap after a hard-fought win against the Lumbersmacks. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Chronic leads the Bruisers victory lap after a hard-fought win against the Lumbersmacks. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Muddy River’s Lumbersmacks (5-4 on the 2014 season) rolled into Toronto this past weekend for a much-anticipated showdown against Toronto’s Bay Street Bruisers (6-3). Both teams were coming off of big wins to end mini-losing streaks: The Bruisers ended a two-game slide with a massive win over Nashville’s B-team last month (avenging a loss from earlier in the season), while Muddy River had won two in a row (by a combined score of 707 points) over east competition after an early summer three-game losing streak had dampened their momentum. Muddy River is a WFTDA apprentice league and has picked up great experience this season against other apprentice leagues (Quebec, Fog City) and WFTDA B-Teams (Montreal’s Sexpos). The showdown in the Bunker did not disappoint, with both teams showing up to play and the Bruisers holding on for a narrow 235-214 win.

With their jammer approaching, Android WK and Tushy Galore look to clear Box Blocker from the front of the pack. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

With their jammer approaching, Android WK and Tushy Galore look to clear Box Blocker from the front of the pack. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The opening few jams were indicative of the type of battle that would ensue: when five on five, both teams played a stifling lock-down defense that left little room for offensive maneuvering. The score was knotted 2-2 three minutes in before Bruisers veteran jammer titmouse was able to power her way past a dynamic two wall of Hail Destroyer and Knocker Walker and pick up 3 points to give the Bruisers an early lead.

Speaking of duos, the Bruisers’ Android WK and Tushy Galore were devastating together and did a nice job of counteracting some timely offense from Moncton’s ShamRock Her and drew the first power jam of the game (titmouse the jammer recipient). Toronto took advantage of this first error and extended their lead to 29-9 ten minutes into the opening half.

ShamRock Her and Hail Destroyer attempt to hold back titmouse. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

ShamRock Her and Hail Destroyer attempt to hold back titmouse. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

But Muddy River roared back almost immediately. Aided by Walker, ShamRock Her locked in some effective one-on-one work against the Bruisers’ jammer Lexi Con (who looks to be back to nearly 100% after a bad leg break early this season), allowing Moncton super-jammer Burn’N RubHer to rip up the track for 14 points to pull the Lumbersmacks back to within 6 (29-23) and force a Bruisers time out.

Along with Burn’N, Muddy River jammer Snipress also gave the Brusiers defense fits all night and with Muddy River pivot Godley leading a strong offensive push, the visitors picked up a power jam and took advantage, forcing the first lead change of the game and giving Moncton a 61-59 point lead. The teams would trade leads after that until a Sleeper Hold 12-point jam extended the home team’s margin to 85-73.

While Muddy River pushed hard late in the first, the Bruisers attempted to lock things down, getting strong play from all across the experience spectrum. Bruisers veteran (and former CN Power skater) Chronic, laying out some big hits, was devastating at times, while first-year Bruiser Lowblowpalooza rose to the occasion in the first half as well. A chaotic final jam in which both teams picked up jammer penalties almost made all of the work of the opening half for naught as things remained virtually even at the break, with the Bruisers ahead just slightly 104-102.

Bruisers jammer Sleeper Hold approaches a two wall of Billie and Knocker Walker. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Bruisers jammer Sleeper Hold approaches a two wall of Billie and Knocker Walker. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Bruisers came out flying in the second half, putting together the longest sustained stretch of control from one team in the game. Things kicked off with Bruiser jammer Bellefast taking advantage of a power start to pad the home team’s lead. Five minutes into the second Lexi Con was the recipient of another power jam and suddenly the Bruisers had built the most significant lead of the game, up 144-107, 10 minutes into the second.

Muddy River was able to briefly cut the lead back down to 20 points when Snipress took advantage of a power jam, only to herself pick up a cutting penalty on the same jam, allowing the Bruisers to pick up a quick 9 points and reestablish a 171-146 margin.

The Lumbersmacks’ third jammer Tootsie Valentino seemed to get stronger as the game wore on, gaining comfort within the tight-pack defense from Toronto and helped keep her team close, down by 25 at the midway point of the second.

Misery Mae hold up Burn'N RubHer on the inside line. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Misery Mae hold up Burn’N RubHer on the inside line. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The last half of the game was typified by one-on-one battles (typified by the agressive play of Bruisers’ Misery Mae–which eventually caused her to foul out–and the strong positional blocking of Just Jes for the hosts, and the relentless chest-to-chest blocking of Moncton’s Box Blocker for the guests) and the continuing trend of dueling defenses, so long as neither team slipped into penalty trouble (early on the Lumbersmacks had some troubles with multi-player blocks, but adjusted as the game went on). Walker and Destroyer continued their strong play late and were key in helping the Lumbersmacks narrow the lead to 209-197 with only 4 minutes to play.

Mid-season Bruisers call-up (and skating her first year in ToRD) Sleeper Hold was strong all game and picked up a vital lead against Snipress with only 3 minutes to go to pad the home team’s lead 218-201 and force a time out call from the visitors. Bellefast responded with another critical lead pick up, followed by a Burn’N RubHer vs. Sleeper Hold final jam matchup. While Burn’N would pick up lead, she’d be drawn into a track cut. A tired Sleeper was forced to pass the star to pivot Android WK, and a key hit from Tushy Galore on a returning Burn’N would prove to be the final blow as the Bruisers held on for the thrilling, hard fought 21-point victory.

Muddy River went on to continue their Ontario road trip with a 311-86 loss against Alliston’s Misfit Militia on Sunday, who also happens to be the Bruisers next opponent (on October 25th in Aliston as part of a double header also featuring Team Canada and Team Ontario). While the skaters from Moncton continue to impress, their weakness at this point seems simply to be depth. If they can continue to grow as a league (and carry on picking up these vital matchups against top tier teams), they will remain a team to watch.

Dollinquents (Capital City) 97 vs. D-VAS 210

Battering Ma'am comes face to face with Traffic Kisser. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Battering Ma’am comes face to face with Traffic Kisser. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The night kicked off with a 2014 Fresh and the Furious semi-final rematch between Capital City and ToRD’s D-VAS (won by Capital City, though both rosters were significantly different). Inspired by revenge, the D-VAS burst out after the opening whistle, with all four jammers in their rotation (Wheels of Misfortune, Battering Ma’am, Murdercat!, and Vag Lightning) picking up lead status and spotting the team a 29-0 lead early.

