canadian roller derby

End-of-year Power Rankings: December 2016

Captain Lou El Bammo, Dick Dafone, and Derby Nerd periodically rank Canada’s top A-level travel teams. Read the the mid-season 2016 (June) Power Rankings here.

TEAM (League) CHANGE NOTES (Rollergirl.ca /WFTDA rank)
1. New Skids on the Block (Montreal Roller Derby)Montreal Roller Derby: New Skids on the Block  – After stumbling against Philly at ECDX, mid-season roster changes shook up the team chemistry, and after it had time to settle, the Skids knocked off Bay Area to become the first Canadian team to advance to WFTDA Champs where they put a scare into Angel City in the quarterfinals, which was enough to secure top spot. (1 / 19)
2. Terminal City All Stars (Terminal City Roller Girls)Terminal City All Stars
 – Despite the fifth place finish in their D1 playoff, it could be argued that Terminal City had a better playoff tournament than Montreal. They lost narrowly (164-162) against Philly before cruising through the consolation bracket. Their spot in the top 2, well ahead of the competition, remains secure. (2 / 18)
3.Calgary All Stars (Calgary Roller Derby Association)Calgary All Stars Logo  Although a 5th seed, Calgary tore through its D2 playoff tournament, including knocking off top seed Charm City along the way to finish in the top spot in the playoff. Finishing third overall in WFTDA’s Division 2 is more than enough to hold on to third spot. (4 / 45)
4. Misfit Militia (Orangeville Roller Girls) Misfit Militia Logo  +1 Went 6-1 in 2016 including a 147-144 unsanctioned win against D1’s Queen City. The teams only loss on the season came against an ever-improving Toronto Men’s Roller Derby team (200-159). However, their obvious talent and lack of WFTDA ranking continue to make top-level competition hard to come by. (3 /-)
5. Rideau Valley Vixens (Rideau Valley Roller Girls)Vixens Logo +1 A 4-7 regular season saw the Vixens tumble out of the D2 playoffs. However, the bright side is that many of those seven losses came against top-flight competition including the likes of Montreal, Jacksonville, and Philly. It was an incredibly challenging schedule that may have them currently under-ranked and that could pay track-experience dividends in 2017. (10/93)
6. E-Ville Dead (E-Ville Roller Derby)

evrd_final_logo

unranked They’ve risen from the dead once again! E-Ville has been in and out of the Top 10 over the years, and now reenters once again, surging into the middle of the pack for the first time since last year’s end-of-season rankings. E-Ville had an incredible year with a record of 8-1 including victories over Top-10 Winnipeg (207-132) and Watch-Listers Mainland Misfits (279-89). The team’s only loss on the season was to provincial rivals and D2 bronze medalists Calgary (241-114).  (5 / 91)
7. All Stars (Winnipeg Roller Derby League) winnipeg logo  +1 Winnipeg inches forward a spot but gets stopped in its tracks by surging E-Ville (who defeated them 207-132 to earn the spot). The All Stars do hold their spot ahead of Muddy River based on strength of schedule. They went 8-5 on the season, helping them move to their highest WFTDA ranking yet. (9 / 84)
8. Lumbersmacks (Muddy River Rollers)Lumbersmacks Logo +1 The little league that just keeps going. Muddy River’s consistency over the past few season has been incredible given their size and location. This year they travelled far and wide once again compiling a 6-4 record along the way, including early season wins over Capital City and Quebec. A big late-season loss to Orangeville’s Misfit Militia was unsanctioned and didn’t effect their 16-spot jump in the WFTDA rankings.  (11 / 85)
9. Dolly Rogers (Capital City Derby Dolls)
Capital City Derby Dolls Logo
+1 The Dolly Rogers capped off their 5-4 season with a massive sanctioned win against Central NY that helped their 8-spot jump in the WFTDA rankings. Narrow wins against teams just outside of the Top 10 allow them to secure their spot and nudge forward, finally moving out of the long-held 10 spot. (8 / 106)
10.Tri-City Thunder (Tri-City Rller Derby)Tri-City Thunder Logo  -6 Tri-City had an up-and-down year in 2016, eventually finishing with a 5-10 record. After a promising two and one start (including a rare win over Toronto), Thunder lost seven of eight regular season games the rest of the way. A decent playoff run saw them improve their 9th place seeding to 6th in their D2 tournament. However, yet another off season shake-up to the jammer rotation means that Tri-City’s rebuild will be continuing into 2017. (6 / 57)

The Rankings

No changes to the Top 3 as Canada’s lone WFTDA playoff teams remain at the top of the sport in the nation. Montreal retains top spot based on an incredible performance at the WFTDA Championship tournament, playing, arguably, the team’s best game of the season against a very good Angel City team. After reloading their roster in 2016, The New Skids on the Block also look very good to remain atop the nation’s power rankings in 2017 as well. It remains to be seen whether Terminal City and Calgary (who became only the second team to win a Division 2 playoff tournament) can push through some expected 0ff-season roster changes to remain at their current levels.

The rest of the list has gone through some shifts and changes. Most notably, for the first time in the history of these Power Rankings, Toronto has dropped out of the Top 10. Although leagues like Orangeville and Muddy River are proof that size doesn’t always matter, the reality is that Toronto is simply too big and too deep to keep down for long and expect a slow but steady rise in 2017 as the All Stars rebuild. This drop, however, made room for a resurgent E-Ville. For the second year in a row, the Edmonton-based team makes an appearance on the year-end rankings. This time, however, it should be sustainable as the E-Ville Dead have the roster to remain in the conversation through 2017. The final major shift is with Tri-City. Thunder sees itself tumble to 10th place. The team had a solid 2016, but some post-playoff roster changes will see the team need to rebuild its offense once again.

