canadian roller derby

Disloyalists Dismantle D-VAS, Continue Ontario Dominance

The 2012 D-VAS hosted Kingston’s Disloyalists in their first (non intrasquad) bout of the year. (Photo by Greg Russell).

The Disloyalists (KDG) 314 vs. The D-VAS (ToRD) 55

Kingston Derby GirlsDisloyalists have come a long way in the past year. Previously, they were just another of the many leagues popping up in the burgeoning Ontario derby scene; at last year’s 2 Fresh 2 Furious they had their moments (one of their unnamed teams lost to the D-VAS in the quarterfinals), but still looked very much like a league finding itself. They played some tight games against some of the other newer leagues in the sport, but didn’t do much to distance themselves from the likes of Durham Region Roller Derby or the Royal City Rollergirls. But as physical a sport as roller derby is, there comes a point when the difference between two teams will be defined by their knowledge of the game, by that elusive but all important “track sense”: once you get it, the game changes and the improvements become exponential. In 2012, the Disloyalists have certainly gotten it.

Coming off of two one-sided victories over previous rivals in Durham and South Simcoe in the past two weeks, the Disloyalists rolled into Toronto in the midst of their first significant winning streak and continued those winning ways with a thoroughly dominant performance over ToRD’s D-VAS. Of course, this D-VAS team is not the same D-VAS team Kingston last encountered, and the inexperience was evident as they played their first game against outside competition in 2012. Kingston got going early, led by 100 at the half and pulled away at the end of the 259-point victory.

Kingston’s LaVallee of the Dolls anchors an athletic and tough Disloyalists jammer rotation. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Things got rolling quickly for the Disloyalists with Lavallee of the Dolls picking up 6 on the first jam. Sticking with a tight jammer rotation in the early going to Lavallee, Luci Fleur and Johnston (with Yo! Shanity Slam and the triple threat Manic Breeze sneaking into the rotation as well), the Disloyalists rushed out to a lead but couldn’t quite distance themselves from the D-VAS. The Toronto team went with a much wider jammer rotation giving at least six skaters a shot with the star. Lexi Con got the D-VAS on the board first and Joss Wheelin (who wore both helmet covers with confidence on the night) picked up an early 2 points as well, but the D-VAS couldn’t do much to penetrate the tough pack defense from Kingston and found themselves down 29-5 ten minutes in.

Mazel Tough had a strong positional game for the D-VAS and was solid one on one. (Photo by Greg Russell)

With Meanstreak on the track jamming, Kingston’s Luci Fleur was sent to the box on a major track cut giving the D-VAS a chance to make up some ground early, but in a jam indicative of the way things would go for the D-VAS, they negated the power jam with a penalty of their own, and further penalties from pack players led to a formidable Kingston pack advantage as well and the subsequent 19-point jam from Luci Fleur blew the game wide open and gave Kingston momentum. While strategic miscues were reflective of the lack of experience, the D-VAS had great individual moments throughout, and the smooth skating Tomy Knockers (playing her first ever game in Toronto Roller Derby) scored some nice late-half jammer take outs, while Mazel Tough had her best game with the D-VAS showing a strong positional awareness and performing very well one on one. But the fast strategic transitions of the Disloyalists had the D-VAS constantly a step behind, and they stared at a big 131-29 deficit at the half.

Recent transfer Tomy Knockers (laying down a strong offensive block) had a solid game for the D-VAS. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The D-VAS came flying out to start the second half, and a massive 20-point pick up by Wackedher on a power jam pivoted by Joss Wheelin (and aided by some nice recycling from the D-VAS pack led by Tomy Knockers) had them clawing their way back into it. But the pushback wouldn’t last. Two strong Kingston pivots Little Orphan-Maker Annie and Banger Management worked together on a jam to neutralize D-VAS jammer Machete Maiden, and a couple of natural grand slams restored the Disloyalists’ lead to 155-49 five minutes into the half. Again the D-VAS had their moments: both Babushkill and Mean Streak continue to be solid performers and Joss Wheelin and Lexi Con are beginning to exhibit diverse talents on the track transitioning from blocker to jamming very smoothly, and the improvements were evident as the game wore on and they began to respond to situations more efficiently and accurately (like a well executed Viktory Lapp power jam pivoted by Joss at the midway point on the half); they also kept their spirits up and made sure to celebrate small victories (like an Armageddon Rose  jammer take out on Vagina Dentata late in the game). But the Disloyalists never looked like they were out of control at any point. Widening their jammer rotation late didn’t change things either, and the depth of the pack made sure that the D-VAS could never truly mount a significant comeback. Luci Fleur closed things out for the Disloyalists, scoring 17 points on the final jam of the bout to push her team over 300 points, cruising to the 314-55 victory.

In the end, the depth and experience of the Disloyalists overwhelmed the D-VAS. (Photo by Greg Russell)

For the Disloyalists, this is just another victory in what will undoubtedly continue to be a break out year for them (and they’ve certainly earned themselves a shot at a more experienced ToRD team like the newly resurrected Bay Street Bruisers, for example). For the D-VAS this game provided perfect, much-needed experience against a strategically sound team that is on the rise and is the first step in a year-long process that will prepare them for ToRD’s 2012 entry draft (held in the fall); all of these little experiences (no matter how challenging) will pay off immeasurably in terms of experience gained and knowledge acquired.

**Next up for the D-VAS is a showdown in Brantford against the Belles of the Brawl on May 26th, while the Disloyalists have a little break in their busy schedule before taking on the Royal City Rollergirls next month in Guelph.

Kingston Derby Girls Sweep Double Header in Durham

   vs.     

Kingston’s Skateful Dead (hometeam) and The Disloyalists (travel team) skated into Durham Region last night for a double header showdown with teams representing both ends of the DRRD spectrum. With a roster sprinkled with members of the second KDG hometeam, the Rogue Warriors, it took a while for the Skateful Dead to come together, but when they did, they were able to handle the less experienced Durham farm team, the DRRD’Y Farmers. In the marquee matchup of the evening, a shorthanded Disloyalists marched onto the visitor’s bench and dominated the second half of their bout with the Derby Devils to distance themselves from their rivals and complete the double-header sweep.

The Disloyalists (blue) and the Derby Devils wait for the opening whistle. (Photography by Joe Mac)

The Disloyalists (KDG) 193 vs. Durham Derby Devils (DRRD) 86

Two teams to keep an eye on in the competitive derby scene in Ontario are the Derby Devils and the Disloyalists, but on Saturday it was the KDG skaters who stole the spotlight and turned some heads. When these two teams met in August of last year in Kingston, it was a defensive stalemate with the host team just able to eke out a 73-71 victory. It was a much more fast-paced and high-scoring bout this time around. In the early going it seemed like it was going to be another tight one. Durham jumped out to an early lead, only to have Kingston come back and snap it back, a trend for the first half of the period. Kingston’s Little Orphan-Maker Annie immediately made her presence known on the track, with an astute eye for the little things in the tight, fast moving packs, while on the Durham side Sensei Slam continued her comeback from a long injury layoff with a strong bout pivoting and blocking for the Devils. Karma Screwya and Amefyst are also emerging as smart, capable on-track leaders in Durham, anchoring a pack full of potential that includes Mozilla and Hitz Miller among others. The only difference in the early going was penalties that kept Durham shorthanded for much of the half (and the game) and allowed the Disloyalists to take control.  A late first-half pushback from the hosts kept them in it, but they were down 21, 60-39 at the half.