The D-VAS mostly dominated during five-on-five situations, but ran into considerable penalty trouble in the first half, spotting Capital City a power jam whenever it seemed as if the home team were about to pull away. This kept things close, with the D-VAS leading 93-45 at half.

Capital City was lead by a core of strong players who were capable (and successful) at playing multiple positions on the track. RebelLion was dominant at times, particularly in the pack in the opening half, while Traffic Kisser took over in the second. Both were viable double threats throughout the game. Ruby Wreckage was also key with the star for the visitors, jamming nearly every second jam at the start of the game before getting some relief later.

D-VAS' Kimikaze leads the defense. (Photo by Joe Mac)

D-VAS’ Kimikaze leads the defense. (Photo by Joe Mac)

In the second half, the D-VAS cleaned up their act and kept the jammer penalties to a minimum, allowing them to pull away. Captain April Cruel was once again strong for the hosts (and took over some jamming in the second too as Vag Lightning and Wheels of Misfortune shifted into some more pack work). Slamureye was a strong pivot all night for Toronto, while Juggernaut J was her usual steady self and Kimikaze continues to emerge as a prospect worth watching.

Outscoring the opposition 117-52 in the second gave the ToRD future stars some padding and they skated away with a 113-point win.

The D-VAS have one more game to impress before the 2015 ToRD house league entry draft, and you can see them at home, facing off against South Simcoe on September 27th (to kick off the ToRD semifinal showdown between Chicks Ahoy! and the Gore-Gore Rollergirls).

Rideau Valley Makes WFTDA History at Thrilling D2 Tournament in Kitchener-Waterloo

The Vixens defeat Berlin in an all-international final to become the first non-US-based team to win a WFTDA playoff tournament.

Canada's Rideau Valley Vixens are the first non-US team to win a WFTDA playoff tournament. (Photo from Vixen's Facebook page)

Canada’s Rideau Valley Vixens are the first non-US team to win a WFTDA playoff tournament. (Photo from Vixens’ Facebook page)

Since the team made its debut on a snowy February 27th, 2010, at the ToRD Hangar in Toronto, the Rideau Valley Vixens have been one of this country’s most enigmatic teams. Consistently fielding some of Canada’s finest skaters (including two members of Team Canada and a big chunk of Ontario’s provincial team), the team has not always lived up to the sometimes-lofty expectations thrust upon it. Until, that is, this past weekend, where they far surpassed those expectations, outlasting Berlin’s Bear City in an absolutely thrilling championship game to become the first team outside of the United States to win a WFTDA playoff tournament, earning them a spot in the Division 2 championship game in Nashville in November where they will square off against mighty Detroit.

Graduating to full WFTDA membership in June 2012, the Rideau Valley Vixens struggled to find consistency early in their WFTDA careers, hovering around the high D2 rankings and never quite able to string together more than three wins in a row, all the while capable of pulling off shocking victories (such as a 2013 victory over Toronto’s CN Power) as often as they were able to slump to disappointing losses.

After narrowly missing out of the D2 playoffs in 2013, things did finally begin to change for the better for the team this season. Kicking off 2014 on a six-game winning streak (that included an impressive non-sanctioned win over Misfit Militia), the team found itself surging up the WFTDA rankings, finally slipping comfortably into a playoff spot in May, as the sole Canadian team in the D2 playoffs (four others qualified for D1).

The Kitchener-Waterloo D2 tournament actually contained a series of historic moments: the first tournament hosted outside of the US (and Tri-City Roller Derby knocked it out of the park—universally praised for the organization); the first to feature a team from continental Europe (Bear City’s Berlin Bombshells); the first to feature nation’s capitals square off (it happened twice, first when Berlin knocked out DC in the quarterfinals); and, eventually, the first to feature a fully international final.

Gold Coast (and Team USA) skater Baller Shot Caller led her team all the way to the 3rd place game where they fell to a scrappy Killamazoo led by Javelin (33) and Neva Soba. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Gold Coast (and Team USA) skater Baller Shot Caller (jamming) led her team all the way to the 3rd place game where they fell to a scrappy Killamazoo led by Javelin (#33 left) and Neva Soba. (Photo by Joe Mac)

While the big-picture view of this tournament will focus on the history, at track level, the quality of the play stole the show; parity was the dominant story of the tournament, and it made for some phenomenal games. Of the 17 games, 9 finished with a differential of less than 20 points, and the event was bookended by the tightest results, with the opening and closing games of the tournament being settled by 3 points. Only one game—Rideau Valley’s 239-130 win over Boulder Country—featured a point differential of more than 100. Overall, the average point differential was 41.4. This, along with the first D2 Duluth’s 73 point average differential, provides the best indicator that the WFTDA’s new playoff system is producing the desired results

While this was the dominant tale, A sub narrative may have been the story of the upsets. The top two seeds (DC and Queen City) ended up playing for 5th, and while two of the top four finishers were expected (3rd seed Vixens and 4th seed Killamazoo finishing 1st and 3rd respectively), the other spots were filled by the 9th seed (Berlin) and the 7th seed (Gold Coast), both of whom had to endure (and survive) the Friday morning play-in games. Nonetheless, it was clear that despite the necessity for some slight internal adjustments, these 10 teams deserved to be here.

The final was an extraordinary display of what modern women’s flat track roller derby has to offer: furious play, as slow and gritty as it was fast and loose (the slower play an advantage to Rideau Valley), phenomenal clutch performances, and two teams that left it all on the track.

The Vixens led over the opening 5 jams before a 9-0 Bear City jam gave Berlin the lead 30-22. They would hold the lead until the 43rd jam of the game and would trade back one more time before Rideau would retake the lead two jams later and hold on until the end, holding off a 20-18 Berlin run in a frantic final jam that went the full 2 minutes. When the final whistle blew, the Vixens had managed a 243-240 victory.

Two critical moments defined the second half. The first consisted of both teams trading errors: A rare moment of confusion late in the second half (jam 42 of 47) on the Rideau Valley bench saw the Vixens not field a jammer. It looked to be the defining moment of the tournament, until, that is, the Berlin jammer (Master Blaster) attempted a risky apex jump that landed her in the penalty box, thus ending the jam. Critical errors traded so cancelling each other out.