Orangeville, Rideau Valley, Winnipeg, Muddy River, and Capital City all hold steady, nudging upwards based on Toronto’s and Tri-City’s dips.

The Watch List

Anarchy Angels (Mainland Misfits Roller Derby) (12th)

Les Duchesses (Roller Derby Quebec) (13th)

Brute-Leggers (Royal City Roller Girls) (14th)

Northstars (Rated PG Rollergirls) (15th)

ToRD All Stars (Toronto Roller Derby) (16th)

The A Team (Eves of Destruction) (18th)

E-Ville and Toronto have switched places on the Watch List/Top 10, while the Anarchy Angels, Roller Derby Quebec, and Royal City remain on our radars as we close out the 2016 season. However, there are some exciting new editions on the watch list.

The Northstars of Prince George’s Rated PG Rollergirls are coming off of an 8-0 season that saw them rise above the competition with a margin of victory of 158 points. These eight wins included big victories over B-travel teams from Top 10 Terminal City and E-Ville and two of Calgary’s house leagues, proving that they have graduated to a higher competitive stage. Similarly, one of Canada’s oldest flat track teams, Victoria’s Eves of Destruction are finally beginning to tear it up against some quality competition. Boasting a perennially successful local league, the EoD A Team went 5-0 on the season including a victory over the Jane Deeres (Calgary’s B-team) and former Top 10 team Mindfox out of Saskatoon to launch themselves onto the Watch List.

Nerd Glasses

*These rankings were compiled by the Derby Nerd, Captain Lou El Bammo, Dick Dafone

*These are the final Power Rankings of the year. Read the mid-season Power Rankings here.

-Respectful disagreement and debate is encouraged!-

Canadian Power Rankings: December 1, 2015

Captain Lou El Bammo, Dick Dafone, Dr. Jenny Fever and Derby Nerd rank Canada’s top A-level travel teams every two months (or so). Read the August 1st Power Ranking here.

TEAM (League) CHANGE NOTES (Rollergirl.ca /WFTDA rank)
1. New Skids on the Block (Montreal Roller Derby)

Montreal Roller Derby: New Skids on the Block

 – Some big off-season changes resulted in a slow start for the New Skids on the Block, but since a May loss to Terminal City, the Skids have been on fire, coming within 28 points of a Champs berth and finishing 4th in their Division, the highest finish for a Canadian team in the WFTDA playoffs. (1 / 15)
2. Terminal City All Stars (Terminal City Roller Girls)Terminal City All Stars
 –  It was a year to remember for Terminal City: historic regular season wins over Montreal and Rat City previewed a phenomenal playoff performance that included knocking off the legendary Mad Rollin’ Dolls to win the consolation bracket for a 5th place finish in the division playoff tournament.   (2 / 23)
3.Rideau Valley Vixens (Rideau Valley Roller Girls)

Vixens Logo

+1  After making it all the way to the top of the heap of D2 in 2014, a Division 1 playoff berth this season proved a tough transition for the Vixens, but the team’s strong, steady leadership resulted in a strong performance despite a last-place finish. (4 / 42)
4.Calgary All Stars (Calgary Roller Derby Association)Calgary All Stars Logo  +1 It was quite a year for Calgary, a season that saw them briefly enter Division 1 only to slip out of a playoff position altogether at the end of the year. However, this team grew by leaps and bounds and some late-season roster additions set Calgary up for a strong 2016.  (5 / 62)
5. CN Power (Toronto Roller Derby)New CNP Logo -2 A promising start to 2015 (wins over Boston, Steel City and a narrow loss to Montreal) could not be maintained as a constantly shuffling roster resulted in some inconsistent and increasingly shaky performances leading to a last-place finish in their playoff tournament. They are on the cusp of D1 and it remains to be seen if the revamped roster can keep them in it. (6/39)
6Tri-City Thunder (Tri-City Rller Derby)Tri-City Thunder Logo  A fascinating year for Thunder who, despite finishing last in their Division 1 playoff tournament, managed to put in some strong performances against very good teams. There is expected to be another roster shake-up this off season (particularly with their jammer rotation once again), and it’ll be interesting to see how those play out. (7 / 49)

7. Les Duchesses (Roller Derby Quebec)Duchesses Logo

 –  A quietish year for Les Duchesses nonetheless showed that this team is ready for a greater challenge (for example, they crushed low-D2 Suburbia by 378 points in August). The team’s only losses this season came against Montreal’s Skids and Sexpos. (8 / -)
8. All Stars (Winnipeg Roller Derby League) winnipeg logo  Although the travel team has been inactive this quarter, Winnipeg holds its spot on the strength of its phenomenal 9-2 season. (12 / 112)
9. Lumbersmacks (Muddy River Rollers)Lumbersmacks Logo Also having a quiet quarter, the lack of movement from other teams in the Top 10 allows them to hold steady. (14 / 105)
10. E-Ville Dead (E-Ville Roller Derby)

Eville Logo

unranked They’re back!  For the first time since June 2013, E-Ville makes an appearance in the power rankings. An incredible 7-0 run to start the season had them back on the radar but a small summer stumble kept them from cracking the Top 10. Some strong late-season additions inspired  great  results against Regina and Calgary.  (13/ -)

The Changes

 Montreal retains top spot after a phenomenal run through the WFTDA D1 playoffs that saw them finish higher than any other Canadian team had previously. Similarly, after running the consolation bracket in Tucson, Terminal City matched Montreal’s previous playoff-high finish; in 2015, these two teams distanced themselves from the pack and are currently very secure at the top of the table. There was some other shifting at the top though, most notably through Toronto’s drop. ToRD is going through a generational shift on the track right now that could lead to some early season growing pains in 2016, but that could also pay off in the long run with some patience and hard work. This drop allowed Rideau Valley (the best of the last-place Canadian teams in the playoffs) and Calgary to leap-frog ahead.

