D-Vas

Fresher and Furiouser: the 2013 Fresh and Furious Tournament

Les Buches became the second consecutive team from Quebec to win the Fresh and Furious tournament. (Photo by Francis St-Onge from Les Buches Facebook page)

Les Buches became the second consecutive team from Quebec to win the Fresh and Furious tournament. (Photo by Francis St-Onge from Les Buches Facebook page)

For the second straight year, a team from Quebec swept in to win the Fresh and the Furious tournament. Last year, Montreal’s Smash Squad were the stars of the show, and this year, Les Bûches—a team made up of skaters primarily from Quebec but also from Montreal, Rimouski and Trois Riviere—were the dominant team in the tournament, leading virtually every game from start to finish and going undefeated. It was actually clear early on that this was going to be a three-team tournament, as ToRD’s D-VAS and Hammer City’s Fresh Meat joined Les Bûches in distancing themselves from the competition.

But this is a “freshies” tournament, which means that there were the requisite surprises as well with Fergus (aided by a few key skaters from Grey Bruce) providing the Cinderella-like moments early on before Orangeville’s surprising final four appearance forced everyone to take notice. All in all, it was the grueling, epic, single-day tournament that everyone has come to expect from this tournament, only the level of play continues to advance at an impressive, almost unbelievable rate, showing that the future of the sport in the region is bright indeed.

DOUBLE ELIMINATION ROUND

The Arena

Les Buches and Hammer City met in a key early matchup. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Les Buches and Hammer City met in a key early matchup. (Photo by Greg Russell)

In the arena, things got off to a tight start when Border City’s Windsor A-Salt took out Woodstock/GTA’s Debutante Warriors (there was a number of mixed-league teams in this tournament, most borne out of the necessity of having enough skaters to fit under the strict eligibility rules). Last year’s finalists, the Top Herloins out of Royal City were smacked around by the Renegade Derby Dames early and eventually eliminated by Windsor. Capital City—a league to watch this season—had a rough go of it as well, falling in two straight. While the top two teams in the pool—Les Bûches and Hammer City—battled early with Les Buches taking the tight 88-61 win, before Hammer City put in two dominant performances, culminating in a mind-boggling 198-13 win over Durham’s DRRDy Farmers, to advance.

Les Bûches, Hammer City, Alliston’s Renegade Derby Dames, and Windsor all advanced to the quarter finals from the main arena.

Despite only having seven skaters, Crow City (Chatham) put in a heroic performance, going 1-2 in the double elimination round (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Despite only having seven skaters, Crow City (Chatham) put in a heroic performance, going 1-2 in the double elimination round. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Bubble

Aside from perennial contenders the D-VAS, the pool was wide open in the Bubble, allowing a few surprise teams to emerge. Fergus advanced straight through to the quarters with back-to-back victories over Queen’s Court (Buffalo) and the Smooth Operators (Peterborough’s 705 Roller Derby), becoming the only team in the first round to record multi 100+ point games in the process. After giving the D-VAS everything they could handle in the opener, Orangeville began its march to the final four with a tight victory over the Power Dames (made up mostly of Cornwall’s Seaway Roller Derby Girls) before eliminating 705 in a one-sided elimination game. The D-VAS advanced straight through with a 138-11 victory over a short-handed Crow City team (who easily won the spirit award for going 1-2 with only 7 skaters on their bench!). Finally, the NEOFights (a mixed team from Northern Ontario—a “fresh” version of the NORD team that recently finished second at the RDAC eastern championships) overcame an opening-game loss to knock off Queen’s Court and Crow City.

The D-VAS, Fergus Feims, Orangeville’s Pulp Affliction, and the NEOFights advanced to the quarterfinals from the Bubble.

An impressive and surprising run by Fergus was finally stopped by Hammer City in the quarterfinals. (Photo by Greg Russel)

An impressive and surprising run by Fergus was finally stopped by Hammer City in the quarterfinals. (Photo by Greg Russel)

QUARTER FINALS

After the double elimination round, the tournament shifted to a single-elimination knock out playoff. The NEOFights continued to round into form as the day went on (much like their big sisters counterparts did a few weeks before at RDACs) and gave Les Bûches all that they could handle in the quarters, but simply didn’t have the offense to penetrate Les Bûches increasingly stingy defense. Fergus’ shocking run finally came to an end against a very strong Hammer City team that managed a second-straight 100+ point game to advance. The D-VAS and Windsor continued a rivalry that has built in this tournament (they faced off twice last year, splitting the games) with the D-VAS providing too much depth for the Border City freshies, and Pulp Affliction extended its unlikely run by knocking off the favoured Renegade Derby Dames.

Orangeville turned some heads with a run to the final four, but were overwhelmed by Les Buches in the semis. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Orangeville turned some heads with a run to the final four, but were overwhelmed by Les Buches in the semis. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

FINAL FOUR

Orangeville’s exciting run came to an abrupt conclusion against Les Bûches, who dumped them 99-9 in the semi finals: It really was the point at which this mixed Quebec team truly came together. Nonetheless, it was an impressive, take-notice tournament for Orangeville who were lead by strong performances from Hall N Ass (who was actually a Tri-City fresh meat) and Starbust with the star and Kate Knevil and Red Hot Sonia in the pack to name a few. At a tournament of freshies, Pulp Affliction simply didn’t have a sophisticated enough offense to overcome Les Bûches increasingly stifling play.

The other semifinal was a contrast as Hammer City and the D-VAS renewed one of Canada’s oldest roller derby rivalries. Hammer City was every bit the equal to ToRD’s fresh team except for perhaps in depth (and discipline, as D-VAS power jams truly sealed the deal in this one). Led by a few astonishing fresh meat skaters in Jangerous (jammer) and Homewrecken Holly (pivot), Hammer City fell behind early and often on undisciplined play, and despite a valiant comeback in the end, simply ran out of time against Toronto, falling 77-61. It was the third-straight year that the D-VAS qualified for the final four, and their return to the final comes on the heels of last year’s third place performance.

The D-VAS advanced to their third straight final four and second championship in two years. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The D-VAS advanced to their third straight final four and second championship in two years. (Photo by Greg Russell)

By the final game—nearing twelve hours after the tournament commenced—the D-VAS were showing signs of strain, while Les Bûches were just rounding into top form. Les Bûches represent the first real boom in flat track roller derby in Quebec; despite the fact that they have one of the top leagues in the game in Montreal, the sport has been slow to take off in the province (there are about five women’s leagues in Quebec right now compared to around fifty in Ontario). But it has been a very good year for the leagues that do exist.

Roller Derby Quebec leads the second generation of roller derby in Quebec: their Rouge et Gore have had an impressive 2013 making the final eight at the Beast of the East before winning the Moncton Murder tournament. Three of those skaters, Nelson Mandale, Dina Myth and Vinny Neutron were key for Les Bûches this weekend (not to mention their leaguemate Dur a Queer who was dominant at times in the pack). Dey Moniak had a very strong tournament representing Rimouski, while a few Montreal Smash Squad skaters were key as well: Clara O’Key and Sugar Shane in the pack, while Gameboi was simply unstoppable with the star, while also performing exceptionally well in the pack.

