Beaver Mansbridge

Gores Clinch Top Spot in ToRD Standings with Win Over Chicks; Woodstock Tops DVAS

This was the fourth straight victory for the Gores over the Chicks dating back to 2012. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

This was the fourth straight victory for the Gores over the Chicks dating back to 2012. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

For the eighth time in nine years, the Gore-Gore Rollergirls will be battling for the boot as participants in Toronto Roller Derby’s annual championship game, but now the team that refers to itself as the Dynasty will have to wait to find out its opponents under ToRD’s new playoff system that will see the top team get what amounts to a two-round bye to the final. It has been an impressive run of consistency that has spanned generations and delivered three championships already. And if Saturday’s clockwork-like 152-point rout of Chicks Ahoy! is any indication, the Gores are far and away the team to beat this season.

Chicks' jammer Rosemary's Rabies sneaks past Murdercat! on the outside. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Chicks’ jammer Rosemary’s Rabies sneaks past Murdercat! on the outside. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Unlike their games against the Death Track Dolls and the Smoke City Betties where they were able to start well before fading, the Chicks were overwhelmed from the opening whistle against the Gores finding themselves down 11-0 three jams in. However, the Chicks did rebound briefly after that, picking up three straight leads beginning with a big pick up from Rosemary’s Rabies who seems to be slipping back into a jamming role on this Chicks’ team that lacks a bit of depth at the position and was missing a key jammer on Saturday in Wheels of Misfortune. Monster Muffin and R2 Smack-U followed that up with lead jammer pick ups of their own, a run that actually saw the Chicks take the lead 14-13. It was a short lived comeback.

The Gores picked up the first power jam of the game and went on a run centered on some nice offense from Jill ‘Em All that eventually saw the lead retaken and the expanded to 54-14 just over thirteen minutes into the half. It was evident early on that the Gores’ packs were running on a different level than those of the Chicks: the timing, execution and togetherness was exceptional, often overtly moving the Chicks packs around the track at will. This will be something that the Chicks will have to contend with moving forward, as skater-for-skater, there were some exceptional performances by players in green but as a whole they lacked cohesion.

By the midway point of half the Gores had completely wrestled control of the game away from the Chicks and after a third-straight power jam, had built a 63-14 lead. Two more power jams followed as the Chicks’ offense fell apart somewhat, forcing a focus on defense. CN Power skater Biggley Smallz was once again the standout for the Chicks, playing some heavy defense and engaging in some fantastic one-on-one battles with her CN Power counterpart Santa Muerte, while long-time vet Furious Georgia looked surprisingly comfortable on the track despite playing her first game in over a year. Rookie Vag Lightning was also excellent defensively, and some timely big hits at the back of the pack on rapidly advancing Gores’ jammers saved her point (and others) on more than one occasion. But these brief flashes of great defense didn’t translate to much offense and by the end of the half, the Gores had pulled comfortably ahead 102-21 (holding the Chicks to only 7 points over the final 20 minutes or so of the half).

Chicks' pivot Biggley Smallz oversees the pack. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Chicks’ pivot Biggley Smallz oversees the pack. (Photo by Joe Mac)

It should be noted that defensively, this was the best performance of the season for the Chicks, 219 points being the least amount they’d given up in three games on the year, but their 67 points was the lowest total of the season, although they did managed to nearly triple their score in the second half of this one. They got some very physical jamming from Hoff early and then Emraged later in the game (Em had another strong game for the Chicks and is emerging as a key skater at the core of this team) and R2 Smack-U and especially Monster Muffin had some fine moments. Early on in her ToRD career, Monster Muffin has shown some explosive skills and speed but also a penchant for some liberal play that has led to penalty troubles this season, but she is the obvious offensive lynchpin moving forward for the Chicks.

The Gores are slowly broadening their jammer rotation as well. Beaver Mansbridge continues to put together an incredible season for the Gores, whether in the pack or jamming, a dynamic duality also being displayed by Lexi Con, who is getting more time in the pack in 2015. Sophomore jammer Lumberjack Flash continues to develop, and on Saturday rookie Mudercat! shared a spot in the rotation with Taranosaurus Rex.

Although the Gores got a little sloppy defensively late in the game, they’d already amassed a considerable 155-38 lead at the midway point of the half and seemed to lock on the cruise control late, coasting to the 219-67 win and top spot in the regular season standings. This is the first time that the Gores have topped the standings since 2011, and it ends the two-year reign at the top by the Death Track Dolls. And under the new ToRD playoff system, this win books their spot in the June 6th Battle for the Boot.

However, despite finishing at the bottom of the standings, the Chicks will get a second chance under the new tiered playoff system. They will face the third place team (either the Dolls or Betties) in the 3vs4 quarterfinal on May 9th. This will mark the first time since 2010 that all four ToRD teams will qualify for the playoffs.