There was no change from 6 through 9, but the Power Rankings Crew would like to welcome Edmonton’s E-Ville Roller Derby back to the Top 10. They crushed Regina in October 407-34 and put in a strong performance in a loss against Top 5 Calgary 178-105. Word on the track is that some exciting off-season roster changes could help bolster the team’s offense and make them a potential western threat next year.

The Watch List

Misfit Militia (Orangeville Roller Girls) (3rd)

Dolly Rogers (Capital City Derby Dolls) (9th)

Anarchy Angels (Mainland Misfits Roller Derby) (11th)

Brute-Leggers (Royal City Roller Girls) (15th)

Avalanche City All Stars (Fernie Roller Derby League) (16th)

Fog City’s Shipyard Sirens (17th)

It seems as if we’ve been watching the same teams all season! However, followers of the Power Rankings may recognize the return of Misfit Militia to our Watch List. We’d dropped them from the rankings this season because of their lack of affiliation and the inconsistency of their roster. But now the charter team of WFTDA apprentice Orangeville Roller Girls, the Misfit Militia are back in the thick of things. Word on the track is that many of their members who formerly split time in Toronto are focused exclusively on Misfit Militia now, and this immediately makes them a team to watch in the Canadian competitive derby scene.

Nerd Glasses

*These rankings were compiled by the Derby Nerd, Captain Lou El Bammo, Dick Dafone, and Dr. Jenny Fever.

*Get caught up by reading the August Power Rankings here.

-Respectful disagreement and debate is encouraged!-

Dolls Move In To Top Spot, Betties Impress

Dolls' blocker Slam Wow tries to contain Gores' jammer Foxy Sinatra. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Dolls’ blocker Slam Wow tries to contain Gores’ jammer Foxy Sinatra. (Photo by Greg Russell)

It’s been a long time coming.

That’s got to be on the sentiment on the minds of the fans and players of the Smoke City Betties and the Death Track Dolls. Perennial underachievers, the Death Track Dolls dominated the opening 15 minutes of their wild showdown with the Gore-Gore Rollergirls and held on for the historic 233-153 victory, marking the first time since 2008 that the Dolls have defeated the Gores. Meanwhile, in the opening game of the double header, the Smoke City Betties long rebuilding process symbolically ended as they bounced back from a season-opening loss to dominate defending champion Chicks Ahoy!, winning 229-95. The last time the Betties defeated the Chicks was in 2009, which just also happens to be the last time the Betties Battled for the Boot.

Slaptrick Swayze looks for a route around the Chicks pack (she scored 62 points in the first half). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Slaptrick Swayze looks for a route around the Chicks’ pack (she scored 62 points in the first half). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Chicks Ahoy! 95 vs. Smoke City Betties 229

ToRD’s second house league double header of the season began with a showdown between the two winless teams in the league.  The opening minutes of the game were a slugfest as the Chicks Ahoy! and the Smoke City Betties traded the lead three times in fifteen minutes. The Chicks leaped out to a 14-0 lead after only two jams before the Betties began to chip away at the lead.

Finally, with the game 20-18 for the skaters in black and blue, the Betties used a power jam to take a lead that they would never relent: Slaptrick Swayze scored 14 on the jam—part of a 62 point half for the second-year jammer. At this point in the half, the Betties took complete control, outscoring the Chicks 78-13 over eleven jams to take a massive lead. Only a half-closing 23-point power jam skated by Rosemary’s Rabies had the Chicks within any sort of manageable distance, down 112-55 at the break.

Veteran Chick Kookie Doe pivots rookie Emraged as they hold Laya Beaton. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Veteran Chick Kookie Doe pivots rookie Emraged as they hold Laya Beaton. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Chicks had optimistic hopes for the season, but it’s becoming clear that the lack of the experience is not something easily overcome, especially in a house league as competitive as ToRD’s. With the injury to key skater Roadside BombShel, heavy loads fell to the veterans of the team (namely Kookie Doe, Dyna Hurtcha, Biggley Smallz, Robber Blind and Furious Georgia, who all gobbled up a lot of tracktime once again, including a game-closing rare turn with the star by Robber Blind that included a phenomenal apex jump that caught everyone off guard). But with such a young roster, the baby Chicks are getting a lot of track time and are being forced into key situations. Smooth-skating transfer Chevy Chase Her continues to impress with the star, while rookie blocker Emraged was all over the track, and Joss Wheelin and R2-Smack-U continue to look ever more comfortable in the pack (even wearing the stripe).

Tropic Thunder and Renny Rumble contain Chevy Chase Her. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Tropic Thunder and Renny Rumble contain Chevy Chase Her. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

While all of this youth is exciting for the future of this team, it makes for an inconsistent present (they were never able to earn more than two lead jammer statuses in a row). The Betties, on the other hand, looked much stronger after a shaky season opener, and dominated the second half of the game. After a brief pushback by the Chicks to open the second half (14 points over two jams), the Betties locked things down and picked up an incredible eight lead jammers in a row, to increase the lead to 163-73 at the fifteen-minute mark of the second half and put the game out of reach. Over the past few seasons of struggle, the Betties have built an experienced core of skaters  that are being complemented nicely this season by well-selected draft choices. In the pack, co-captain Misery Mae, CN Power skater Renny Rumble, along with veterans Tushy Galore and Mouth of the South, are coming together with a toughness and, more importantly, a solidarity that has not been seen on this team in a while. They’ve also developed a nice, deep jammer core led by co-captain Hailey Copter and Swayze, but completed by Wolverina and increasingly impressive Finnish transfer Udre. The future is bright with a the rise of the likes of LowBlowPalooza and Zomboney (who made her ToRD houseleague debut).