The Devils' Karma Screwya (pivot) and Hitz Miller (#244) attempt to hold Disloyalists' jammer Lavallee of the Dolls.

The Disloyalists put this one away early in the second half, holding the Durham Derby Devils to just two points during the opening third of the half while their pack—in particular on power jams—took over, dictating the conditions of the game (IE: pace and formation of the packs). The Devils maintained a tight jammer rotation of Cutsie Bootsie, Darth Kater, Legzy Maegzy and 12 Gage, all of whom had various moments of success and struggle throughout the bout, but they all kept fighting despite whatever challenges faced them (12 Gage had a particularly trying jam late in the second half that didn’t seem to sap one ounce of her spirit and she was right back up and ready for her next spot in the rotation). With only 11 skaters (down to 10 after a first half injury to Sassberry Tart), the Disloyalists were a little more liberal with their jammer rotation, but the core of the rotation was Lavallee of the Dolls, Luci Fleur, Juke of Hazards and Magpie, skaters who also spent considerable amount of time in the pack as well.

Disloyalists' triple threat Manic Breeze goes one on one with Devil's jammer 12 Gage.

By the end of the bout, it seemed as though the Disloyalists’ Manic Breeze had taken over this game. A talented, intelligent triple threat, Manic did a little bit of everything in this one and did it all well, showing a knowledge and awareness of that game that permeates this Kingston roster. And it was that track awareness that proved to be the difference, as Kingston took advantage of every minor mistake that Durham made. In particular, they took advantage of some loose pack destruction calls to cripple Durham on power jams and even drew them into chasing the passive outside-line they’d formed, allowing them to actually pull the pack backwards on occasion. In the end, the Disloyalists (who have a busy schedule coming up including a May 12th showdown in Toronto with the D-VAS) were able to make quite a statement with the 107 point victory.

The DRRD'Y Farmers and the Skateful Dead kicked off the double header.

Skateful Dead (KDG) 115 vs. DRRD’Y FARMERS (DRRD) 67

In the opening bout of the double header, the crowd was treated to a showdown between the future stars of these two fast-growing leagues. Once again it was close in the early going, with both teams running into considerable penalty troubles that would not relent throughout. Durham stuck with a tight jammer rotation of Darmean, Young Blood, Motorbreath and Tatinator (who seemed to get stronger as the bout wore on and picked up a ton of track time in the second half), while Kingston mixed things up a bit (particularly as their lead increased in the second half) but anchored their offense around Zesty Enterprise, the excellent Skate at Home Mom, and the scrappy Smackinnon. But this Skateful Dead team is paced by a triple threat as well, as Yo! Shanity Slam (despite early penalty trouble) left her mark on this game at every position. Again though, the game was certainly in reach at half, with Kingston up 62-35 as the skaters headed to the dressing room.

Skateful Dead's Yo! Shanity Slam and the Farmers' Darmean face off on the jam line.

Fatigue seemed to be a factor in the second half as both offenses slowed down, but it allowed particular skaters to shine. Durham’s Jilly Do Not recovered from a first half that saw her travel to the box four times, to keep her head in the game in the second half and provide some forceful pack work. Rina Green also got into the game in the second half, and the scrappy blocker punished her Kingston counterparts with some big hits and timely waterfalling. But Kingston showed that they had a deep bench and got strong performances from all over their lineup. Polly Slamory can be an intimidating factor on the track, while Cat O’Clism and Booty on Duty delivered some timely hits, and late in the game Flaming Hips scored some big jammer take outs to discourage any sort of late Farmers come back. In the end both teams won by gaining valuable track time, undeniably important for the least experienced skaters of these two up and coming leagues.

***Both leagues are in action next weekend, with both of Durham’s hometeams heading to Guelph for a showdown with Royal City, while Kingston’s home opener goes next weekend with a house league showdown and the Disloyalists hosting South Simcoe.

***A big thanks to Durham Region Roller Derby for inviting me to join Ross Aussage as guest announcer and for being such excellent and gracious hosts!

Tri-City Dishes out Punishment, wins 2012 Beast of the East

Tri-City's Vicious Dishes become the fifth Beast winner in five years. (Photography by Joe Mac)

For the second straight year parity was the word in Montreal as Eastern Canada’s traditional powerhouses from Montreal, Toronto, Rideau Valley and Tri-City put on an unpredictable and thrilling show in one of the sport’s last great houseleague tournaments: for the first time ever, all four semifinalists represented four different cities. But there were also a few big surprises –including the emergence of a new team to watch from northern Ontario—and the variety of styles of derby played had the crowd enthralled over two days and twenty-eight games. In the end, the Vicious Dishes, a supremely talented team that had never fared well at the Beast, pulled it all together at the right time and rode a thrilling Sunday push to the Championship final, and their first Beast of the East victory.

Pre-tournament favourites Chicks Ahoy! and Slaughter Daughters kicked off the tournament.

DOUBLE ELIMINATION ROUND

Set up by a random draw, the first round is always full of surprises and this year with a stacked upper bracket, was full of exciting action early. The tournament opener saw two pre-tournament favourites square off in a sleepy bout with ToRD’s Chicks Ahoy! taking the 10-point victory over the defending champion Slaughter Daughters out of Rideau Valley. But given the disparity in experience between some of the leagues, there were also some blowouts. Only twice in the tournament’s history had teams recorded shutouts (with 20 minute preliminary round games, this is certainly doable), yet the Vicious Dishes managed to pull it off twice defeating Muddy Rivers’ Reines of Terror and Quebec’s Les Duchesses by a combined score of 271-0 (although Les Duchesses would hit the century mark as well in their historic first-ever victory over an overmatched Debutantes team from GTA, part of a record-setting seven 100-point performances in the tournament). Despite these massive victories, the Dishes remained under the radar based on a sloppy, inconsistent performance resulting in a loss to co-hosts Les Filles du Roi.

2008 champs Hamilton Harlots returned to winning ways with a victory over first-timers Motor City Madames from Durham.

There were certainly a fair share of surprises as well, as pre-tournament favourites and last year’s finalists the Gore-Gore Rollergirls (who played very short-handed) never seemed to quite get their heads in it and were eliminated in the first round for the first time since 2008 (which was a single-elimination tournament). 2008 champs the Hamilton Harlots would get back in the win column this season, but would get dominated by the Daughters in an elimination game, and last year’s third place finishers, ToRD’s Death Track Dolls would see their tournament end early with a 59-31 loss to La Racaille. The Smoke City Betties picked up the slack for the ToRD contingent though, pulling off a demoralizing last-jam victory over the Thames Fatales to book their spot in the quarterfinal for the first time since 2009. Also short-handed, the Thames Fatales (one of eight teams playing in their fifth BOE) would never quite recover from that blow and would be overwhelmed in a surprisingly one-sided loss to an increasingly strong Babes of Thunder team from Thunder Bay (77-20), one of three teams debuting at the Beast (the others were the Reines and Durham’s Motor City Madames).

