Chicks Ahoy!

Neil Gunner’s Into Battle to Launch at ToRD’s 2015 Season Opener

“I definitely had it in my mind to represent the full derby experience as much as possible.”—Neil Gunner on preparing to publish Into Battle, his book of roller derby photography that will be available this weekend at ToRD’s 2015 Season Opener.

"If I'm having to use my teammates to try to claw my way through, it's probably because I'm under heavy attack. That's how it feels when you're playing against Windy City." - Minnesota's Juke Boxx (now with London) on facing  Windy City in the final of the 2012 WFTDA North Central Regional Championship.

“If I’m having to use my teammates to try to claw my way through, it’s probably because I’m under heavy attack. That’s how it feels when you’re playing against Windy City.” – Minnesota’s Juke Boxx (now with London) on facing Windy City in the final of the 2012 WFTDA North Central Regional Championship.

Into Battle: The Roller Derby Experience in Photos and Interviews is a coffee-table sized sports photography book, but it’s not your typical sports book, nor is it your typical book of photographs. And those are both good things.

The book is not simply a collection of the author’s best or favourite photographs; it is instead curated thematically, divided into 27 sections that mimic the narrative of a roller derby event, from pre-game talks to stretching and gearing up, right through to the elation of post-game celebrations.

Beautifully and meticulously put together from the inside covers right through to the subtle background images of the text (ghostly shots of the floor the Bunker, home of Toronto Roller Derby), perhaps the most astonishing thing about the book is that it was self-published by the photographer himself, Neil Gunner. And everything from the vision to the actualization was all his doing.

“My main motivation was that I wanted full creative control, from art direction and layout to treatment of photos and skater stories to physical specs for the book,” Gunner explained in a recent interview. “I didn’t trust that some mass-market publisher would do justice to roller derby the way someone within our community would.”

So despite interest from an American publisher, Neil set out on his own with little more than his large collection of personal photos representing a number of events (from house league matchups to the WFTDA playoffs) and 19 distinct leagues from throughout Canada and the United States, and only a slowly evolving vision for the book.

“When I started the process, I had no idea if it was even going to work,” he admits now, “It all depended on the skaters – if they were willing to share, we were in business. Thankfully, the vast majority were very open and engaging; once I’d done a couple of interviews, I knew I was on to something.”

Interestingly, the book emerged out of a somewhat constructed collaboration that went beyond the natural game-time collaboration between photographer and subject. Instead of simply organizing the photographs into thematic sections, Gunner also made the fascinating choice of interviewing the subjects of the photos and using those words to accompany the photos as opposed to his own descriptions; this was one of the ideas that preceded the publishing of the text and ended up inadvertently shaping the content as well.

“When I started, I didn’t immediately think ‘chapters’; I wasn’t even sure what the theme would be… As I started to complete interviews and create transcripts, I could see themes and patterns emerging; it was just a matter of putting those patterns together. Over several weeks, the patterns became categories, which became sections and then chapters, right down to individual page spreads…The photo and story I chose for the introduction—where Arch Rival’s High Pains Drifter (Bench Coach) and Downtown Dallis are having their heart to heart—when I put those stories together, I thought, ‘This is it. This represents the whole derby attitude.’ It set the tone for the entire book.”

"I was just thinking  to myself, desperately like, 'Grab Acid's hand and take that whip.'" - Ohio's Smacktivist on a 2012 playoff showdown with Naptown.

“I was just thinking to myself, desperately like, ‘Grab Acid’s hand and take that whip.'” – Ohio’s Smacktivist on a 2012 playoff showdown with Naptown.

Neil Gunner (whose derby photography can be found on his Flickr site) is unique in one way from most derby photographers: He is very selective about what photos he releases to the public after a bout or tournament, sometimes to the point where a double header, for example, will produce as little as twenty pictures; so even in his regular derby photography, he is building a narrative and it’s something that he is conscious about: “One thing you’ll notice when you look at my derby photography in general: I like to curate and I like to tell a story, if I can. Sort of a dramatic documentary. The one thing I knew from the start was that this (book) couldn’t be just a bunch of photos with no context – I mean, who’d care, right?”

This structural decision makes for a surprisingly engaging read. As with any book of photos, it’s entirely possible to open randomly and be impressed by the pics and the layout, but rare in photography books is the ability to read it from start to finish as you would a novel or even a game recap.

But collecting and selecting the images and doing the interviews—while undeniably a massive undertaking—is just the first step in the production of a book; beyond that, the actual production can take as much time or more and can offer immense challenges, particularly from someone self-publishing a book for the first time. As Gunner admits, it required a lot of patience and the willingness to learn on the fly: “Every step of the process presented a unique set of challenges. The ones I didn’t see coming all had to do with production. For instance, I taught myself InDesign in order to build the book layouts. I learned all about retouching to fix a couple things within some photos.”

But the biggest challenge, he explains, was the actual preparation of the images for printing: “Photos intended for paper and a multi-million dollar printing press require a different output format than photos intended for a computer screen (CMYK versus RGB for those interested). The conversion process isn’t hard, but the trick is maintaining image quality: images reproduced on paper often lose something. I did a lot of testing, and this is one reason why finding the right printer is so important.” He ended up choosing a printer from Manitoba, and along with printing, they were able to offer advice as well.

As you learn through talking with people who have self-published, finding and receiving help along the way is key in the production. The term “self-publishing” itself is a bit of a misnomer, especially when producing a book as technically and structurally challenging as this one. All the steps a “traditional” publisher would take still need to be taken, and Gunner made sure to seek out help where needed, which included hiring a print production management team, Heidy Lawrance Associates, who ended up putting him in touch with the Manitoba-based printer and gave advice about aspects such as layout.

And that help extends into post production where he hired a copy/substantive editor, Stephanie Halldorson from h:editing, as well as a proofreader, Tan Light. “Believe me,” Gunner is quick to point out, “the book was very much improved by their attention.”

But when it all comes down to it, the stars of the book are the photos themselves and the subjects they contain. And the years of shooting roller derby have given Neil a refined eye for the sport and the action it contains.

There is a wide range of levels of derby captured in the book. The opening two-page spread of the “Teamwork” section (pp.76-77), for example, provides one image of a farm-team level game in Toronto opposite an image of a WFTDA elimination playoff game between Ohio and Naptown; despite the disparity in the levels of the game, the subject matter (two blockers attempting to whip their jammers past quickly advancing defenses) and the captured intensity are equal and presented as such.

"It was a messy, messy couple of seconds." - Windy City's Killanois on this encounter with a Montreal pack.

“It was a messy, messy couple of seconds.” – Windy City’s Killanois on this encounter with a Montreal pack.

The set-up also allows for narratives to be told over two pages. One example appears in the “Contact” section where a sequence (pp. 46-47) showing the knocking down of a jammer (Windy City’s Killinois) by a couple of Montreal blockers is described over both pages, with the narrative of the blocker (Montreal’s Mel-E. Juana is the interviewed blocker) and the jammer accompanying the images. Similarly, a three-photo spread (pp. 160-161) in the “Tenacity” section shows an ongoing battle between a blocker (Forest City’s Mirambo) and jammer (Toronto Roller Derby’s Bala Reina). It’s a compelling style, and one of the reasons that makes this book of photography so “readable.”

In the end, what Gunner has managed to produce is as compelling a book about roller derby as the contemporary revival has seen. Add to that the fact that as a DIY project, it was a labour of love in line with the cultural aesthetic of contemporary roller derby, and you have a book that successfully captures a community.

While talking with Neil about the book, you get a sense that despite the effort, he enjoyed making it as much as we’ve enjoyed reading it. “You really have to enjoy the process. It’s a huge amount of sustained effort; several phases were a full-time job. So you’ve got to have fun along the way or you’ll never get through it. Which is why I’m eternally grateful to every skater who agreed to do an interview over a beer.”

When asked if self-publishing was the right decision, he doesn’t hesitate, “it was absolutely the right decision.”

ToRD 2015 Season Opener BannerInto Battle will be available at Toronto Roller Derby’s 2015 season opener, a double header featuring a rematch of the 2014 Battle for the Boot (Death Track Dolls vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls) and Chicks Ahoy! vs. Smoke City Betties. Neil Gunner and others who appear in the book will also be available to sign autographs.

Tickets are now available.

ToRD’s 2015 Entry Draft Defined by Experience; Features First Junior Grad

“I feel like Beyonce herself parted the seas and said ‘let there be joy.'” 2015 Chicks Ahoy draftee Vag Lightning on being selected by the team in the entry draft.

ToRD BannerThis was yet another big draft for  Toronto Roller Derby bringing in a total of 24 new skaters to the home teams (plus three skaters either returning from a hiatus or who will also skate for CN Power), with the defending champion Death Track Dolls  pulling in the largest numbers of skaters for the second year in a row, with eight new skaters added to the roster. Once again there was a great number of home grown D-VAS in the draft, mixed with some very impressive transfers.

