Derby Debutantes

Cold Cuts and Charcuterie Reigns Supreme as Roller Derby Quebec Dominates Fresh ’15

It was an all-Quebec final at the Fresh and the Furious 2015 as Roller Derby Quebec squared off against Montreal Roller Derby (Photo by Jeff Davad courtesy of Jammer Line Magazine)

It was an all-Quebec final at the Fresh and the Furious 2015 as Roller Derby Quebec squared off against Montreal Roller Derby (Photo by Jeff Davad courtesy of Jammer Line Magazine)

So, Canada, in case you haven’t been paying attention, there’s a new flat track roller derby power rising in the east, and it is looking more and more ready to ascend to the top.

On Saturday, Roller Derby Quebec’s Viande Froide et Charcuteries (take a moment to let that great name sink in!) won the Fresh and the Furious 2015 in absolutely dominant fashion, completing a summer season in which the league’s two house league teams finished 1-2 at the Beast of the East and the travel team, Les Duchesses, has been quietly training at a high level, including one unsanctioned game each against Montreal’s two travel teams.

Quebec's Divacop and Taminator wrap up a Queen's Court jammer in a first round matchup. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Quebec’s Divacop and Taminator wrap up a Queen’s Court jammer in a first round matchup. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Roller Derby Quebec was already on most people’s radars, especially after the Beast run, but after this weekend’s performance by the league’s freshest skaters, there should remain no doubt that this is the league to watch. It was as dominant a run as we’ve ever seen at the one day, sixteen-team event: Five straight wins with an average differential of 87 points; 584 total points scored (a record), with a per-game average of 117 points; and the second highest scoring single game in tournament history (155).

And did I mention that they managed to do all this with seven skaters?

Rogue D-VAS' jammer Noodle Kaboodle attempts to get past Thicket blocker Erin Blockabitch in a first round game. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Rogue D-VAS’ jammer Noodle Kaboodle attempts to get past Thicket blocker Erin Blockabitch in a first round game. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Amalgamated leagues and tiny benches were the story of the grueling fifteen-team, one-day tournament (played on one of the hottest days of the summer at that), with a majority of teams skating with mixed rosters (including perennial powers Toronto Roller Derby, whose D-VAS—mixed with Kingston skaters—finished out of the Top 3 for the first time ever), and while for the past two years the Quebec teams had optioned to skate as a unified provincial team, this year Montreal sent a fully loaded Smash Squad (eventually finishing second) while the debuting Roller Derby Sherbrooke bolstered its numbers with a few extra bodies from Trois-Rivieres. With many teams under the 14-skater norm, two teams, the Thicket from Forest City and Quebec, ended up with less than 10. Quebec actually started with 8 skaters, but one of the team’s top jammers, Chlomydia, was injured early in the first game. The Viande Froide handled the loss brilliantly, showing the perseverance and incredible endurance that has become the hallmark of this league.

Eventual third-place finishers Our Ladies of Pain opened the tournament with a win over the Renegade Derby Dames. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Eventual third-place finishers Our Ladies of Pain opened the tournament with a win over the Renegade Derby Dames. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Quebec’s growing provincial dominance was a big part of the Fresh story in 2015. Montreal’s Smash Squad returned as an independent team for the first time since winning it all in 2012 and played wonderfully, dominating usually strong entries from Toronto, Royal City (in the semifinal), and the defending champion Cannon Dolls (from Capital City) in the opening game of the tournament. Sherbrooke’s Les Rebelles also surprised, and did so in dramatic fashion. After dropping the opening game to the Hamutantes (a GTA/Hammer City mixed team that also performed exceptionally), Les Rebelles needed to win two in a row to advance; first, they eliminated Ottawa’s Cannon Dolls in a thrilling 94-92 game, before managing to score one point as time expired to cancel a final-jam 10-point comeback by the DRRD’y Farmers in an 81-80 win that sent them to the quarterfinal knock-out round.