Led by excellent play from Mel E. Juana (among others), La Racaille would be the only of the three host teams to advance past the quarterfinals.

KNOCKOUT ROUND

Quarterfinals

Although the Chicks handled the Babes fairly well in the first quarterfinal (an 85-22 win that was never in doubt), it certainly wasn’t easy, and the performance capped an incredible tournament by the skaters from Thunder Bay. Beyond that, the quarterfinals provided some thrilling, high-scoring bouts including a four-point victory by the Daughters over a resurgent FDR who, paced by the amazing return of Beater Pan Tease after a two-year absence, saw a fierce late-game comeback fall just short (71-67). The Smoke City Betties competed well with, but could never quite solve La Racaille (78-59), and in the most thrilling (and controversial) game of the round, Les Contrabanditas fell to the Vicious Dishes. It was the second-straight year that the Ditas, Montreal’s big hope for the past two years, fell in the quarterfinals in somewhat of an upset. Although there was controversy at the end, the Ditas didn’t bring their A-game and early on it actually looked as if the Dishes would run away with it. A late-game push proved to be too little too late as the Dishes held on 64-54.

Despite a tough semi-final loss for the second straight year, the Chicks Ahoy! won their first Beast of the East trophy.

Semifinals

For the first time in the tournament’s history four different cities were represented in the semifinals. In the first, highly anticipated semifinal (a match up most had seen coming prior to the tournament), the Chicks Ahoy! became unraveled in an uncharacteristically undisciplined game against the Slaughter Daughters that saw them spend almost the entire game shorthanded (including a near eight-minute run when they were down 4-2 in the pack). Against a team as experienced and focused as the Daughters, it was virtually impossible for the Chicks to stay in it, and the Daughters guaranteed themselves a chance to defend their titles with the 65-31 victory.

In the second semifinal, the host city’s last hope, La Racaille, seemed to run out of steam against a team that was just beginning to pick it up. Using smart, punishing pack work (beautiful bridging to the front and back), the Dishes ground down the very talented La Racaille, but never ran away with it, securing the team’s first visit to the championship final with the 67-48 win.

Finals

For the second time in the tournament, the  Chicks Ahoy! and La Racaille met, and although this Montreal team looks as if it has come a long way in the past year (and sports an exciting lineup including homegrown talent Mel E. Juana, Nameless Whorror and Sparkle ‘N Maim and impressive transfers Surgical Strike, Slavic Slayer and Pelvis Stojko), they were outmatched again by a composed Chicks team led by Tara Part and Nasher the Smasher (dominant in the pack), and a strong jammer rotation of Candy Crossbones, Dyna Hurtcha and Bala Reina. Although unhappy with not advancing to the final, the Chicks picked up their first Beast trophy ever in the 87-48 victory.

Stifling pack work helped the Dishes win their first Beast of the East.

More evidence of the parity amongst the elite leagues in Eastern Canada, the Vicious Dishes vs. Slaughter Daughters final marked the first time in the tournament that both finalists had lost a game on route to the championship. Despite losses to key skaters, the Daughters have managed to fill gaps with excellent pickups in Eh Nihilator (a Gainesville transfer) L.A. Clip-her and Amanda Pummeler, and seemed poised to defend against a Dishes team that had taken many by surprise. Skating without the injured Cleothrashya and key jammer Motorhead Molly (replaced by leaguemates Leigh-zzie Borden and Freudian Whip respectively), the Dishes grasped control of the final early and never relented. With a core of Thunder skaters creating solid packs (sin-e-star, Bareleigh Legal, Anita Martini, Sofanda Beatin, Stacie Jones and Suzy Slam) and solid jamming from Lippy Wrongstockings and the converted pivot Jill Standing,  the Dishes got better as the tournament progressed and seemed the fresher and more focused of the two teams in the final. Despite the usual excellent work by the likes of Semi-Precious Margaret Choke, Scotch Minx and Sister Disaster (who joined Bareleigh Legal in fouling out of the game) the phenomenal jamming of Soul Rekker (that included one of the best apex jumps many had ever seen), the Daughters could never completely control the Dishes’ packs as they had others throughout the tournament, and despite the rain of boos that cascaded down upon the perhaps unfairly unpopular Dishes, they were clearly the top team by the end of it and became the first team to score over a hundred points in the final (and the first to hit the mark three times in single a tournament), winning 118-63 and claiming the team’s first ever Beast of the East championship.

Always amazing one-on-one, Semi Precious (#10) has, frighteningly, taken her pack work up another notch.

NERD’s PICKS

MVP: Semi Precious  (Slaughter Daughters)

The strength of the team-play of the champion Dishes made it hard to single-out any one player (which probably says a lot about why they won the tournament), so for the second year in a row, the Rideau Valley blocker takes the prize. Despite not leading her team to a championship, the Team Canada standout put together yet another incredible tournament and was the talk of the weekend among commentators, fans and players alike. Her always ferocious one-on-one abilities are now complemented by amazing pack leadership and she has become a complete player and one of this country’s elite superstars.

Daughters' Amanda Pummeler looked unintimidated against more experienced jammers like Freudian Whip.

Breakout Player:  Amanda Pummeler (Slaughter Daughters)

There were amazing breakout performances by so many skaters including Cutsie Bootsie (the Motor City Madames) whose team’s early exit didn’t allow her to face the stiff, late-round competition. Freudian Whip (Vicious Dishes) and Bala Reina (Chicks Ahoy!) both entered the tournament riding impressive 2012 performances and the hometown Apocalipstick (Les Filles du Roi) and Mel E. Juana (La Racaille) have been training with the mighty New Skids on the Block. But Rideau Valley’s Amanda Pummeler (a Fredericton transfer) takes the cake for answering a question: how do the Daughters reach the final with the absence of key jammer Ripper Apart? To win the tournament requires a deep jammer rotation and Pummeler added that with an impressive, consistent breakout performance.

Babes of Thunder made a huge impression in their impressive debut.

Breakout Team: Babes of Thunder (Thunder Bay)

While ToRD’s Smoke City Betties certainly get some consideration for their return to form, the Babes of Thunder made this a fairly easy decision. With very little action under their belts, and a roster known by no one (with the exception of former Montreal and Rose City skater Boxcar Bethy), the Babes impressed. In their opening game against FDR, the Babes seemed to know what to do, they just couldn’t quite do it, but by the end of the first round (including consecutive must-win victories over Reins of Terror and Thames Fatales), the Babes were rolling and their quarterfinal appearance announces them as a team to watch.

* All the tournament action was covered by Canuck Derby TV and you can watch the archives here.

* A big thanks to Canuck Derby TV and Montreal Roller Derby, but the Nerd would like to send out a special thanks to Neon Skates for their support of the Nerd’s coverage of the 2012 Beast  of the East.