While this year’s transfers may not come from locales quite as diverse as those in last year’s draft, the usual local transfers from the Rollergettes, the GTA Rollergirls, and DRRD (Durham Region Roller Derby) were also joined by skaters from Alliston (both Misfit Militia and Renegade Derby Dames) and one transfer all the way from New Zealand.

Smoke City Betties Logo

Smoke City Betties

Ann Bulance

Brickhouse Bardot

Fight of the Conchords

Isla B Damned

Juggernaut J

Smoka Cola

Experience is the word that defines the Smoke City Betties’ 2015 draft picks. Coming off of a disappointing 2014 that saw them slip to the bottom of the standings and miss the playoffs, the Betties ended up selecting one of the most experienced set of draftees ever, all of whom are capable of having an immediate impact on the team.

Even the two homegrown skaters, Juggernaut J and Fight of the Conchords come with considerable track experience. Juggernaut was co-captain of this year’s D-VAS and one of its most consistent blockers, while Fight has the distinct honour of being the first TJRD graduate drafted by ToRD. Moving from Saskatoon where she began as a junior, she was surprised that in TJRD’s four years, they had yet to graduate a skater. While she says she feels some pressure, she’s also confident that she is ready:  “Junior derby really gave me the fundamental skills to do what I do,” she said in the excitement of the moment. “I’m stoked to be part of this team and excited to be a part of ToRD.”

The Betties’ other five picks are all transfers with varying levels of experience. Isla B Damned comes all the way from New Zealand’s Richter City Roller Derby, Smoka Cola is a product of the highly competitive Misfit Militia out of Alliston, and Ann Bulance and Brickhouse Bardot are familiar to any fans of roller derby in the city, having most recently played for the Rollergettes. “There was a vibe; the universe was telling me I was going to be in black and blue,” said Ann who was not surprised to be picked by the Betties. “Heavy hitting and alt jamming,” Brickhouse said in response to what both she and Ann bring to the team. Both see this transfer to ToRD as the logical next step in their derby careers.

Chicks Ahoy! logo

Chicks Ahoy!

Annguard

Goreschach

Holly Mackinaw

Kimikaze

Monster Muffin

Slamureye

Vag Lightning

The Chicks Ahoy! had a bounce back season this year, returning to the playoffs after a year-long absence and looking much improved in every aspect of the game. They had a fairly substantial turn over this year, but picked players with a lot of depth of experience whether home grown or otherwise.

Annguard, Goreschach, Kimikaze and Vag Lightning were all core members of the 2014 D-VAS, while Slamureye, a 2013 transfer from Durham Region Roller Derby also payed some key minutes for the farm team. Holly Mackinaw is another more local transfer (Rollergettes) while the very experienced Monster Muffin brings vast experience and talent to the team (in particular to the Chicks’ now depleted jammer rotation) from her time with Alliston’s Renegade Derby Dames.

Vag lightning’s only comment on being drafted to the team summed up the positive energy around the draft party and the feeling of exhilaration of the draftees: “I feel like Beyonce herself parted the seas and said ‘let there be joy.'”

Gore-Gore Rollergirls logo

Gore-Gore Rollergirls

Extermi-knitter

Knocker Mom

Lady Gag-Ya

Murdercat

Stabbey Road

Tara Fying

After a roar-back season that saw them win the Beast of the East and climb back to the Battle for the Boot (for a record-setting seventh time). Things look solid for the skaters in leopard print moving forward, and despite their draft position, managed to stack the roster with a wide range of skaters, led by the return of long-time vet, the smooth-skating Lady Gag-Ya, who brings years of travel team experience back to her Gores. Similarly, Extermi-knitter and Murdercat both have a lot of track experience from their time in Durham Region Roller Derby (and elsewhere for Knitter). “I really liked their defensive game this season,” said Extermi-knitter who also has experience jamming. “The Gores have some amazing jammers…I’m more useful as a blocker and I like blocking a bit more,” she said. Her leaguemate Murdercat could immediately enter into the rotation, adding to that already existent depth.

Stabbey Road (who began skating with the GTA Rollergirls before transferring to ToRD), Tara Fying and Knocker Mom are homegrown talent who will help fill out a pack that was at times terrifying to play against last season.

death track dolls logo

The Death Track Dolls

April Cruel

Common Dominator

Elle Capwn

Goldie Lock N Load

Lace Frehley

PrEditor

Scarcasm

UpHer Cut

For the second year in a row the Death Track Dolls won the Boot, but yet again also have to deal with a massive roster turnaround (having eight open spaces for the second year in a row). The Dolls made it work in 2014 because they drafted wisely and they drafted for depth. And they just may have pulled it off again this year.

The new Dolls are lead by two returning skaters who were key pieces of the 2013 championship team: UpHer Cut (who returns after a year-long hiatus from the game), and Scarcasm (who will do double duty with CN Power this year). But there is experience also in returning veteran skater Goldie Lock N Load (who returns to ToRD for the first time since 2009 when she played two seasons for the Smoke City Betties). She’s been busy for those five years in between refereeing, doing a little announcing, and, of course, running the Rollergettes.

Speaking of refereeing; two of Dolls’ picks, April Cruel and Lace Frehley, both got their starts in roller derby as zebra-print enforcers so will bring a strong knowledge of the game to the defending champs. Finally, Common Dominator, PrEditor and Elle Capwn (who was actually a injury-call-up for the Dolls this season) round out the homegrown talent in the draft.

**Keep your eyes on Toronto Roller Derby.com for updates on what promises to be an incredible 2015 season!

Chicks Gores Set for Semi-Final Showdown. D-VAS host South Simcoe.

After a summer hiatus, Toronto Roller Derby returns with a semi-final showdown between the Gore-Gore Rollergirls and Chicks Ahoy! A matchup between ToRD’s D-VAS and South Simcoe will kick off the double header at the Bunker.

2014 ToRD Semi-final PosterThe Gore-Gore Rollergirls (2-1) and Chicks Ahoy! (1-2) share a long playoff history. They competed for back-to-back Boots in ToRD’s first two seasons and met in three-straight finals from 2010-2012. They share the record of three titles, accounting for six of the first seven ToRD championships. But on Saturday at the Bunker, they will write a new, as of yet unprecedented chapter in their significant history: for the first time ever, the Chicks and Gores will face off in the ToRD semi-final.

After reluctantly handing over the reigns of power to their leaguemates the Smoke City Betties and Death Track Dolls (who last year met in the final for the first time), one of either the Chicks or the Gores will have a chance to get back to the top of the ToRD pyramid. Coming into this season, the Chicks took the fall harder than the Gores did, dropping all the way to the bottom of the regular season standings and missing the playoffs for the first time ever in 2013.

2014 has seen both teams surge past the stumbling Betties to get back into the playoffs, but it was the Gores who took out the Chicks in the season opener way back in January with a 218-157 win. The win secured them second place in the regular season standings.

Read the recap of the Gores and Chicks regular season meeting. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Read the recap of the Gores and Chicks regular season meeting. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

But it’s hard to tell how relevant those early results are as the league took a summer hiatus after its regular season concluded in early June, leaving the home teams dormant while the travel teams put in some time on the road (and returning to the Bunker a few weeks ago as well). As it were, the Gores surged as the season went on, while the Chicks held steady, eking out a win over the Betties in March before getting completely overwhelmed by the Dolls who managed to hold the Chicks to only 35 points—the team’s lowest point total ever.

However, both teams are also built around comparatively inexperienced players who had also been evolving as the season went on, with a handful from each roster playing for the Bay Street Bruisers as well; with that in mind, there is no telling how far they have come and what kind of impact on the game they could have.

Read the recap of the ToRD house league regular season double header in March. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Read the recap of the ToRD house league regular season double header in March. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Chicks welcomed virtually a completely rebuilt jammer rotation in 2014. Second-year Chicks Chevy Chase-Her and Heavy Knitter provided as much of a veteran presence as possible, but experienced transfers Hyena Koffinkat and Sneaky Dee led the way in scoring with 71 and 147 points respectively. Actually, Sneaky Dee put together one of the best seasons in the league in 2014. Finishing 4th in scoring (but first in points per jam with 6.4), second in lead percentage (65%), she eventually tied for third overall with a 34 Jammer Quotient (JQ) Rating.

The Gores also welcomed new jammers in transfers Guardian Paingel and Lumberjack Flash. Flash had an immediate impact in the league and in her first year in ToRD finished third in the league in scoring with 153 points (on 3.3 PPJ), tied for third with a 61% lead percentage, and tied for third overall in total JQ. This picked up some of the slack for an injured Lexi Con. Lexi finished atop the JQ standings in 2013 and was well on her way to another dominant season before missing the final game with an injury. Nonetheless she managed 4.89 points per jam and a 56% lead percentage before her injury. Taranosaurus Rex, who joined Lexi and Flash by scoring over 100 points (112), finished with a 49% lead percentage.

Read about the stats and the ToRD standings here.

