Chicks Ahoy! Gore-Gore Rollergirls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nerd Glasses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gores to Battle for the Boot After Semi-Final Win

The Gore-Gore Rollergirls held off Chicks Ahoy! in a highly competitive semi-final showdown, while the D-VAS impressed against South Simcoe in their final performance before the 2015 entry draft.

This was the sixth playoff meeting between the Chicks and the Gores, but the first time they have faced off in the semi-final instead of the final. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

This was the sixth playoff meeting between the Chicks and the Gores, but the first time they have faced off in the semi-final instead of the final. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The “Dynasty” has completed one more step on its quest to return to the top. After reaching 6 consecutive ToRD championships from 2007-2012, the Gore-Gore Rollergirls were stunned in last year’s semi-finals by the Smoke City Betties leaving them and their co-perennial power house leaguemates Chicks Ahoy! out of the championship game for the first time ever. It would be a league turn around that would not last long, as both are clearly back in the mix. The Gores booked their ticket to the Battle for the Boot with a tight, entertaining 152-97 victory over the Chicks on Saturday at the Bunker.

There was an old-school feel to the game brought on not only by the two teams’ long history together, but also by the fast-paced, grinding style of play they brought to the track. The Gores got off to a light advantage from the start, but were unable to pull away in the early going, never leading by more than 20-30 points. They were getting a strong game from their core of reliable veterans led by Santa Muerta, Chronic, and Kandy Barr, who were incredibly physical and, at least in the early going, never let the Chicks get into any sort of rhythm.

Chicks jammer Roadside BombShel made her return to the roster after a long injury lay off. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Chicks jammer Roadside BombShel made her return to the roster after a long injury layoff. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Chicks, however, looked strong as well, and seem well passed the brief drop to the bottom of the league that they endured last season. Led by their own core of blocker veterans (notably Rosemary’s Rabies, Biggley Smallz, Robber Blind and Emraged), the Chicks played a simple, old school, fast-pack defense to offset the lead-jammer advantage that the Gores had early on and it kept the score close. They played with a spark and intensity that was perhaps tied to the emotional return of jammer Roadside BombShel (who missed a season and a half recovering from injury): the scrappy jammer picked up right where she left off playing a more jukey style of game that was able to separate some of the Gore walls.

Both teams were suffering from injuries to key skaters and relied on call-ups from the D-VAS to bolster their jammer rotations; the Chicks call-up (and recent league transfer) Smoka Cola was simply extraordinary in the game, and in particular in the opening half, leading her temporary team in scoring (20 points) and the game in lead percentage (71%) through the first 30, looking incredibly comfortable on the track with exquisite footwork and powerful acceleration.

Gores jammer Lexi Con (evading a hit from Joss Wheelin) led the game in scoring with 91 points, including 59 in the opening half. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Gores jammer Lexi Con (evading a hit from Joss Wheelin) led the game in scoring with 91 points, including 59 in the opening half. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

2013 league leading scorer Lexi Con, saw her chances to repeat as scoring champion fade away when a late season injury kept her out of the Gores’ lineup; however, she looks none the worse for wear, and has arguably returned from injury even stronger. It was a late first half power jam skated by Lexi (and adding to her game-leading total of 91 points, of which 59 came in the first) that allowed the Gores to add a bit of a cushion at the break as the Chicks had roared back. Suddenly a 30-point deficit bad been stretched to 50, with the Gores leading 93-43 at half.

One thing that has changed about this Chicks Ahoy! team from their rough 2013 rebuild to now is their resiliency: whenever it seemed as if they were done in this game, they found that internal strength and motivation to fight back and stay in it. It was the quality that put them over the edge in a thrilling regular season win over the Betties and that was what kept them in this one when it threatened to get away from them.

The Gores picked up the second half right where they left off in the first, going on a 26-4 run to increase their lead to 119-47. The Gores’ depth shined through in the second as well as Purple Pain and Miss Kitty La Peur played some of their strongest derby of the season, with Purple locking down the front of the pack and Kitty often playing from the back.

The Gores' Chronic, Santa Muerte and Purple Pain work to contain Hyena Koffinkat. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Gores’ Chronic, Santa Muerte and Purple Pain work to contain Hyena Koffinkat. (Photo by Greg Russell)

But the Chicks just wouldn’t go away. Hyena Koffinkat brought her now expected intensity to the game and was a force particularly in the second half, often going toe-to-toe with (arguably) the only jammer in the league who could match her in on-track intensity: Lumberjack Flash; but after being contained for much of the first half, Hyena broke free in the second. This, coupled with a heads up half-time decision to flip the roles of R2 Smack You and Heavy Knitter (from pivot to jammer and vice versa), had the Chicks come storming back in the second, going on a 27-2 ten minute run of their own to pull back within reach, down 126-74 at the midway point of the second.

And the Chicks just kept coming, pouring it on until the end, with the Gores frantically able to hold on, getting incredibly strong jamming late from Beaver Mansbridge, who played with the star more than at any other time in her ToRD career thus far. When it was all said and done, despite getting stronger as the game went on, the Chicks simply ran out of time , and the Gores own tenaciousness allowed them to seal the deal and book their ticket back to the Battle for the Boot with the 55-point victory.

**The Gores will face off against defending champion Death Track Dolls in the 2014 ToRD Championship on October 18. Tickets are on sale now.

D-VAS 213 vs. South Simcoe 172

The least experienced members of these two teams squared off at Fresh and Furious 2014 in July with the D-VAS winning narrowly. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The least-experienced members of these two teams squared off at Fresh and Furious 2014 in July with the D-VAS winning narrowly. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

In the opening game of the double header, the D-VAS ended their 2014 on a high note with a big win against a scrappy team in the South Simcoe Rebel Rollers to improve their season record to 5-2 (not including a third place finish at this year’s Fresh and Furious tournament) and leave an excellent impression ahead of this year’s entry draft.

The teams were virtually deadlocked early on, with only D-VAS’ power jams keeping the home team ahead (including an incredible 27 point jam from top prospect Smoka Cola), up only slightly, 59-43 at the midway point, the D-VAS opened things up a bit at half, up 119-74. South Simcoe was led in the pack by captain Mis Terplow, Painkiller Jane, Luna-Zee (who eventually fouled out) and Suzy Scalp-Her, with Crash Brownie coming on strong late. South Simcoe was liberal with their jammer rotation early on, before locking in the trio of Amazon, Axe Attack and Brand Her (all of whom had successes at one point or another during the game).

Battering Ma'am, pivoting for the D-VAS, had a strong night at all three positions. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Battering Ma’am, pivoting for the D-VAS, had a strong night at all three positions. (Photo by Greg Russell)

There were three separate occasions where a South Simcoe jammer picked up multiple penalties on the same jam, and this was certainly the difference in the end as the D-VAS led the whole way during the second half , but were never able to pull away, instead holding on in the end for the 41-point win.

There were a variety of D-VAS standouts in this final game before the entry draft, with Vag Lightning standing out in the pack and Smoka Cola dominating at times with the star, while Battering Ma’am was all over the track in a strong triple-threat performance. But all season there have been a variety of players who have stepped up for the D-VAS making draft-day decisions all that much harder.

**Both games were filmed by Rogers TV. Stay tuned to local listings for re-airing dates and times.