Deciphering the Draft (Part 1): ToRD’s 2011 Entry Draft Is Deepest Yet

Toronto Roller Derby held its annual entry draft on October 15th at the new location of Cardinal Skates (940 Bloor St. W).

Starting at around 9:30 PM they begin to enter the new home of Cardinal Skate Shop one by one, responding to the call that they’d been waiting for. When each one enters there are loud cheers: Blue shirts are stretched over heads, green icing rubbed into faces, and baby bottles shoved into mouths. They’ve gone from the anxiousness of anticipation—the stress of waiting for a call that may not come—to being the celebrated centre of attention.  There is excitement in their faces, joy even, but behind that there is also relief and, for some, shock. These are the twelve newest skaters in the Toronto Roller Derby league, the draft class of 2011.

For the skaters of the 2011 draft, this night was a culmination of up to 18 months of hard work and dedication. It was a reward for their commitment to this sport, but also an acknowledgment of their ability. And it certainly wasn’t a guarantee. It wasn’t that long ago that being drafted into ToRD simply meant finishing the Fresh Meat training program and declaring eligibility; since 2010 it has become a much more competitive venture. The burgeoning global interest in women’s flat track roller derby has been mirrored by the incredible interest in the sport in Toronto. With an increasing number of skaters successfully completing Fresh Meat, but only a limited number of open roster spots on the four hometeams in ToRD, the decision was made to resurrect the D-VAS (one of the original hometeams that made up the initial, over-ambitious birth of Toronto Roller Derby).  Since 2010, the D-VAS has acted as a farm team for the four hometeams of the league. Given the steady growth of new leagues in Ontario (23 and counting as of October, 2011), there has been lots of equivalent-level competition entering the game that has allowed the D-VAS to put together a year-round bouting schedule of home and away games.

The D-VAS were one of the orginal 6 ToRD teams, and now serve as the farm team for the league.

Smoke City Betties captain Misery Mae knows the importance of the role of the D-VAS better than anyone; only one year ago she was completing her time on the farm team and being drafted into the league. Advancing from rookie to captain in a year is a remarkable turn-around made possible by a solid foundation formed on the farm team. “Being a D-VAS brings out an understanding of the game (and) brings you up to being game ready,” she points out, alluding to the high level of preparedness that skaters entering the league now have. These sentiments are echoed by Chicks Ahoy! captain Candy Crossbones, “It was very easy to choose skilled players because it was a very high calibre (draft) in terms of skill.” There were about 40 skaters on the D-VAS by the time of the draft, with 33 skaters declaring eligibility for the 12 spots. Needless to say, this level of competition will raise the level of the entry into the league, thereby raising the base level of play. “(The D-VAS) has been a huge asset for ToRD,” agrees Misery Mae, “and in the future, it’s going to be a really strong factor in what moves ToRD forward competitively.”

hellbat was the lone draftee of the Gore-Gore Rollergirls this season. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

The importance of this developmental process is not lost on the skaters either. hellbat, the lone draftee onto the Gore-Gore Rollergirls’ roster this season, was undrafted last year (the first year there were more skaters than spots in the draft). “(The D-VAS) are tremendously important to the future of ToRD…I feel like I had a rookie year already and then had to be a senior skater (to the newer D-VAS).” One of the Smoke City Betties’ four draftees, Laya Beaton was also a senior skater with the farm team this season. “This year was really awesome on the D-VAS; I got a lot of experience, a lot of game play, and I learned what I needed to fix.”  As the competitive level of ToRD reaches new heights, it is not as easy for skaters to simply step into a role in the league, and there isn’t as much opportunity for the hometeams to train them either. “(Being on the D-VAS) prepared me more for the level of competition that exists in ToRD,” explains Roadside BombShel (draftee of the defending champion Chicks Ahoy!). “The level of drive and commitment is new from what I’d seen before,” she says (pointing out that she began her skating career with the more recreationally focused Rollergettes). “It challenges you to be more than just a skater; it challenges you to be a better athlete.”

The game experience that the D-VAS gets (such as this September meeting against Guelph's Rolay City) means that they are entering the league at a much higher level. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

The game experience that the D-VAS get (such as this September meeting against Guelph's Royal City) means that they are entering the league at a much higher level. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

But being a member of a competitive roller derby team takes a lot more than just skills on skates and a knowledge of the game, it takes tremendous dedication. “The D-VAS are a really important step…in the past we’ve drafted people who weren’t even sure if they really wanted to be on a team,” points out Gores’ captain Lady Gagya, who stresses the importance of the D-VAS in clearly separating the curious from the committed.

After the rigors of being on the D-VAS (with the intense focus on training and game play) and having the opportunity to take hits from unfriendly opposition, questions of commitment can most certainly be laid to rest.

(Deciphering the Draft continues tomorrow with a look at the teams’ selection processes and more interviews with the drafted skaters)

Goodbye 2010: Favourite Photos and Off-Track Highlights

Another iconic shot from Fifth Business (Kevin Konnyu).

Mannie Leibowitz (David Artemiw) was the official photographer of the Smoke City Betties.

GOODBYE 2010

It’s hard to believe that it has already been a year since I finally sat down and starting writing about this sport. While it may have come after a long apprenticeship, I had no idea what to expect and have been overwhelmed by the support. I would like to thank the skaters and refs and volunteers at ToRD for their access, trust and support throughout this year. It has been amazing to watch this league thrive and continue to grow in every way possible. To be able to chronicle it so closely is not something I take for granted.

Bagel Hot (Derek Lang) has been shooting Canadian Roller Derby since the beginning.

I would also like to thank all the other leagues that I covered this year: Montreal, where I first learned the sport and where I continue to learn so much; Tri-City for forcing everyone else’s game up another notch; and Hammer City for blazing such a clear trail. Also Rideau Valley Rollergirls, Forest City’s Thames Fatales, GTA Rollergirls, Terminal City and E-Ville thank you all for being amazing examples of what this sport can accomplish.

Joe Mac (Midnight Matinee) brought a new lense to the sport in 2010.

And finally, the photographers whose pictures have illustrated these articles. Kevin Konnyu, Derek Lang, Joe Mac and David Artemiw thanks for always being so quick, so open, and so awesome with your work; they are essential to what I do and wonderful for the sport. Also for their generosity with their images, thank you so much to Laine “Seen It All” White, Chrissie “Fresh Eyes” Wu and Nicolas “The Left Coast Legend” Charest.  I’m indebted to you!

OFF-TRACK HIGHLIGHTS

Slow Derby Sucks ROCKS!

