Bambi

A Look Back at 10 Seasons of ToRD

ToRD 2016 Season Opener Banner

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

Bruisers Betties 2007 Angela Hayes

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

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

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

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

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

Gore-Gore Rollergirls logo

Gore-Gore Rollergirls

Total Regular Season Record: 24-5

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

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

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

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

Chicks Ahoy! logo

Chicks Ahoy!

Total Regular Season Record: 16-13

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

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

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

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

Death Track Dolls Logo

Death Track Dolls

Total Regular Season Record: 15-14

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

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

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

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

Smoke City Betties Logo

Smoke City Betties

Total Regular Season Record: 9-20

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

Battle for the Boot Championships: 1 (2015)

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

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

 Nerd Glasses

TORONTO ROLLER DERBY RECORDS AND STATS HISTORY

Gores Betties 09 Kevin

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

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

ToRD Team Records

Points Per Game/Season: Dolls 237 (2013)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Individual Scoring Records

Career Points

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

*Dust Bunny (GGR)

*Candy Crossbones (CA!)

Lexi Con (GGR)

Taranosaurus Rex (GGR)

*Lunchbox (GGR)

*Land Shark (DTD)

titmouse (SCB)

*Jewel Kicker (SCB)

Sleeper Hold (DTD)

*Desmond Deck (GGR)

986

896

640

479

392

373

372

354

344

326

304

2007-2012

2007-2012

2007-2012

2013-Present

2013-2015

2008-2010

2008-2011

2010-Present

2007-2009

2014-Present

2007-2008

Lead Percentage (Season)

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

Mach Wheels (CA!)

Bellefast (DTD)

Lunchbox (GGR)

Lexi Con (GGR)

Mach Wheels (CA!)

Dyna Hurtcha (CA!)

Dust Bunny (GGR)

Dust Bunny (GGR)

Candy Crossbones (CA!)

88%

78%

77%

76%

76%

75%

74%

72%

72%

70%

2013

2009

2014

2010

2013

2010

2011

2010

2011

2009

 Points Per Jam (Season)

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

Sneaky Dee (CA!)

Candy Crossbones (CA!)

Lexi Con (GGR)

Sleeper Hold(DTD)

Santilly In Yo Face (DTD)

Bellefast (DTD)

Ice Pick (D-VAS)

Desmond Deck Her (GGR)

Bambi (GGR)

Bala Reina (CA!)

8.0

6.0

5.5

6.0

5.8

5.6

5.3

5.3

5.2

5.1

5.0

2013

2014

2007

2013

2015

2013

2014

2007

2007

2010

2012

Highest Points in a Single Season

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

Lexi Con (GGR)

Sleeper Hold (DTD)

*Dust Bunny (GGR)

*Sista Fista (DTD)

Bala Reina (CA!)

Santilly In Yo Face (DTD)

Rainbow Fight (DTD)

Bambi (GGR)

Smoka Cola (SCB)

286

228

228

227

218

211

211

200

197

183

2008

2013

2015

2008

2008

2012

2013

2013

2010

2015

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

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ToRD Travel Teams Kick off 2014 Season with High Expectations

2014 CN Power

CNP 2014 by ezio+ian

This weekend, CN Power will kick off its 2014 season with an intriguing exhibition game against the non-ToRD members of Team Ontario (the provincial team will actually be calling up some of its “second team” members to fill out the roster). All in all, 21 members of Team Ontario will take part in the bout at the Bunker on Saturday.

The Set-up

2013 was a banner year for Toronto Roller Derby’s CN Power. It was a slow-build sort of season, beginning with some big wins over the likes of Killamazoo and Fort Wayne but some setbacks as well, such as a stunning loss to Rideau Valley Vixens at QCC. In the end, it all seemed for the best as the team slowly rounded into form, culminating in a playoff-clinching two-point victory on the road in Bleeding Heartland (which was followed by a stunning 301-98 deconstruction of a former D1 team in Milwaukee). And then, of course, the run in Salem.