The Betties never allowed the Chicks within 100 points the rest of the way and skated away with the impressive 134-point victory.

The Dolls' explosive start caught the Gores off guard. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Dolls’ explosive start caught the Gores off guard. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 153 vs. Death Track Dolls 233

The second game of the double header was essentially over in the first ten minutes of the game, and certainly by the midway point of the first half as the Death Track Dolls amassed a 111-5 lead that—to their credit—never demoralized the Gore-Gore Rollergirls, but put the game out of reach and highlighted the importance of a strong start and absolute focus after the opening whistle.

In much the same way as the Betties, it’s been a tough few years for the Dolls. Since a 2009 season that saw them battle toe-to-toe against the Chicks, things have not gone smoothly for the Dolls. One-sided semifinal losses to the Chicks in 2010 and 2011 and a last-place finish in 2012, left the Dolls as the sole remaining house league team to never reach ToRD’s championship game. After a few well-managed drafts and an incredibly consistent roster over the past two years, the Dolls are finally ready to compete. Their new-found competitive focus was never more evident than in the first quarter of the game. Relentless defence, but with an eye always on an offensive transition, the Dolls burst out of the gates on the opening whistle and took it to a Gores team that did not seem ready to start the game. 20-0 after four jams followed by a string of seven straight lead jammer statuses had the Dolls up by 106 points early.

Veterans Junkie Jenny and Monichrome duel in the pack. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Veterans Junkie Jenny and Monichrome duel in the pack. (Photo by Greg Russell)

After avoiding the massive roster reshuffles that have slowed the other teams in the league, the Dolls have an unmatched depth at every position. From the formidable foursome of a jammer rotation (Bellefast, Getcha Kicks, Santilly In Yo Face and Rainbow Fight), to the phenomenal pivoting and leadership from co-captains Speedin Hawking and Scarcasm and also Ames to Kill, to the deep blocker corps led by Audrey Hellborn, Rhage in a Cage, and Downright Dirty Dawson,  the Dolls look poised to continue this breakout season, and despite giving up a few late power jams, were up comfortably146-58 at the half.

Gores rookie Lexi Con and Dolls co-captain Scarcasm both had strong games. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Gores rookie Lexi Con and Dolls co-captain Scarcasm both had strong games. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Gores righted the ship at about the midway point of the opening half, but the gap was too much to bridge. Early injuries to veteran triple threats Foxy Sinatra and Santa Muerte had the Gores relying offensively on R.I. Pink, rookie Lexi Con (who continues to impress this season and scored more than half their points in the opening half), and jukey transfers Taranasaurus Rex and Beaver Mansbridge (who also went down with an injury late in this one—which turned out to be only a minor sprain).

The increasingly chippy, hard-hitting affair was fairly even the rest of the way, and despite the score line, was an entertaining game to watch.

Dolls triple threat Rainbow Fight continues to emerge as one of the leagues top skaters. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Dolls triple threat Rainbow Fight continues to emerge as one of the league’s top skaters. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Chronic was effective in her return from injury, and while the pack continues to rely on vets like Kandy Barr and Junkie Jenny, there is a rising blocker crew led by rookie Purple Pain, who are quickly starting to take on more and more responsibility. Despite some impressive individual performances (and a second half that was deadlocked in terms of lead percentage and scoring—91-83 for the Gores), in the end, the experienced Dolls were too much for the three-time champion Gores and won the high-scoring game by 80 points.

It was a hard-hitting, fast-skating night of flat track roller derby at the Bunker that saw the Death Track Dolls (2-0) pull ahead in the standings over the Smoke City Betties (1-1) and the Gore-Gore Rollergirls (1-1), leaving the rebuilding Chicks Ahoy! (0-2) without a win and in danger of finishing at the bottom of the standings for the first time ever.

* Next up for all four teams is the annual Beast of the East tournament in Montreal.

ToRD Double Header sees Undeafeated and Winless Teams Faceoff

ToRD Poster April 2013The last time the Smoke City Betties defeated the Chicks Ahoy! was in 2009. In roller derby, local and otherwise, change was in the air. Externally, the sport was undergoing a massive shift: from the no-nonsense athleticism of the Oly Rollers to the trapping and isolation game introduced to the larger community by Denver, the game was evolving in exciting and controversial ways that are still playing out. Closer to home, ToRD had just shifted to its new, all-season venue, The Hangar, and an old guard of one of the first flat track teams in the country was making one final all-in push for the ToRD Championship.

The Betties and Chicks initiate the Bunker in 2009. For the first time since then, the Betties have a shot at defeating the Chicks. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

The Betties and Chicks initiate the Bunker in 2009. For the first time since then, the Betties have a shot at defeating the Chicks. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Led by jammers Memphis Kitty and Jewel Kicker, double threat Slaughter Laughter, and pack skaters Hot Roller and Pretty Peeved (not to mention current Death Track Doll Demolition Dawn and an emerging triple-threat in Dyna Hurtcha), the 2009 Betties represented the final throes of a Betties team that had risen out of the ether to form one of the pillars of the Toronto, and Canadian, roller derby communities. That inaugural game at the Hangar would represent the end of an era in terms of the sport; it would be a showcase for how the game had been. Fast, hard hitting, with barely a break in the relentless speed, it was a defensive showdown the likes of which simply can’t exist anymore: skaters are too smart, the strategies too intricate. The game ended up being a 7-point Betties’ victory, the result of a ridiculously low-scoring, 68-61 game. The Betties would make it all the way to The Battle for the Boot that year–their only trip–only to fall to the Gore-Gore Rollergirls, a team that had spawned directly from the Betties when ToRD was formed.