Berlin's Master Blaster was simply phenomenal, leading the tournament in scoring and track time for a jammer. She was the worthy winner of the MVP award. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Berlin’s Master Blaster was simply phenomenal, leading the tournament in scoring and track time for a jammer. She was the worthy winner of the MVP award. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The second key moment came in the final jam. With the Vixens up by 5, they needed only to keep pace with Berlin. A key knock-out/drag back by Jane Rudolph on lead jammer Master Blaster late put the jammer a half lap back of her counterpart Soul Rekker, the Vixens’ jammer; this proved critical when Rekker picked up a last-second penalty and Master Blaster was just too far behind to catch up and score a full pass.

The play was indicative of the kind of performances that Rideau Valley got on the weekend from their core vets. In the final, with key blockers Hannah Murphy and Margaret Choke having fouled out by the midway point of the second (they’d been leading their team in track time to that point), it was incumbent upon others to step up, and step up they did. Rudolph was extraordinary in the championship game, and given the stage, veteran blocker Sister Disaster played the game of her career, key in moments of jammer relief (including two key star passes) and overcoming any physical disadvantage with heart and pure determination (she would lead the tournament in blocker plus/minus). Brennan was another critical force and first-year transfer BlackeyE has blossomed in Rideau Valley (her third league).

Berlin, playing short all weekend, used their blockers on a much more even rotation, with the extraordinarily feisty Catherine Beat-Her Bonez leading the way, but Bee Fattal (who lead her team with a blocker +122), Paulina Pocket, Emmazon and Heavy Rotation were all key.

But if you want to look at the key difference between the two finalists, it comes down to the jammer rotation. The Vixens dominated Berlin’s Donner Doro and Kozmic Bruise, limiting them to 34 and 36 points and 18% and 20% lead percentages respectively; however, eventual tournament MVP Master Blaster was another story entirely, and as she did all weekend, played over half of her team’s jams with the star (including 5 of the last 6 jams). She finished with 164 of her team’s points in the game and held a remarkable 72% lead percentage.

The Vixens had a slightly more balanced approach. Two first-year jammers (at the WFTDA level) Austin Tatious and Shania Pain (a transfer from the Yukon) played well above their experience level. Austin finished the game with 39 points and a 64% lead percentage, while Shania finished with 77 and 44% (and ended the tournament as the 5th leading scorer). But the story of the game (and the weekend) was the play of veteran Soul Rekker; in the final, she finished with 127 points and a 50% lead percentage and was critical in the last jam, going lap for lap with Master Blaster. Furthermore, she led the tournament in lead percentage (66%) and points per jam (6.5) among jammers with at least 30 jams.

Overall, both D2 tournaments have set a standard for the upcoming D1 teams to compete against. This tournament was run phenomenally in a beautiful venue with decent crowds that filled out nicely for the key Saturday night/Sunday evening games: the emotion in the building during the final was unbelievable. If these past two weekends are any indicator of what is to come in the 2014 WFTDA Division 1 playoffs, we should all expect nothing less than the best.

***All games were broadcast live on WFTDA.TV and will all eventually be available for free in the WFTDA.TV archives. Do yourself a favour and (re)watch them!

***Read blow-by-blow game recaps at Derby News Network and WFTDA.com.

FINAL STANDINGS

  • 1st Place – Rideau Valley Roller Girls (3 seed)
  • 2nd Place – Bear City Roller Derby (9 seed)
  • 3rd Place – Killamazoo Derby Darlins (4 seed)
  • 4th Place – Gold Coast Derby Grrls (7 seed)
  • 5th Place – Queen City Roller Girls (2 seed)
  • 6th Place – DC Rollergirls (1 seed)
  • 7th Place – Chicago Outfit Roller Derby (5 seed)
  • 8th Place – Demolition City Roller Derby (8 seed)
  • 9th Place – Boulder County Bombers (6 seed)
  • 10th Place – Grand Raggidy Roller Girls (10 seed)

Tournament Stats Leaders (minimum 30 jams unless indicated–Stats by Rinxter)

JAMMERS

SCORING* LEAD PERCENTAGE** TOTAL JAMS
Master Blaster (BCRD) 506 Soul Rekker (RVRG) 66% Master Blaster (BCRD) 90
Soul Rekker (RVRG) 345 Jessie Girl (KDD) 64% Lola Blow (CORD) 65
Lola Blow (CORD) 330 Master Blaster (BCRD) 62% Bitchin N Rollin (GCRG) 54
LiBRAWLian (QCRG) 282 LiBRAWLian (QCRG) 62% Matza Ball Breaker (CORD) 54
Shania Pain (RVRG) 235 Dubois/Doobie Trap (KDD) 62% Soul Rekker (RVRG) 53

*Gold Coast’s Bitchin N Rollin was the only other jammer to score over 200 points (225)

**Demolition City’s Stepheree finished with a 73% lead percentage over 26 jams.

BLOCKERS

TOTAL JAMS PLUS/MINUS
Bangs McCoy (DCRD) 119 Sister Disaster (RVRG) +151
Baller Shot Caller (GCRG) 109 Brennan (RVRG) +146
Heavy Rotation (BCRD) 106 Margaret Choke (RVRG) +134
Paulina Pocket (BCRD) 103 Murphy (RVRG) +123
Catherine Beat-Her Bonez (BCRD) 101 Bee Fattal /Karo’Bolage (BCRD) +122

Word on the Track: Skids Retain Top Spot; Clam Slam Rosters Revealed; First Cindy Davidson Cup Held!

AN INTERNATIONAL STORY AT ECDX

Montreal and Terminal City last met in 2010 at Toronto's first ever Quad City Chaos. Montreal won that showdown 160-55. (Photo by Derek Lang)

Montreal and Terminal City last met in 2010 at Toronto’s first ever Quad City Chaos. Montreal won that showdown 160-55. (Photo by Derek Lang)

Whatever way you look at it, Canadian roller derby is in the midst of a big year. With four teams currently sitting in D1 playoffs and another now ensconced in D2, the Canadian squads are set to build off of the surprises of last season when Toronto and Terminal City went on deep D1 playoff runs and Tri-City was a heartbreaking overtime clock mistake away from a potential berth in the D2 finals

On Saturday night at Philly’s ECDX, two of Canada’s big three faced off in a highly anticipated matchup that did not disappoint. Earlier this season, Toronto took its first swipe at Montreal and came within 17 points of upending the Skids (the score would not be as close in a rematch in Montreal a month later). This weekend, Vancouver’s Terminal City All Stars (25th to Montreal’s 16th) took their shot and came up as close, falling 199-177. Terminal stuck with the Skids through the whole game, but as it was with that Quad City Chaos showdown against Toronto, Montreal, while threatened, had that extra gear gained from so many hours competing at the upper echelons of the sport.