Read Beck Wise's Boston vs. Toronto game recap on Derby News Network (featuring photos by Donalee Eiri)

Click on photo to read Beck Wise’s Boston vs. Toronto playoff recap on Derby News Network (featuring photos by Donalee Eiri)

Having just watched Terminal City go on a surprising run in their own Divisional tournament, Toronto, ranked last in their 10-team playoff field, continued where Vancouver left off and pulled off playoff upsets of their own: a 215-90 take down over Sacred City (Sacramento), and eventually an even bigger upset over the historic Boston Derby Dames 204-198. Even their quarterfinal loss to Atlanta was a stunner; their hard fought 219-171 loss surpassing even the wildest of expectations.

CN Power finished 2013 9-8 in sanctioned play (counting playoffs) and 10-8 overall. They are currently ranked 29th in the WFTDA and 2nd in Canada.

But CN Power’s (and ToRD’s) success also spilled out into other venues as well. Joining Bay Street Bruiser Bench Coach Flyin’ Bryan Killman on Team Canada are five members of CN Power. ToRD’s top travel team also dominates the Team Ontario roster with eight members (one, Bambi, has since retired).

The Roster

Given the incredible success and growth of the team in 2013, arguably the most important aspect of the 2014 roster is the lack of change. 17 of the 20 skaters from the 2013 roster return. In addition, the replacements—all graduates of ToRD’s B-team program—don’t represent a drop off in talent. Ames to Kill (who was a call-up for the playoffs last season), Scarcasm, and national team member Rainbow Fight are all game ready and were essential parts of the on-track leadership core of the Bay Street Bruisers last season. Ames and Scar provide strong pack depth for a team loaded with some of the best blockers in the country (including Team Canada’s Nasher the Smasher and Dyna Hurtcha), while Rainbow Fight is an incredibly talented triple-threat who should be able to fit in wherever she is needed.

CN Power will have to contend with the loss of leading scorer Bambi (seen here against Ohio at QCC 2014). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

CN Power will have to contend with the loss of leading scorer Bambi (seen here jamming against Ohio at QCC 2014). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Rainbow will undoubtedly spend some time with the star, helping to fill out an impressive offensive roster that will need to make up for the retirement of ToRD’s all-time leading scorer Bambi, who retired in the off season. In the playoffs last year Bambi finished with a 50% lead percentage while scoring 258 points on 5.5 points per jam. While Rainbow will be looked upon to pick up some of this slack, the rest of the jammer core remains in place. Fellow Team Canada members Bala Reina (202, 5.3, 45% in the playoffs) and Dusty (126, 3.8, 33%) remain, while the rest of the rotation will be filled out by Motorhead Molly (59, 1.7, 37%), Kookie Doe (who missed the end of the season due to injury) and Candy Crossbones and Dyna Hurtcha (both of whom will probably spend the majority of their time in the pack).

CN Power’s new captains are long-time ToRD vets and former Chicks Ahoy! teammates Nasher the Smasher and Tara Part. Rounding out the pack are playoff standouts BruiseBerry Pie, Renny Rumble and Jubilee, but there is astonishing depth as well as Mega Mouth, Betty Bomber, Panty Hoser, Lady Gagya, Santa Muerte, and Mia Culprit all return for the 2014 season.

After the retirement of long-time Bench Coach His Unholiness the Reverend Ramirez in the off season, former 709 Derby Girls Coach (and currently with the Smoke City Betties) Wade Wheelson joins veteran Bench Manager Sonic Doom on the bench in 2014.

***Catch CN Power in preseason action this Saturday at The Bunker against Team Ontario, in the provincial team’s first ever game. Doors open at 5:00 PM, opening whistle at 6:00 PM. Tickets available online or at various downtown outlets.

2014 Bay Street Bruisers

Photo by Ashlea Wessel (ashleaw.com)

This weekend, while their big sisters are hosting Team Ontario, ToRD’s B-travel team, the Bay Street Bruisers, will be hitting the road and heading to Bloomington, Indiana, to take part in the 4th annual B-Cup tournament featuring eight B-teams, seven representing D1 teams and the 8th from Tri-City (ranked 4th in D2 and on the verge of making the leap into the top division).