Dolls' sub (and future Doll) Land Shark lines up against Desmond Deck Her in the 2008 Dolls' victory over the Gores. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Dolls’ sub (and future Doll) Land Shark lines up against Desmond Deck-Her late in the 2008 Dolls’ victory over the Gores. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

To find the last time that that the Death Track Dolls beat the Gore-Gore Rollergirls, you have to look back even further, to 2008, and a controversial bout that will forever be known as the Sub-Game, when an underhanded Dolls team borrowed a few skaters from then home teams the Bay Street Bruisers and the D-VAS (all of the subs would end up becoming Dolls within the next few months when those two homes teams were contracted). Led by one of those subs, Land Shark (who would score 44 points), the Dolls would take down the Gores 112-93 to lock up a share of top spot in the regular season.  Despite that season-closing victory, the Dolls would fall in the semi-final, ending their top season in ToRD to date.

This weekend at The Bunker, the Betties and the Dolls are looking to turn back the clocks to earn victories that feel like a long time coming. And in a season of change in ToRD, the time is now for these two perennial underdogs to overthrow the two teams that have combined to win every ToRD championship.

The Betties look to bounce back from  disappointing loss, but will do so without injured blocker Tomy Knockers. (Photo by Derek Lang)

The Betties look to bounce back from disappointing loss, but will do so without injured blocker Tomy Knockers (centre) [with rookie LowBlowPalooza (right) and fourth-year skater Tropic Thunder  bridging]. (Photo by Derek Lang)

Chicks vs. Betties

Last year when these teams faced off, the Betties looked like they were going to run away with it. Up 22-0 five minutes in, the Betties overwhelmed the Chicks out of the gates, only to have the Chicks completely turn the game around and dominate the rest of the way, winning 182-69. But much has changed between now and then, and with both teams coming off of season-opening losses, each will be gunning for a win. The Betties, who entered the season with high hopes, looked out of sorts in an inconsistent loss to the Gores last month. Led offensively by co-captain Hailey Copter (46 points in the loss) and in the pack by co-captain Misery Mae and rookie-transfer Tomy Knockers, the team showed flashes of great play, out scoring and out playing the Gores for stretches of time in the game. For the Betties, sticking together will be the key as a new core of pack skaters comes together. The Betties packs were loose at times, and controlled by the Gores, and they will need to keep things simple and tight to compete against the Chicks.

The Chicks have been leaning heavily on veterans like Dyna Hurtcha, Kookie Doe and Robber Blind while rookies develop. (Photo by Derek Lang)

The Chicks have been leaning heavily on veterans like Dyna Hurtcha (lefy), Kookie Doe and Robber Blind while rookies develop. (Photo by Derek Lang)

The Chicks are not familiar with losing (they have won the past two ToRD championships) and will be looking to avenge their season-opening loss to the Dolls. More than any other team, the Chicks roster is full of new and inexperienced skaters, evidenced by the amount of track time swallowed up by veterans Dyna Hurtcha, Biggley Smallz, Robber Blind and Furious Georgia (all on the track for more than 50% of their team’s jams). With the loss of Roadside BombShel for the season, the offense will fall to co-captain Kookie Doe and rookie transfers Rosemary’s Rabies (who struggled at times against the Dolls) and Chevy Chase Her who improved with the increased track time and ended up scoring 64 points and recording a 67% lead percentage in the loss.

The Gores surprised in their season opener and will be looking to continue a four-year winning streak against the Dolls. (Photo by Derek Lang)

The Gores surprised in their season opener and will be looking to continue a four-year winning streak against the Dolls. (Photo by Derek Lang)

Gores vs. Dolls

The showdown for top spot against the two teams that have weathered the shifting ToRD rosters this season better than the others. The Gores actually shocked in the opener, pulling a surprising offensive weapon out of their back pocket in veteran blocker Foxy Sinatra  (31 points, 57% lead percentage), which took some of the pressure off of an inexperienced jammer rotation led, in terms of experience, by R.I. Pink. Taranasaurus Rex was solid in limited action, and D-VAS grad Lexi Con made a strong debut, nabbing 47 points and holding down a 79% lead percentage. In the pack, Santa Muerte, Junkie Jenny and Kandy Barr led the way and will need to put in big minutes again against a tough Dolls pack. Word on the track is that veteran skater Chronic may be making her return from a stint on injury reserve, which would boost the experience of the pack.

The Dolls look to string together their first winning streak in four years. (Photo by Derek Lang)

The Dolls look to string together their first winning streak in four years. (Photo by Derek Lang)

The Death Track Dolls also entered the season with high hopes and have thus far lived up to them. The key for the Dolls so far is in its stifling pack work. Given the volume of experience on the team, more than any of the ToRD teams, the Dolls’ track time was incredibly balanced, a testament to their depth and consistency, but also to the experience on the team (they only have three pure rookies on their twenty-skater roster this season). But a key for the less-experienced Gores may be in containing a deep offense. Led by Bellefast and Santilly In Yo’ Face (69 and 66 points), the Dolls round out their rotation with strong and steady Getcha Kicks and emerging triple-threat Rainbow Fight (who managed a remarkable 86% lead percentage in limited action against the Chicks)—a formidable foursome that is currently unmatched in the league.

**This second 2013 ToRD double header goes on Saturday at The Bunker. Doors open at 5:00 PM, with the opening whistle for the Chicks vs. Betties scheduled for 6:00 PM. Tickets are available online or at a number of Toronto retailers.

**Catch up on the standings and stats here.

Introducing: The Canadian Power Ranking

On Monday, April 1st, the first ever truly national Canadian Power Ranking will be released on the Derby Nerd.

Captain Lou brings years of coaching and announcing to the Power Rankings.

Captain Lou brings years of coaching and announcing experience to the Power Rankings.