The rest of the weekend was a mixed bag for the Canadian entries. While Terminal City looked solid in decimating a slipping Boston (17th) 269-160, Montreal looked out of sorts against a surging Victorian (10th) from Melbourne who overwhelmed them 240-66. At their current rate, Victorian could be another international team to watch as they seem poised to join London at Champs this season.

Similarly, Team Canada took a slight step back against Team USA. At last year’s ECDX, Canada lost 252-72, a scoreline that surprised a lot of people. This year—with the World Cup only six months away—USA stepped up with a superior offensive performance (356 points) that overshadowed an impressive offensive outburst from Team Canada (90). It was, arguably, not Team Canada’s full A-roster, but it was pretty close and was one loaded with talent.

Nonetheless, Canadian teams continue to enjoy a growing spotlight, and while we may not have a team playing quite at the level that London and Victorian currently are, as a country we still have depth surpassed only by USA.

CLAM SLAM 6 SETS ALL-STAR ROSTERS

The 6th annual Clam Slam is just around the corner, but this year the stakes are even higher! Yes, for the second year in a row this will be a unified ToRDGTAR event, and, yes, for the second year in a row it will be at Ted ReeveClam Slam 2014 Poster Arena in Toronto’s east end, but this year’s Clam Slam  is a World Pride affiliate event! This is the first ever World Pride to be held in North America and festivities are already well underway in Toronto. Since this is the biggest Pride ever, it’s only fitting that this is the biggest Clam Slam ever!

Last year’s Clam Slam was a phenomenal event—featuring the best game of the five year history of the event, and this year promises to build off of that, with many players returning for the rematch.

As with last year, the Clam Slam will be a double header featuring two games, opening with an intermediate level bout featuring skaters from Ontario (and one skater from Montreal). Leagues represented include the hosts ToRD and GTAR, but also Hammer City, Renegade Derby Dames, Rollergettes, Northumberland Roller Girls, Kingston Derby Girls, Nickel City (Sudbury), Durham Region Roller Derby, Tri-City, and Royal City.

The advanced-level game will be hard pressed to live up to the level of last year’s thrilling match, but its got the talent level to do so. Loaded with Canadian and American All Stars, the main event should be incredibly fast paced. The Eager Beavers feature local stalwarts such as Nasher the Smasher, Fox Smoulder, Ruby Puby (AKA: ToRD’s Bellefast) and Bouche, but will also feature the return of three Naptown skaters Maiden America, Trudy Bauchery and Eve Ann Hellical. Fans will also get to see Tri-City’s Sofonda Snatch (AKA: Sofonda Beatin) who recently returned from injury.

The Clam Diggers respond with a pretty impressive rosters of their own, featuring the likes of ToRD’s Dyna Vagina (AKA: Dyna Hurtcha) and Matchu Eatchu (Matchu Beatchu), but also Clam Slam regulars Mirambo (Forest City) and Nameless Whorror (Montreal—who will be joined on the Diggers this year by leaguemate La Planche). Plus, Toronto derby fans will also get a chance to welcome Rainbow Fight back to the track after a long injury lay off.

The Clam Slam will be at Ted Reeve Arena on Thursday with the opening game starting at 6:30 PM and the second at 8:00 PM.

If you aren’t close enough to catch the game, you can still watch the Clam Slam! Both games will be boutcast live by the ToRD.TV crew and hosted here, by Layer9.ca.

**Full rosters are listed at the bottom of the post.

FIRST CINDY DAVIDSON CUP HELD

Cindy Davidson Cup PosterThis weekend, the first ever Cindy Davidson Cup was held in Walkerton, Ontario. Called “Crushing the Big C,” the event featured a junior scrimmage followed by a full flat track game. The rosters featured many familiar faces to those in the derby community including skaters from Durham Region (Lous Ur Pants/Lucid Lou, TRUCK, Yogi Dare Ya), Northumberland Roller Girls (Provokenator, Chronic Carnage), Grey Bruce (Scary Queen, Anita AllyBy), Misfit Militia (Terry Bomb, Bee Bee MaGee), Renegade Derby Dames (Ethyl A Mean, Daemon Star), and Fergus (Steph-a-hani, Eager Beaver), among many others!

For the record, C Crush beat Pink Power 336-113, but the result was secondary to the event itself, a charity event with proceeds going to the Grey-Bruce Health Services Oncology Expansion and Wes for Youth Online.

Cindy Davidson, known as Mama Kal-Hell by the Northumberland Roller Girls, has been bravely chronicling her “cancer thing” (her words) on her blog “Aside from Cancer, I never Get Sick.” It is quite an astonishing blog—raw, moving, detailed. It provides a remarkably clear, yet sometimes wrenching, glimpse into the life of a cancer patient.

All accounts suggest that this weekend’s event was a great success, so keep an eye out for it next year, as it just may become an annual event.

Read Cindy’s blog here. More information about the event can be found here.