Both finalists were loaded with individual talent, including Montreal's Clara O'Key (Buches pivot) and ToRD's Emraged (D-VAS pivot). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Both finalists were loaded with individual talent, including Montreal’s Clara O’Key (Buches pivot) and ToRD’s Emraged (D-VAS pivot). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Not that the D-VAS didn’t have their share of stars as well. Babushkill and Moose Knuckles were key in the opening victory against Pulp Affliction, while the trio of Full Deck, Emraged, and Android W.K. were difference makers all day. They all played multiple roles throughout the tournament, and the season of training with ToRD’s houseleague definitely showed as their track awareness and poise was evident.

But in the end, Les Bûches simply had too many weapons to contend with and overwhelmed a tiring D-VAS team late, pulling away for the convincing 122-45 victory and the Fresh and the Furious 2013 championship.

RESULTS

Double Elimination: Arena Windsor A-Salt 56 vs. Debutante Warriors 55Hammer City 61 vs. Les Bûches 88

Renegade Derby Dames 87 vs. Top Herloins 31

Cannon Dolls 40 vs. DRRDy Farmers 58

Windsor 16 vs. Les Bûches 118

Debutant Warriors (eliminated) 39 vs. Hammer City 83

Renegade Derby Dames 69 vs. DRRDy Farmers 30

Top Herloins 76 vs. Cannon Dolls 26 (eliminated)

Windsor 67 vs. Top Herloins 28 (eliminated)

DRRDy Farmers 13 (eliminated) vs. Hammer City 198

Double Elimination: BubbleNEOFights 52 vs. Area 705 66Queen’s Court 36 vs. Fergus Feims 113

Power Dames 38 vs. Crow City 43

Pulp Affliction 22 vs. D-VAS 52

Area 705 51 vs. Fergus 100

NEOFights 114 vs. Queen’s Court 34 (eliminated)

Crow City 11 vs. D-VAS 138

Power Dames 43 (eliminated) vs. Pulp Affliction 52

Area 705 26 (eliminated) vs. Pulp Affliction 96

Crow City 41 (eliminated) vs. NEOFights 85

Quarter Finals

Les Bûches 82 vs. NEOFights 33

Fergus Feims 64 vs. Hammer City 119

Renegade Derby Dames 53 vs. Pulp Affliction 56

D-VAS 58 vs. Windsor A-Salt 34

Semi Finals

Les Bûches 99 vs. Pulp Affliction 9

Hammer City 61 vs. D-VAS 77

Championship

Les Bûches 122 vs. D-VAS 45

Les Buches Logo

** The games were boutcast in HD by Layer9 through Canuck Derby TV. Check here for the complete archives.

The Fresh and the Furious 2013: A Viewer’s Guide

The Fresh and the Furious 2013The Fresh and the Furious 2013 is the fourth version of this event since the rebirth and rebranding of this tournament after the inaugural Virgin Suicides Brawl ushered in the second wave of Ontario roller derby. That tournament was held in 2008 and was won by the now defunct Death Row Dames out of Hammer City but featured teams that would go on to great heights including eventual Beast of the East winners Vicious Dishes and Slaughter Daughters. It is hosted annually by the GTA Rollergirls at Ted Reeve Arena in Toronto’s east end and is the premiere “prospects” event in the region (and the country for that matter). Each year it gives a glimpse of the future of roller derby in the region, while also providing an exciting and unpredictable tournament. This year, for the first time ever, the whole tournament will be boutcast on Canuck Derby TV.

The Fresh and Furious is a one day, sixteen team, double elimination tournament that follows the same tournament structure and format as Montreal’s annual Beast of the East. Having two tracks allows for the whole tournament to be played out over the course of a single, epic day. Although, since this year’s tournament will be boutcast, that means you have viewing choices to make. First, check the complete schedule here to see when and where the teams will be playing their first game in the double elimination round. Teams will start either in the Bubble or the Arena with a just a two-team crossover in the quarterfinals. After that, the final four will shift to the main arena for the semifinals and the finals.

THE ARENA

Absent since winning the Virgin Suicides Brawl, Hammer City returns.

Absent since winning the Virgin Suicides Brawl, Hammer City returns.

Game 1 (11:00 AM): Windsor A-Salt vs. Debutante Warriors

Since making an impressive debut at 2 Fresh 2 Furious in 2011, Windsor’s Border City (a WFTDA Apprentice league) has been on a quick upward swing, including advancing to the semi final last year. The Debutante Warriors are a mixed team featuring skaters from Woodstock Warriors and the host GTA Rollergirls.

Game 2 (11:40 AM): Hammer City Fresh Meat vs. Les Buches

Hammer City sends their first team to the tournament since their Death Row Dames won the Virgin Suicides Brawl in 2008. Back on the rise after a few years of rebuilding and restructuring, Hammer City should be a team to watch in the tournament. But Les Buches have rookie skaters from across Quebec’s slowly growing number of leagues, including Roller Derby Quebec and Roller Derby Rimouski, and Roller Derby 3R. After Montreal’s success last year, they should also be competitive.

Game 3 (12:20 PM): Renegade Derby Dames vs. Top Herloins

An interesting battle between two of the comparatively well established leagues in the tournament. Renegade Derby Dames have just gone through a bit of a league shake up, but have traditionally been strong, while Royal City’s Top Herloins made it all the way to the final in last year’s tournament.

Game 4 (1:00 PM): Cannon Dolls vs. DRRDy Farmers

This will be Durham Region’s third time at the Fresh and the Furious tournaments while Capital City returns after last year’s debut. Capital City has been on quite a roll lately, while Durham Region is also deep into their season, so this should be a great match up to end the first round in the arena.

A regular participant, Buffalo's Queen City remains the sole US participant.

A regular participant, Buffalo’s Queen City remains the sole US participant.

THE BUBBLE

Game 5 (11:00 AM): The NEOFights vs. Smooth Operators

Like the NORD team that recently came second at the RDAC Eastern Championships, the NEOFights contain representatives from multiple leagues in Northern Ontario (Gold City, Nickel City, Greater Sudbury, Cochrane, Temiskaming, Sault Roller Derby and Kirkland Lake). The Smooth Operators represent Area 705 Roller Derby, one of the leagues operating out of Peterborough.

Game 6 (11:40 AM): Queen’s Court vs. Fergus Feims

Queen City’s long relationship with leagues north of the border has continued even at the fresh meat level as they are a frequent participant in the tournament and have always done well (they lost in the quarter finals last year), and this year they will be taking on Fergus Roller Derby’s Fergus Feims. Fergus is part of what has been an unabated third wave of roller derby development in Ontario, and Eastern Canada as a whole, over the past two years and will be making their Fresh and Furious debut.

Game 7 (12:20 PM): The Power Dames vs. Crow City Roller Girls

The Power Dames represent Cornwall’s Seaway Roller Derby Girls, but this weekend, will have a roster filled out by skaters from By the Rapids Roller Derby and Northumberland Roller Girls. From Chatham-Kent, Crow City is another fresh league, but features former Tri-City skater Greta Garbage (who will be bench managing this weekend).

Game 8 (1:00 PM): Pulp Affliction vs. D-VAS

A few interesting connections to be made in this final first round game in the Bubble: Both coincidentally take their names from Quentin Tarantino references, but the roller derby ties run a little deeper. Orangeville’s Pulp Affliction will be bench managed by Bay Street Bruisers Bench Manager (who was also recently named to the bench staff for Team Canada) Flyin’ Bryan Killman and Bay Street Bruisers skater Rhage in a Cage (who also play’s for ToRD champs the Death Track Dolls). Both have regular ties to Orangeville, but also, for obvious reasons, to ToRD’s D-VAS as well (not the least of which is that Flyin’ Bryan has regularly bench managed the D-VAS over the past two seasons).