For the past two years, Rollergirl.ca, most recently in conjunction with flattrackstats.com, has been doing a fantastic job in providing a consistent numbers-based ranking system for Canadian teams, which has provided an excellent source of comparative information about the burgeoning Canadian roller derby community and has led to some great cross-country discussion. In much the same way that the Derby News Network’s Power Rankings complement flattrackstats.com, the Canadian Power Ranking will be working to complement this great endeavor by adding a slightly more subjective look at things—although through objective lenses, of course.

Power rankings simply add value to the comparative discussion of teams; unlike purely statistical ranking systems, power rankings are a human (some would say opinion)-based system able to take a much wider range of variables into play. Power rankings can account for circumstances beyond the control of numbers, like changes in rosters (through injury, transfer etc.) and winning streaks—things that stats-based systems need time to account for. The best, most reliable power rankings, therefore, require more than one brain to be truly representational.

So, the Nerd is not going about this alone: to ensure broad, regional, unbiased decision making, some of our country’s finest derby nerds will be working together equally on the power rankings.

Captain Lou El Bammo comes to the team armed with an overwhelming amount of knowledge gleaned from days as a coach and bench manager with the Tri-City Roller Girls, where he worked with house league team the Venus Fly Tramps and the WFTDA travel team, the Thunder. Currently he’s on the coaching staff of the Royal City Roller Girls’ travel team, the Brute-Leggers. Along with watching the game from that side of the bench, he’s also been active on the mic, acting as a play-by-play and colour commentator for Rogers TV, Canuck Derby TV, and WFTDA.TV.

Andi Struction brings both a skater and an announcer's perspective to the sport. (Photo by Stephen Giang for SeattleWeekly.com)

Andi Struction brings both a skater and an announcer’s perspective. (Photo by Stephen Giang for SeattleWeekly.com)

The Nerd and Capt. Lou will be joined by a few representatives from western Canada. Dick Pounder was recently appointed Head Announcer for the Roller Derby Association of Canada (RDAC) and has been announcing games in Alberta and for the emerging Calgary Roller Derby Association for years. On top of that, he’s been known to lace up the skates and get out there on the track as well (skating previously for the Glenmore Reservoir Dogs and currently with the Red Deer Dreadnauts), so knows the game from inside and out.

And finally, Vancouver’s Andi Struction also brings that inside/out perspective to the proceedings. A skater with Terminal City Roller Girls since 2006 and currently an assistant captain with the house league team, Faster Pussycats, Andi is also a noted commentator and announcer. A former co-host of the Derby Deeds podcast, she’s been honing her chops on the mic at such major events as the Big O, Flat Track Fever and the RDAC regionals over the past few years

Announcer Dick Pounder has also played the game so knows the game from the inside as well. (Photo by Steve Recsky)

Announcer Dick Pounder has also played the game, so knows the game from the inside as well. (Photo by Steve Recsky)

Captain Lou also sees the Canadian Power Rankings as being an important part of the Canadian roller derby discussion: “Canada is really big and teams are really far apart…which makes it harder for the math to be properly predictive. There just isn’t enough correlative games to make a truly accurate list (based purely on stats),” he says, discussing the importance of this endeavor, and “since we don’t have a proper cross-pollination of games, creating a Power Rankings crew filled with people who have a lot of derby knowledge and are able to sift through disparate datasets to filter out the best of the best is the optimal solution.”

Andi Struction thinks the timing is right and is excited about the future of the sport in this country. ” ‘Canadian’ roller derby didn’t really exist because the east and west teams didn’t really have a chance to play each other,” she said. Dick Pounder agrees that this will be a big year for Canadian derby: “The WFTDA factor should prove to be interesting in Canada this year.”

Andi is also optimistic about the top leagues joining the WFTDA, which would encourage more top-level play. “With Calgary and Kootenay joining the ranks (soon), the eastern teams could potentially do western Canadian tours and hit three WFTDA birds with one stone.”

As alluded to, the Power Rankings Team will be limited by some of the challenges of living in a massive country like Canada with very little cross-region play. Some things to keep in mind about the Canadian Power Rankings:

  • The rankings will be a consensus-based: much like the system used by the DNN (and consistent across many sports). All four voters will present their personal choices to each other and then engage in debate until a consensus is reached.
  • The rankings will be quarterly: at least to start. Due to the lack of inter-region play, allowing time for a wider number of games seems advantageous right now.
  • The rankings will only consider A-level travel teams. It’s just simpler that way, and as more and more Canadian leagues follow the WFTDA model, the opportunity for A-level interleague play has been increasing as well, and it is becoming much easier to speculate how these teams would fare against one another.

    The Derby Nerd rounds out the Power Rankings team. (Photo by Todd Burgess)

    The Derby Nerd rounds out the Power Rankings team. (Photo by Todd Burgess)

We’re only a few weeks away from the inaugural ranking on April 1st, but there is a lot going down in those few weeks that will affect that premier ranking: The RDAC Championship is this weekend in Edmonton featuring A-level travel teams from the West, Saskatchewan and the Maritimes, while ToRD’s fourth annual Quad City Chaos (March 23rd, 24th) will feature two of Canada’s top teams, ToRD’s CN Power and the Rideau Valley Vixens, facing off against top level WFTDA competition. Both tournaments will be boutcast on Canuck Derby TV.

It’s going to be an exciting year for Canadian roller derby, all involved in putting together this Canadian Power Ranking are proud to be bringing another angle to the exciting discussion that will take place. Captain Lou also hopes that these rankings will inspire more than just healthy debate: “I’m hoping that new leagues just starting out will be able to look at the Power Rankings list and use it as inspiration to keep going through the hard times (and) I really hope that a Canadian Roller Derby Power Rankings list will inspire more cross-Canada roller derby bouts, so that east will meet west more often than they have in the past.”

Check back in on April 1st for the first Canadian Power Ranking.