2014 Clam Slam Rosters

GAME 1:

Team Uhaul Team Plaid Mafia
League DERBY NAME NUMBER League DERBY NAME NUMBER
ToRD Straight Bait 23 Kingston Flaming Hips 40
HCRG Hardcore Lolo 213 GTAR Cunning Linguist 42
ToRD G-STRINGER 312 Nickel City Nellie McStung 73
HCRG Pretty Fishy 314 MTLRD La Grande Noirceur 78
Nothumberland Betty BOOM 321 GTAR Mashes to Ashes 88
ToRD Vagina Dentata 422 ToRD Sleeper Hold 213
HCRG Smashin’ Good Time 519 Tri-City Tits Tits Tits 480
Renegade Riot Rhythm 524 ToRD Beej 831
Nothumberland Natural Dezzaster 911 PRD Jaxalottapus 3953
GTAR Pepper Pot 917 ToRD SewButt 525S
GTAR Dirty Daddy’s Kitten 6969 ToRD Map of Tasmania 5BY5
Rollergettes KALI 4NK8 Tri-City Badger 6P
HCRG M.I gay 9MM ToRD Miss Andry B0TM
Rollergettes Whoreschach DSM5 DRRD extermi-knitter K2P6
ToRD Heavy Petter K1 Royal City Scream Queen O84
GTAR COMMANDER BOX X3 ToRD VAGilante X0X0

 

GAME 2:

Eager Beavers Clam Diggers
League DERBY NAME NUMBER League DERBY NAME NUMBER
Niagara Lock N Roll 0 ToRD Dyna Vagina 21
Naptown Eve Anne Hellical 316 ToRD Bi-Furious 31
Tri-City Psykosonic 4 HCRG Rock E. Road 52
ToRD Rebel Rock-This 7 Forest City MIRAMBO 69
Tri-City AnneXXX 14 ToRD Hoe Hoe Hoe NO! 111
ToRD Rosemary’s Gayby 15 HCRG Homewrecken Holly 187
ToRD Bouche 26 MTLRD Nameless Whorror 202
GTAR SoFearMe 52 ToRD Just Jes 510
ToRD Hoff 65 GTAR NEWFIE BULLET 709
Naptown Maiden America 76 ToRD Machu Eatchu 747
Tri-City Sofonda Snatch 420 Tri-City Fraxxure 911
ToRD ThünderKünt 867 DRRD/PRD Lous ur pants 1234
Tri-City Fox 1013 ToRD Ames to Please 2or3
Tri-City MW 1321 HCRG Cancer Candy 3BUX
ToRD Ruby Pubie 5678 DRRD Psy-Show-Bob 46N2
Niagara Axel La Rose 15H0 MTLRD La Planche 61X

Weekend Results: Canada’s WFTDA Teams Have Up-and-Down Weekend

It was a busy weekend for Canada’s WFTDA teams, with most of Canada’s top teams spread out across the continent for important regular season matchups.

Both Toronto and Tri-City had busy weekends at Fort Wayne's Spring Roll

Both Toronto and Tri-City had busy weekends at Fort Wayne’s Spring Roll

Montreal Roller Derby: New Skids on the Block

Montreal Roller Derby: New Skids on the Block

Montreal had to have hit the West Coast with high expectations, especially after Vancouver’s Terminal City was able to knock off one of their opponents, the Oly Rollers, last weekend. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. Canada’s top team went 0-3 against incredibly tough competition in Rat, Rose and Oly. The losses will affect their WFTDA rankings (although they lost only 3.6 points on Flattrackstats on the weekend), but the loss to lesser ranked Rat and Oly, especially, shows that they still have a lot of work to do before season’s end to finally attain that goal of making Champs.

Montreal (12th) 124 vs. Rat City (18th) 202

Montreal 109 vs. Rose City (5th) 306

Montreal 174 vs. Oly (14th) 230

Toronto Roller Derby: CN Power

New CNP logo

Toronto entered the weekend on a massive 8-game slide, and were looking for some positives heading into a busy summer. Things started off rough on Saturday against a tough Jacksonville team whose incredibly fast and agile jammers ran roughshod over the team. However, Toronto found their form against lesser opponents as the weekend went on, handling a strong Jet City with ease before crushing Cincinnati to close out Spring Roll (it’s hard to believe this Cinci. team beat Toronto a year ago). They were confidence-boosting wins that the team needed as it looks to shore up a favourable playoff spot.

Toronto (23rd) 116 vs. Jacksonville (16th) 243

Toronto 235 vs. Jet City (36th) 86

Toronto 370 vs. Cincinnati (56th) 83

Tri-City Roller Derby: Tri-City Thunder

Tri-City Thunder Logo

The Thunder headed to Spring Roll hoping to improve their tenuous hold on a Division 1 playoff spot; unfortunately, things didn’t necessarily go as planned. Given a favourable draw for the weekend, Tri-City did go 2-2 for the tournament, but the results were not quite as expected. The wins came against a D-2 non-playoff team (Big Easy) and a D-3 team (Glasgow, though due to lack of high-level competition, Glasgow’s ranking is probably far too low), but both wins were within 40 points. The loss to Jet City, despite being ranked below the Everett-based team, was a missed opportunity to knock of a low-ranked D-1 team, and the upset loss to a determined Chicago Outfit team just trying to qualify for the D-2 playoffs had to have hurt.

Tri-City (40th) 148 vs. Jet City (36th) 178

Tri-City 190 vs. Glasgow (104th) 175

Tri-City 176 vs. Big Easy (82nd) 137

Tri-City 124 vs. Chicago Outfit (65th) 161

Division 2 and Division 3 Action

Vixens Logo

The Rideau Valley Vixens headed to the East Coast to take on Maine’s Port Authorities in a very important D-2 showdown between two teams who have made significant jumps early in 2014, and the Vixens came away with the win: another step in securing a D-2 playoff spot.

Rideau Valley (64th) 192 vs. Maine (72nd) 160

Closer to home, the GTA Rollergirls G-sTARs hosted Alliston’s Renegade Derby Dames Striking Vikings in WFTDA action. This was the second sanctioned bout for the G-sTARs after a loss to London’s Timber Rollers to kick off the season. It was the first ever sanctioned game for the Striking Vikings. It was an incredibly tight game, especially in the first half (the Vikings had a 12-point lead at the break). Some excellent half-time adjustments for the G-sTARs saw the hosts take a lead early in the second that they were able to hold onto for the remainder of the game. Neither team has yet to be ranked (they must play three sanctioned games for an initial ranking), but both will be looking to make inroads into D-3 before the season is over.

GTA (-) 144 vs. Renegade Derby Dames (-) 112

Busy Weekend for Canada’s WFTDA Teams: Montreal, Toronto, Tri-City and Rideau Valley in Action

Montreal heads to the West Coast on an important three-game road trip; Toronto and Tri-City head to the Mid West for Spring Roll; and Rideau Valley heads to the East Coast.