Nerd Glasses

Jail Mary looked impressive in her D-VAS debut. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Jail Mary looked impressive in her D-VAS debut. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The 2015 D-VAS also continued their development on Saturday night, facing another stiff test against a vastly more experienced team in the Woodstock Warriors. Led offensively by former Forest City jammer Slacker Smacker and current Royal City jammer Stefi Spitfire and defensively by Vegas, Wrench Bendin’ Betty, and Iron Fist (and featuring the return of former Forest City veteran Back Ally Sally), Woodstock overwhelmed the D-VAS in the first half. Although things started fairly tight (ten minutes in, the D-VAS were within reach, down 29-19), by the end of the first, Woodstock had jumped ahead considerably 130-28.

But for the D-VAS, success is marked not in victories, but in progress, and in those terms this game was a huge success. Although only two weeks removed from their season opener, the D-VAS looked like a different team from the one that lost to Orangeville to kick off 2015. Buoyed, in part, by the debut of London Middlesex Roller Derby transfer Jail Mary (who looked comfortable in both the star and the stripe), the D-VAS got the expected strong performance from Battering Maam, Francesca Fiure and GigaWatts; there were improved performances from jammer Ellen Rage and emerging double threats Noodle Kaboodle and Banshee (jammer Rubyfruit Rumble took a big hit late in the game and needed to be helped off the track by the paramedic and was favouring her ankle; something to keep an eye on as the D-VAS’ season picks up steam).

Overall, there were noticeable improvements on both offense and defense from the team, despite the 243-99 loss, and things certainly seem to be trending in the right direction for ToRD’s future stars.

D-VAS jammer Battering Maam attempts to bear the pack on the outside. (Photo by Greg Russell)

D-VAS jammer Battering Ma’am attempts to beat the pack on the outside. (Photo by Greg Russell)

***Next up for ToRD is the final regular season showdown of 2015 with second place and a bye to the semifinals on the line when the Dolls and the Betties face off on March 7. A game so important that it’s not even a double header.

Dolls, Gores Dominate in Season-closing Double Header

The Death Track Dolls were the last team in ToRD to never have Battled for the Boot. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Death Track Dolls were the last team in ToRD to never have Battled for the Boot. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

After six seasons, the Death Track Dolls are finally going to Battle for the Boot.

In a record-setting night, the Dolls entered their highly anticipated matchup against the Smoke City Betties with an opportunity to claim top spot in Toronto Roller Derby’s regular season and earn the all-important bye directly to the 2013 ToRD championships, and they did so in emphatic fashion, crushing the Betties 265-63 with what would turn out to be the second highest point total in league history; second to only the monstrous total the Gore-Gore Rollergirls were able to put  up in their 323-75 victory over the Chicks Ahoy!  in the regular season closer at the Bunker

Gores rookie Purple Pain and co-captain Kandy Barr contain Chicks rookie Mean Sreak. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Gores rookie Purple Pain and co-captain Kandy Barr contain Chicks rookie Mean Streak. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 323 vs. Chicks Ahoy! 75

Both teams entered their final games of the season missing key players, but as they have done for the past two seasons, the Gores defied the adversity they faced and simply overwhelmed the Chicks with stifling pack work and superior jamming. Both teams entered this season with significantly reworked rosters, but while the Gores maintained a broad core of veterans to build around (led by Santa Muerte, Chronic, Kandy Barr, Foxy Sinatra, Junkie Jenny), the Chicks were stripped down even barer than that, sporting ten new skaters on their roster. Add to that the early season losses of Roadside BombShel and Marmighty, and the focus of the season had to shift to building for the future.

The Gores took control early and never relented, and aside from a few moments late in the first half, were in complete control throughout. The turning point actually came early on. The opening jams were tight and fast with the Gores creeping out to a 3-0 lead, but then a 32 point jam (later corrected to 30) by Taranosaurus Rex (all on natural grand slams) made it 35-0 and essentially put the game out of reach.

Chicks rookies R2-Smack-U (right) and Smack Mia-Round work together to contain the Gores' Beaver Mansbridge. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Chicks rookies R2-Smack-U (right) and Smack Mia Round work together to contain the Gores’ Beaver Mansbridge. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Riding a steady stream of rookie jammers led by Kingston transfer BLackeyE, GTA transfer Rosemary’s Rabies (who had her strongest game for the Chicks and scored 24 out of 59 points in the first half), and rookies Heavy Knitter and Mean Streak, the Chicks ran into penalty troubles early and could never seem to get out of the cycle. The Gores, without Foxy Sinatra and Santa Muerta, looked to the remaining veterans for leadership and found it in spades. Riding a deep bench that included skaters Emma Dilemma and Gamma Rei, and supported by strong rookies Purple Pain and Full Deck, the Gores controlled the pack and on the strength of some phenomenal jamming (led at half by T-Rex’s 76 points), were in clear control at the break 174-59.