Both teams rely on more veteran presences in the pack. Marmighty, Hoff and Rebel Rock-It returned to the Chicks roster this season and along with Biggley Smallz, Robber Blind, Emraged, Rosemary’s Rabies and Tess D’Urb Evil have a solid core at the heart of the team. The Gores are similarly experienced in the pack, led by Santa Muerte, Chronic and Kandy Barr, we’ve seen the likes of Emma Dilemma, Full Deck and transfer Machu Beatchu step up into big roles this season. Double threats like Beaver Mansbridge also give the team options on offense.

The Double Header will kick off with a showdown between ToRD’s D-VAS and the South Simcoe Rebel Rollers. The D-VAS are 4-2 on the season, and this represents one of their final opportunities to leave a public impression before the 2015 house league entry draft.

Doors at the Bunker open at 4, with the opening whistle on the D-VAS game scheduled for 5:00 PM. The semi-final is schedule for 7:00 PM. Tickets will be available at the door, but are available online as well.

Beast of the East: 2008-2013

Beast of the East 2014Beast of the East: By the Numbers

To get ready for the 2014 Beast of the East, take a look back at the history of the tournament.

YEAR CHAMPION RUNNER UP THIRD PLACE
2008 Hamilton Harlots (HCRG) La Racaille (MTLRD) Les Filles du Roi / Les Contrabanditas (MTLRD)
2009 La Racaille Les Contrabanditas Les Filles du Roi / Smoke City Betties (ToRD)
2010 Les Filles du Roi La Racaille Les Contrabanditas
2011 Slaughter Daughters (RVRG) Gore-Gore Rollergirls (ToRD) Death Track Dolls (ToRD)
2012 Vicious Dishes (TCRD) Slaughter Daughters Chicks Ahoy! (ToRD)
2013 Slaughter Daughters La Racaille Death Track Dolls

Hamilton Harlots won the first Beast of the East in 2008. (Photo by Derek Lang; AKA: Bagelhot)

NOTABLE NUMBERS (Records etc.)

Wins: 21 (La Racaille 2008-2013)

Points Per Game (tournament): 110 (Death Track Dolls 2013)/ 109.5 (Slaughter Daughters 2013) / 102.5 (La Racaille 2013)

Points Against (tournament): 9 (Les Filles du Roi, 2010)

Most Points (single game): 159 (Rouge et Gore 2013) / 148 (Les Contrabanditas 2011)

Combined Points (single game): 184 (Rouge et Gore 159 vs. Debutantes 32 2013)/ 181 (La Racaille 117 vs. Contrabanditas 64 2013)

Biggest Differential: 148 (Les Contrabanditas 148 vs. Chrome Mollys [GTAR] 0, 2011)

[*The Gore-Gore Rollergirls were the first team to score 100 points in a bout–a 103-11 victory over Capital Carnage in 2009; Les Filles du Roi did it vs. the Vicious Dishes in 2010; four different teams accomplished it in 2011; the Vicious Dishes did it three times themselves in 2012, while three other teams did it that year as well. It has become common].

[*2012 was the first time both finalists (Vicious Dishes, Slaughters Daughters) lost a game on the way to the finals]

PARTICIPANT HISTORY

(BOE 7: 2014 participants first)

Team League BOE Record Notes
thames-fatales-logoThames Fatales FCDG 7 – 11 First round in 08, 09. Quarter final in 2010, 13.
lunch ladies logoLuscious Lunch Ladies FCDG 0 – 2 Second appearance (2013)
la-racaille-logoLa Racaille MTLRD 21 – 8 Semis 12. Second in 08, 10, 13. Champs in 09
Contrabanditas LogoLes Contrabanditas MTLRD 16 – 8 2nd place in 2009. 3rd in 2010. Quarters 2011,12, 13.
Les Filles du Roi LogoLes Filles du Roi MTLRD 18 – 6 Semi-final 08, 09, 13. Champs in 2010. Quarters 2012
prime sinsiters logoPrime Sinisters RVRG First Appearance
slaughter daughters logoSlaughter Daughters RVRG 16 – 6 Sixth appearance. Champs 2011, 13. 2nd place 2012
riot squad logoRiot Squad RVRG 2 – 6 Fourth appearance (2010, 2011, 2013)
deathtrackdolls_logoDeath Track Dolls ToRD 10 – 10 Quarter finals in 2009, 3rd place in 2011, 13.
Betties LogoSmoke City Betties ToRD 6 – 10 Semi-final 2009. Quarter final 2012
Gore-Gore Rollergirls logoGore-Gore Rollergirls ToRD 11 – 8 Forfeit 2009 at 3-0. 4th 2010. Runners-up 2011
casse gueules logoLes Casse-Gueules RDQ 0 – 2 Second Appearance
rouge et gore logoLe Rouge & Gore RDQ 2 – 2 Second Appearance. Quarter final 2013
Motor City Madames LogoMotor City Madames DRRD 0 – 2 Second Appearance (2012)
Atom Smashers logo 2013Atom Smashers DRRD First Appearance
logo-killer-queensKiller Queens RCRG First Appearance
 

Past Participants

Hamilton Harlots HCRG 8 – 6 2008-2010, 2012. Champs in 08.
Death Row Dames HCRG 3 – 5 2008-2010. Quarter final in 2010.
Steel Town Tanks Girls HCRG 1 – 1 2008
Bay Street Bruisers ToRD 1 – 3 2008, 2009. Now ToRD B-travel team.
D-VAS ToRD 0 – 1 2008. Now ToRD houseleague farm team.
Chicks Ahoy! ToRD 10-10 2008-2013. 4th in 2011. 3rd 2012
London Thrashers FCDG 0 – 1 2008
Bytown Blackhearts ORD 0 – 1 2008
Capital Carnage ORD 0 – 2 2009
Devil Dollies QCRG 1 – 1 1st US team (2008)
Derby Dames Grn Mtn 2 – 1 2nd US team, 1st to reach quarter finals (2010)
Derby Debutantes GTAR 2-10 2009-2013
Chrome Mollys GTAR 0 – 2 2011
Vicious Dishes TCRG 10-9 2009-2013. Quarter finals 2010, 11. Champs 2012
Venus Fly Tramps TCRG 2 – 6 2009-2011
TKOs TCRG 2-4 2011, 2013. Quarter final 2013
Les Duchesses de Quebec RDQ 1-4 2011, 2012. Promoted to RDQ travel team
Babes of Thunder TBRD  2-2 2012. Quarter finals in 2012
Reines of Terror MRR  0-2 2012

 

YEAR-BY-YEAR RESULTS

(Generally, all games 20 minutes until final, which is 30)

Beast of the East 2008 PosterBeast of the East 1: 2008

First Round

POOL A

Steel Town Tank Girls 40 vs Smoke City Betties 18
La Racaille 65 vs The Bytown Blackhearts 29
Death Row Dames 17 vs Devil Dollies 54
D-VAS 27 vs Les Contrabanditas 50

POOL B

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 13 vs. Hamilton Harlots 52

Bay Street Brusies 45 vs Thames Fatales 38
London Thrashers 13 vs Chicks Ahoy 65
Death Track Dolls 23 vs Les Filles du Roi 37

Quarter Finals

Steel Town Tank Girls 30 vs La Racaille 32

Devil Dollies 16 vs. Les Contrabanditas 42

Chicks Ahoy 30 vs Les Filles du Roi 38
Hamilton Harlots 53 vs Bay Street Bruisers 15

Semi Finals

Hamilton Harlots 58 vs Les Filles du Roi 29

Les Contrabanditas 32 vs La Racaille 39

Final

Hamilton Harlots 55 vs. La Racaille 18

* Read the Derby Nerd’s reflections.

Beast of the East 2009Beast of the East 2: 2009

First Round (Double Elimination)

Capital Carnage 11 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 103

Death Row Dames 23 vs. Thames Fatales 19

Les Contrabanditas 59 vs. Venus Fly Tramps 26

Slaughter Daughters 24 vs. Smoke City Betties 32

La Racaille 67 vs. Bay Street Bruisers 10

Chicks Ahoy! 48 vs. Vicisou Dishes 32

Les Filles du Roi 77 vs. Death Track Dolls 6

Derby Debutantes 6 vs. Hamilton Harlots 69

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 32 vs. Death Row Dames 5

Capital Carnage 20 (eliminated) vs. Thames Fatales 67

Les Contrabanditas 34 vs. Smoke City Betties 20

Venus Fly Tramps 14 (eliminated) vs. Slaughter Daughters 48

La Racaille 36 vs. Chicks Ahoy! 35

Bay Street Bruisers 16 (eliminated) vs. Vicious Dishes 21

Les Filles du Roi 34 vs. Hamilton Harlots 25

Death Track Dolls 61 vs. Derby Debutantes 20 (eliminated)

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 35 vs. Les Contrabanditas 26

Death Row Dames 15 (eliminated) vs. Smoke City Betties 24

Thames Fatales 28 (eliminated) vs. Slaughter Daughters 68

La Racaille 35 vs. Les Filles du Roi 43

Chicks Ahoy! 21 (eliminated) vs. Hamilton Harlots 38

Vicious Dishes 27 (eliminated) vs. Death Track Dolls 32

Quarter Finals

Gore-Gore Rollergirls (forfeit) vs. Smoke City Betties

Les Contrabanditas 28 vs. Slaughter Daughters 25

Les Filles du Roi 24 vs. Hamilton Harlots 11

La Racaille 77 vs. Death Track Dolls 17

Semi Finals

Smoke City Betties 23 vs. Les Contrabanditas 33

La Racaille 38 vs Les Filles du Roi 20

Final

Les Contrabanditas 34 vs. La Racaille 49

* Read the Derby Nerd’s commentary.

