CWRDA

Forest City Thrashes the Field to Take CWRDA East

Forest City All Stars defeated the Rideau Valley Vermin 166-90 to win the inaugural CWRDA Eastern Championship. (photo by Neil Jeffery)

When the smoke cleared from the track in Navan, Ontario, only the Forest City All Stars were left standing at Blood Spill on the Hill, CWRDA’s Eastern Champioship. Two very full days of bouting saw seven other teams fall, and in a tournament full of one-sided affairs, some fell harder than others. It was a well-deserved and even fitting win for a team that has toiled for years on the front lines of eastern Canadian roller derby without a major win yet to their credit.

DAY ONE

The winners of the four first round bouts advanced to the semi-finals, while the losers moved on to the relegation semis later in the day. The historic (though rebuilding) Hamilton Harlots kicked things off by returning to their winning ways against a Belles of the Brawl team (Brantford) whose history pales in comparison to their southern Ontario neighbours. The 234-61 victory (first in 2011 for this new-look Hammer City squad) kicked off a round of blowouts that culminated in a 456-6 whitewashing of the overmatched Ottawa Roller Derby by the GTAR’s newly formed G-Stars travel team. Sandwiched between these bouts were two blowouts of a different sort. Forest City (who were merging players from the Luscious Lunch Ladies and the Thames Fatales for the first time) toppled a smart-looking, but inexperienced Royal City All Star team (Guelph), while hosts Rideau Valley (playing as the Vermin—a team put together specifically for this tournament) took it to a wide-eyed and excited Muddy River Lumbersmacks (Moncton). Both of these teams seemed to revel in their losses, soaking up the experience and often immediately recycling the knowledge gained.

That set up relegation round showdowns featuring the four least experienced teams in the tournament. But even amongst these freshmen squads there was clearly a divide. Muddy River was cruising against a Belles of the Brawl team that finally had to throw in the towel when injuries and ejections depleted the Brantford bench to dangerously low levels, giving the New Brunswick team its first victory outside of the Atlantic provinces. In the second relegation semifinal, the Royal City All Stars continued their solid play, putting together a dominant performance against an Ottawa Roller Derby team that bowed out of the tournament having been outscored 852-13 in its two games.

Guelph's Royal City Royal Girls, in their first major tournament, won the relegation final to finish fifth overall (defeating Moncton's Muddy River 116-73).

DAY TWO

Since the two leagues first faced off on July 7, 2007, Hammer City seemed to have Forest City’s number. Four years of dominance finally came to an end earlier this year when both Forest City teams defeated both Hammer City teams in a double header in Hamilton. So when they met in the first of two semifinals they brought with them a great deal of flat track history. In a striking coincidence this was the first time since 2007 that Forest City was tracking a team playing under the league banner and their opponents, the Harlots, were those same opponents who initiated them four years earlier. Sometimes revenge is a long time coming, and Forest City got it this weekend, advancing to the semifinals with a convincing 218-58 victory.

The second semi-final looked like it was heading to blow-out territory as well with Rideau Valley jumping out to a dominant 101-19 half-time lead over the G-Stars, but the GTA team reeled it in during the second half getting stronger as the bout wore on to lose in a scrappy, entertaining game, 163-52.

Muddy River's travel team, the Lumbersmacks, handled themselves well in their first out-of-region competition.

The relegation final was a highly anticipated bout featuring the two more inexperienced and exciting teams in the event, the Muddy River Rollers and the Royal City Roller Girls. The first half lived up to the expectations and then some as these two precocious teams left it all on the track, trading leads seemingly as often as they traded hits, with Royal City just able to inch ahead 51-41 at the half. Muddy River captain Burn ‘N RubHer and fellow triple threat Brandy Swifter led the way for this New Brunswick team that also had strong performances from Ms. Hate (who alternated helmet panties throughout the weekend as well), Thora Thunder and Malicious Kitty jamming and Lulu LeBomb pivoting. But as the game wore on, Royal City’s more sophisticated pace control (led in large part by excellent pivot Mandy Maggotbone) toppled Muddy River’s hit and run game. Kim Scarsmashian and Ginger Slaughters also had a strong tournament in the pack while Hot Cross Guns, Hellcat and Lady GoreJess led the offense and paced the Royal City to a fifth place finish with the 116-73 victory. It is clear though, that both of these teams have a very bright future, and Moncton, as the leaders of the pack on the east coast, gained invaluable experience to bring back with them.

The G-Stars capped a successful tournament taking the third place bout against the Harlots, 128-53. While the Harlots continue their rebuild, GTAR has now added a travel team to its roster which gave valuable experience to its less experienced Chrome Mollys players. While the usual suspects starred (Getcha Kicks, Lee Way Wreck’em, Canadian Psycho, Newfie Bullet and Splat Benatar) it was a coming out weekend for jammer Beaver Mansbridge who turned heads with her fearless play and excellent conditioning.