The second half started much the same as the first ended: strong play from the Gores paced by an excellent jammer rotation that is led by JQ leading Lexi Con, T-Rex and third-year skater R.I. Pink. The Gores held the Chicks to only 10 points over the opening ten minutes of the half and their relentless pack work kept the Chicks heading to the penalty box.

Gores jammer Taranosaurus Rex picked up 76 points in the first half. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Gores jammer Taranosaurus Rex picked up 76 points in the first half. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Missing key skaters Dyna Hurtcha, Kookie Doe  and Biggley Smallz, the defending champs rode veterans Robber Blind, Furious Georgia, Doris Doomsday and Tess D’Urb Evil, but the Chicks just did not have the depth of experience to compete. With so much track time and responsibility it wasn’t surprising that the vets eventually ended up in penalty trouble (Robber Blind fouled out late) which allowed the Chicks to give a ton of important track time to emerging rookies like R2-Smack-U, Joss Wheelin and Emraged who all seem to be thriving under the pressure.

The Gores needed some help from the Betties (that they didn’t get) to be able to compete for top spot in the league, but they certainly did their part and more in the victory (which set a record for highest point total in a game—it was the first time a ToRD house league team eclipsed the 300 point barrier), and will have to settle for second spot in the league and a berth in the ToRD semifinals. For the Chicks, an all-important rebuilding year comes to a close, and while it was a challenge for the three-time champs, with a base of emerging stars, the future looks bright.

ToRD scoring leader Santilly In Yo Face led another strong offensive performance from the Dolls. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

ToRD scoring leader Santilly In Yo Face led another strong offensive performance from the Dolls. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Smoke City Betties 63 vs. Death Track Dolls 265

The Dolls and Betties entered this showdown with a lot on the line: the Betties were looking to spoil the Dolls’ close-to-perfect season and throw the standings into turmoil, while the Dolls were looking to wrap up top spot. The tension was palpable at the start, and while neither team seemed hesitant after the opening whistle, neither team was able to shake the other over the opening twenty minutes of the half.

With jammer Bellefast out for the game, the Dolls slipped Rainbow Fight into the rotation with the league’s leading scorer Santilly In Yo’ Face and Getcha Kicks, and the trio dominated early. The Dolls kicked things off with seven-straight lead jams (and nine out of the first ten) but they couldn’t use the dominance in that stat category to pull ahead. It was the Betties who actually took an early lead on the strength of a 20-point power jam and held it until the seventh jam of the game when the Dolls crept ahead. The packs were even in the early going with the likes of Misery Mae, Tushy Galore, Tomy Knockers and Tropic Thunder able to match the Dolls deep bench (led by Scarcasm, Speedin Hawking, Ames to Kills and Audrey Hellborn—who had an incredible game in the pack, consistently devastating the Betties’ jammers) and the lead flipped two more times in the opening twenty minutes of the half.

Death Track Dolls vs Smoke City Betties

Early on, the Betties’ packs were able to contain the Dolls. (Photo by Greg Russell)

But then, the Dolls took over. A 20 point power jam returned the lead to the Dolls and then the pack stepped up with stifling defense. The Betties simply didn’t have the depth of experience to compete against the depth of the Dolls who were able to track experienced line after experienced line and even held the Betties scorless on a power jam that extended over two jams. Led by 68 points from Rainbow Fight, the Dolls led 121-41 at the half.

The Dolls dominance continued to kick off the second half when they picked up five of the six lead jammers to start things off (and twelve of the first fifteen) and continued to hold the Betties scoreless over the opening ten minutes of the half (outscoring them 41-0) to truly put the game away. While the Betties relied on veteran leader Hailey Copter with the star, they used a broad rotation of SewWhat?, Udre, Wolverina (adding Laya Beaton and rookie Kil’Her at Large late), but none could find any sort of consistency against the Dolls’ pack work. The Betties managed only 22 points in the second half, while the Dolls pushed the pace and skated away with the surprising and impressive 202 point victory.

The Dolls stifling defense has become their trademark this season. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Dolls stifling defense has become their trademark this season. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Dolls get a month off leading up to ToRD’s June 15th championship. The Betties, who were preseason favourites to make their first appearance in the Battle for the Boot since 2009, will have a few weeks to reflect and build off of the loss before they have to face off against the Gore-Gore Rollergirls in the semifinal on May 25th. It will be the second consecutive season that these two teams square off in the semifinal.

** The bouts were broadcast by Rogers TV. Tune in next Saturday (May 18th) for a rebroadcast of the games.