* Read DNN’s bout-by-bout recap by Justice Feelgood Marshall

Beast of the East 2010 PosterBeast of the East 3: 2010

First Round (Double Elimination)
Thames Fatales 38 vs. Smoke City Betties 11
La Racaille 81 vs. Chicks Ahoy!12
Green Mountain Derby Dames 40
vs. Riot Squad 17
Death Row Dames 63 vs. Venus Fly Tramps 6
Les Contrabanditas 72 vs. Death Track Dolls 9
Gore-Gore Rollergirls 43 vs. GTA Derby Debutantes 20
Vicious Dishes 37 vs. Slaughter Daughters 20
Les Filles du Roi 92 vs. Harlots 6
La Racaille 91 vs. Thames Fatales 0
Chicks Ahoy! 89 vs. Betties 15 (eliminated)
Green Mountain Derby Dames 29 vs. Death Row Dames 15
Venus Fly Tramps 43 vs. Riot Squad 14 (eliminated)
Les Contrabanditas 63 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 17

Derby Debutantes 38 vs. Death Track Dolls 29 (eliminated)
Les Filles du Roi 115 vs. Vicious Dishes 7
Harlots 28 vs. Slaughter Daughters 24 (eliminated)
Thames Fatales 24 vs. Venus Fly Tramps 15 (eliminated)
Death Row Dames 42 vs. Chicks Ahoy! 34 (eliminated)
Gore-Gore Rollergirls 45 vs. Harlots 20 (eliminated)
Vicious Dishes 52 vs. Derby Debutantes 24 (eliminated)

Quarter Finals

La Racaille 57 vs. Vicious Dishes 4
Les Contrabanditas 64 vs. Death Row Dames 11
Gore-Gore Rollergirls 45 vs. Green Mountain Derby Dames 22
Les Filles du Roi 91 vs. Thames Fatales 12

Semi Finals

La Racaille 69 vs. Les Contrabanditas 46
Les Filles du Roi 65 vs. Gore-Gore Roller Girls 1

Third Place

Les Contrabanditas 91 vs. Gores 21

Final

Les Filles du Roi 36 vs. La Racaille 20

*Read the Derby Nerd’s preview and recap.

*Watch the archived bouts.

Beast of the East 2011 posterBeast of the East 4: 2011

First Round (Double Elimination)

Duchesses de Quebec 4 vs. Derby Debutantes 124

La Racaille 55 vs. Riot Squad 7

Chicks Ahoy! 63 vs. Total Knockouts (TKOs) 7

Filles du Roi vs. Death Track Dolls 47

Vicious Dishes 50 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 48

Contrabanditas 148 vs. Chrome Mollys 0

Slaughter Daughters 38 vs. Venus Fly Tramps 28

Thames Fatales 75 vs. Smoke City Betties 12

Derby Debutants 8 vs. La Racaille 100

Duchesses du Quebec 4 vs. Riot Squad 97 (Duchesses eliminated)

Chicks Ahoy! 40 vs. Death Track Dolls 21

TKOs 0 vs. Filles du Roi 81 (TKOs eliminated)

Vicious Dishes 21 vs. Contrabanditas 27

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 131 vs. Chrome Mollys 10 (Mollys eliminated)

Slaughter Daughters 62 vs. Thames Fatales 12

Venus Fly Tramps 66 vs. Smoke City Betties 14 (Betties eliminated)

Derby Debutants 29 vs. Filles du Roi 62 (Debutantes eliminated)

Death Track Dolls 84 vs. Riot Squad 8 (Riot Squad elimanted)

Vicious Dishes 49 vs. Venus Fly Tramps 3 (Tramps eliminated)

Thames Fatales 36 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 49 (Thames eliminated)

Quarter Finals

La Racaille 11 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 88

Contrabanditas 49 vs. Death Track Dolls 58

Chicks Ahoy! 48 vs. Vicious Dishes 8

Slaughter Daughters 81 vs. Filles du Roi 3

Semi Finals

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 51 vs. Death Track Dolls 11

Chicks Ahoy! 19 vs. Slaughter Daughters 33

Third Place

Death Track Dolls 42 vs. Chicks Ahoy! 31

Final

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 85 vs. Slaughter Daughters 87

* Read the Derby Nerd’s preview and recap.

* Watch the archived bouts

Beast of the East 5 (2012)Beast of the East 5: 2012

First Round (Double Elimination)

Chicks Ahoy! 51 vs. Slaughter Daughters 41

La Racaille 46 vs. Gore-Gore Roller Girls 30

Motor City Madames 36 vs. Hammer City Harlots 57

Les Contrabanditas 54 vs. Death Track Dolls 20

Vicious Dishes 139 vs. Reines of Terror 0

Les Filles du Roi 79 vs. Babes of Thunder 8

Derby Debutantes 6 vs. Thames Fatales 112

Smoke City Betties 108 vs. Les Duchesses 13

Chicks Ahoy! 10 vs. La Racaille 39

Slaughter Daughters 72 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 52 (Gores eliminated)

Hamilton Harlots 39 vs. Les Contrabanditas 84

Motor City Madames 28 vs. Death Track Dolls 95 (Motor City eliminated)

Vicious Dishes 30 vs. Les Filles du Roi 47

Reines of Terror 34 vs. Babes of Thunder 71 (Reines eliminated)

Thames Fatales 64 vs. Smoke City Betties 69

Derby Debutantes 30 vs. Les Duchesses 120 (Debutantes eliminated)

La Racaille 59 vs. Death Track Dolls 31 (Dolls eliminated)

Hamilton Harlots 30 vs. Slaughter Daughters 131 (Harlots eliminated)

Vicious Dishes 123 vs. Les Duchesses 0 (Duchesses eliminated)

Thames Fatales 20 vs. Babes of Thunder 77 (Thames eliminated)

Quarter Finals

Chicks Ahoy! 83 vs. Babes of Thunder 22

Les Filles du Roi 67 vs. Slaughter Daughters 71

Les Contrabanditas 54 vs. Vicious Dishes 64

Smoke City Betties 59 vs. La Racaille 78

Semi Finals

Chicks Ahoy! 31 vs. Slaughter Daughters 65

Vicious Dishes 67 vs. La Racaille 48

Third Place

Chicks Ahoy! 87 vs. La Racaille 48

Final

Vicious Dishes 118 vs. Slaughter Daughters 63

* Read the Derby Nerd’s preview and recap

* Watch the archived bouts

BOE 2013 PosterBeast of the East 6: 2013

First Round (Double Elimination)

Chicks Ahoy! 58 vs. Riot Squad 50

Vicious Dishes 25 vs. Les Filles du Roi 50

Death Track Dolls 129 vs. Casses Gueules 7

Thames Fatales 34 vs. Les Contrabanditas 76

TKOs 133 vs. Debutantes 8

Rouge et Gore 12 vs. La Racaille 116

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 29 vs. Slaughter Daughters 105

Luscious Lunch Ladies 37 vs. Smoke City Betties 47

Les Filles du Roi 91 vs. Chicks Ahoy! 13

Vicious Dishes 33 vs. Riot Squad 44 (Dishes eliminated)

Contrabanditas 30 vs. Death Track Dolls 96

Thames Fatales 29 vs. Casses Gueules 18 (Gueules eliminated)

La Racaille 103 vs. TKOs 32

Rouge at Gore 159 vs. Debutantes 32 (Debutantes eliminated)

Smoke City Betties 2 vs. Slaughter Daughters 117

Luscious Lunch Ladies 50 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 94 (Ladies eliminated)

Thames Fatales 53 vs. Chicks Ahoy! 46 (Chicks eliminated)

Riot Squad 57 vs. Contrabanditas 86 (Riot Squad eliminated)

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 42 vs. TKOs 85 (Gores eliminated)

Smoke City Betties 56 vs. Rouge et Gore 58 (Betties eliminated)

Quarter Finals

Les Filles du Roi 76 vs. Rouge et Gore 26

Contrabanditas 64 vs. La Racaille 117

TKOs 35 vs. Death Track Dolls 79

Thames Fatales 31 vs. Slaughter Daughters 113

Semi Finals

Filles du Roi 60 vs. La Racaille 85

Death Track Dolls 40 vs. Slaughter Daughters 68

Third Place

Death Track Dolls 136 vs. Filles du Roi 29

Final

La Racaille 74 vs. Slaughter Daughters 103

Read the Derby Nerd’s preview and recap.

VIDEO: Watch Double Elimination Archives Part 1 here.  Watch Part 2 here. Watch quarter finals here. Watch the third place and championship games here.