It’s Smooth Sailing for the Chicks Ahoy! in the 2012 ToRD Championship

The Chicks successfully defended the Boot, winning their third ToRD Championship. (Photo by Greg Russell)

It was a classic showdown with a historic spin at The Bunker on Saturday night, as the defending champion Chicks Ahoy! faced off against principle rivals the Gore-Gore Rollergirls in the Battle for the Boot 6, the 2012 Toronto Roller Derby Championship. It was the fifth time in six years that these two teams had squared off in the event, but roles were reversed this time around. For the first time, the Chicks Ahoy! finished with the best regular season record, a record that included a thirteen-point victory over this same Gores team in February. The Gores, on the other hand, found 2012 a rare struggle, losing their first regular season games in five years and just crawling into the playoffs in a tiebreaker over the Death Track Dolls. Despite the Gores’ somewhat surprising semifinal upset over the Smoke City Betties, they weren’t able to slow the dominant march of the 2012 Chicks. The defending Boot holders dominated from start to finish setting a record for points scored and margin of victory in a championship game with a convincing 196-56 victory to cap a definitive defense of their crown.

Lady Gagya (held behind Marmighty) had a strong night jamming for the Gores. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

With an injury ravaged roster necessitating some creative lineup juggling, it took a while for the Gores to get going, and by the time that they did, it may have already been too late. With a strong, consistent offense anchored by 2012 leading scorer Bala Reina, seasoned veteran Candy Crossbones, and former rookie of the year Kookie Doe, the Chicks came out with a stable, relentless attack from the very start, opening up an 11-0 lead after three jams before Bambi was finally able to put the first points on the board for the Gores. With Dust Bunny dressed, but not fully healed enough to be a difference maker in this one, the Gores went with a diverse, revolving jammer rotation that featured a surprisingly strong performance by Lady Gagya (15 points of the Gores points in the first half), but the pack never found the consistent rhythm that the Chicks’ pack did as their stable lines and the comfort with their jammers allowed them to seize momentum when available and maintain it for long stretches, leading by 40 points half way through the first period after the Gores managed only two scoring passes in that fifteen minutes span.

Chicks’ pivot Dyna Hurtcha had a monster bout in the pack. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

While the Gores seemed to wake up at this point, the constant shuffling of the packs (and subsequent blocker penalty troubles), never allowed them to sustain a consistent attack. With the gap already growing to over 40 points, a 23-point Kookie Doe power jam (she would lead the first half in scoring with 45 points) would bring the Chicks over the century mark and open up a lead that they would never relinquish. It was smooth sailing for the Chicks after that who had a stranglehold on this one, leading 106-32 at the half.

The jammers were certainly key for the Chicks Ahoy!, but just as integral was the punishing pack work. Clinical drag-back defense from Rebel Rock-It, relentless, machine-gun hitting from Marmighty and Mega Bouche, and phenomenal last-line-of-defense one-on-one work from primary pivot Dyna Hurtcha erased any thoughts that the lack of pack juggernauts Nasher the Smasher and Tara Part (who would join Flyin’ Bryan Killman on the bench) would prove detrimental to the team. But just as important as the front line, the key to the Chicks’ continued success is their depth of bench. Consistent veteran players like Furious Georgia, Robber Blind also had strong games, while the rookie trio of Biggley Smallz, Roadside BombShel and Doris Doomsday continued to excel in the pack, and are lead by the stable leadership of key role models Hoff and Tess D’Urb-Evil. All in all, it was a complete game by the Chicks, who rearely relented and had increased the lead to 120 points at the midway point of the period.

The Gores used a wide jammer rotation including Kandy Barr, who looks to avoid a Mega Bouche hit. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Not that the Gores didn’t continue to push to the end. Despite scoring less in the second half, they scored more consistently as opposed to the bunches of points they’d picked up in the first. Santa Muerte, Chronic, Draculaura and Kandy Barr took turns with the star, while the packs relied in large part on Foxy Sinatra, Junkie Jenny and Molly Boom, and got more spirited performances from Miss Kitty La Peur and Emma Dilemma. Moving forward, it will be these five skaters that the Gores will look to to build around. They proved, especially in the semifinal—but at moments in the championship as well—that they are up for the cause; however, it will take time, and it wasn’t going to happen tonight, as the Chicks were unstoppable on their way to the overwhelming 196-56 victory.

With a number of skaters on each team joining CN Power full time, veterans like Foxy Sinatra and Junkie Jenny will have a greater responsibility moving forward. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

These two teams have been the perennial top performers in the league’s early history, and that is due in large part to the cores that these teams have been built around. With a roster more consistent than those of the Dolls and the Betties, these two teams have been consistent performers year in and year out (with the Chicks only have one blemish on their record—a 2009 season that ended early). But after six years, this game marked the end of an era, as in 2013, the members of CN Power will be leaving their hometeams to focus solely on WFTDA play. After a breakout season in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (they went 9-1 in sanctioned play and just missed out on a playoff spot), CN Power will be skating straight into the heart of roller derby’s most competitive league next season and will require a full-time commitment from its skaters. For the Gores and Chicks and their fans, it means a lot of fresh new faces to get used to next season (they will be selected from an experienced group of D-VAS in the upcoming entry draft).

Venerable announcer Crankypants announced his retirement prior to the championship game. (Photo by Greg Russell)

On top of that, this bout marked the last for legendary announcer and voice of the league, Crankypants, who has stood right alongside these skaters through it all. While it will be a strange thing indeed to watch a ToRD event without Crankypants, the timing—in light of the changing make-up of the league—was apt, and even slightly poetic. Certainly, the legend will live on and the memory too, every time anyone implores the crowd to get louder.