The Set-up

Toronto Roller Derby has one of the deepest programs in Canadian roller derby, and a key to that depth is the Bay Street Bruisers. Since taking shape as ToRD’s B-travel team for the 2012 season, the Bruisers have compiled a remarkable 14-3 record. In 2013, the Bruisers continued their success in Canada and began travelling with CN Power south of the border as well. Last year they  notched wins over B-teams from Ohio, Bleeding Heartland, Killamazoo, Brew City and Montreal among others.

The Bruisers defeated the Montreal Sexpos in August. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Bruisers defeated the Montreal Sexpos in August. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Their losses last season came against Rideau Valley’s Slaughter Daughters (who were the top ranked house league team in Canada) and the A-level Misfit Militia, both incredibly talented teams. Arguably, the most important win of the season came against Montreal’s Sexpos (162-101) in a showdown between the nation’s top two B-teams. It was a game loaded with pressure as the Bruisers faced the B-team from Canada’s top league: a B-team that only two years before had nearly beaten CN Power.

The Bruisers finished 2013 with an 8-2 record and are currently the 9th ranked team (and top B-team) in Canada.

The Roster

The Bruisers went through a major off-season transition as a group of new skaters took over the reigns from the first generation. Captained by veteran jammer (and third-year Bruiser) Bellefast and Just Jes (the returning skater formerly known as Aston Martini), the Bruisers do have a returning core of skaters to build around. In the pack, veterans like Robber Blind, Junkie Jenny, Kandy Barr, Biggley Smallz and Misery Mae remain with the team, while Tushy Galore and former captain Chronic return to the fold after single-season hiatuses (they were a dominant duo on the track together in their first stints with the team).

Chronic (left) and Tushy Galore will be reunited on the Bruisers after helping the team win the 2012 RDAC Easterns. (Photo by Neil Gunner).

Chronic (left) and Tushy Galore will be reunited on the Bruisers after helping the team win the 2012 RDAC Easterns. (Photo by Neil Gunner).

As for the offense, jammer titmouse returns for a third season with the Bruisers, while Lexi Con returns after a breakout 2013 run, and Chevy Chase-Her will finally get to see some track time after injuries sidelined her last year. Finally, triple threat Getcha Kicks rounds out the returning skaters.

While there are a handful of new faces to the team, they bring with them a lot of experience. SewWhat? is in her second season with ToRD after stints with various leagues in Australia and the Rollergettes. Joss Wheelin, Android W.K. and LowBlow Palooza are all also second year skaters with ToRD; all three developed through he D-VAS system. ToRD rookies Honey Boom Boom and Sneaky Dee may be in their first year in the league but had successful seasons with the D-VAS in 2013 and had both played with the Rollergettes before that, so bring a lot of track experience with them. And finally, Matchu Beatchu transferred from Halifax in the off season and already has one ToRD houseleague game under her belt.

Flyin’ Bryan Killman, part of Team Canada’s management team, returns for his second year on the Bruisers’ bench.

***The B-Cup tournament will be boutcast on DNN. The Bruisers kick things off against Nashville at 11:30 AM on Saturday. You can view the boutcast schedule here.

Double Header Preview: Gores vs. Dolls / CN Power hosts Queen City

Dolls substitute Land Shark skates against the Gores' Bambi in the Dolls 2008 regular-season win. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Gore-Gore Rollergirls (0-1) vs. The Death Track Dolls (1-0)

You have to look way back to find the last (and only) time that the Death Track Dolls defeated the Gore-Gore Rollergirls. It was August 19th, 2008, when the Dolls took down the Gores 112-93; it was a game that allowed the Dolls to clinch second place in the regular season standings. The bout was not without controversy. In 2008, ToRD was still running a six-team homeleague and resources were spread thin. For this final regular season game of the season, the Dolls borrowed two substitutes from the D-VAS and one from the Bruisers to fill out the roster. One substitute skater in particular—D-VAS rookie Land Shark—would have a big impact on the game, ending up being named the game’s MVP. Although shrouded in controversy, the three subs (Land Shark and Seka Destroy from the D-VAS, Monichrome from the Bruisers) would all, ironically, end up as part of the Dolls in the dispersal draft following the 2008 season and the contraction of two of the six hometeams.