Read about last year's  Fresh and Furious: GTA Drift

Read about last year’s Fresh and Furious: GTA Drift

ELIMINATION GAMES

After the initial games, the teams will advance based on wins and losses: two straight wins will earn a team a bye directly into the single-elimination quarterfinals. While a team gets up to three chances to get the two necessary wins, back-to-back losses means elimination from the tournament.

For the 7:00 PM semi final, the Bubble boutcast will shut down as the final four will play out the tournament in the main arena.

An essential and important tournament for the development of new skaters in the region, the importance of the event continues to grow as the number of new leagues in Ontario (and now Quebec) continues to grow at an extraordinary rate.

The boutcast for both tracks will begin at 11:00 AM. The final four showdown begins at 7:00 PM.

Canuck Derby TV logo

Betties to Battle For the Boot After Semifinal Win Over Gores

Despite a strong start, the Gores could not hold off the determined Betties. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Despite a strong start, the Gores could not hold off the determined Betties. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

It was a little bit of history in the making this Saturday at the Bunker as the Smoke City Betties defeated the Gore-Gore Rollergirls 128-98 in ToRD’s 2013 semifinal. It will be the first time that the Betties play for the championship since 2009, and will mark the first time in league history that the Gores will not contend for the boot, ending a truly remarkable six-year run. It was a fast, low scoring, high intensity game—arguably the best game in the league this season—that the Gores controlled early, but the Betties stuck around and showed a consistency that had been lacking all season and eventually wrestled away control and held on for the thrilling 30-point victory.

These teams took two very different paths on the road to the championship, with the Betties limping in to the playoffs after going a disappointing 1-2 on the season that included a massive 265-62 loss to the Death Track Dolls to end the regular season. The Gores, on the other hand, crushed Chicks Ahoy! to close out the season, putting up a record setting 323 points in the process. But all year the rebuilt Gores seemed to be playing well above expectation, ignoring the pre-season predictions of their demise, yet in the semifinals they seemed, at times, to be the inexperienced team many thought that they would be with such a new lineup. The Betties entered the season with high hopes that were quickly quelled by inconsistent performances that seemed to put a strain on the young team. At one point it didn’t look as if they’d be able to pull themselves out of it.

Led by R.I. Pink, the Gores got off to strong start. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Led by R.I. Pink (who had 17 first half points), the Gores got off to a strong start. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Gores are usually strong openers (they were only caught off guard on the opening whistle against the Death Track Dolls this season), and burst out of this one, catching a seemingly unprepared Betties team. 8-0 after the opening jam, the Gores took five of the first six lead jammer statuses to open up an impressive 21-0 lead, and over the opening ten minutes seemed in complete control of the game. The Gores, at this point, called a time out to talk things over, an intriguing move that would come back to haunt them later. In the immediate aftermath of the time out though, the Betties began to wake up.

Riding a string of three straight lead jammer pick ups, the Betties got on the board and started rolling. The first half was very clean in terms of penalties with both teams running into brief streaks of pack-penalty troubles, but the fact that there were (refreshingly!) no power jams made the game move quickly and kept the scoring down. With ten minutes remaining in the half, the Betties had fought back and a 26-8 run had them within 3 points.  The Betties earned seven of the final ten lead jammers to flip the board on the Gores and lead 63-40 at half.

Platinum Bomb (blocking Foxy Sinatra) had a strong game in the pack for the Betties. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Platinum Bomb (blocking Foxy Sinatra) had a strong game in the pack for the Betties. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

More importantly for the Betties was that it felt like they were in control emotionally and on the track. The Gores were often scrambling in the pack while the Betties saw season-best individual performances from usual stalwart Misery Mae, but also got a massive game from Platinum Bomb who had been out since the season opener and put in one of the stronger performances of her four-year career. The Betties played easily their best game defensively, and held the league’s leading scorer, Lexi Con, to just 4 points in the first half.

For the Gores, Foxy Sinatra was once again phenomenal (in the pack as usual, but she was also a strong performer with the star and finished second in team scoring with 21 points), and seemed to elevate her play in the absence of injured team captain Santa Muerte.  With Lexi Con neutralized in the first and Taranosaurus Rex in the second (no points in the second after 16 in the first), third-year jammer R.I. Pink stepped up and played what was arguably the game of her career and was the only jammer able to gain any consistency against the Betties’ packs putting up 17 points in the first half and 15 in the second to lead the team. The games leading scorer was the Betties’ Wolverina with 40 (she’s been on a tear since the Beast of the East), but they spread things around with four jammers registering at least 19 points.

The Betties Wolverina (battling with Purple Pain) was the game's leading scorer with 40 points. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Betties’ Wolverina (battling with Purple Pain) was the game’s leading scorer with 40 points. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The first power jam of the game came on the fourth jam of the second half: on it, the Betties picked up 12 points to build their biggest lead, 80-51. At this point, the Gores found their form and played their best stretch of derby of the bout, matching the Betties in points and lead jammers (and on two jams, the teams traded jammer penalties to negate power jams). Arguably, the turning point came at the midway point of the second: with the Gores rallying and within 16 (96-80), they earned a lead jammer status only to get smacked with a jammer cutting penalty to send the Betties on a 13-point power jam. They grasped the momentum and after a scrambly two-minute jam, took the next three leads to build an insurmountable 124-87 lead.

As to be expected, the Gores fought tooth and nail to the very end, and actually managed to pick up the final four lead jammer statuses, but over that span only managed 11 points (to the Betties’ 4) and on the final jam, simply ran out of time—and with no time outs remaining (they used their final one with about 10 minutes to go) could do little more than wait for official word.

The Smoke City Betties will now meet the Death Track Dolls in Battle for the Boot 7: The 2013 Toronto Roller Derby Championship on June 15th, a match that will crown a first-time champion regardless of who wins.

The D-VAS looked strong in their 2013 debut. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The D-VAS looked strong in their 2013 debut. (Photo by Joe Mac)

D-VAS DEFEAT SOUTH SIMCOE 200-142

The semifinal was prefaced by a showdown featuring ToRD’s farm team, the D-VAS (in their first public game of the season), hosting the South Simcoe Rebel Rollers in what was an entertaining (though penalty filled) game featuring a surprisingly high-level of play from both teams. The Rebel Rollers came out strong before the D-VAS roared back to hold on to an 81-72 point lead at the half. They led all the way through the second half to take the 58 point win.

The D-VAS were led by some strong play in the pack including getting a massive game from pivot Eskimo Jo, and strong performances from Honey Boom Boom and Hannibelle among many others. With the star, Lumberjack Flash was virtually unstoppable, Sneaky Dee got stronger as the game went on and Wackedher had a particularly strong second half. South Simcoe got strong play in the pack especially from Painkiller Jane and Psycho Magnet, and used a wide rotation of jammers led by the untiring Brand-Her. All in all, it was an impressive performance from both of these young teams.

***ToRD’s Battle for the Boot 7 will be on June 15th at the Bunker. Doors open at 5 PM with Torono Junior Rolller Derby playing a mini-scrimmage at 6 PM at the championship game slated to stared at 7:00 PM. Tickets are available online or at a variety of vendors in the city.