Derby nerds love slow derby! Perhaps the great evolution of flat track roller derby took place in 2009 when Denver (among other Western Region teams) brought the “trap” to the sport. This kick started an era of strategic growth in 2010 that has changed the nature of the game: forcing rules refinement from the officials and a higher level of strategic play from the skaters. It was absolutely amazing to see this evolution play out at the 2010 WFTDA Championships. From ultra-fast defensive packs to dead-slow traps (and everything in between) Uproar on the Lakeshore had it all. But there were, of course, some nostalgia mongers who, afraid of change–or perhaps just their ability to keep up—decided to take it upon themselves to bring a negative attitude to what was a celebratory event. The “Slow Derby Sucks” brigade was in Windy City in full force booing teams who employed…well, strategy, or who did anything other than skate in a circle really fast (maybe they were

Mega Bouche (ToRD) and Lock And Roll (HCRG). (Photo by Lucid Lou)

short track speed skating fans who took a wrong turn because I always thought the point of roller derby was to advance your jammer passed the opposing team’s pack). Along with wearing offensive t-shirts they also handed out misguided and insulting pamphlets that among other things urged people to boycott bouts featuring teams that employed slow-derby strategy: I have nothing but contempt for people who use “boycott” and “roller derby” in the same sentence.

That’s when two Canadian Crusaders stepped in and saved the day. ToRD’s very own Mega Bouche and Hammer City’s Lock And Roll managed to snag a couple of T-shirts (and even one of the signs) and turned them into wonderful pieces of subversive art. Thank you so much Lock and Bouche for creating such a beautiful moment!

Meeting the Original Derby Nerds

My personal off-track highlight of 2010 was getting to interview the original derby nerds, the voices of flat track roller derby, Dumptruck and Val Capone. The interviews were conducted for ToRD.TV at the 2010 WFTDA Championships, where one of my on-the-track highlights took place: Rocky Mountain’s championship victory over Oly, which may have been the best flat track roller derby bout ever played. It was a pleasure to interview these two figures (who have had a big influence on me); they are both extraordinarily gracious and welcoming and of course, monsters of roller derby knowledge.

Here are the interviews in their entirety!

Dumptruck:

Val Capone:

Happy New Year! Till 2011.

(For a little teaser, check out ToRD’s 2011 schedule!)

BACK IN BLACK: BLOOD & THUNDER ALL-STARS RECAP

Mega Bouche of the White Team was one of many ToRD skaters taking part. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Team Black (Mamas) 144 vs. Team White (Trash) 141

For the three days preceding Saturday’s Blood & Thunder All Stars Bout, skaters from all across Canada (and even a few from south of the border) descended on the ToRD Hangar for the first Training Camp the popular magazine has hosted in the city. Mirroring the expedited growth of the sport in Canada, the camp was jammed full of some of the most talented skaters this country has to offer (fittingly, on the eve of the camp, Tri-City was declared Canada’s third full WFTDA member). With such a deep pool of talented athletes, it was no wonder that two impressively skilled lineups were thrown together for Saturday’s bout. And after a rocky first half for the girls in white, the second half brought the level of back-and-forth strategic play that was expected from the two all-star squads, with Black managing to hold on for the nail-biting victory in a bout that came right down to the final contested jam.

FIRST HALF: BLACK’S EARLY DOMINANCE

ToRD's Bambi and Terminal City's Luludemon were both key for their teams. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The key to the kinds of bouts that feature teams of hastily thrown-together talent is how well—and how quickly—the skaters can come together. So while Terminal City’s Luludemon spotted White a quick 4-0 lead, it was clear in the early going that Black was gelling just a little bit quicker. This could have, in large part, been due to the core of five Rideau Valley Roller Girls and four ToRD skaters that shaped the lineup, providing a lot of much-needed familiarity. Nonetheless, there was a lot of line juggling going on as teams figured out who was playing well with whom. The RVRG pack-powerhouse Semi Precious controlled things in the pack early on, while ToRD vet Bambi and Montreal legend Georgia W. Tush took control of things from the jam line; Tush was especially solid early, quickly reeling in Rainbow Fight after the precocious Newfie battled her way through the pack to take the lead (Rainbow Fight and Nickel City’s Low Ride Her were the two least inexperienced skaters on the rosters, both playing for rookie leagues, although neither looked out of place on this night).

Forest City's Tamahawk was a revelation; while RVRG's Soul Rekker was business as usual. (Photo by Joe Mac)

In what was quickly becoming the story of the bout, it was another RVRG skater who would blow the game wide open as Slaughter Daughter/Vixen Soul Rekker put up an impressive 20 points. A subsequent power jam by Dyna Hurtcha capped a run of 56 consecutive points for Black as they opened up a commanding 56-4 lead half way through the first. Things opened up a bit in the later stages of the first half, with White finally finding their footing and way back into the bout. Luludemon and Soul Rekker had some great first half battles, but the story was in the pack; strong positional pairings like Tush and Precious or 8 Mean Wheeler (Terminal City) and Brim Stone (ToRD) complemented by big hitting from Assassinista (RVRG) and Mia Culprit (returning to competitive roller derby after a year-long hiatus) made up the difference in Black’s 83-26 half-time lead.

SECOND HALF: WHITE’S PUSHBACK

With the teams fully comfortable with each other, and the play opening up considerably near the end of the first half, if was no surprise that the second half featured more strategic play, and a big pushback from White. Having watched the first half from behind the benches, E-Ville’s Coach Pauly and Quadzilla (both instructors at the camp) couldn’t help it, and found themselves getting more and more involved over the duration of the second half. Knowing they needed to do something different than what they’d done in the first half to make up the gap, White set the tone for the half with an early star pass between Rainbow and Lulu that worked brilliantly breaking up a long and potentially tiring jam to rack up 17 points for White and getting them back into the bout. There were more RVRG players standing out for the White squad as well, with Surgical Strike doing her part in the pack to help White’s chances. Yet another in a long line of up-and-coming Montreal skaters, Hustle Rose was a huge triple threat for White as well, busting out of traps and picking up points in the early going to keep her team in the game. It was a Hustle power jam that pulled White within striking distance, 113-111, midway through the second.

Hustle Rose (MTLRD) gets some help from RVRG's Surgical Strike. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Another strong contingent in the bout emerged as the bout progressed; the four Forest City skaters on White—Mirambo, Anya Face, Commiekaze and Tamahawk—were all key elements in the White comeback. Mirambo was solid all bout, while Anya helped orchestrate a key 20 point power jam (made possible by a well-executed trap in a 4-1 pack advantage) that had White take the lead for the first time since the opening jam, 121-113. The pairing of Chicks Ahoy/CN Power teammates Mega Bouche and Tara Part was also effective for White, creating solid walls up front, along with Montreal’s Trash N Smash. But the experienced players on Black remained unfazed by the quick loss of their lead; Tush was key in the final jams of the bout, with Bambi confidently taking back the lead with a 14 point jam with under five minutes to go. After trading the lead back and forth, and only two minutes remaining White jammer Luludemon gave her team the lead on a grueling jam, only to find herself sent to the box, leaving Tush with just enough time to lap the pack and pick up a grand slam to pull ahead 142-141. With three seconds left on the clock, White called a time out. But in the final jam, the reliable Bambi, who is coming off of another strong ToRD season that concluded with a championship only weeks ago, took the lead for Black and after a brief, heart-stopping delay, called the jam to give her team the 144-141 victory.