Dolls (vs. Gores) and Betties (vs. Chicks) Set for 2014 Debut

DollsGores ChicksBetties 14 PosterOn Saturday night at the Bunker, the 2013 Toronto Roller Derby Champions, the Death Track Dolls, will make their debut as they face off against the Gore-Gore Rollergirls, who are coming off of a season-opening win against the Chicks Ahoy!. Last year’s Battle for the Boot finalists, the Smoke City Betties, will also kick off their season against a much-improved Chicks Ahoy! team. Both showdowns will say a lot about how the season will play out.

The night will kick off with the Betties and Chicks facing off for the seventh time in ToRD’s regular season history. The Chicks have a 4-2 edge in the regular season meetings beginning with a 119-96 matchup in 2008 (they did not meet during the 2007 regular season). However, the tides turned last season when the Betties scored their first win over the Chicks since 2009. The two teams, remarkably, have never faced each other in the playoffs.

Similarly, despite a long history of competition, the Dolls and Gores have also never met in the playoffs, but their regular season history dates all the way back to June 2007 and the first public game ToRD hosted (the Gores won 117-78). After knocking off the Gores in 2008, it would be another four years (and four-straight losses) before the Dolls would take one away from the Gores again, last year’s 233-153 victory sealed the Dolls first-place finish in the standings and their place in the Battle for the Boot.

Both the Dolls and Betties are looking to continue the power shift they orchestrated last season when they battled for the boot against each other for the first time.

The 2014 Death Track Dolls

Photo by Dan Lim

Photo by Dan Lim

2013 was a banner year for the Dolls and one that will be tough to repeat after going undefeated and winning their first ever championship. Between retirements and CN Power call-ups, the Dolls roster was gutted in the off-season. While a veteran core remains, they had more turnover than any other team in the league.

RETURNING SKATERS

The Dolls have eleven returning skaters from last season’s championship team, including co-captions Android W.K. (second year blocker/pivot) and triple threat Getcha Kicks. In the pack, a strong, experienced core of Audrey Hellborn, Canadian Psycho, Dawson, Demolition Dawn, Slam Wow and Speedin Hawking will be supported by second-year skater Robotomy, who missed virtually all of her rookie year with injury. However, the Dolls’ pack is bolstered by the transfers of two former Gores: seven-year blocking veteran Junkie Jenny and Just Jes (the skater formerly known as Aston Martini). Jes is returning after a single-year hiatus, but has already looked impressive playing for the Bay Street Bruisers.

Amidst all of the off-season change, it’s actually the jammer rotation that took the biggest hit, losing two of the league’s most dominant scorers in 2013 (Rainbow Fight and Santilly In Yo Face). However Bellefast returns and second-year skater Chicken Sluggets will be called upon to step up. Also, Getcha Kicks, though blocking more than ever, is still more than capable of taking the star when needed and will probably jam more early in the season as they develop rookies.

On the bench, the Dolls will have both Panty Hoser (of CN Power) and Wencer back to give consistency to the management team.

The Dolls won their first championship in 2013. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Dolls won their first championship in 2013. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

FRESH FACES

No team has more fresh faces than the Dolls, but it is an intriguing mix of rookies and more experienced transfers that will don the “skull and blood” in 2014. Arguably leading the way is Devochka, who is no stranger to fans of derby in Ontario. Having played for numerous leagues, most notably in Durham for their travel-team Durham Derby Devils, Devochka is a double threat, and could be relied upon to help in the jammer rotation right away. Similarly, Hannibelle, Stringer Belle and Free Range Clam have skated for either the Rollergettes or GTA Rollergirls before making the transition to the DVAS, while Sleeper Hold got her start in Toronto’s LOCO league. Wheatabitch and Block Quebecois were developed through the DVAS system.

THE OUTLOOK

Given the amount of change the team has sustained, it may be unrealistic to expect another run to the championship this season. But a strong performance against the 1-0 Gores would go a long way in convincing everyone that it is a possibility.

The 2014 Smoke City Betties

Photo by Jonathan Wallace

Photo by Jonathan Wallace

Last year, the Betties upset the Gores in the semifinals to return to the championship game for the first since 2009, losing to the Dolls. But with the core of that team still in place, expectations should be high once again.

RETURNING SKATERS

Although some key pieces of last year’s team have been lost through retirement, there is a strong core in place, starting with team captains Tushy Galore (who is a pillar of this pack) and triple-threat WolveRina. There is a lot of toughness in the pack, and the Betties could be the hardest hitting team in the league. Misery Mae, Laya Beaton, Mouth of the South, Mazel Tough, Zomboney and Genuine Risk are all back in the pack this season.

Although they lost last year’s leading scorer (Slaptrick Swayze) to retirement, the offense remains mostly in place. Let by titmouse, Udre, and second-year skater Kill-Her At Large, double threats SewWhat? and LowBlow Palooza could also be called upon to bolster the jammer rotation.

CN Power bench coach, Wade Wheelson, returns for the start of the 2014 season.

FRESH FACES

The Betties did well in what was, arguably, the deepest ToRD draft ever. Darth Kater could provide some immediate help in the jammer rotation, having dominated in Durham’s houseleague and for their travel team Devils for a few seasons. Honey Boom Boom is also track ready, having starred last season for the DVAS and the Rollergettes before that. Jenny Specter comes to ToRD having gotten her start in LOCO derby, while former DVAS WackedHer and Babushkill will make their long-anticipated debuts this season. Jammher’head Shark is another DVAS-developed skater.

THE OUTLOOK

With such a strong returning core, the Betties have a shot to reproduce last year’s considerable success, and with their opponents, the Chicks, having improved so much from last year, this Saturday’s matchup could tell a lot about how things are going to play out for the Betties in 2014 and what it will take for them to get back to the Battle for the Boot.

***Doors open at 4:00 PM at The Bunker in Downsview Park with Betties and Chicks kicking things off at 5:00 PM. Tickets are available online or at a number of outlets throughout the city.

Gores Take Down Chicks to Kick Off ToRD’s 2014 Season

Chicks Ahoy! 157 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 218

The Chicks and Gores season opener was the seventh regular season meeting between the two teams. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Chicks and Gores season opener was the seventh regular season meeting between the two teams. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

When last they met, the Chicks Ahoy! and the Gore-Gore Rollergirls were on different paths. The Gores were wrapping up a second place finish in the 2013 regular season standings while the Chicks were putting to rest a rough, rebuilding season that saw them suffer historic losses (all of this in the wake of back-to-back ToRD championships). The Gores took the final game of the 2013 regular season 323-75 in a lopsided, hard-to-watch game. Fast forward half a year and the Chicks Ahoy!, despite not too many changes to the roster, are suddenly back in the conversation, and it’s not that the Gores have slipped, as they too seem poised to contend.

Toronto Roller Derby kicked off its 2014 house league season in style at The Bunker in Downsview Park on Saturday night in front of a packed house of fans who braved the frigid temperatures in order to ring in ToRD’s 8th season. Despite a much more competitive match than their last tilt, in the end the Gores continued their regular season domination over their long-time rivals Chicks Ahoy! with a hard fought 218-157 victory. It was the seventh time the two teams have met in ToRD’s regular season, and the sixth time the Gores emerged victorious.

Chicks Hyena Koffinkat lines up next to Lumberjack Flash. Rookies (and transfers) would have big roles in this game. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Chicks’ Hyena Koffinkat lines up next to Lumberjack Flash. Rookies (and transfers) would have big roles in this game. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Both the Chicks and the Gores were bolstered this season by choosing wisely in an entry draft that featured a number of experienced skaters transferring from leagues as far away as Halifax and Vancouver: some of these so called “rookies” had a major impact on the season opener. Both teams seemed hesitant off of the starting whistle, but it was the Chicks who took advantage of some early Gore penalty trouble. One question the Chicks had entering the season was with their jammer rotation and they answered that quickly. Second-year Chicks Heavy Knitter and Chevy Chase-Her (fully healed from injury) were joined by draftees Hyena Koffinkat and the blazingly fast Sneaky Dee to form a rotation that has the potential to see out the season. The Gores also threw a rookie into the rotation as Lumberjack Flash joined Lexi Con, Taranasaurus Rex and R.I. Pink with the star in the opening period. With depleted packs, the Gores couldn’t get much going early on, while the Chicks pulled ahead 29-13 ten minutes in.

Lexi Con (who lef all scorers) attempts to break through a Rebel Rock-It and Rosemary's Rabies two wall. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Lexi Con (who led all scorers) attempts to break through a Rebel Rock-It and Rosemary’s Rabies two-wall. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

But the Gores roared back. After riding through the penalty troubles, the Gores took off, picking up a string of five straight lead-jammer statuses and going on a 48-0 run to retake the lead. Indicative of a season opener, the first half had wild swings in momentum as the rust fell off and both teams struggled through penalty issues and loose packs, with neither able to take control. A final-jam power jam for the Chicks (skated by Sneaky Dee who had 34 first-half points) had them within 9, down 91-82 at the half.