Montreal Heads West

Montreal's Honey Badger tries to get passed Toronto's Ames to Kill and Mega Bouche in a March matchup up in Toronto. Montreal won 233-216. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Montreal’s Honey Badger tries to get passed Toronto’s Ames to Kill and Mega Bouche in a March matchup up in Toronto. Montreal won 233-216. (Photo by Greg Russell)

As the spring crawls toward summer, the WFTDA schedule is ramping up as teams jockey for playoff positions or, in the case of Division 2 teams, simply fight for a playoff spot. Fans of Canadian derby get a little bit of everything this weekend as four of the nation’s top five teams are all in action.

First off, Montreal (currently ranked 12th after moving up a few spots in the most recent rankings) head to the West Coast for an important three-game road trip all against Top 20 teams. They kick things off with a game against Seattle’s Rat City on Friday night. It was February 2011 when these two teams first faced off, with Montreal recording an at-the-time shocking 110-103 win. It would announce Montreal’s reaching the highest level of competitive play: a level they have stayed at since. They will continue their challenging road trip with games against Rose City in Portland and then the Oly Rollers in Olympia.

Montreal is off to a great start in 2014 with a 4-0 record that includes two victories in a home-and-home series against Toronto. Rat City (ranked 18th) crushed Sacred City 444-58 in their season opener, while Rose City (5th) is 3-1 in WFTDA play with 300+ point victories over Kansas City and Treasure Valley, and a tight 252-199 win over Philly. Their loss came at the hands of Texas (274-194). Montreal will end the weekend against the Oly Rollers who return to WFTDA after focusing on USARS last season. Oly is a team largely rebuilt from its run to the 2012 WFTDA championship game, and has had a rough return so far with a pretty one-sided win over Treasure Valley being followed by un upset loss to Vancouver’s Terminal City (139-130) and a 263-140 loss to Rose City.

Toronto and Tri-City At Spring Roll in Fort Wayne

Toronto (23rd) and Tri-City (40th) will both be heading to Fort Wayne for this Spring Roll 2014 Banneryear’s Spring Roll. Both play their first games on Saturday with Tri-City (3-5 on the season with wins over Ft. Myers and Queen City and losses to teams including Detroit and Naptown) kicking things off against Everett, Washington’s, Jet City (36th), while later in the day they’ll have the privilege of playing a cross-ocean opponent in Glasgow (ranked 104 and who are coming off of a season-opening loss to Cardiff’s Tiger Bay Brawlers). Tri-City will close out the weekend on Sunday against New Orleans’ Big Easy Rollergirls (82nd). Tri-City recently slipped into Division 1 and this weekend’s favourable draw gives them an opportunity to at least hold that (and perhaps even increase it with a win over a beatable Jet City team).

Toronto finds itself attempting to slow an early season slide. They peaked at 13th in the WFTDA after opening the year with two wins but have since dropped eight in a row (to tough opponents including Monteal, Rocky Mountain and London). This weekend gives them an opportunity to, at the very least, hold their position. They’ll face off against a surging Jacksonville on Saturday (16th), a team on the exact opposite trajectory as Toronto at this point in the season; it will be a good challenge, especially after they showed signs of improvement in losses last weekend to Pittsburgh and Atlanta. Toronto also has two games on Sunday, starting with Jet City (36th) and concluding with a matchup against Cincinnati (56th), a team that beat Toronto by only 20 points last year but that has been on a freefall since, and could even be in danger of losing a spot in the D-2 playoffs at this rate.

All games will be boutcast. You can find the complete schedule here.

Rideau Valley Vixens Head East

Finally, Ottawa’s Rideau Valley Vixens (64th) will be on the road to take on Maine Roller Derby’s Port Authorities (72nd) on Saturday night. Rideau Valley jumped five spots in the current ranking after knocking off DC on the road in their season opener. Rideau Valley is on the cusp of a D-2 playoff spot and a convincing win over Maine (who beat Rideau Valley last season by 35 points [187-152]) would help the push for a position. Maine is not a team to take lightly though. After tumbling badly in 2013, they have had a hot start this season, jumping 9 positions so far in 2014 on the strength of their 5-1 record.

Maine and Rideau Valley met last year with Maine picking up the 35-point win.

Montreal and Toronto Kick off Beast with WFTDA Showdown.

For the second year in a row, the New Skids on the Block host CN Power on the eve of the Beast of the East.

These two teams are building the best rivalry in Canadian roller derby. This will be the fifth meeting between them.

These two teams are building the best rivalry in Canadian roller derby. This will be the fifth meeting between them.

184, 263, 89, 17.

These are the point differentials from the four times that Montreal’s New Skids on the Block and Toronto’s CN Power have met since 2010. After the peak 284-21 win for the Skids at the 2011 Quad City Chaos, the gap has been narrowing; with that narrowing becoming all the more dramatic over the past year since the two faced off on the eve of last year’s Beast of the East.

By all metrics, this gap should narrow even more on the track at Arena St. Louis on Friday night, in what promises to be an electric atmosphere.

One thing you can be sure of is that Montreal will show up ready. Aside from a surprising blip at last year’s playoffs where a lacklustre performance blew a clear road to Champs, the Skids have been Canada’s most consistent and durable performers. And when it comes to those rare face offs against Canadian competition, they seem to always enter hungry for a victory. Never was this more evident than while repelling a ferocious Toronto attack at last month’s Quad City Chaos.

And at this stage in their development, this seems to be the last barrier of separation between Toronto and the other elite teams of the WFTDA’s Division 1: consistency, and the focus that this consistency requires.

After a reputation-building performance at last year’s playoffs, Toronto seemed to grow from the experience, kicking off 2014 with lopsided victories over formerly close opponents in Killamazoo and Bleeding Heartland before pushing Montreal to the very limits of their considerable abilities and experience in the thrilling 17-point loss on their home track in Toronto. But then everything seemed to change at halftime of another anticipated QCC matchup against a rebuilding Ohio team.

Montreal's Smack Daddy and Georgia W. Tush try to free jammer Mel E Juana from Toronto pivot Candy Crossbones at last month's Quad City Chaos. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Montreal’s Smack Daddy and Georgia W. Tush try to free jammer Mel E Juana from Toronto pivot Candy Crossbones at last month’s Quad City Chaos. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Taking an impressive 30-point lead into the break, it was a tale of two teams in the second half as Toronto came out loose, unfocused and unprepared for the brutal onslaught that a stone-faced and determined Ohio team unleashed. The considerably more experienced skaters from Columbus gave Toronto a swift lesson in the level of discipline and focus needed to compete at the WFTDA’s highest level on a consistent basis; by the time Toronto came around in the period (after a 97-14 Ohio run to start the second half), the game was already out of reach.