It was, literally, a cross-Canada collection of talent. (Photo by Joe Mac)

CONCLUDING 2010

For most of the skaters in Toronto this weekend, this camp represents the end to a 2010 season that was groundbreaking in many ways for the sport in general, but for the sport in Canada in particular. Montreal broke through the international boundaries to announce Canada’s burgeoning emergence as a potential roller derby power. Their finishing the season with a run at WFTDA’s Eastern Regionals and a 7th place ranking in the Region are major accomplishments, especially considering how far they have come, and quickly they managed it. ToRD’s early season success at the Quad City Chaos showed that CN Power has the potential to compete at the top level of Canadian derby, but Tri-City’s October victory over their big-city rivals, and

Dyna Hurtcha had a solid night for Black. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

their recent earning of full WFTDA status, proved a reminder to ToRD (and all the other top Canadian leagues) that the “top level” is rising quickly. 2011 promises to take it to yet another level, with  Terminal City beginning their WFTDA Apprenticeship, Forest City continuing their forays into the U.S., and the Rideau Valley Vixens poised to be Eastern Canada’s next big breakout team. If 2010 was the year flat track roller derby grew up, then 2011 will be the year it matures.

Check out Layer9’s bout footage at ToRD.TV.

Check here for the full rosters.

2010 Championship Recap: Gores Send Chicks Sailing

 

Hurlin’ Wall whips Brim at the Chick’s front wall. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Chicks Ahoy!   31               vs.         Gore-Gore Rollergirls    107

 

The Gores hoist The Boot for the third time in four years. (Photo by Joe Mac)

It was not the bout that anyone expected. With a combined total of 1224 points in 8 games this ToRD season—which included 200 point victories over the Betties—and some of the biggest hitters in the league, the hard hitting, high scoring bout that many came to see never materialized. Instead the sold-out Hangar bore witness to a highly strategic, low-scoring, positional battle that highlighted some of the great strategic advances of the sport over the past year. While the Gore-Gore Rollergirls’ third championship in four years probably doesn’t come as too much of a shock to many, the manner in which they accomplished the feat could not have been expected.

THE FIRST HALF

Undefeated in ToRD action since a 2008 finals loss to this same Chicks Ahoy! team, the Gore-Gore Rollergirls were denied their chance at revenge last season when the Chicks failed to qualify for the final. Things got off to a chippy start with Chicks’ pivot Tara Part throwing a few heavy shoulders into Gores’ pivot Brim Stone (who pivoted a remarkable 62% of her team’s jams) on the first pass. A slow, scrappy pack and a 2-0 Gores’ start was a fitting preview for what was to come. Both teams’ strengths were on display early: the Gores’ quickness and improved pack play; the Chicks’ toughness and ability to create and hold strong front walls. But it was Dust Bunny’s zigzagging through the pack and Bambi and Lunchbox’s ability to accelerate along the outside that got the Gores off to a hard fought 15-1 lead ten minutes in. Bambi, who lead the early charge would go on to put up a game high 45 points. The rest of the first half became somewhat of a strategic masterpiece with neither team capable of taking momentum from the other.

Rebel Rock-It orchestrated some fast pack-defence for the Chicks. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Impenetrable back walls and fast front ones told the story. Every attempt by one team to take control was capably countered by the other. Dyna Hurtcha would fight her way through the pack to gain lead jammer for the Chicks only to see Bambi break through and reel her in; the Gores would take lead only to have Chicks’ front walls take over the pace of the pack and not allow a scoring pass. Eventually, Mach Wheels fought for the lead through a physical pack that saw Lunchbox rattled with a few hits including a big one form Mega Bouche. Absorbing a hit from Junkie Jenny, Mach pulled through to score an important four points and bring the Chicks closer, 21-7, with about ten minutes left. The bout quickly evolved into an intricate battle for control of the pack after that, alternating between super fast and grindingly slow. The Gores missed an opportunity to cash in on a power jam when Dust Bunny prematurely called the jam just as she noticed the penalty. When the opportunity did arise, a brilliantly defended kill led by Rebel Rock-It contained the damage. The score at the half, 32-10, represented one of the lowest scoring halves in league history.

Three generations of Gores contributed to this victory: veteran captain Brim Stone, sophomore Lady Gagya and rookie Gamma Rei. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

 THE SECOND HALF

The second half began much the same; both packs, led by their pivots, struggled to give their jammers as much help as they could. Nasher the Smasher, who has had a resurgent 2010, was just one of the pivots who had excellent games. Rebel Rock-It showed a great instinct and game awareness for the Chicks as well, while Molly Boom had a busy night backing up Brim Stone with the stripe along with taking jams in the pack. The Chicks came out strong, attempting an early-half push back but were unable to take advantage of early jammer leads. The Gores jammer trio, who are used to dominating the lead-jammer battles, found themselves being matched by the quartet of Kari Mia Beere (33% lead percentage), Mach Wheels (40%), Candy Crossbones (33%) and Dyna Hurtcha (71%) whose collective 45% lead percentage was the highest any team has managed against the Gores all season. Dolly Destructo filled in as a fifth jammer and had her most effective bout of the year, both jamming and in the pack. With the score 39-16 five minutes in, the 23 point difference meant that the championship was, at this point, still anyone’s game.

Gores' rookie Hurlin' Wall had another standout performance, on the track for 52% her team's jams. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Both teams played an extremely disciplined first half with very few penalty minutes served by either team. As much as the game was about control, discipline was clearly going to be a factor as well. Traditionally, the Chicks have had some discipline problems, an issue that they’d been working to clean up all season. Given the close nature of this one, it was of course a penalty—to the usually squeaky clean Mach Wheels at that—that may have been turning point. Dust Bunny made up for her early call in the first half by putting up 14 points on a power jam (she would score 42 in the bout), finally grabbing momentum for her team and changing the course of the game. Penalties would wreak havoc on the careful play that the Chicks had been maintaining, and during a penalty-filled streak of seven jams three quarters of the way through the half, the Gores outscored the Chicks 42-4, essentially putting an end to the any hopes of a Chicks’ comeback. The penalties would prove to be the story of the second half. With the Chicks visibly rattled about their trips to the box, they ended up collecting twice as many minors as the Gores and four times as many majors. The Gores were too prepared and too fit to not to take advantage of all that space on the track. Despite some excellent play by the Chicks’ pivots who lessened the blow on a lot of the pack disadvantages and power jams with some heads-up defense, the Gores were relentless in the end, confident and collected on their way to the 76 point victory and their third ToRD Championship.

It was a fitting close to an outstanding season for ToRD; a bout that was a fantastic platform to showcase the best talent in the league. It also capped another extraordinary season for the Gores who have taken part in all four ToRD championships. With five rookies on the roster and two more in the wings as alternates, the potential for a continued dynasty looks likely. Luckily, with the new start date for the season not too far around the corner, we won’t have to wait too long to find out.

THE STATS

The Gore-Gore Rollergirls                                 The Chicks Ahoy!