This tournament marked the first time a Forest City team had skated under the unified league name since 2007 (in orange vs. the Harlots in Hammer City). Photo by Derek Lang

It was clear though, that the top two teams had deservedly made it to the finals. With both teams dominating competition all weekend, expectations were high. It was set up to be an intriguing battle between two very experienced leagues  who were experimenting with new-look rosters. Rideau Valley had the potentially brutal, defensively sound packs led by Vixens’ standouts Semi Precious, ASSASSINista, Screaming Meanie Massacre and Margaret Choke, yet didn’t roster any of their all-star jammers (giving all-important track time to the likes of Death From Below, Crash Karma and eventually Mudblood). Forest City, on the other hand, shortened its jammer bench to (virtually) two for the final, the Thames Fatales standouts Killson and Slacker Smacker (though Lunch Ladies Andi Slamberg and Mighty Thor took their turns when needed later in the game as they had throughout the tournament). Killson, the tournament’s top jammer and perhaps MVP, was excellent in the early going while the frightening duo of Semi-Precious and ASSASSINista had their way with the Forest City packs and devastated the less experienced Slacker Smacker whenever she wore the star (who, though often overwhelmed, always pulled herself off the ground and threw herself back into the fray). When Forest City vet Anya Face went down with a significant ankle injury about midway through the opening half (and Sufferjet pulling out with her leaving only 11 skaters on the bench), things did not look good for London. But after a long timeout as Anya was helped off the track and eventually carted off to the hospital, Forest City came out with a single-minded focus and an increased level of determination that saw them threaten to pull away, taking a 78-50 lead into the locker rooms. They wouldn’t look back.

Congratulations to the Forest City Derby Girls on winning their first major championship.

While the Rideau Valley jammers were excellent all weekend, their comparative inexperience was exploited by the veteran London squad who forced numerous jammer majors and used a simple yet effective pace strategy to take full advantage. (It was a split-pack, separated-lane set up that relies on having a jammer strong and independent enough to face opposition blockers on her own). The heavily pace-controlled power jams were orchestrated by the experienced blocking crew led by pivot Mirambo and featuring Back Alley Sally, Freez’er Burn and None-ya Biz. It was an extremely innovative play that left the Rideau Valley bench struggling for a response, and allowed Forest City to build a gap in the second half that could not be overcome. With the 166-90 victory, the Forest City All Stars were crowned champions at the first ever CWRDA Eastern Championship.

***A big thank you to Rideau Valley for begin such gracious hosts! A personal thanks goes to the dynamic duo of Tipsy McStaggers and Sister Disaster. The Nerd’s participation in Blood Spill on the Hill was made possible, in part, by the fine people at Neon Skates:

***Weren’t in Ottawa! You can get all the scores AND relive all of the moments (including the exciting championship game) by checking the archives at Canuck Derby TV.

Blood Spill on the Hill: CWRDA’s Eastern Championship.

Blood Spill on the Hill is the first ever CWRDA Eastern Championship tournament.

Blood Spill on the Hill, hosted by the Rideau Valley Roller Girls, is the first ever Canadian Women’s Roller Derby Association (CWRDA) Eastern Championship tournament. An eight team tournament featuring some of the top teams in the east, this potentially gruelling two day grind will test not only the endurance of the skaters, but the teams’ organizational management as well, as they will have to juggle their rosters accordingly. There are some noticeable absentees in the tournament with the top three teams out (Montreal, Toronto and Tri-City), which makes this tournament an opportunity for the rest of the top competitive teams in the east to step up.  For some, like Muddy River (Moncton) and Belle City (Brantford), this will be their first chance to face top-flight competition, while for others, like Forest City and Rideau Valley, this will be a test of their ability to handle the pressure of being the favourites.

ROUND ONE

Day one will mean game over for two of the eight teams, while for the other six it’ll be another day of derby and a chance for a top five finish (with the day-one winners moving directly to the semifinals). The Hammer City Harlots will kick off the tournament facing a new team from Belle City (Brantford), the Belles of the Brawl. While on paper this one looks like a washout (the most experienced team taking on the least experienced), this is not the same Harlots teams as years past. While a few veterans remain (including former Eh! Team skater Judge Jodie), this team (and the league as a whole) has gone through a major overhaul and has taken some tough, one-sided losses to teams they used to routinely beat (Forest City and Queen City). Nonetheless, Belle City has the disadvantage of having limited play against outside competition, while the Harlots have gotten a few under their belts this season already.

The Rideau Valley Vermin will consist of rookie and experienced skaters, including members of the 2011 Beast of the East Champion Slaughter Daughters. (photo by Derek Lang)

Next up, the Rideau Valley Vermin take on the upstarts from the Atlantic, the Muddy River Lumbersmacks. Moncton has lead the recent explosion of flat track derby on the east coast (six leagues and counting), and with recent victories over Halifax and Fog City (Saint John) have proven that they deserve this spot in the tournament. As quickly as this Moncton team has come along, they are in tough against the Vermin, a mixed team of veteran and new skaters from RVRG that has yet to play together, but will boast members of the WFTDA apprentice Vixens. The Muddy River skaters are aware of the challenge they face. “We’re super excited (to be) schooled by Rideau Valley right from the get go!” says Muddy Rivers’ Brandy Swifter. “We definitely hope to use (the tournament) as a great learning process.” A sentiment echoed by the other inexperienced leagues, and the experienced ones as well. “It’s a great opportunity for us to train our newer players in an actual competitive game environment” says RVRG veteran Dee Dee Tee discussing the forward thinking decision behind entering the Vermin into the tournament. “We expect nothing but good to come from the experience we are poised to gain this season,” she concludes.