ToRD Closes Out Home Season with Double Header Against Royal City

ToRD hosts Royal City in a double header. Doors at The Bunker open at 5:00 PM.

When ToRD’s Bay Street Bruisers and Royal City’s Brute Leggers met in Guelph’s Sleeman Centre this past June, the newly formed B-Team from Toronto was playing its second competitive game since being reborn as a travel team (the home team version of the Bruisers disbanded in 2009). Meanwhile, the Brute Leggers, another relatively newly formed travel team, were already well into a busy breakout season, holding a 3-2 record coming off of a hard-fought eight-point victory over Kingston’s Disloyalists.

The Bruisers would burst out to a substantial early lead in the June showdown, and would hold off a significant Brute Leggers second-half pushback for a 176-153 victory. That Bruisers’ win was the first of four in a row, which included a Roller Derby Association of Canada (RDAC) Eastern Canadian championship. The Brute Leggers have continued their busy season and now stand at 5-7 on year, but currently find themselves on a three-game losing streak that includes losses to Tri-City hometeam (and Beast of the East champs) the Vicious Dishes, the Renegade Derby Dames Misfit Militia, and GTA’s G-sTARs.

ToRD’s other farm team, the D-VAS, played for much bigger stakes the last time they met Royal City’s farm team, The Top Herloins. In the semi-finals of this year’s Fresh and Furious tournament, the D-VAS took an early lead only to have the Herloins pull ahead and hold off a late D-VAS surge for a miniscule two-point victory.

The Bruisers held off the Brute Leggers for a 20 point win at a June showdown in Guelph. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Both teams, however, are composed of young, mostly inexperienced skaters who have been going through a season of massive growth. It has to be assumed that much has changed between both of these teams since that July showdown four months ago. The D-VAS recently exhibited that growth with an impressive victory over The Disloyalists, avenging an early season 259 point loss. They defeated the Kingston team by a similar margin as the Brute Leggers did, which implies that this D-VAS team has developed significantly this season.

But just because the Bruisers and Brute Leggers represent teams higher up each league’s competitive ladder doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been change in the teams. The Bruisers present a much different roster from the one that squared off against Royal City in the summer. Overall, there are nine new skaters on the team, and five on the game-day roster who weren’t on the team in June. The Brute Leggers, who contain skaters that also play on the Top Herloins, have gone through an immense change, and since they started playing publicly in May of last year, have played a remarkable 23 games, picking up a lot of valuable track experience along the way.

The Top Herloins defeated the D-VAS by two points at the Fresh and Furious: GTA Drift. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

On top of the potential competitive nature of the bout, this D-VAS team will be playing its last game together before ToRD’s house league entry draft next month. Due to CN Power’s recent commitment to having its skaters commit fully to only the travel team roster, there are a lot of spaces open on ToRD’s four home teams; virtually all of the current roster of D-VAS will be drafted into the league for the 2013 season. The core of this team has been skating together for nearly two years now, and will soon find themselves distributed over four teams.  As for the D-VAS: word on the track is that there is a very talented crop of fresh meat ready to fill the spaces that will be opened on the farm team.

For the Brute Leggers, this will mark the conclusion of a busy, ground-breaking season that saw them pick up third place in RDAC’s Eastern Canadian Championship (which they also hosted!), but even more importantly play a lot of games. They played a range of talent level and didn’t back down from any challenges and have set the stage for a big 2013 season.

The Bruisers now represent the all-star skaters of ToRD’s houseleague, and with a handful of games already scheduled for south of the border, are looking to finish 2012 strong with the roster that will represent the team for the bulk of 2013. After this weekend, the Bruisers will hit the road with their big sisters CN Power and head to Grand Rapids to take on the G-Rap Attack in a double header featuring CN Power’s WFTDA sanctioned showdown with Grand Raggidy. A win on Saturday would go a long way in building confidence for the trip.

***The games will be played at The Bunker in Downsview Park.  Doors open at 5:00 PM, with the opening whistle of the D-VAS vs. Top Herloins game set for 6:00 PM. The Bay Street Bruisers vs. Brute Leggers bout will start at 8:00 PM.  Tickets are available online or at a handful of locations downtown.

***  The Caplansky’s food truck will be returning for the game, so come for dinner!

Kingston Closes out Season with Thrilling Double Header

The referees stand during the singing of the national anthem. (Photography by Papa Razzi / Steve Koopman)

This past weekend, the Kingston Derby Girls concluded yet another successful season with a double header that provided the throngs of fans on hand with a double dose of thrilling derby. With a houseleague bout that went into overtime, and a travel-team back-and-forth battle with a previously vanquished foe pulling out a surprise victory, fans of flat track got a little taste of everything at Kingston’s Memorial Centre.

This was the third meeting of the season between the two teams with, with the Rogue Warriors having won the previous two. (Photography by Papa Razzi/Steve Koopman)

The Skateful Dead 132 vs. The Rogue Warriors 138 (OT)

After winning both meetings between the two teams this year (by scores of 26 and 53 points), the Rogue Warriors were the heavy favourites entering their season championship matchup. With their only loss coming to an experienced Dolly Rogers team from Capital City, the team seemed poised to close out the season with year another win. But the Skateful Dead could be happy with their season as well; aside from the two losses to their Kingston counterparts, the Dead managed a big early season win over Durham’s DRRDY Farmers, and just three weeks ago scored a confidence-boosting victory over Capital City’s Dollinquents (165-67).

While the Rogue Warriors jumped out to a quick lead after the first few jams, the Skateful Dead roared back. With an offense anchored by impressive rookie jammer Tyknee Smasher and the veteran poise of Skate at Home Mom (who scored a key 10-point power jam early in the game), the Dead took over the lead, 26-20 at the midway point of the first half. But the Rogue Warriors never felt out of it in the first half and relied on steady jamming from Amandatory Sentence, Bad Princess and Kimminent Danger. As happens when evenly matched teams face off, penalties came to be a big part of the story, and both packs were ravaged by (especially) pack definition penalties that kept each team short-handed  for much of the half. The Skateful Dead took better advantage of power jams though and led 72-55 at the half.

Skateful Dead dominated the opening of the second half and seemed on their way to victory.

With packs decimated by penalties, much of the pack work came down to strong individual performances. Pivots Coop de Loop and Polly Slamory provided solid on-track leadership, while Booty on Duty and Careless Whips-Her were strong one-on-one. Boney L’Ass continued strong jamming in the second and (B)Lackey(e) provided some offensive depth and was a key part of the rotation as the game went on.

The Dead dominated the first half of the second period and seemed ready to roll to their first win over their leaguemates when the Warriors pushed back. Led by devastating one-on-one blocking from jammer-killer Box Punch and tenacious pack work from Cat O’Clysm. Expanding their jammer rotation (giving Nikki Heat and double threat Zesty Enterprise opportunities with the star) allowed the offense to get some different looks and to eventually claw their way all the way back and take the lead 103-98 with 10 minutes remaining in the game. Accumulating penalties didn’t allow them to hold it long though, and quickly the Dead found themselves back up 112-103 only two jams later. Once again, they seemed to have it all locked up, and were leading by a comfortable 7 points entering the final jam.

The Rogue Warriors completed their comeback in overtime, capturing the Boot in a thrilling game.

Cue the comeback.