The Gores made a slight adjustment at half time, swapping in rookie transfer Guardian Paingel to the jammer rotation and slipping last year’s second-leading scorer T-Rex into the pack (she had 29 points in the first half to lead the Gores in scoring). The Chicks stuck with the plan and led off with Hyena Koffinkat (who had made a big impression with 35 points in the opening period); unfortunately, the Terminal City transfer found herself sitting for back-to-back penalties that allowed her Vancouver counterpart, Paingel, to make her mark on the game. The Gores came out flying to start the second half and took advantage of the penalty trouble for a 31-0 run that helped them amass a lead that the Chicks, despite determined play, could not overcome. Paingel would pick up three leads in her first three jams and fourteen points in the process (she’d finish with 21 in the half).

Sneaky Dee tries to sneak past Gores vets Santa Muerte and Kandy Barr. Sneaky Dee scored 68 points to lead the Chicks. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Sneaky Dee tries to sneak past Gores vets Santa Muerte and Kandy Barr. Sneaky Dee scored 68 points to lead the Chicks. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Last year’s leading scorer, Lexi Con, who had a relatively quiet first half, simply took over in the second, picking up 76 points (for 104 on the game). But it was also the pack work that was the difference. Veterans Santa Muerte and Chronic were simply dominant at times, and the leadership of pivot Kandy Barr was undeniable as well. But depth players also stood out with Viktory Lapp playing the most effective game of her career, while rookie (and Halifax transfer) Machu Beatchu looked incredibly comfortable in her first game in Toronto, despite running into some penalty trouble.

The Chicks also saw some depth players step up into big roles, perhaps none more so than R2-Smack-U who often donned the stripe as pivot, Rosemary’s Rabies who has transitioned from jammer to blocker this season and was excellent on the track with some timely snipes and demoralizing drag backs, and Emraged who seems ready and willing to build off of an impressive rookie season in 2013. But it was the veterans who led the way with Robber Blind and an inspired Tess D-Urb-Evil picking up heavy minutes and Rebel Rock-It and Hoff (both returning to the Chicks after Rebel spent last season on CN Power and Hoff spent it on injured reserve) adding depth; Biggley Smallz, who was having a big game, fell into penalty trouble early and eventually fouled out.

Although the Chicks were never down by more than 61 in the half, they were never able to get closer than 30 either and a balanced Gores’ half allowed them to take their victory comfortably. In the end, the Gores showed that they are a team to beat this season, but perhaps more importantly, the Chicks are back as well. The close game is nice a season-opening promise of parity in Toronto Roller Derby.

TJRD Torontosaurus Wrex 236 vs. AJRD Blister Sisters 82

TJRD hosted Alliston for their first JRDA sanctioned game of 2014. (Photo by Joe Mac)

TJRD hosted Alliston for their first JRDA sanctioned game of 2014. (Photo by Joe Mac)

But it wasn’t all about ToRD on Saturday, as the night was capped off by a thoroughly entertaining junior bout that saw Toronto Junior Roller Derby’s Torontosaurus Wrex hold off Alliston’s Blisters Sisters 236-82.

The incredible growth of flat track roller derby has continued unabated and is establishing a system of grassroots support that will provide a platform of continued stability for the growth of the sport; something that is never more apparent than when the juniors take to the track.

AJRD Joe

Alliston’s Blister Sisters enter the track at The Bunker. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Toronto hosted Alliston to kick off their 2014 season and they looked very strong. It was close in the early going, as the hosts led 111-45 at halftime of the JRDA-sanctioned game, but they simply overwhelmed Alliston in the second half to record the 154-point win. It was a thoroughly enjoyable game—high in strategy, stratospheric in effort—a fine showcase of the future of the sport.

Fans will get another chance to watch Toronto’s juniors play on May 10th when they once again team up with their big sisters from ToRD for a game at The Bunker.

***Next up for Toronto Roller Derby: On February 8th ToRD’s marquee team, CN Power, will host Team Ontario in a preseason matchup that will feature some of the finest skaters in the province.

Chicks and Gores Kick Off ToRD’s 8th Season

This will be the seventh regular season meeting between these two teams.

This will be the seventh regular season meeting between these two teams.

Toronto Roller Derby’s greatest feud will be reignited on Saturday night as the Chicks Ahoy! and the Gore-Gore Rollergirls face each other to kick off ToRD’s eighth season. This will be the seventh regular season meeting between the two historic teams, with the Gores dominating those meetings (winning five of six), including a thoroughly dominant 323-75 win in 2013 that amounted to the greatest loss in the Chicks’ history and ended a string of three-straight victories for the Chicks over the Gores dating back to 2011.

The one area where the Chicks have the edge over the Gores is in playoff showdowns. Over five playoff meetings (all in the championship game) the Chicks actually hold a 3-2 edge, including back-to-back wins in 2011/12, the first of which ended the Gores’ twelve-game winning streak (which remains a ToRD record). However, last year marked somewhat of a letdown for the perennial favourites.

When CN Power began to run with a distinct roster after the 2012 season, the Gores and the Chicks were the teams that suffered from roster losses the most, resulting in last year’s “rebuilding” season. The Gores responded much better to the roster shuffle in 2013, finishing second in the regular season standings before being upset by the Smoke City Betties in the semifinal. The Chicks, on the other hand, suffered mightily, finishing last in the regular season standings and being outscored by a remarkable (461 points) 743-282.

Both teams look to return to the form that saw them dominate for much of the early history of the league.

The 2014 Gore-Gore Rollergirls

Photo by Ashlea Wessel (ashleaw.com)

Photo by Ashlea Wessel (ashleaw.com)

Such has been the incredible success of the Gore-Gore Rollergirls, that last season’s second place finish in the regular season and semifinal loss amounts to a bad year: the worst in the team’s history, actually. After having its offense essentially gutted heading into the season (losing two of the league’s greatest jammers in Bambi and Dust Bunny), not much was expected from the three-time ToRD champs. But the skaters in leopard print had other ideas.

RETURNING SKATERS

Last year, the team was led by a core of veterans in the pack including Kandy Barr (who skated 53% of the Gores’ regular season jams in 2013), Gamma Rei (53%), and Emma Dilemma (42%) along with Chronic and Santa Muerte who were excellent when on the track, but also struggled with injuries. A strong rookie class was led by rookie track-time leader Purple Pain (47%). All of these skaters return to the track this season. Another vet, Miss Kitty La Peur also suffered through serious injury issues last year and will look to bounce back.

A number of second and third year skaters will also be looked upon to build on strong seasons, including Full Deck, Viktory Lapp and Wheely Nasty, while highly touted 2013 transfer Amefyst, who never made it to the track last season due to injury, will finally debut for the Gores in 2014.

The biggest surprise last season was how successful the Gores were from the jam line. Led by rookie of the year (and the first rookie to register the league’s highest JQ rating) Lexi Con (228 points, 6.0 points per jam, 76% lead percentage), the Gores also got strong jamming from rookie transfer Taranasaurus Rex (157, 4.6, 59%), and veteran R.I. Pink (85, 3.5, 62%). All three will form the core of the offense this season. Beaver Mansbridge emerged as a viable double threat as well, and put up solid numbers despite limited action (57, 5.2, 45%).

FRESH FACES

The Gores lost a few key pieces in the off season, non bigger than triple threat Foxy Sinatra and long-time blocker/pivot Junkie Jenny (who transferred to the Death Track Dolls). Foxy’s loss affects every aspect of the Gores game, from her punishing pack work to her explosive jamming.

But the Gores did well in an incredibly deep entry draft loaded with experienced transfer skaters. From nearby Royal City, Francesca Fiure is an intelligent skater with a wealth of derby knowledge who could be ready to log serious minutes in the pack. Machu Beatchu was one of the east coast’s biggest prospects when she transferred from Halifax, while Guardian Paingel makes sure the Gores have coast-to-coast representation after transferring from Vancouver’s Terminal City. Blocker, and potential pivot, Moose Knuckles and jammer Lumberjack Flash are both more familiar faces for ToRD fans as they were developed through the D-VAS system and both had strong 2013s.

THE OUTLOOK

The future looks bright for the Gores! Expect them to be right back where they normally are: In contention. This roster easily has the potential to get right back to the top. Look for the Gores to return to the Battle for the Boot in 2014.

The 2014 Chicks Ahoy!

Photo by Ashlea Wessel (ashleaw.com)

Photo by Ashlea Wessel (ashleaw.com)

The Chicks Ahoy! are coming off of their roughest season to date, but look to build upon what amounted to a solid rebuilding year. With the smallest amount of roster change in the off season, and the return of a few key players from injury, the Chicks hope to get back in to winning form this season.

RETURNING SKATERS

The good news for the Chicks is that a majority of the roster returns to pick up where they left off. The three track-time leaders Robber Blind (57% of the Chicks’ jams), Emraged (42%) and Biggley Smallz (42%) are all back and will form a solid core in the pack (Furious Georgia was also in this group and while on the roster, will be on leave this season). Add to that the expected and anticipated return of star blocker Marmighty and veteran leader Hoff, the experience of fourth-year blocker Tess D’Urb-Evil, and the expected improved play of a large number of second and third year skaters who were thrust into unexpectedly prominent roles last season (I’m looking at you Doris Doomsday, Joss Wheelin, R2-Smack-U, Machete Maiden, Heavy Knitter, Mean Streak, and Rosemary’s Rabies) and this looks like a team ready to break out.