The Dolls kicked off 2012 with a victory over the Smoke City Betties. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Jumping ahead to April 2012 and much has changed. When these two teams meet on Saturday some of the skaters dressed for the bout were there four years ago, but many new faces have arrived. And after dominating ToRD for five seasons (winning three championships along the way), it is the Gores who now find themselves looking for their first win of the season and the Dolls (the only home team never to appear in a championship game) sitting atop the tight ToRD standings.  If there is a time for the Dolls to change this four-year losing streak, that time could be now.

Over the past two season the Death Track Dolls have done a good job of redefining their team, and have brought in an exciting crop of rookies. They’ll be dressing three rookies on Saturday (Ames to Kill, Bellefast and UpHer Cut), not to mention a handful of second-year skaters. The Gore-Gore Rollergirls, on the other hand, are a team that has not changed much over the past few years (a stretch that included a 12-game winning streak), and still feature a high-powered offense led by two of the league’s top jammers in Bambi and Dust Bunny. The Dolls have been jamming by committee so far this season with upwards of six skaters capable of wearing the star (which is the number they used in their season opener).

Following a twelve game winning streak, the Gores have lost two games in a row for the first time. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The most interesting battle could be in the pack. Skating without Brim Stone (something that the Gores have never had to contend with before) and former rookie of the year Hurlin’ Wall, there is a gap in the pack that the Dolls could take advantage of. Then again, it could just be an opportunity for other skaters to step up. There is no shortage of veteran Gores to step up and either pivot or take on a larger role in the pack. Along with captains Kandy Barr and Lady Gag-Ya, Santa Muerte, Chronic, Foxy Sinatra, Junkie Jenny and Molly Boom are all more than capable on-track leaders. Gamma Rei is always on the verge of a major breakout. But this opportunity could have the greatest effect on a few skaters still looking to make their marks. Miss Kitty La Peur has upped her training this season, and for Emma Dilemma, Mace  O’Kissed and Draculaura, the time has never been better to step up and take on a critical role for the team.

As for the Dolls, Betty Bomber, Sinead O’Clobber, Jubilee and newly emerged triple threat Panty Hoser remain on-track leaders the  for the team, but with Downright Dirty Dawson, Lucid Lou and Speedin Hawking filling out a very experienced pack line up, there aren’t too many holes for the Dolls to fill. Second-year skaters Kat Atomic and Rhage in a Cage have an opportunity to step up here, and rookie Ames to Kill is quickly emerging as a threat in the pack. UpHer Cut will be making her ToRD regular season debut, but with pack experience from her days as a D-VAS, has the potential to make an impact right away.

The Dolls and Gores will be facing off in the second half of the double header.

Lake Effect Furies (2-4,  15th East) vs. CN Power (4-0, 17thNorth Central)

CN Power is undefeated so far in 2012, including four in a row at home starting with the Roc City Roc Stars. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Queen City’s Lake Effect Furies (Buffalo) and ToRD’s CN Power  have been comparatively busy early in the 2012 WFTDA season, as both teams press for a playoff spot. The host CN Power has burst out of the gates so far in 2012 thoroughly dominating  lower-ranked competition (Hammer City), while looking impressive in wins over similarly ranked teams (Roc City, Tri-City) and teams ranked above them (Fort Wayne).  Counting a non-sanctioned win over the Rideau Valley Vixens, CN Power is on a five-game winning streak to kick off 2012 (and six overall dating back to a 2011 season-ending victory over Derby City). These victories probably will help them jump to 14th in the the North Central.

The Furies may not have had quite the success yet in 2012, but they have been facing some stiff competition so far squaring off solely against teams ranked above them in the WFTDA standings.  Buffalo’s two wins have been minor upsets against Connecticut (14th East) and Suburbia  (12th E), while their losses have been to DC Rollergirls (11th), Maine (10th), and Charm City (3rd). So taking into account their competition, the Furies record is actually quite impressive and realistically places them firmly in 12th in the region.