With only seconds left in the final jam, Nikki Heat (who picked up a grand slam on her first scoring pass) was able to squeeze past two blockers to tie the score, 125-125 with no time left on the clock, setting up a thrilling overtime jam. However, in the waning moments of the game, key Rogue skaters Cat O’Clysm and Amandatory Sentence fouled out, leaving the team without two of their most effective players.

In overtime, the excitement built off a thrilling first pass that saw both jammers glide though for 4 points was quickly dampened when the Dead jammer was sent off, leaving the Rogues with a power jam for the final minute. It was a heartbreaking loss for the Skateful Dead, but a phenomenally close game that showcased how much they’d grown over the course of the season.

View from the Disloyalists bench. It was a 3 point game midway through the first half.

D-VAS (ToRD) 149 vs. Disloyalists (KDG) 132

In May of this year, Kingston’s Disloyalists marched into Toronto as one of the hottest teams in Ontario. Having handily dispatched Durham’s Devils and the South Simcoe Rebel Rollers by 107 and 162 points respectively, the Disloyalists skated all over the D-VAS, destroying them by 259 points in front of their hometown crowd. However, the D-VAS (Toronto Roller Derby’s farm team) were playing with a new roster for the first time and featured Toronto’s least experienced skaters. They took that defeat to heart and steadily improved all summer, going 3-0 the rest of the way, while also putting together a strong third place showing (out of fourteen teams) at the annual Fresh and Furious tournament. Kingston, in the meantime, faced much stronger competition over the rest of their summer, losing to Guelph’s Brute Leggers and a home and home series against Rideau Valley’s Riot Squad, to skate into this one on a three-game losing strength.

The D-VAS roster was also bolstered by the arrival of a few more experienced transfers, who have quickly and successfully integrated into the league and the team. But the majority of this Toronto team was rostered in that late-spring game and were looking for revenge. It was clear from the outset that this game was going to be a far different one than the previous had been. With the D-VAS  running a tight rotation of Chevy Chase-Her, Taranasaurus Rex and Rosemary’s Rabies, the visitors were able to keep up with the host Disloyalists, who nonetheless looked the stronger team in the early going and led 28-16 ten minutes in, largely on the strength of unstoppable jamming from Lavallee of the Dolls, Luci Fleur and Johnston (they would also be supported mightily by triple-threat Manic Breeze).

Two standouts, Getcha Kicks of the D-VAS and Manic Breeze of the Disloyalists, do battle at the front of the pack.

While the game was virtually even on the track, the D-VAS were winning in one key category: discipline. The clean play of the Toronto jammers (despite struggling at times against a stifling defense led by the likes of Mr. Kristi and Vagina Dentata) and subsequent penalty problems from the Kingston ones, allowed the D-VAS to fight their way back, and were within three, 32-29, at the halfway mark of the first period. While both teams struggled to gain momentum throughout the first thirty, the track seemed to tilt in the D-VAS favour late in the half, and expanding their offense to include veteran Getcha Kicks and standout double-threat Lexi Con, they took their first lead with two minutes to go and were  up 72-65 at the break.

The D-VAS got better as the game went on, and looked far improved over the early season meeting between these teams.

Despite being down, in five-on-five situations the Disloyalists were the slightly better team in the first half; however, the D-VAS pack came together in the second, anchored by a solid core that has developed together over the past eighteen months. Playing a tight, together game that they couldn’t quite pull together in the first half, the D-VAS blockers took the game away from their opponents. The penalty problems that plagued the home team in the first half were back in a big way early in the second, and three power jams in the first third of the period gave the D-VAS a lead (121-80) that they would not relent. Despite solid pack leadership from Angel ‘A Misfortune and Little Orphan-Maker Annie, and an extraordinary jam from blocker Vagina Dentata that brought the Disloyalists as close as they’d get (and the crowd to its feet!), Kingston couldn’t pull off the comeback, falling 149-132.

This group of D-VAS has one game remaining (a home game on October 20th) before the 2012 entry ToRD draft: a draft that will be the league’s largest yet and see virtually all of this crop of D-VAS called up to one of the league’s four houseleague teams. It has been an excellent season for this crop of future stars that has seen the teams the skaters improve consistently all year.  While the Disloyalists’ season may not have ended as spectacularly as it began, the league has laid a solid foundation in 2012 and are on the right track. They have proven to be among the leaders of this new wave of roller derby in the province.

***I would like to send a big personal thanks to Kingston Derby Girls for the invite to announce the event, and home announcers Dr. Sneaks and Jenny Juggs for their generous hospitality.

Montreal Steps on the Gas at Fresh and Furious: GTA DRIFT (Part 2: The Commentary)

Miracle Whips was physically dominant jamming for the Smash Squad. (Photo by Greg Russell)

If you want to examine the health of flat track roller derby in Canada, you’d do no better than to look at the events from this past weekend. While some of the best young skaters in Ontario, Montreal and Buffalo were dueling on the GTA Rollergirls’ tracks in Toronto, the best of the Atlantic provinces (with guests from Quebec City and Maine Roller Derby as well) were converging on Moncton for Muddy River’s second annual Atlantic Jamboree. Roller Derby Quebec’s Duchesses, who should be no strangers to eastern Canadian derby fans after two appearances in the Beast of the East, finally offered a challenge to Muddy River’s dominance on the east coast, going 3-1 including splitting games with Muddy River’s Reines of Terror (who also finished at 3-1). Halifax and Red Rock N Roller Derby from Charlottetown, PEI, also had strong showings, and overall provided an excellent display of the rapid growth of derby on the coast. At the highest level in the Atlantic Provinces, teams are employing much more complex strategies at a much earlier stage. Something seen all over the Fresh and the Furious tournament in Toronto.

Zom-Boney (in the pack) and Wackedher (double threat) were key members of the D-VAS third place finish. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Since 2009, when flat track roller derby finally “found itself,” the major differentiation between new leagues and teams and the established ones was the use of complex strategies, particularly those dealing with pack definition and pace. At last year’s 2Fresh 2Furious, the winners, the Gold Miner’s Daughters, were essentially the best skaters in the tournament (or had the best skaters on their roster) and were able to “hit and run” their way through the competition to win the tournament. In 2012, at the Fresh and the Furious: GTA Drift, strategy would trump speed, agility would overcome power: evidence that there has been a definite shift in preparation for flat track teams.

Tournament co founder My-call Bublè cites that as the biggest change in this tournament since its inception as the Virgin Suicides Brawl in 2008 and even since last year’s 2Fresh 2Furious. “People are training with strategy now, instead of (learning to skate and) figuring it out later,” he said in an interview between games late in the tournament.  “Most of the teams this year would beat most of the teams from last year,” he said confidently. “The level of derby has been brought up a lot from last year.”

Royal City pivot Forca attempts to hold back Montreal jammer Saucisse. Both were integral to their teams in the tournament. (Photo by Greg Russell).

Royal City’s Top Herloins’ coach Professor Wrex echoed My-call Bublè’s sentiments exactly. “The top four teams this year would definitely beat the top four teams from last year. Their skating ability is on par but their teamwork is better and their strategic work within the game is heightened.” And it was obvious that something on the track had taken a dramatic turn. While at last year’s tournament skaters seemed like they were just getting their skating legs, this year they seemed like they were getting their derby legs.

Border City captain Bloody White was a force in the pack. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Like the annual Jamboree in Moncton, this tournament has quickly become an important step in the growth of the sport in this part of the country.  “It brings something to derby that derby needs,” said My-Call Bublè, noting that new leagues like Lindsay and Woodstock get to play new skaters from established leagues like Montreal. “It’s an opportunity that you just don’t get (anywhere else).”