Change may be difficult, but for ToRD as a whole, it means renewal, and an exciting, unpredictable house league for 2013 (with, on paper anyway, there appearing to be a power shift to the Betties and the Dolls on the horizon). These first few years have been extraordinary in their development and have produced phenomenal skaters, amazing moments and a strong, stable community around which to grow even further.

The development of Toronto’s most competitive league has mirrored the development of the sport as a whole: the game itself has never been stronger, more popular, or more relevant. ToRD, after another successful championship to cap another successful year, seems ready to continue its ascendance.

Gores wreak vengeance on Betties in ToRD semifinal

The Gores were looking for revenge against the Betties after a regular season loss. (Photography by Greg Russell)

Smoke City Betties 86 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 166.

Some teams just know how to win. They’ve done it so long, the know what it takes, and they know how to bring it when the situation calls for something a little extra special. After this weekend’s dominant performance, there can be no question left about what kind of team the Gore-Gore Rollergirls are. Coming off of their worst ToRD regular season ever (they’d finished atop the standings after all five of the previous regular seasons) and having sustained their largest ever defeat (a 142-point loss to this same Smoke City Betties team), it seemed that the streak of appearing in every championship game in ToRD’s history was in jeopardy. But with an offense led by ToRD’s all-time leading scorer, Bambi (returning from injury), and a pack of fiercely determined blockers clearing the path, the Gores led from start to finish in the semifinal showdown with the Betties and looked like a team renewed as they booked their ticket to the 2012 Battle for the Boot and set up a showdown with their long-time rivals, the defending champion Chicks Ahoy!

Bambi’s performance was not affected by her absence due to injury.

Facing adversity all season and feeling the strain of injuries and mid-season retirements, the Gores limped into the post season (actually only qualifying after a very close plus/minus tiebreaker with the Dolls). With an offence run by committee, the Gores could not get any momentum in their season closer. With Bambi returning from the first major injury layoff of her career, the Gores offense got going early. A 3-0 jam by co-captain and regular pivot Lady Gagya got things started, but on the second jam disaster struck for the Betties. With Bambi skating her first jam since May, the Gores were rewarded with a power jam and the Betties paid dearly. A remarkable 34 points later, and the Betties found themselves floundering in a 37-0 deficit only three minutes in.

Despite strong individual efforts from the likes of Renny Rumble and Platinum Bomb, the Betties couldn’t sustain momentum.

That power jam would prove to be the difference maker in the first half: at the halfway point, the lead remained similar, 54-11. Early penalty woes both in the pack and with their jammers had the Betties scrambling in a way that they hadn’t done all season. Indeed, this was truly the first setback in what has been a banner season for the skaters in black and blue. After two years of rebuilding, it seemed that this was finally the year the Betties would claw their way back to the top. After promising performances against the Death Track Dolls and the Chicks Ahoy! and culminating in their lopsided victory over the Gores (not to mention a quarterfinal appearance at the Beast of the East) it had been a season of steady progression. Led by a core of skaters having breakout seasons (the finally healthy titmouse and rookie Slaptrick Swayze jamming; Sin D Drop-her and Platinum Bomb in the pack), the Betties seemed poised to make their first appearance in the championship since 2009. Down 86-40 at the half, the Betties were certainly still within reach, but the Gores seemed to be gaining confidence by the jam.

Once again the Gores found offense from many different sources, including Santa Muerta, while the Betties stuck to a tighter rotation that included BruiseBerry Pie.

The Gores received standout performances from some usual suspects. With jammer corps depleted, it was Lady Gagya, Santa Muerte , Chronic and Kandy Barr who did double duty to support Bambi (D-VAS call up Getcha Kicks also got her skates wet in her first ever on-track action in ToRD). While Lady Gagya’s phenomenal footwork makes her a natural fit to jam, Santa Muerte’s tireless determination helped her have her best ever game with the star. But since the Betties had a jammer core at least equal to the Gores on this night, the difference was in the pack; and where they Betties had been tight and consistent during the regular season, they were stretched and penalty prone in this one.  Chronic had another fantastic bout in the pack, and Foxy Sinatra added another top-notch bout to what has been, arguably, the best season of the long-time veteran’s career. It was this relentless attack and punishing defence that allowed the Gores to increase their stranglehold to 123-53 at the halfway mark of the second half.

Renny Rumble continued her breakout rookie season.

But despite the loss, the Betties had standouts as well. titmouse capped  a remarkable season with another consistent performance with the star, while BruiseBerry Pie continues to develop into one of the true superstars of the league (and had the possible highlight of the night late in the game on an apex-jumping steal of four points). Rookie of the year candidate Renny Rumble had another strong performance as well showing extraordinary track sense and impeccable one-on-one positional blocking. Renny diversified her game tonight as well, entering the jammer rotation (a position she has experience playing, though not for the Betties). Regardless of the strong individual performances, they seemed overwhelmed on this stage (falling behind by 100 points at one point late in the half) and were never able to claw their way back in the 166-86 loss.

The Dolls had a strong finish to what was a somewhat disappointing season.

***In the first half of the double header, The Death Track Dolls closed out what by all accounts was a disappointing season with a massive 282-102 victory over the shorthanded Queen City champions the Nickel City Knockouts (out of Buffalo). It was an emotional game for the last-place Dolls, who will see the retirement or loss of some key skaters in the off season including long-time Doll Lucid Lou and the last original Doll, Jubilee. They cruised from start to finish, leading by whopping 163-18 at half on the back of some super-strong defence and steady jamming. It was an inspiring victory for the team, a big confidence builder heading into the off season.

*** The Battle for the Boot 6 (Toronto Roller Derby’s 2012 championship game) will go on September 22nd. Three-time champs The Gore-Gore Rollergirls with try to unseat the defending champion  Chicks Ahoy!. Tickets are available online in select retail locations.