Offensively things should be looking up as well. Last year’s jammer core was wracked with injuries but the return of a healthy Chevy Chase-Her and Roadside BombShel will go a long way in securing a consistent offense.

FRESH FACES

Arguably the most important fresh face is not that fresh a face at all; instead, it’s the recognizable face of Rebel Rock-It. A long time ToRD veteran (she began her career as a Bay Street Bruiser when the Bruisers were still a houseleague team), Rebel returns to the team with which she has had the most success and will be a big impact in the pack (and can jam as well). Sneaky Dee was a breakout star for the D-VAS in 2013 and the incredibly speedy skater could have an immediate impact on a jammer rotation that does lack depth. Speaking of that, Hyena Koffinkat is a transfer from Terminal City where she just completed her rookie season as a jammer. And finally, Wheels of Misfortune is another transfer, from nearby Durham Region, who brings considerable track experience to the Chicks’ pack.

THE OUTLOOK

Look for the Chicks to turn things around in 2014 and bounce back from a tough season. In a year where parity could be the dominant storyline, the Chicks provide a dark horse for the narrative and could easily surprise everyone.

***The season opener is this Saturday at The Bunker in Downsview Park. Doors at 5:00 PM, the opening whistle is at 6:00 PM. Stick around afterwards for a very special bout as Toronto Junior Roller Derby hosts Alliston Junior Roller Derby in a junior derby showdown. Tickets are available online or at a number of downtown locations.

ToRD’s 2014 Entry Draft Defined by Experience

ToRD BannerThere could be another massive shift in power in Toronto Roller Derby next season as defending champs, the Death Track Dolls, had the biggest night of the 2014 entry draft, pulling a league-high eight new skaters to its roster from another impressive draft pool made up of a mix of homegrown D-VAS, some very impressive transfers, and some who were a little bit of both.

It’s consistently becoming a bigger challenge to gain entry onto one of ToRD’s four houseleague teams as play in the league reaches new heights: the recent success of Toronto’s charter team CN Power in the WFTDA playoffs will only make this league a bigger destination than it already is. Along with at least a half dozen skaters who learned the sport in some of Toronto’s less competitive and low contact leagues such as the Rollergettes, Toronto Loco and the GTA Rollergirls, this draft features skaters from as far away as Halifax and Vancouver, but also a number from closer leagues as well, such as Royal City (Guelph) and DRRD (Durham Region Roller Derby).

So while there will be a lot of new faces in ToRD next season (21 new skaters were chosen in the draft), don’t expect the level of play to drop at all.

Chicks Ahoy! logo

Chicks Ahoy!

Hyena Koffinkat

Rebel Rock-It

Sneaky Dee

Wheels of Misfortune

Three-time ToRD champs, Chicks Ahoy! are in the midst of a fairly massive rebuild. There wasn’t a lot of off-season change, which will be good for continuity, and with one of their draft picks, they nabbed former Chick, Rebel Rock-It, who brings a ton of experience in her return to houseleague play. They also managed to grab highly touted prospect Sneaky Dee (a standout with the D-VAS this season and already one of the speediest skaters in the league), and Durham Region’s veteran skater Wheels of Misfortune. Finally, Hyena Koffinkat transfers to Toronto from Vancouver, where she just completed her rookie season and could be ready to jump right into the Chicks’ jammer rotation.

Gore-Gore Rollergirls logo

Gore-Gore Rollergirls

Francesca Fiure

Guardian Paingel

Lumberjack Flash

Machu Beatchu

Moose Knuckles

The Gore-Gore Rollergirls are the team that never seems to rebuild. Rumours of their imminent collapse in 2012 proved to be premature as they roared back to finish second in the regular season before falling to the Betties in the semifinals. With five spots open, the team has filled those spots with experience across the board. Francesca Fiure transfers from Royal City (she is also a coach with Toronto Men’s Roller Derby), while Machu Beatchu, one of Eastern Canada’s top players, moves in from Halifax, and finally, Guardian Paingel is one of two skaters to have transferred from Vancouver’s Terminal City Roller Girls. Lumberjack Flash is also a local transfer who spent nearly a full season with the D-VAS this year, proving to be a physcial jammer. And finally, homegrown skater and D-VAS vet Moose Knuckles will don the leopard print when she debuts in ToRD’s houseleague.

Smoke City Betties Logo

Smoke City Betties

Babushkill

Darth Kater

Honey Boom Boom

Jam’herhead Shark

Jenny Specter

Whackedher

After making their second ToRD final last season (and first since 2009), the Smoke City Betties look to build on an up-and-down season and create a little more consistency in 2013, and with the Dolls slipping in to a mini rebuild, this could be the season for the Betties to finally raise the Boot.

The Betties picked up two skaters who are coming off of mini-sabbaticals. Whackedher was a rising prospect on the D-VAS two years ago before taking some time to travel; she returned this season and had great success with the farm team. Similarly Darth Kater was one of Durham Region’s brightest stars before also taking some time to see the world in 2013; she returned just in time for last year’s Gibson’s Cup (DRRD houseleague championship) before transferring in the off season. Babushkill is another rising star who recently had to take some time off and returned stronger than ever, while Honey Boom Boom has been turning heads in Toronto for a few years now and was key on the D-VAS in 2013. Finally Jenny Specter earned her stripes in Toronto Loco before stepping it up another competitive level, and Jam’herhead Shark is a homegrown rookie.

death track dolls logo

The Death Track Dolls

Aston Martini

Bloc Québécois

Devochka

Free Range Clam

Hanibelle

Sleeper Hold

Stringer Belle

Wheatabitch

The Death Track Dolls suffered massive roster change in the off-season, including the retirement or sabbatical of some key veteran skaters and the promotion of three skaters to CN Power.  The strength of the draft is evident in the Dolls strong pick ups despite selecting last in each round. The skater who will undoubtedly have the biggest immediate impact is former Gore-Gore Rollergirl and CN Power skater Aston Martini, who returns after taking a season off (she is also a member of the 2014 Bay Street Bruisers as well). However, there is a lot of depth in this group as well. Devochka is coming off of a strong season in Durham Region where she was a key member of the Durham Devils travel team. Hanibelle and Free Range Clam have a lot of experience in Toronto derby as well. Finally, Sleeper Hold (from Toronto Loco) and D-VAS-developed Wheatabitch, and local transfer Stringer Belle round out the new Dolls’ lineup.

The Dolls also picked up an impressive internal transfer from the Gores, seven year vet Junkie Jenny, who will also continue play on the Bay Street Bruisers this season.

**Keep your eyes on Toronto Roller Derby.com for updates on what promises to be an incredible 2014 season in ToRD!

Dollmination: The Dolls put up record numbers in championship season

The Betties join the Dolls (with the Boot) for a post game photo. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Betties join the Dolls (with the Boot) for a post game photo. (Photo by Greg Russell)

It finally was the Year of the Doll.

After years of merely proclaiming it so, this year the Death Track Dolls put together an unbelievable season on their way to clinching their first ever ToRD championship. It was also a great turnaround for their opponents in the final, the Smoke City Betties, who Battled for the Boot for the first time since a 2009 loss to the Gore-Gore Rollergirls. The Betties threw all they had at the Dolls, but simply couldn’t match the depth of a Dolls team that was peaking at the right time in a season that has built slowly but steadily. They followed that same arc in this game as well, eventually pulling away in the Battle for the Boot and winning it by a championship game record setting 258-73 score.

The game began as a battle as the Betties started strong in grinding out a 3-1 lead after three jams, but there was a sense that the Dolls were more comfortable with the intensity of the game and were never truly strained. Approaching the 10 minute mark, with the Betties leading 7-5, a 20-0 jam orchestrated by what has become a trademark stifling defense represented the second and final lead change of the game. It was jammed by Bellefast and on the following jam, Santilly in Yo Face scored another 13 pointer, all on natural grand slams, to blow the game wide open. They Dolls managed a 61% lead percentage in the first half to the Betties 35%, to open up a 78 point lead at the break.

Dolls co-captain Scarcasm duels with Betties blocker Platinum Bomb. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Dolls co-captain Scarcasm duels with Betties blocker Platinum Bomb. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The half unraveled very much as the season did for the Dolls: a solid, but not extraordinary victory over the Chicks Ahoy! kicked things off (the Gores and the Betties would both earn victories over the Chicks by significantly better scores); then a phenomenal run to third place at the Beast of the East, followed by a tough but character-building loss to the Forest City Timber Rollers, prepared them for their dominant run through the rest of the regular season.