While there may be a disparity in the experience between the leagues, all of the teams are comprised of new, “fresh” skaters many of whom are playing their first games ever. So despite the fact that more established leagues like Montreal, Royal City and ToRD made it to the final four, everyone involved is aware that anything can happen. “I just wanted our team to have a good time and learn from some of the leagues coming to this tournament,” said Professor Wrex.  “I didn’t know what to expect because you never know where the next best skater is going to be coming out of, (but) I’m glad to see we still have good fresh meat and good training in our league, (and) I’m super happy with everything they’ve done.”

GTA jammer Paper Jam anchored the offense for the Derby Debutantes. (Photo by Greg Russell).

His opposing coach in the championship game, The Rev, seconded that. “Our expectations were low. We just wanted to have fun. This was the first time that a lot of the girls have had a chance to go out and skate against other people who aren’t in the league. It’s an opportunity to go out and test the waters.” Also the coach of Montreal’s WFTDA team, the New Skids on the Block, The Rev has a vested interest in the growth of the newest skaters in the league, and he seemed more than pleased with the way things turned out: “I’d say the future of Montreal roller derby has a good base in this Smash Squad.”

And with tournaments like the Fresh and Furious and the Atlantic Jamboree popping up, eastern Canadian Roller Derby seems to have a good base as well.

**For all the results and game commentary, see Part 1

**For results from the Atlantic Jamboree, visit Canuck Derby TV.

Montreal Steps on the Gas at Fresh and Furious: GTA DRIFT (Part 1: The Results)

With fourteen teams in this year’s Fresh and Furious: GTA Drift (too awkward  a number for a double elimination tournament), a point-differential ranking system was put into place to determine second-round seedings, meaning that teams could not take their foot of the gas in their opening games, resulting in a few lopsided results early.

Montreal announced its intentions to compete with an early one-sided victory over the debuting Woodstock Warriors. (Photo by Greg Russell)

ROUND ONE

Track One: Ted Reeve Arena

The first bracket was loaded with the top leagues in the tournament, but the opening round didn’t necessarily shake out as expected. The up-and-coming Renegade Derby Dames out of Aliston Ontario, kicked things off with a minor 69-46 upset over a Royal City team that was certainly considered one of the pre-tournament favourites. Similarly, ToRD’s D-VAS who were one of a few teams with shortened benches (11) to ensure that skaters fit under the maximum game requirements, looked out of sorts in an opening 28-18 loss to the Border City Brawlers in a defensive grinder. Two teams that looked impressive were Montreal’s Smash Squad (in their first Fresh tournament) who overwhelmed a Woodstock Warriors team making their debut by 117 points (impressive given the 20 minute games), and the Violet Femmes, a contact extension of London’s LOCO derby league, who were surprisingly physical in their 76-29 upset over the South Simcoe Roller Rebels.

Track Two: The Bubble

The host GTA Derby Debutantes lost their opening bout before eventually advancing to the quarterfinals. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The host GTA Derby Debutantes showed confidence with what were previously considered advanced strategies when they scrum-started the opening jam and most thereafter (a trend in the tournament); although never able to pull too far ahead, the Debutantes seemed to be cruising against Capital City’s Delinquents (whose roster was aided by a few skaters from Kingston’s Limestone CrusHers), before a last-jam shocker saw them pull out a 34-32 win and remind everyone that in 20-minute games, all it takes is a single jam to change the complexion of the game. In another tight one, Buffalo’s Queen City (an honorary eastern Canadian league for their years of cross-border support), were involved in another tight one, falling by three points to defending champion Gold Miner’s Daughters.  In the only blow out in The Bubble, Durham Region smacked around a scrappy Lindsay team (making their playing debut) by 44 points to pick up the third seed for the second round, missing out on the quarterfinal bye by only three points.

Border City turned some heads with a 136-28 victory over Lindsay in the elimination round. (Photo by Greg Russell).

ELIMINATION ROUND

On the strength of their overwhelming victories, Montreal and the Violet Femmes nabbed a bye to the quarterfinals, while the remaining teams were forced to play in a single-elimination knockout round with rankings based on their first round-scores. In this round the contenders certainly distanced themselves from the rest of the competition. In the most surprising outcome of the round, Border City turned some heads with the biggest offensive output of the tournament when they trounced Lindsay 136-28, suddenly positing themselves as potential favourites. The Renegade Derby Dames continued to impress as well, cruising into the quarterfinals with a 70-point victory over South Simcoe. Both Toronto teams, the Debutantes and the D-VAS, also made up for opening round losses, as the ToRD team found its game after an awkward opener and looked like a much tighter team in a 59 point win over Capital City.  GTA assured the continuation of their tournament as the Debutantes eliminated Queen City in a one-sided 73-point win. Another team that came alive after an opening round loss was Royal City, who shook off the  loss and picked up a load of confidence by eliminating the defending champion Gold Miner’s Daughters (who even had returning players)  78-26. Durham didn’t look quite as sharp in their second game, but did enough to continue by eliminating a Woodstock team that recovered quite nicely from the blowout against Montreal to put up a strong fight, losing 43-17.

QUARTERFINALS

Despite their strong physical play, the Violet Femmes were overwhelmed by Toronto’s D-VAS in the quarterfinals. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

When the elimination rounds had all shaken out, the final eight did not look too far from what the expectations had been going in. Traditionally strong Queen City was out (the only of the three participating WFTDA league’s not to advance), joining the defending champs from Timmins on the sidelines. One of the surprises of the tournament, the Violet Femmes, ran into a solid wall against a D-VAS team that was getting better by the jam and who reasserted their presence in the tournament with a defensively dominant 84-6 victory (the only time in the tournament that a team was held to single digits). Nonetheless, this intriguing contact representative of a low-contact league, certainly made an impression. Similar to the D-VAS, Royal City had started slow but was picking up steam and looked very comfortable in a 63-39 victory to knock Durham Region out of the quarterfinals (it was a solid tournament for the Durham newcomers; much needed after a string of losses by the senior teams in the league this season).

The Renegade Derby Dames’ impressive run ended with a final-jam loss to Border City in the quarterfinals. (Photo by Greg Russell).

After winning a frighteningly one-sided opener, Montreal was brought back to Earth when the host Debutantes gave them all that they could handle. Despite the incredible effort from the GTA skaters, they weren’t able to contend in the end, falling 55-28. In the most intriguing quarterfinal matchup, the debut league Renegade Derby Dames fought tooth and nail with Windsor’s Border City Brawlers who proved to be contenders in only their second year in action as they were able to snatch the last-jam victory 32-29, in the tightest of the quarterfinal bouts. Nonetheless, both teams secured their reputations for the weekend, with strong performances all around and have announced themselves as leagues to watch.

SEMIFINALS

Border City’s impressive run ended at the hands of Montreal in the semifinal. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Montreal, Toronto and Guelph’s Royal City all lived up to pre-tournament expectations by qualifying for the final four, joining the upstart Border City from Windsor. In the first of the two showdowns, Montreal once again showed chinks in a very impressive armour. Border City continued to win over fans with their astonishing play. The Windsor team opened on a power jam to take the lead and stayed within four points until near the halfway point, but once again the Smash Squad looked unfazed and outscored Windsor 33-4 over the final five minutes to pull out the 64-35 victory. Despite the early scare, when it was all said and done, Montreal was right where the team was expected to be: in the championship final.