The Furies defeated CN Power at the Bunker in August 2010. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

This will be the third meeting between these two teams since August 2010. The Furies took that first one in Toronto 110-79, while CN Power took some measure of revenge in Buffalo this past September, taking a close one 139-129. Both teams currently hold a similar position in their respective Regions: up-and-comers on the verge of the playoffs. Yet as recent Furies and CN Power losses to Maine and Grand Raggidy (respectively) show, there is still some work to be done. But not much, and each WFTDA game that these two teams play now is vitally critical to their playoff aspirations.

NOTE: CN Power will be playing its first game without Brim Stone, who is taking an indefinite hiatus from the sport. Brim has been an instrumental part in putting together this CN Power team and

CN Power will be without long-time captain Brim Stone. (Photo by Todd Burgess)

getting it to the level that it is at. While it remains to be seen what the impact of this loss will have on CN Power, the team that Brim so carefully helped construct is one that is built around a deep bench and a strong, ever-evolving core. For ToRD fans, it will undoubtedly be an emotional moment to see a CN Power team line up without its long-time captain, but through the training and leadership she provided, her influence will most definitely be felt.

**Doors at The Bunker open at 5:00 PM; first whistle is at 6:00 PM. Tickets are available online or at various outlets downtown.

Ahoy! Ahoy! Chicks Build Early Lead and Hold On For Win Over Gores

The three-time champion Gores and two-time champion Chicks kicked off ToRD's 2012 season. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Kicking off its sixth season in front of a sold out crowd at The Bunker (the first Toronto Roller Derby league game held in the venue), ToRD’s 2012 regular season rematch between last year’s championship finalists did not disappoint. The Chicks Ahoy! and Gore-Gore Rollergirls looked in mid-season form in an exceptional display of high level flat track roller derby that saw the champs build an early lead and hold on against a resurgent Gores who, of course, refused to give up. Although penalty troubles would end up being the difference, tight, fast packs, slick jamming and excellent on-track communication would highlight this 13 point victory by the defending champion Chicks Ahoy!.

Exposive jamming by Bambi had the Gores jump out to an early lead. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Although it’s been nearly six months since last season ended, both of these teams are stacked with travel team skaters (fourteen members of CN Power alone would play in this bout) who have been skating (and bouting) steadily since the end of last season, so some of the rust you might expect to see in regular season opener was not evident. The opening jam featured an all star lineup with Brim Stone (Gores) and Nasher the Smasher pivoting their team’s top lines. CN Power teammates Dyna Hurtcha (Chicks) and Dust Bunny lined up with the stars. Some nice blocking early (including a big Mega Bouche hit on Brim), had the Chicks jump out to a 5-0 lead. The Gores responded quickly; with 2011 JQ ratings leader Bambi facing off against 2011 rookie of the year Kookie Doe. A fast, tight Gores pack recycled Kookie while Lady Gagya provided some excellent offensive help in springing Bambi for a massive pick up and a 16-5 Gores’ lead. The score would hold up five minutes in with Dust Bunny and Dyna Hurtcha battling to a stalemate despite physical jamming from Dyna (who absorbed blows to fight through packs) and quick juking from Dust Bunny.

The Gores' Santa Muerte and Chicks' Bala Reina rounded out their teams' jammer rotations. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Only 24 hours before, Chicks Ahoy! learned that jammer Candy Crossbones was out due to injury, which meant that second-year skater Bala Reina was slotted into the jammer rotation. This worked out well for the Gores who were also looking to develop their own jammer rotation and had third year skater Santa Muerte in place. This provided an intriguing matchup in the early going, and both skaters impressed in the busiest games (jamming) of their careers. In the first part of the half, the Gores had control of the bout, and big hitting from veteran Foxy Sinatra (who tangled with Tara Part early on), great blocking from Chronic (who was calm and controlled on second passes all night), and Aston Martini stepping up to neutralize Mega Bouche had the Gores clearly in the driver’s seat, up 23-7 ten minutes in. But with a lineup peppered with rookies (due to the Candy injury, the Chicks had all three of their rookies dressed—Roadside BombShel, Doris Doomsday and Biggley Smallz), it took some time for the Chicks to settle into this bout. But if any jam could be said to be a turning point, it happened about half way through the first half.