Team Stats
 Margin of Victory/Loss: +76

Lead %: 57%

Plus/Minus: +29

Blocks: 90

Assists: 26

Major Penalties (Minor): 5 (20)

 Margin of Victory/Loss: -76 Lead %: 45%

Plus/Minus: -37

Blocks: 67

Assists: 52

Major Penalties (Minor) 22 (47)

Player Stats (minimum 7 jams)
Points: Bambi 45 

Lead%: Dust Bunny 64%

Plus/Minus: Lady Gagya +68

Jammer Plus/Minus: Bambi +38

Blocks: Hurlin Wall 15

Assists: Santa Muerte 5

Major Penalties (Minor): Brim Stone 3(3 tied at 3)

JQ: Bambi 46

Dust Bunny 45

Lunchbox 40

Points: Mach Wheels 13 

Lead%: Dyna Hurtcha 71%

Plus/Minus: Dolly Destructo -1

Jammer Plus/Minus: Dyna Hurtcha +3

Blocks: Marmighty 13

Assists: Nasher the Smasher, Dolly Destructo 9

Major Penalties (Minor): 4 tied at 3 (Mega Bouche 9)

JQ: Dyna Hurtcha 33

Mach Wheels 30

Candy Crossbones 29

Kari Mia Beere 24

Couldn’t get tickets and want to see what all the fuss was about? Just want to relive the spectacle? Tune into Rogers TV on Saturday, December 4th at 8:00pm for the bout in its entirety. Stay tuned to ToRD.TV for layer9‘s coverage of the bout as well as player interviews.

ToRD Championships: The Battle for the Boot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE MATCHUP

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

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

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

THE OUTCOME

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

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

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

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

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

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

ToRD Semifinal Recap: Chicks cruise into the finals.

Chicks and Dolls met in a rematch of the 2008 seminfinals

The Death Track Dolls 83 vs. The Chicks Ahoy! 119

The Chicks Ahoy! are playing for The Boot. After missing out on a chance to play for the ToRD championship last year, a focused and determined Chicks team squared off against the Death Track Dolls in front of an appreciative crowd. It was a disciplined, unified effort from the 2008 champs against a less experienced, but no less hungry crew of Dolls. While it wasn’t quite the classic that some had expected, no one left The Hangar disappointed as the Dolls pushed back right through to the end, refusing to concede to the team that has become their biggest rivals. You get the sense that the final chapter on this rivalry has yet to be written, but for now the Chicks have bragging rights after a 36 point victory in ToRD’s second semi-final bout.

THE FIRST HALF

The tension was high in the Hangar as the teams’ two top jammers, Land Shark and Mach Wheels, lined up for the first jam. Despite nailing down lead jammer status, Mach Wheels couldn’t shake the Shark and they split the opening jam 5-3. This opening would tell the tale of much of the first half: back and forth shifts in control with neither team able to fully take the momentum. Both teams play a similar style of derby, and played it well last night, whether it was strong back walls from the excellent Chicks’ pack or great goating by the Dolls’ blockers, both teams looked in fine late-season form. A big Monichrome whip for Demolition Dawn had the Dolls inch ahead 14-11 five minutes in, only to see Dyna Hurtcha respond while Hoff and Nasher held back Betty Bomber and the Chicks pulled ahead 15-14 at the midway point of the first half.

The Chicks' Candy Crossbones recorded the highest JQ, 47. Betty Bomber scored 24 points for the Dolls

One noticeable difference in this one was the comparable lack of penalties. Both teams have been plagued by undisciplined play in the past, and while neither team seemed capable of taking control early on, it was a well executed Chicks’ power jam that blew the bout open. Already a grand slam and a lap ahead of SlamWow, Candy Crossbones went on a power jam and pulled off another big jam, putting 20 points on the board and blowing open what had been a tight bout. A well-timed timeout and a reeling in of the undisciplined play allowed the Dolls a pushback at the end of the first half. With strong defense from Panty Hoser, Land Shark led the attack, looking relaxed and confident in what was one of her strongest bouts of the season. A few key lead jams and one timely grand slam had the Dolls within reach 54-31 at the half, that lone power jam by Candy Crossbones being the only difference.

THE SECOND HALF

The one thing that separates these team is an intangible: experience. The Chicks’ core has been together for upwards of four years now; they’ve won championships together, lost championships; they’ve got that big-game experience. That edge in experience may have been the difference on a night when both teams left everything on the track. After being dominated in the final jams of the first half, the Chicks responded to start the second. Focused and unbothered by the late-half offensive output by the Dolls, the Chicks looked one step ahead of the Dolls at times early in the second period, holding a strong front wall and dictating the pace of the packs. They played a deliberate, and chippy game, keeping packs tight and taking small, reliable points gains, almost forcing a defensive posture out of their opponents. Once again the Chicks held their composure and the frustrated Dolls too often let go of brief grasps of momentum with undisciplined play giving up too many pack advantages and an eventual power jam. Triple threat Mach Wheels, who is capable of single-handedly taking over a game, was defended as well as possible by the Dolls on this evening, which allowed traditional jamming power Candy Crossbones to step up, and she did once again in the second, taking advantage of another power jam to put up 14 points (she had 52 on the night) and give the Chicks a commanding 81-34 lead ten minutes in.

Land Shark had a great night for the Dolls, including a 25 point jam.

Briefly deflated, the bout seemed to be quickly slipping away from the Dolls. Poorly timed hits and some ill-advised jammer defense had the younger Dolls squad looking briefly overhwhelmed. With Dyna Hurtcha fighting through blocks and looking better with each jam since her return after missing half the season, Rebel Rock-It pivoting confidently, Mega Bouche laying some patented hits and Tara Part continuing to look strong at the front of the pack, the Chicks seemed ready to run away with it. Over twenty minutes in to the second half, the Dolls had managed only 7 points in the period and were well back, 118-38. But if there’s one thing that fans of ToRD have learned over the past two meetings with these two teams, it is that no lead is safe, and the Dolls were not going to go down without a fight. With such a big lead it wouldn’t be surprising if the Chicks began to look beyond the bout, perhaps to thoughts of the championship, and that brief lapse in focus led to a slip in their disciplined play. The pushback was led by captain Betty Bomber who picked up 15 on a well executed power jam; then, in a bizarre twist caused by a slew of quick majors and accumulated minors, there was actually a bit of a traffic jam at the box that resulted in the Dolls having the track to themselves for a brief moment. Despite a quick recovery from the Chicks’ blockers, Land Shark took full advantage of the opportunity and became the third ToRD player of the season to put up 25 points in a single jam. Within two jams, the Dolls had pulled within 40 points and put 5 more on the board in the last to make the final score 119-83 and give the crowd an extraordinary ending to what had already been an entertaining bout.

The Dolls are confident about their chances in 2011

LOOKING FORWARD

Despite ending the season on a losing note, the Dolls are a confident bunch moving forward. For the first time in two years they have a solid lineup of 15 or 16 skaters that will stay together to form the core of the this team, and it’s a solid core with a great mix of veterans, rookies and second year players. Strategic, position-based picks at the draft could provide  essential pieces for this team. The Chicks Ahoy! are back where they want to be: competing for The Boot against the Gore-Gore Rollergirls. This will be a rematch of the first two ToRD championships; titles that were split by the two teams. The Chicks seem to be coming together at the right time and are primed for a battle.