Royal City and Toronto’s D-VAS played in a thrilling semifinal that came down to the final whistle. (Photo by Greg Russell).

Another fascinating chapter in the slowly blossoming rivalry between Guelph’s Royal City and Toronto Roller Derby played out in the other semifinal between the Top Herloins and the D-VAS.  Both teams were quickly improving all day; with every minute of track time, the teams seemed to refine their strategies and get just a bit smarter in transition, and it showed in this thrilling semifinal. The D-VAS managed to stay just one step ahead through the first half of the bout, with Royal City taking their first lead, 21-20, at the twelve-minute mark. Four minutes later a crucial power jam saw them take their biggest lead of the game, 39-27, with only three minutes remaining. A nine point pickup by the D-VAS  had them right back in it, down by  three entering the final jam. Unable to hold the opposing jammer despite getting lead, the D-VAS’ jammer attempted a hit-it-and-quit-it call off, but was ruled to be slightly early in her call and only picked up one, sending Royal City to the final with a thrilling 39-37 victory.

MEDAL ROUND

The D-VAS got some revenge for an earlier loss with a one-sided win over Border City in the third place game. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Still fired up from the tight semifinal loss and looking to avenge a surprising loss in the opening game of the tournament, Toronto’s D-VAS stormed out of the gates in their third-place bout against Windsor’s Border City. Showing a confidence and awareness that had grown throughout the day, the D-VAS dominated from the start and amassed a 49-7 lead at the halfway mark. Despite playing a defensive grinder (28-18) earlier in the day, this one was all offense all the time and the D-VAS picked it up in the second half of the game, capturing third place in a lopsided 117-13 victory over a nonetheless impressive Border City team.

Montreal ran away with it late in the championship game against Royal City. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Royal City had followed a similar arc in the tournament as the D-VAS, starting slow and peaking when it mattered most. They seemed very unintimidated to be squaring off against a league so much more experienced than itself, and caught Montreal off guard over the first few jams to take a 21-6 lead. Montreal slowly tightened things up and began to chip away, going on a 19 point run to take their first lead, 25-21, eight minutes into the thirty minute final. Royal City would not relent though, and manged to retake the lead, 47-38 at the halfway mark of the final. Up 50-42 at the 13 minute mark, Montreal picked up a crucial power jam  in what would prove to be the turning point in the game and retook the lead. Over the next six minutes, Guelph’s defense would slowly come apart as Montreal’s relentless game play saw them complete a six minute, thirty-seven point run to take a commanding 79-50 lead. That dominance would continue over the final six minutes as well, showing excellent endurance (mental and physical) to take their first Fresh and the Furious trophy with a decisive 122-61 victory. A reminder that Montreal Roller Derby is still very much the league that the rest of Canada is looking up to.

***The recap continues tomorrow with an overview of the tournament and an interview with key players.

COMPLETE RESULTS:

TRACK ONE: TED REEVE ARENA TRACK TWO: THE BUBBLE
First Round First Round
Renegade Derby Dames 69 vs. Royal City Roller Girls (Top Herloins) 46South Simcoe Rebel Rollers 29 vs. Violet Femmes (London LOCO) 76

Border City Brawlers 28 vs. Toronto Roller Derby

(D-DVAS) 18

Montreal Roller Derby (Smash Squad) 127 vs. Woodstock Roller Derby (Warriors) 10

 

Lindsey Roller Derby 35 vs. Derby Region Roller Derby 79Capital City Derby Dolls (Delinquents) 34 vs. GTA Rollergirls (Derby Debutantes) 32

Queen City Roller Girls (Rollin Royals) 33 vs. Goldminer’s Daughters 36

Elimination Round Elimination Round
(9) Queen City 17 vs. (8) Debutantes 85(4) Renegade DD 82 vs. (13) South Simcoe 12

(12) Lindsay 28 vs. (5) Border City 136

 

(10) D-VAS 69 vs. (7) Capital City 10(3) Durham 42 vs. (14) Woodstock 17

(11) Royal City 78 vs. (6) GMs’ Daughters 26

Quarterfinals Quarterfinals
Smash Squad 55 vs. Debutantes 28Renegade DD 29 vs. Border City 32

 

Violet Femmes 6 vs. D-VAS 84Durham 39 vs. Royal City 63

Semifinals

Smash Squad 64 vs. Border City 35

D-VAS 37 vs. Royal City 39

Third Place

Border City 13 vs. D-VAS 117

Championship

Smash Squad 122 vs. Royal City 61

Montreal Smash Squad: Fresh and the Furious: GTA Drift Champs

Disloyalists Dismantle D-VAS, Continue Ontario Dominance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekend Preview: Chicks ‘n Betties, D-VAS ‘n Disloyalists

In 2009, the Betties and Chicks played in the lowest scoring regular season game in ToRD history (Betties won 68-61). (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

On July, 19th, 2009, the Smoke City Betties grinded out a 68-61 victory over the defending champion Chicks Ahoy! in one of the great defensive battles waged in ToRD’s history. At that time they were two teams heading in different directions: the Betties were on their way to their only appearance in the Battle for the Boot, while the Chicks, champs in 2008, were on their way to their worst showing in the three-year history of the league.

Fast forward a few years, and there are certainly some similarities: the Chicks are defending champions once again and the Betties, as they were in 2009, are a team on the rise. Over the past two years this team has come a long way. In 2010 they lost to the Death Track Dolls 213-53, last year they inched closer, losing only 115-62, and finally, in this year’s season opener the Dolls actually had to come back from a half-time deficit to win 115-100, add to that the Betties return to the Beast of the East quarterfinals, and it’s already been a successful year for the team.  However, unlike the Chicks of ’09 who were declining, this green machine looks poised and focused on defending its championship as seen by their impressive season opening victory against the Gore-Gore Rollergirls, and their third place finish at the Beast of the East.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Chicks’ Jammer Rotation: It’s that time in the season when the bumps and bruises of months of practices and games are beginning to take their toll. It’s a certainty that Dyna Hurtcha will be out of the game, and with another veteran (and one of the league’s top jammers) Candy Crossbones potentially sidelined as well, this game could be a test of the team’s depth. Undoubtedly last year’s rookie of the year Kookie Doe and one of this year’s breakout players Bala Reina will lead the charge,  but it remains to be seen who will fill out the roles if needed. One possibility could be rookie Roadside BombShel, who had a strong opening game in the pack, but spent a lot of time with the star during her year with the D-VAS. Rebel Rock-It has also been jamming with CN Power, but is such a key pivot for the Chicks that they may be wary of taking her out of the pack.

Betties’ Jammer Rotation: Does it have the depth to compete? Titmouse had a monster opening game against the Dolls posting a 58% lead percentage and scoring 47 points. She will need to replicate that effort here. Rug Burn burned lots of track time as well, while triple-threat BruiseBerry Pie and the quickly improving Platinum Bomb filled out the rotation. That foursome is a solid mix of experienced skaters (and we haven’t even seen vet Memphis Kitty yet this season) and if they can have a strong game and take advantage of this rare short-handed Chicks’ rotation, there could be some surprises.