The Forest City travel team will be led by an experienced core of Thames Fatales skaters. (photo by Joe Mac)

Like Moncton, Guelph’s Royal City has been turning some heads in its first year of operation, putting up increasingly great fights against considerably more experienced competition from GTA and Tri-City. But they too, being a comparatively inexperienced team, have gotten a tough draw in a Forest City All Stars team that hasn’t played since the earliest days of the league’s existence, but will have an experienced lineup regardless. No doubt it will draw heavily from Thames Fatales, which has had an excellent 2011 thus far. The new hometeam, the Luscious Lunch Ladies, has developed very quickly as well, scoring a huge victory over the Harlots in May. Veteran skater Anya Face is relaxed about the tournament, and sees it as an opportunity to improve. “We are there to play some roller derby, and see if our strategies work,” she says, adding “we are always learning new off-the-wall strategies … so to try them out in a game situation (allows us) to see what works.” Depending on how the skaters from the two teams merge, Forest City could be a team to watch.

GTA's Derby Debutants gave the Royal City All Stars their first taste of competitive derby in May. (photo by Joe Mac)

Finally, two veteran leagues that are still waiting for that competitive breakthrough will close out the opening round match ups. Despite their similarities in lineage, the GTA Rollergirls have had a much more consistent run than Ottawa Roller Derby and will be tracking a team of all stars brought together from its two home teams. Another clear advantage for GTA is how much track time they’ve already logged this season as both the Derby Debutantes and the Chrome Mollys are deep into their seasons. ORD, on the other hand, has been out of the top level of competition since its last appearance at the Beast of the East in 2009, but could use this as a stepping stone to greater competitive heights.

Moncton's Muddy River will be hosting the Atlantic Jamboree where experience gained at the Blood Spill will undoubtedly be shared.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Given the mix of teams, it might be worth expecting the unexpected. With Forest City, Rideau Valley, and GTA sending new mixed teams, and Hammer City sending its B team, the tournament is actually wide open and could come down to which of these teams is able to gel the quickest. This could actually work to the advantage of those newer teams (Royal City and Muddy River) who have been picking up considerable experience playing together as of late. But the core players who will make up each of the more experienced teams will certainly given them the edge. Rideau Valley has been dominating all levels of play, with their only losses in the past two years coming against some of the top teams in the country in Montreal, Toronto and Tri-City. But their experience here and abroad will make them clear front runners. Similarly, Forest City has come a long way in the past few years, developing into a tough, strategically sound league and also have to be considered front runners. But the importance of this tournament stretches far beyond who wins and losses. “By hosting and participating we hope to raise more awareness of the sport in Canada, raise the level of play and promote a nationwide competition.” Dee Dee Tee answers when asked about the goal of the tournament. The new Ontario leagues will be able to measure themselves up against the next stage of competition, while Muddy River will gain valuable experience just in time for the Atlantic Jamboree where they can, in turn, share it with their sister leagues back east.

** For more information visit the event page on Facebook. Tickets are available online and at select vendors in Ottawa.

**Not going to be there!? Catch all the action live on Canuck Derby TV.

**The Nerd’s participation in Blood Spill on the Hill was made possible, in part, by the fine people at Neon Skates:

**Tournament Schedule:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

ROUND ONE

Game 1  Hamilton Harlots (Hammer City Roller Girls) vs Belles of the Brawl (Bell City Roller Girls—Brantford ) 9am
Game 2  Rideau Valley Vermin (RVRG) vs  Lumbersmacks  (Muddy River Rollers—Moncton) 11am
Game 3 Forest City All Stars (FCDG—London)  vs Royal City All Stars (Royal City Rollergirls—Guelph) 1pm
Game 4 G-Stars (GTA Rollergirls) vs Ottawa Roller Derby  3pm

RELEGATION

Game 5 (Loser of Game 1 vs Loser of Game 2) 5pm
Game 6 (Loser of Game 3 vs Loser of Game 4) 7pm

Sunday, June 19, 2011
SEMIFINALS

Game 7 (Winner of Game 1 vs Winner of Game 3) 9am
Game 8 (Winner of Game 2 vs Winner of Game 4) 11am

RELEGATION

Game 9 (Winner of Game 5 vs Winner of Game 6) 1pm (for 5th Place)
Game 10 (Loser of Game 7 vs Loser of Game 8 ) 3pm (for 3rd Place)

CHAMPIONSHIP

Game 11 (Winner of Game 7 vs Winner of Game 8 ) 5pm