2010 toronto roller derby championship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ToRD Championships: The Battle for the Boot

#2 Chicks Ahoy! (3-1) vs. #1 Gore-Gore Rollergirls (4-0)

In the future, when people look back at the early history of ToRD, no two teams will feature more prominently than the Gore-Gore Rollergirls and the Chicks Ahoy!. On Saturday, November 13, 2010, these two teams will meet in the ToRD Championship for the third time in four years. The defending champion Gores will be looking for some measure of revenge this year: that loss to the Chicks in the 2008 final marked the only time they failed to win the title  and was also the last time they suffered a defeat in ToRD play, regular season or playoffs. The Chicks, on the other hand, are still looking to regain their championship form.

These two teams have had far different seasons. A team stacked with vets, the Chicks started slow in 2010 with unfocused exhibition showings at the Beast of the East and in Tri-City. The Gores started 2010 where they left off 2009, finishing fourth in the annual Montreal tournament (and first among the non-MTLRD teams), and then opening the season with a dominant victory over the Smoke City Betties to set the tone for the campaign. The Chicks certainly came together as the season went on, rounding into shape at just the right time and saving their best games of the season for the end (including an impressive win over the Death Track Dolls in the semifinals). The Gores completed their second straight undefeated season winning each game by no less than 44 points.

This is the 3rd time the Gores and the Chicks have battled for the boot. (Tara Part and Dust Bunny in a 2009 bout at George Bell Arena)

THE OPPONENTS
While these two teams boast a majority of the members of ToRD’s all-star team, CN Power, they are not exactly uniform in their styles. The Chicks have spent this season focusing on their pack play, and refining the defense that has taken them so far in the past. After a disorganized beginning to the season, the Chicks pack tightened up as it went on and was the difference in their last two victories. Fast moving front walls, and deadly slow back ones (with a heavy hitter lurking on the margins ready to strike) typify their game.

The Gores have a deep arsenal of jammers and that dictates their style of play. Great individual blockers free up space and control pace through disrupting the strategies of their opponents: look for pivots and strikers to crack holes in the Chicks’ walls while the more positionally minded follow through and aid their jammers. The Chicks have shown an ability to adapt this season, while the Gores have been (for the most part) comfortably dictating play. This could come together in an interesting clash over the shape and direction of the championship bout.

Nasher the Smasher is once again one of the top pivots in the league.

THE MATCHUP

In terms of experience, no ToRD team can measure up against the Chicks Ahoy!. After an “off” 2009 (by their own high standards) in which they often looked undisciplined and a step-or-two behind the competition, the Chicks have stormed back in 2010. The pack play has been the leading aspect of the team’s improvement this season, and that transformation has been led by their talented pivots. Veteran pivots Rebel Rock-It and Nasher the Smasher are as good a one-two punch at the front of the pack as the league can deliver and both have had exceptional seasons. Hoff and Hum Dinger have also been predictably reliable this season, and Mega Bouche has been her usual devastating self. The inspirational return of Tara Part has only added more experience to an already deep pack, and stand out-rookie Marmighty looks extremely comfortable on the track. Triple Threats Mach Wheels and Dyna Hurtcha have been in and out of the lineup all season, but are in game shape right now and with Candy Crossbones in form as well, this marks the first time all three of these jammers will be available in the same bout this year.

The Gore-Gore Rollergirls did not have the same stability in their lineup as the Chicks did, incorporating a handful of rookies while at the same time making space for the return of two vets, Foxy Sinatra and original Toronto rollergirl Kandy Barr. But with such a stable core and solid leadership (including long-time manager Reverend Ramirez), the rookies have not looked out of place this season. The athletic Hurlin’ Wall has stood out in large part because of the ease with which she carries herself on the track: a strong positional blocker, her timing has been improving as well, and she’s more and more capable of making the big hit. Santa Muerte, Aston Martini and Gamma Rei have also looked strong in pack, and Pinky Violence’s role as a potential depth jammer became more defined in the semi-finals. But this is a team that is built around a solid core of more-than-capable vets. Junky Jenny and Molly Boom are steady presences with the stripe, while Lady Gagya has continued her rise as an effective striking blocker. The emergence of Brim Stone as a triple-threat has given the Gores a reliable weapon to complement the amazing jammer trio of Dust Bunny, Bambi and Lunchbox.

Expect Chicks' triple threat Mach Wheels and Gores' pivot Molly Boom to have more than a few battles

THE OUTCOME

At the beginning of 2010, it didn’t look like any team could compete with the defending-champion Gores, but as the season progressed there have been some signs of vulnerability in the seemingly impervious Gores’ game play. The Dolls dominated large swathes of the first half of their August bout, and the Chicks controlled the pack, and therefore the play, in isolated parts of their bout against the Gores in July. Also, the Chicks don’t look anything like the team that stumbled out of the gates at the start of the season. They also had the stiffer, more challenging test in the semis in a hard-fought bout against the Dolls, while the Gores had a comparatively easier time with the Betties.

It could come down to how well the teams respond to the atmosphere at The Hangar. Raucous and involved on a regular night, the sell-out crowd surrounding the track, coupled with the bright lights of the TV cameras and expanded media presence at the championship, will put a level of pressure on these clubs that has yet to be experienced at a ToRD championship. While almost all of the Chicks have experienced this big-game pressure (and mostly together), it remains to be seen how the Gores’ rookies will hold up. However it plays out, one thing is for certain: this is a bout that will live up to all historic expectations.

The defending champion Gore-Gore Rollergirls are looking for their 3rd ToRD championship.

Doors at The Hangar open at 6:30pm on Saturday, November 13, 2010. Bout time is 7:30.

Word on the track is that available tickets are few and far between. Online tickets sold out in record time last week, and a few ticket outlets are reporting sell-outs too, so call ahead.

If you can’t get tickets, don’t despair! For the first time in ToRD history, The Battle for the Boot will be televised. A bout replay will air on Rogers TV on Saturday, December 4, at 8:00pm.