Nonetheless, it was a strong showing against a higher ranked opponent and Toronto had to have high expectations heading into London’s Anarchy in the UK, sporting a franchise-high rank of 13th. CN Power instead looked woefully out of place, suffering the most lopsided loss in their history (477-41 to London) before falling to Detroit, a team ranked 21-spots below them who had come into the tournament desperate to improve their lot and secure their perilous spot in the top Division; the win over Toronto guaranteed that.

It was a Toronto team that looked far removed from the one that had taken Atlanta to the limits on the biggest stage only six months prior.

Montreal and Toronto play in the 2010 QCC. (photo by Derek Lang)

Montreal and Toronto play in the 2010 QCC. (photo by Derek Lang)

The Skids don’t have as big a sample size on which be judged so far in 2014, but from what little we have seen, they seem to have learned from their so-so performance at Divisionals. Indeed, the Montreal team that showed up at QCC ’14 was the hungriest, most focused Skids team that I’ve seen in quite some time. Their thoroughly (almost shockingly) dominant win over Ohio (the very team that ended their shot at Champs in last year’s playoffs) was impressive to say the least. And the poise that they showed in repelling Toronto was evidence of their considerable experience playing at this elite level. Those hours on the track against the best this game has to offer were the difference. And as far as Toronto has come, they simply have yet to clock that all-important track time.

However, Toronto has bounced back from inconsistency before. It’s easy to forget that at the QCC ’13 Toronto lost to a Rideau Valley team that was (at the time) 30+ spots below them in the rankings. They built off of that learning experience, and used it to propel them to the D-1 playoffs. They will need to do so again this season with the Anarchy performance. They’ve got a tough schedule ahead of them, and while they need to learn from their losses, they simply don’t have time to dwell on them.

There won’t be much change in rosters from QCC to this game (Toronto jammer Rainbow Fight remains on injury reserve after suffering a serious internal injury against Killamazoo); however, Nasher the Smasher draws back into the pack and this could make a considerable difference for Toronto (she was named team MVP at Anarchy); a truly elite player, her on-track leadership will be a boon for Toronto.

Montreal's Honey Badger tries to get around Toronto's Dyna Hurtcha. The QCC '14 showdown was the closest game between the two rivals. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Montreal’s Honey Badger tries to get around Toronto’s Dyna Hurtcha. The QCC ’14 showdown was the closest game between the two rivals. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Montreal seemed to answer the Iron Wench question (that question being “How do you replace the greatest jammer our country has ever seen?”) by showing considerable depth at the position, relying on a mix of vets and “rookies.” The supremely talented Miracle Whips has all the potential to be a top-level jammer, but is still prone to the kinds of mistakes that experience has a way of correcting.

A year ago nearly to the day, these two teams played an unbelievably exciting half of roller derby in front of one of the most appreciative and electric crowds I’ve seen for this sport in this country. Toronto seemed overwhelmed by the moment and faded in the second half. This year, however, Toronto has shown that at their best, they are ready for the spotlight. The question remains: Is Montreal willing to share it?

**The game will be streamed live by CUTV. Tune in to mtlrollerderby.com beginning at 6:50 PM on Friday, April 25th.

2013 Year in Review!

Happy New Year!

On Facebook over the past week, I’ve been posting some of my personal favourite moments from 2013; I’ve collected them here. It was a fantastic, and fascinating, year for Canadian roller derby, and these are just a few of the amazing highlights.

CN Power Surges

Killamazoo, ranked one spot ahead of CN Power, was hoping to avenge two previous losses. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Killamazoo, ranked one spot ahead of CN Power, was hoping to avenge two previous losses. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

What a year for Canadian derby! One of the great stories was the rise of CN Power in the WFTDA rankings culminating in an impressive run in the playoffs! And 2013 all started with a win over Killamazoo Derby Darlins.

CN Power ended the season ranked 29th in the WFTDA; easily their highest ranking ever.

Read the recap from the doubleheader here.

Nerd Glasses

4th Annual Quad City Chaos

Ohio's Smacktivist and CN Power's Nasher the Smasher were both exceptional on the track. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Ohio’s Smacktivist and CN Power’s Nasher the Smasher were both exceptional on the track. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

This year, Toronto Roller Derby hosted the 4th annual QCC featuring CN Power and the Bay Street Bruisers hosting teams from Queen City Roller Girls, Ohio Roller Girls, and Rideau Valley Roller Girls. It was a fantastic tournament that featured one of the great upsets in Canadian roller derby history.

Not surprisingly, Ohio went undefeated to take top spot.

Relive the tournament here.

Nerd Glasses

The 2013 Beast of the East

Photo from Slaughter Daughters Facebook page.Montreal Roller Derby’s Beast of the East is always my favourite time of the year, and this year’s was especially awesome. Not only did it fall on the ten-year anniversary of Texas Rollergirls’ historic first public bout, it also featured some of the best derby the tournament has ever seen, a testament to the strength of the sport in eastern Canada. And Rideau Valley’s Slaughter Daughters became the first team to win the tournament twice!

Relive the tournament here!

Nerd Glasses

Dollmination

The Betties join the Dolls (with the Boot) for a post game photo. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Betties join the Dolls (with the Boot) for a post game photo. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Death Track Dolls capped a dominant year in Toronto Roller Derby by winning their first ever championship, topping the Smoke City Betties in the 2013 Battle for the Boot.

It was the first championship final for the Dolls, and the first for the Betties since 2009. Despite two shots at the Boot, the Betties now are the only home team not to raise it.

Read about the Year of the Doll!

Nerd Glasses

The 2013 Clam Slam

Circle City's Trudy Bauchery (skating for the Diggers) battles Montreal's Nameless Whorror and ToRD's Nasher the Smasher. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Circle City’s Trudy Bauchery (skating for the Diggers) battles Montreal’s Nameless Whorror and ToRD’s Nasher the Smasher. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Toronto Roller Derby teamed up with GTA Rollergirls – GTAR to put on the fifth annual Clam Slam! A double header for the first time, the second game was truly an all star game featuring skaters from ToRD, GTAR, Montreal Roller Derby, Naptown Roller Girls, DC Rollergirls, Tri-City Roller Girls, and more! And it showed on the track in a phenomenal game!