The ToRD Championship is on November 13th at The Hangar. Tickets are on sale online or at a variety of places in the GTA.

See layer9’s footage and interviews (including one with special guest, TSN’s James Cybulski) on ToRD.TV

 

 

STATS

Team

Chicks Ahoy! Death Track Dolls
Margin of Victory/Loss: +36 

Lead %: 60%

Plus/Minus: +15;

Major Penalties (Minor): 51 (18)

Hits: 60

Jammer Hits: 29

Margin of Victory/Loss: -36 

Lead %: 40%

Plus/Minus: -13

Major Penalties (Minor) 44 (14)

Hits: 53

Jammer Hits: 10

Player (minimum 7 jams)
Points: Candy Crossbones 52 

Lead%: Mach Wheels 70%

Plus/Minus: Tara Part +58

Jammer Plus/Minus: Candy Crossbones +30

Major Penalties (Minor): Mega Bouche 5 (Tara Part 8 )

Hits: Mega Bouche 13

Jammer Hits: Mega Bouche 6

JQ: Candy Crossbones 47

Mach Wheels 42

Dyna Hurtcha 36

Kari Mia-Beere 25

Points: Land Shark 48 

Lead%: Land Shark  44%

Plus/Minus: Downright Dirty Dawson +13

Jammer Plus/Minus: Land Shark +2

Major Penalties (Minor): Seka Destroy 4 (Jubilee 8 )

Hits: Jubilee 13

Jammer Hits: Downright Dirty Dawson 3

JQ: Land Shark 42

Betty Bomber 34

SlamWow 19

Demolition Dawn 16

Thunder Overpowers Toronto

Tri-City Thunder hosted ToRD's CN Power in the first meeting of the two teams

CN Power (ToRD) 50 vs. Tri-City Thunder (TCRG) 122

It was the end of Oktoberfest in the Tri-City area on Saturday night, and that festive atmosphere extended all the way to New Hamburg Arena where Toronto had come to town to play the hometown Thunder in a highly anticipated bout. The upstart Tri-City Roller Girls have had a break-through year at all levels in 2010, and their commitment and dedication to reaching the highest stages of the sport was evident in this one as they dominated ToRD’s CN Power on their way to a statement-making 72 point victory.

Nasher the Smasher had another strong bout for CN Power (looking to stop Freudian Whip)

Things started off tight, with each team attempting to get a feel for the other. CN Power’s Nasher the Smasher and Thunder’s Jill Standing began what would be some great early pivot battles as each team attempted to wrestle control of the bout away from the other. It was tight hitting, fast moving in the early going, and leads were traded seemingly by the jam. A big jammer take out from Mega Bouche and an athletic jam from Lunchbox (who would have some stunning battles with a physically/stylistically similar Motorhead Molly) had Toronto up 5-4 five minutes in. Tri-City’s vaunted pack control was countered in the early going by a combination of strong pivoting (Brim Stone overmatched Lillith NoFair early on), and heads-up jamming (Land Shark avoiding “eating the baby” in a game attempt by Skate Pastor and Anita Martini to drag her back to the pack). Toronto’s power game was firing on all cylinders, highlighted by successive jammer take-outs on Cell Block Bettie by Nasher and Betty Bomber which aided a Luncbox grand slam and gave Toronto a 13-9 lead ten minutes into the first half. But just as CN Power seemed to be imposing its will on the hosts, the Thunder started rolling.

Dyna Hurthca, lining up against Skate Pastor, helped CN Power regain momentum late in the first half.

Adjusting to their opponents pace and heavy hitting, the Thunder blockers dropped back and took over the back of the pack, relying on their jammers’ athleticism and endurance to get themselves through, while they focused on shutting down Toronto’s jammers; Skate Pastor quickly took back the lead for Tri-City. CN Power was slow to adjust to the pack shift and the Thunder jammers took advantage. Despite strong individual efforts from the Chicks Ahoy! quartet of Rebel Rock-It, Nasher, Mega and Tara Part (whose rapid return to form after a long layoff has been amazing), by the time Dyna Hurtcha and Lady Gagya took back the pack with force, the host team had opened up a 42-15 lead. Despite continuously scrappy jams from Defecaitlin and Land Shark, CN Power couldn’t get anything going offensively. Dyna Hurtcha came out to jam late in the half, and it paid off as she was able to fight through the dense wall of black at the back and out-muscle Motorhead Molly to shift the momentum back Toronto’s way, pulling them within striking distance, 44-26, at the half.

sin-e-star was dominant controlling the pack and holding the jammer

There was a particular tension in the crisp New Hamburg air during half time. With Toronto’s confidence seemingly restored, there was an expectation that the second half would see the same see-sawing action on the track. A key for these teams was to dictate the style and pace of the bout; the first half had seen control shift back and forth, and there was a sense that the team that could impose its will on the track in the early going would take the bout. From the very first jam of the second half, Thunder co-captain sin-e-star, who had an extraordinary bout, imposed her will in a big way. Teaming up with Cellblock Bettie, the two gave it to Dyna Hurtcha early on, compensating for the physicality the Toronto jammer had brought late in the first half. The captain’s performance would lead a huge second-half push back by the Tri-City pack. With Gunmoll Mindy holding the line brilliantly, Lillith NoFair settling into her role as pivot and Greta Garbage and Anita Martini working together to form some great walls, the Thunder took control of the pack and, very quickly, the bout.

But it wasn’t just the pack that shone for Tri-City on this night. Lippy Wrongstockings, Motorhead Molly and Skate Pastor all had strong performances jamming and were complemented nicely by Freudian Whip and Kitty Krasher. Skate Pastor and Motorhead Molly were solid in the pack, withstanding shoulders and sidestepping hips, while it was a Lippy 10 point power jam (well earned after a protracted one-on-one fight with a fiercely determined Brim Stone) that seemed to take the wind out of Toronto. Second-half penalty troubles for CN Power and well played power jams by Tri-City allowed the home to distance itself 90-29 half-way through the second. Thunder was absolutely relentless through the remainder of  the half, dominating the pack defensively, but also putting forth a sustained attack propelled by excellent pack-jammer communication, the combination of which seemed too much for Toronto at times. Defecaitlin had a strong last jam for CN Power, providing some consolation in a tough 122-50 loss.

Two of Canada's WFTDA Apprentice Leagues. Photos by Joe Mac (midnightmatinee)

This bout provided a glimpse into the future of Canadian roller derby, featuring two of Canada’s three WFTDA apprentice leagues. With this victory, Tri-City has clearly put itself at the forefront of Canada’s WFTDA second-wave (after last year’s Hamilton/Montreal debuts). This was just the beginning of what will undoubtedly be a long history between these two teams, and if this really is a glimpse into the future of the sport in this country, then things are definitely headed in the right direction.