The deep Chicks' packs were the difference early on as the defending champs built a lead. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Down 16 and unable to muster much offense, Tara Part orchestrated a nice first pass that completely caught the Gores off guard, and with both she and Marmighty hammering away on Dust Bunny, Bala Reina was able to score 4 quick points. Two jams later, relentless pressure from Nasher the Smasher earned the Chicks a power jam, ably skated by Kookie who managed 20 points and gave the Chicks their first lead of the bout, 33-28, a lead they increased steadily in the final ten minutes of the half as the Gores slipped into some penalty troubles. With about two minutes remaining, Dyna Hurtcha blew the bout wide open on another power jam. Chicks led 79-32 at the half.

Chicks' rookies Doris Doomsday and Roadside BombShel showed no fear in taking on one of ToRD's greatest jammers. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The penalty problems continued into the second half, eventually affecting both teams. Santa and Kookie traded jammer penalties early on as both teams struggled to keep control of the bout. While tight walls and well-executed traps had the Chicks seemingly dominating the packs (they looked to be targeting Brim Stone to isolate), they failed to increase their lead, and ten minutes in held the 40 point gap, 95-54. Continuing to trade penalties, the increasingly undisciplined nature of the bout was playing to the Chicks advantage and they did well to limit damage on a Bambi power jam mid way through before she ran into some penalty troubles herself, penalties that allowed the Chicks to continue to maintain the gap. But despite their strong play (including an increasingly improved rookie performance from Roadside BombShel), they couldn’t shake the Gores, and tightened packs (including great pairs work by Molly Boom and Chronic, and then Foxy Sinatra and Brim Stone), and an unrelenting focus kept the Gores within reach. Although down 128-89 with ten minutes left, the crowd in the Bunker buzzed with the awareness of a subtle shift in momentum.

Chicks' jammer Kookie Doe pressured the Gores long enough to secure the victory in the final jam. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Dust Bunny picked up a quick five points to bring the Gores within reach of the century mark. Then, in a key moment, a controversial call on a direction of game play hit by Mega Bouche led to a gross misconduct and expulsion of the popular blocker and the Gores jumped at the opportunity. Following great blocking from Hurlin Wall (who delivered a key late jammer take out on Dyna Hurtcha), Bambi slipped through to bring the Gores over the century mark. Dust Bunny and Bambi both continued to ring up points, slowly chipping away at the lead until they found themselves within 20 for the first time since the first half with only one jam to go. Dust Bunny and  Kookie Doe lined up for the final jam behind two packs featuring some of the best skaters in ToRD; it started off perfectly for the Gores, with Dust Bunny gaining lead and pulling in a natural grand slam to make it 137-120, but before she could get through on her second pass, Kookie Doe fought through the pack. Continuously recycled, she was unable to score and Dust Bunny managed another 4; but with Kookie set to eventually pick up points of her own, the Gores simply ran out of time, allowing the defending champs to hold on to the lead and win the opening bout of the 2012 season, 137-124.

The 137-124 win was the Chicks' first ever regular season victory over the Gores. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

While it was a great victory for Chicks Ahoy!, the Gore-Gore Rollergirls should come away pleased with their performance (they did not look like the overwhelmed team they appeared to be in the Battle for the Boot). Nonetheless, counting an off-season exhibition loss in Tri-City, The Gores have now lost three games in a row for the first time ever. With an excellent core of skaters, the Gores do have the time and opportunity to build from within, which is what they began to do tonight with the likes of Emma Dilemma and Santa Meurte getting key minutes. The Chicks had to be happy to have had the opportunity to play all of their rookies and feature a new jammer in Bala Reina. Despite trailing off a bit at the end of the game, it was a nearly perfect start to the season for the defending champions.

***Next up for ToRD is another double header on March 3rd when the Death Track Dolls and the Smoke City Betties kick off their 2012 season. Make sure to be their early though, as the opening bout will feature CN Power hosting the Roc City Roc Stars from Rochester, New York, in a WFTDA sanctioned match up. Tickets are on sale now!***