Read the recap here.

Nerd Glasses

Canadian teams take over the WFTDA Playoffs

Gotham won its fourth WFTDA title, but their opponents stole the show.

Gotham won its fourth WFTDA title, but their opponents stole the show.

From Tri-City Thunder’s oh-so-close (not to mention incredibly controversial) loss in the D2 playoffs, to Montreal’s highest-ever ranking, to Vancouver and Toronto’s scene stealing turns in their respective divisional playoffs, it was a banner year for Canadian roller derby on the highest stage to sport has to offer.

Topping it all off, of course, was one of the most surprising and thrilling WFTDA Championship tournaments ever, and certainly the most competitive since 2010 when, first, the B.A.D Girls took Gotham to the limit in the semis and then Texas continued to push the champs to a new level in the final.

Read the championship tournament recap here.

Read about Toronto’s run in Divisionals here.

Read about Terminal City’s run in Divisionals here.

Read about Montreal’s play in Divisionals here.

Nerd Glasses

So there it is, some of the nerdiest moments of 2013.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks for general and specific previews of 2014!

ToRD’s 2014 Entry Draft Defined by Experience

ToRD BannerThere could be another massive shift in power in Toronto Roller Derby next season as defending champs, the Death Track Dolls, had the biggest night of the 2014 entry draft, pulling a league-high eight new skaters to its roster from another impressive draft pool made up of a mix of homegrown D-VAS, some very impressive transfers, and some who were a little bit of both.

It’s consistently becoming a bigger challenge to gain entry onto one of ToRD’s four houseleague teams as play in the league reaches new heights: the recent success of Toronto’s charter team CN Power in the WFTDA playoffs will only make this league a bigger destination than it already is. Along with at least a half dozen skaters who learned the sport in some of Toronto’s less competitive and low contact leagues such as the Rollergettes, Toronto Loco and the GTA Rollergirls, this draft features skaters from as far away as Halifax and Vancouver, but also a number from closer leagues as well, such as Royal City (Guelph) and DRRD (Durham Region Roller Derby).

So while there will be a lot of new faces in ToRD next season (21 new skaters were chosen in the draft), don’t expect the level of play to drop at all.

Chicks Ahoy! logo

Chicks Ahoy!

Hyena Koffinkat

Rebel Rock-It

Sneaky Dee

Wheels of Misfortune

Three-time ToRD champs, Chicks Ahoy! are in the midst of a fairly massive rebuild. There wasn’t a lot of off-season change, which will be good for continuity, and with one of their draft picks, they nabbed former Chick, Rebel Rock-It, who brings a ton of experience in her return to houseleague play. They also managed to grab highly touted prospect Sneaky Dee (a standout with the D-VAS this season and already one of the speediest skaters in the league), and Durham Region’s veteran skater Wheels of Misfortune. Finally, Hyena Koffinkat transfers to Toronto from Vancouver, where she just completed her rookie season and could be ready to jump right into the Chicks’ jammer rotation.

Gore-Gore Rollergirls logo

Gore-Gore Rollergirls

Francesca Fiure

Guardian Paingel

Lumberjack Flash

Machu Beatchu

Moose Knuckles

The Gore-Gore Rollergirls are the team that never seems to rebuild. Rumours of their imminent collapse in 2012 proved to be premature as they roared back to finish second in the regular season before falling to the Betties in the semifinals. With five spots open, the team has filled those spots with experience across the board. Francesca Fiure transfers from Royal City (she is also a coach with Toronto Men’s Roller Derby), while Machu Beatchu, one of Eastern Canada’s top players, moves in from Halifax, and finally, Guardian Paingel is one of two skaters to have transferred from Vancouver’s Terminal City Roller Girls. Lumberjack Flash is also a local transfer who spent nearly a full season with the D-VAS this year, proving to be a physcial jammer. And finally, homegrown skater and D-VAS vet Moose Knuckles will don the leopard print when she debuts in ToRD’s houseleague.

Smoke City Betties Logo

Smoke City Betties

Babushkill

Darth Kater

Honey Boom Boom

Jam’herhead Shark

Jenny Specter

Whackedher

After making their second ToRD final last season (and first since 2009), the Smoke City Betties look to build on an up-and-down season and create a little more consistency in 2013, and with the Dolls slipping in to a mini rebuild, this could be the season for the Betties to finally raise the Boot.

The Betties picked up two skaters who are coming off of mini-sabbaticals. Whackedher was a rising prospect on the D-VAS two years ago before taking some time to travel; she returned this season and had great success with the farm team. Similarly Darth Kater was one of Durham Region’s brightest stars before also taking some time to see the world in 2013; she returned just in time for last year’s Gibson’s Cup (DRRD houseleague championship) before transferring in the off season. Babushkill is another rising star who recently had to take some time off and returned stronger than ever, while Honey Boom Boom has been turning heads in Toronto for a few years now and was key on the D-VAS in 2013. Finally Jenny Specter earned her stripes in Toronto Loco before stepping it up another competitive level, and Jam’herhead Shark is a homegrown rookie.

death track dolls logo

The Death Track Dolls

Aston Martini

Bloc Québécois

Devochka

Free Range Clam

Hanibelle

Sleeper Hold

Stringer Belle

Wheatabitch

The Death Track Dolls suffered massive roster change in the off-season, including the retirement or sabbatical of some key veteran skaters and the promotion of three skaters to CN Power.  The strength of the draft is evident in the Dolls strong pick ups despite selecting last in each round. The skater who will undoubtedly have the biggest immediate impact is former Gore-Gore Rollergirl and CN Power skater Aston Martini, who returns after taking a season off (she is also a member of the 2014 Bay Street Bruisers as well). However, there is a lot of depth in this group as well. Devochka is coming off of a strong season in Durham Region where she was a key member of the Durham Devils travel team. Hanibelle and Free Range Clam have a lot of experience in Toronto derby as well. Finally, Sleeper Hold (from Toronto Loco) and D-VAS-developed Wheatabitch, and local transfer Stringer Belle round out the new Dolls’ lineup.

The Dolls also picked up an impressive internal transfer from the Gores, seven year vet Junkie Jenny, who will also continue play on the Bay Street Bruisers this season.

**Keep your eyes on Toronto Roller Derby.com for updates on what promises to be an incredible 2014 season in ToRD!