All season the Dolls won on hard and heavy defense and an excellent, soul-sucking power kill, led by co-captains Scarcasm and Speedin Hawking and including an emerging Ames to Kill and a reborn Audrey Hellborn, but supported by a roster loaded with strengths up and down the bench. Added to a core that has been building this team for up to five years were shrewd draft picks that included a mix of ToRD-built skaters and experienced transfers led by 709 Derby Girls transfer Rainbow Fight, who broke years-old jamming records in the house league this season, and was still the fourth jammer in a high-powered four-jammer rotation of Santilly In Yo Face, Bellefast and Getcha Kicks who all combined to set a league team scoring record of 689 points in the regular season.

Betties co-captain Misery Mae gets ready to set an offensive pick for her jammer, Udre. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Betties co-captain Misery Mae gets ready to set an offensive pick for her jammer, Udre. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The second half of the Battle for the Boot started off much the same as the first half, as the Betties were once again at their best from the opening whistle and managed to catch the Dolls off guard. A 31-0 run to kick off the second half (built on four straight lead jams and padded by a 20-point power jam), was the best sustained push by the Betties of the game and got them within 47 points, ten minutes into the half.

But once again, they could not sustain the push, and when the Betties made a mistake (in this case back-to-back jammer penalties) the Dolls pounced, putting up 55 points over four jams to bring their lead back over 100 points and essentially put the game out of the reach.

Santilly In Yo Face jukes around Misery Mae in the midst of a run of 11 straight leads to put the game away in the second half. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Santilly In Yo Face jukes around Misery Mae in the midst of a run of 11 straight leads to put the game away in the second half. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Dolls followed this burst with a series of 11 straight lead jammers that brought them to their record-setting scores. Although the championships haven’t necessarily been close games (the Gores 89-53 win over the Chicks in ’07 remains the lowest scoring and closest final), this Dolls victory was particularly dominant. They were the first team to score over 200 points in the Battle for the Boot, and their 185-point victory was the biggest margin of victory in champs’ history.

As in this game, the Dolls season also closed out strong compared to its beginning. The last time the team was near the top, they finished tied with the best record in the 2008 regular season but ended up losing the tiebreaker, slipped to second and lost in the semifinals to the Chicks. Previous to 2013, that had been the closest the team had come to finishing in top spot in the league. They closed out this home season with a 233-153 victory over the Gores and an even more impressive 265-63 victory over the Betties to clinch top spot.

Dolls co-captains Scarcasm and Speedin Hawking accept the Boot. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Dolls co-captains Scarcasm and Speedin’ Hawking accept the Boot. (Photo by Greg Russell)

This season marked an overhaul in league structure that saw CN Power skaters leave their home team rosters; this allowed the Dolls and the Betties—who’d been rebuilding during the Chicks and Gores recently string of dominance—to be ready when their opponents faced the big roster shakeups they dealt with this season. With the combined experience they had, the overall talent and structure, the Dolls were simply too much for the Betties in the Battle for the Boot 7 and, ultimately, too much for all of ToRD in 2013.

* That concludes the 2013 ToRD house league season, but stay tuned as things are just ramping up for ToRD’s travel teams, with a handful of home games remaining for the Bay Street Bruisers and the D-VAS, and the WFTDA playoffs coming up for CN Power.

Battle for the Boot 7: The 2013 ToRD Championship

Battle for the Boot 7: The 2013 TorD Champs PosterHistory will be made at the 2013 Battle for the Boot. Regardless of the outcome in this first ever championship showdown between the Death Track Dolls and the Smoke City Betties, a first time ToRD champion will be named, added to the list that so far has included only the Gore-Gore Rollergirls (2007, 2009, 2010) and the Chicks Ahoy! (2008, 2011, 2012). It’s a historic moment in this early history of ToRD, representing the first true power shift in the league from the early consistent dominance of the Gores and Chicks (who also met in five of the first six championship games). The 2013 season and the 7th Battle for the Boot represent nothing less the beginning of a new era in Toronto Roller Derby.

PAST

These two teams both have distinct histories. Formed in early 2006 in a pre-ToRD Toronto, the Smoke City Betties joined Hammer City, Montreal Roller Derby and Edmonton’s Oil City as the first wave of flat track roller derby in Canada and would form the pillars that would provide a foundation for the explosive growth of the sport in the country that would follow.

At the same time that the Betties exploded on to the scene, another team would rise in Toronto, the Terrors. Both the Terrors and Betties would see their numbers swell by the time that the Betties would host the first ever Canadian inter-league tournament, the Betties D-Day, in August 2006. Leading up to that tournament, the Terrors would split into four teams: the Chicks Ahoy!, the Bay Street Bruisers, The D-VAS and finally, the Death Track Dolls.

The Betties and the Gores face off in the 2009 Battle for the Boot. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

The Betties and the Gores face off in the 2009 Battle for the Boot. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

In the coming months, the Betties too would divide, giving birth to the Gore-Gore Rollergirls and the six teams in Toronto would unify to form Toronto Roller Derby. In 2007, the inaugural season, the Dolls would struggle, going winless, while the Betties competed but could not reel in the Chicks and Gores. It was a similar story in 2008 when both the Dolls and Betties would lose in the semifinals. Following contraction in 2009 (when the Bruisers and D-VAS were removed from the houseleague), the Betties surged while the Chicks stumbled and the Dolls slipped to last in the new four-team ToRD. Yet again, the Betties would find themselves held back by the team that had spawned from them, the Gores, in the Battle for the Boot 3. It was a historic loss for the team that would see the core of the squad gutted in the ’09-2010 off season and forced into a complete rebuild.

Since that time the fortunes of the Dolls and Betties has ebbed and flowed, with the Betties finishing last in the league in 2010 and 2011, and the Dolls stumbling to fourth in 2012. With losing seasons racking up and top draft picks coming their way, it was only a matter of time before the Dolls and Betties would emerge as contenders.

The Dolls dominated the regular season showdown between these teams, winning 265-63. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Dolls dominated the regular season showdown between these teams, winning 265-63. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

PRESENT

Both teams entered 2013 with high hopes. After a two-year absence, the Betties returned to the ToRD semifinals in 2012 and hoped to build on that this season. The Dolls, on the other hand, missed the playoffs for the first time since 2009, but drafted experience and had clearly built a base that looked ready to compete in 2013. While the Dolls got off to a better start, the Betties stumbled out of the gates, losing to the Gores and then suffering the team’s worst loss in history to the Dolls to close out the season. But both have also been on the rise: The Dolls clumsily defeated the Chicks to kick off the season, then lost to Forest City’s Timber Rollers (a WFTDA apprentice travel tram), before taking out the Gores and finally rolling into form against the Betties to clinch a spot in the final. The Betties looked lost at times this season, before finally coming together as a team in the semifinal and eliminating the Gores, ending the Gores’ six-year run as Battle for the Boot participants.

In short, both teams are peaking at just the right time.

FUTURE

After battling through injuries in 2012, Audrey Hellborn is back menacing jammers in 2013. (Photo by Greg Russell)

After battling through injuries in 2012, Audrey Hellborn (right) is back menacing jammers in 2013. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The future is now for the Dolls and Betties, and there is no doubt that neither team is looking further into the future than this coming Saturday. The Dolls seem poised, riding a relentless pack and an untouchable four-jammer rotation, all indications point to this game being theirs to lose. Although they started strong, the Betties could mount little offense against the Dolls in their regular season showdown (only managing 22 points in the second half) and will need to find a way to produce some offense.

While both teams have a depth of experience on the bench, there are some key players to watch. The Dolls co-captains Scarcasm and Speedin’ Hawking have been leading excellent packs all season, and in the centre of it all has been Audrey Hellborn. Audrey was a dominant player in the league’s early history but a variety of injuries over the past few years have kept her out of the spotlight: in 2013 she’s roared back into the picture, and her relentless jammer killing has turned around jams and games. Also, the addition of transfer Rainbow Fight has given the Dolls a multi-faceted weapon to rely on. Rainbow has been incredible in the pack but has also put up jammer numbers (8.0 PPJ, 88% lead percentage) that have never been seen before.

Betties co-captains Hailey Copter (jammer) and Misery Mae will need to have strong games for the Betties to succeed. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Betties co-captains Hailey Copter (jammer) and Misery Mae (pivot) will need to have strong games for the Betties to succeed. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

For the Betties, the co-captains Misery Mae and Hailey Copter will be key. Hailey has struggled at times this season seeing her numbers drop from 2012’s career high 3.6 PPJ and 50% lead percentage to 2.6 PPJ and a 39% lead percentage this season (Slaptrick Swayze just inched out Hailey as the team’s leading scorer, 126-123, and will have to be strong as well). But Hailey clearly remains the heart and soul of the offense. Misery Mae, who was a key offensive blocker in the semifinal, will need to put in a similar performance in the champs if the Betties hope to crack the Dolls’ killer defense. And finally, Wolverina has emerged as a key triple threat for this team, and will need to provide go-to offense for the Betties while remaining steady in the pack.

* Get your tickets now for this historic showdown! They are available online or at a number of vendors in the city. Doors open at 6:00 PM and be sure to be there for the Toronto Junior Roller Derby exhibition. Opening whistle of the Battle for the Boot is 7:30.