The Betties’ Renny Rumble is an early contender for rookie of the year (seen here holding back another fantastic rookie, Bellefast). (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Chicks’ Pack: The Chicks have extraordinary pack players led by two of ToRD’s top blockers in Tara Part and Nasher the Smasher. But with the likes of Rebel Rock-It, Mega Bouche, Marmighty and Robber Blind as first-level support, there is a ton of depth in the pack. With a potentially shortened jammer rotation, it will be key for the Chicks’ packs to dictate the conditions of the game. Something that they are more than capable of doing.

Betties’ Rookies: It has taken a while for this roster to settle, but since it has, players like Mia Culprit, Lady Scorhcer, and BruiseBerry Pie have emerged as on-track leaders. But with a few years of futility meaning a plethora of high draft picks, since 2010, this has always been a team that has showcased its newest skaters; this season has been no different. Renny Rumble has burst out of the gates in her rookie year and actually had the third most track-time on the team in the last game, providing remarkably consistent blocking and will be a factor in this one. A newer revelation is Slaptrick Swayze who, due to a shorthanded bench, was forced into taking on a big workload at the recent Beast of the East. She jammed without fear and with a lot of success and was a huge contributing factor to the Betties’ success in Montreal.

The Smoke City Betties and the Chicks Ahoy! will square off in the second game of a doubleheader (game time approximately 8:00 PM).

The D-VAS have only faced themselves so far in 2012. (Photo by Joe Mac)

D-VAS  vs. Disloyalists

The double header will kick off with a showdown featuring ToRD’s farm team, the D-VAS, taking on the rising Disloyalists from Kingston. So far in 2012, the D-VAS only action was a split-squad showdown at the season opener. A thrilling, tight matchup, the game showcased a depth of talent in almost all positions. With a jammer rotation potentially built around Lexi Con, Babushkill Mean Streak, Viktory Lapp and Wackedher (which provides a ton of options), the key in this one could be in the pack. Armageddon Rose had an excellent first game for the D-VAS, and Joss Wheelin, LowBlowPalooza, and Mazel Tough are just a few of the skaters who could make a difference in the pack (they will need solid pack leadership as well in the absence of captains Purple Pain and Margaret Smackwood). Windy City transfer Tomy Knockers will be making her D-VAS debut on Saturday.

The Disloyalists after their season opening victory vs. The Durham Derby Devils. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The D-VAS will need that depth as well as they will face off against a team that has been growing in leaps and bounds. Kingston Derby Girls’ A-team, the Disloyalists, has been dominant so far in 2012, distancing itself from a lot of the other newer leagues in Ontario very quickly. Led by the smart and talented Little Orphan-Maker Annie and Manic Breeze in the pack (Breeze is also a formidable jammer), the team hammered Durham Derby Devils in Durham  193-86  to kick off the season and followed that up last weekend with another dominant victory at home, this time a stunning 203-40 victory over the South Simcoe Rebel Rollers. This Kingston team has a lot of depth in the pack (Yo! Shanity Slam, Mr. Kristi) and at jammer (LaVallee of the Dolls, Luci Fleur), and will be a huge challenge for the less experienced D-VAS.

***Doors at the Bunker open at 5:00 PM with the first game getting under way at 6:00 PM. Tickets are available online or at a number of vendors in Toronto.

D-VAS Win! Split Squad Bout Kicks off ToRD’s 2012 Season

The D-VAS were divided for a split squad showdown. (Photo by Greg Russell)

In a fitting kick off to ToRD’s 2012 home season, the farm team skaters who make up the D-VAS (Deadly Viper Assassination Squad), duked it out in a split squad bout featuring the skaters who will be eligible for the 2013 ToRD entry draft: a glimpse of the future stars of local roller derby. Divided into evenly matched Red and Black uniforms (and featuring a smattering of recently drafted skaters and one retiree to round out the rosters), the D-VAS got a sold out crowd at The Bunker at Downsview park riled up and ready for the regular season bout between the Gore-Gore Rollergirls and the Chicks Ahoy! that followed in the double header. The matchup never disappointed either, right down to the white-knuckled finish that saw Red hold on for a 2 point victory.

Wacked Her gets held up by Red's Bridget Bones and Joss Wheelin. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Red’s Bridget Bones skated to the pivot line leading her pack against Black’s Margaret Smackwood (one of your 2012 D-VAS’s captains). Joss Wheelin kicked things off on the jam line against Black’s Wacked Her. Joss picked up a natural grand slam behind some stiff pack defense; a Red strength that carried over to the second jam as well as Lexi Con picked up 4 more. It wasn’t until newly transferred D-VAS Elektrick Maverick took the star for Black that they were able to get on the board, as some physical jamming cut the score to 9-5. The score would continue to sway back and forth as some of the more experienced skaters left their marks. Newly drafted Death Track Doll Scarcasm was outstanding one-on-one, while retired ToRD vet (and mentor D-VAS) G-Force showed her superior track sense always leading Red’s blockers in the right direction, and Purple Pain (the other 2012 D-VAS’s captain) looked very comfortable with some solid positional blocking. With Babushkill warming up at the end of the first half (she seemed to own the inside line when jamming for Red), the Red D-VAS were able to pull ahead slightly at half, 31-24.

Black pivot Mazel Tough engages the Red pack to free up jammer Armageddon Rose. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The most positive aspect of the bout was how slow and steady both teams were playing. Younger, more inexperienced players have a tendency to go all out in the early going, electing for the simplicity of skating fast and hitting hard, but these D-VAS showed much more track sense than that, and with a respect for the strategies of the flat track game, the play began to tighten up in the second half. Mean Streak added yet another hot jammer to Red’s arsenal that helped them begin to pull ahead early as they quickly increased their half time lead to 41-26 five minutes into the second half. Increasingly improved play by the Black pack (led by some strong jams from Mazel Tough and Maverick) led to a Black power jam where Wacked Her picked up 9 points to tighten the gap. The jamming was virtually even on both sides with Black’s Armageddon Rose and Viktory Lap picking up the pace for their team in the late going to counter continuously strong jams from a Red rotation featuring Joss, Mean Streak, Lexi Con and an impressive Babushkill (who was making her D-VAS debut). Despite all this excellent jamming, it was actually a nice block by Black pivot Margaret Smackwood that would begin to turn the tide late in the second half.

Viktory Lap scored 9 points in the final jam for Black, almost bringing her team all the way back. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Down by 19 points with under five to go, a well timed Smackwood block on Red’s Bellefast allowing Viktory Lap through and seemed to shift momentum Black’s way. LowBlowPalooza managed a huge ten-point pick up with only two left to bring Black back within 4, 54-40. Mean Streak nabbed a lead for red to pick up a few points and preserve the lead and set up a final jam between Viktory Lap (Black) and Lexi Con (Red) with the bout on the line. Viktory got lead for Black and had a clean first pass but the Black pack could only hold Lexi for so long before she was able to break through; despite Vik’s 9 point jam to close it out, Lexi’s 4 preserved the victory for team Red, 61-59.

It was as good a 2012 debut as one could imagine for the D-VAS; an impressive display of derby by such an inexperienced crew that bodes well for ToRD’s future. These skaters have a full year of bouting to get through before next year’s entry draft. Based on the display that was put on in the season opener, that draft will be graduating an impressive draft class.

***Next up for ToRD is another double header on March 3rd when the Death Track Dolls and the Smoke City Betties kick off their 2012 season. Make sure to be their early though, as the opening bout will feature CN Power hosting the Roc City Roc Stars from Rochester, New York, in a WFTDA sanctioned match up. Tickets are on sale now!***