Sherbrooke's impressive run to the quarterfinals included a thrilling, last second one-point victory over the DRRD'y Farmers in a must-win elimination game. (Photo by Jeff Davad courtesy of Jammer Line)

Sherbrooke’s impressive run to the quarterfinals included a thrilling, last second one-point victory over the DRRD’y Farmers in a must-win elimination game. (Photo by Jeff Davad courtesy of Jammer Line)

Sherbrooke’s run eventually ended at the hands of Royal City’s Our Ladies of Pain, who had a fantastic day (buoyed by the largest cheering section of the tournament). After a third place finish in 2011 and reaching the Fresh final in 2012 (as the Top Herloins), Royal City had not advanced beyond the quarters since, but did so this year, falling in the semifinals to the Smash Squad in a rematch of that 2012 final. Another league that quietly had a bounce back tournament was the lone US entrant, Queen City’s Queen’s Court. After a final four finish at the inaugural Fresh in 2011, the team had failed to advance beyond the first round since, but they narrowly knocked off Wellington’s surprising Bloody Marys to do so this year.

Despite the variety of fine performances, the narrative of this tournament ran directly through the winning team. A five-skater pack (featuring blockers Divacop, Dildodo Bombass, Ninge Turtle, Cunts’n’Roses, and pivot KillEasy) and a two-jammer rotation (Taminator and Izzy Gonzales, who seemed light years ahead of the competition) ran roughshod over the competition, dominating from start to finish and showing that even if Roller Derby Quebec has not ascended to the top of the pyramid of competitive Canadian derby just yet, the strength of its base (seemingly so far ahead of everyone else’s), means that it’s just a matter of time.

THE RESULTS

Double Elimination: ArenaNEO Fights 75 vs. South Simcoe Rebel Rollers 73Roller Derby Quebec 124 vs. Queen’s Court 10

Rogue D-VAS 47 vs. Thicket 67

Renegade Derby Dames 59 vs. Our Ladies of Pain 76

NEO Fights 14 vs. Quebec 155

South Simcoe (elim.) 69 vs. Queen’s Court 107

Thicket 58 vs. Our Ladies of Pain 114

Rogue D-VAS 102 vs. Renegade Derby Dames (elim.) 59

NEO Fights (elim.) 56 vs. D-VAS 70

Thicket (elim.) 91 vs. Queen’s Court 111

Double Elimination: Bubble 705 Bombshells 42 vs. DRRD’y Farmers 53Smash Squad 121 vs. Cannon Dolls 50

Les Rebelles 43 vs. Derby Hamutantes 136

DRRD’y Farmers 56 vs. Bloody Marys 96

Smash Squad 76 vs. Hamutantes 57

Cannon Dolls (elim.) vs. Les Rebelles 94

DRRD’y Farmers (elim.) 80 vs. Les Rebelles 81

Hamutantes 107 vs. 705 Bombshells (elim.) 37

Quarterfinals

 Our Ladies of Pain 102 vs. Les Rebelles 54

Roller Derby Quebec 102 vs. Hamutantes 45

Smash Squad 97 vs. Rogue D-VAS 37

Bloody Marys 59 vs. Queen’s Court 62

Semifinals

Roller Derby Quebec 103 vs. Queen’s Court 16

Our Ladies of Pain 76 vs. Smash Squad 153

Third Place

Our Ladies of Pain 119 vs. Queen’s Court 101

Championship

Roller Derby Quebec 100 vs. Smash Squad 46

**This year’s Louisa Kalimeris Heart Award went to Les Rebelle’s Malicious, who always seemed to jam with a smile.

**Once again, Layer9.ca was there to provide a live feed of all the action on both tracks. The archives are already up, so be sure to check them out. As an added bonus, most of the games featuring teams from Quebec include bilingual commentary.

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The Fresh and the Furious Returns to Give Glimpse of the Future of Flat Track

Fresh 15 PosterIf you want to know what the future of eastern Canadian roller derby looks like, head on down to Ted Reeve Arena this weekend for the 2015 Fresh and the Furious tournament. This is the fifth year this GTA Rollergirls-hosted fresh-meat tournament will be held under this moniker, but it has its roots as far back as 2008 when it was called the Virgin Suicides Brawl, and has proven an incredibly important launching point for not only individual skaters in Ontario and Quebec, but for whole leagues as well. Actually, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that a majority of the current generation of skaters in Ontario and Quebec made their debuts at this very event, and the WFTDA teams in the two provinces are full of past participants.

A Beast of the East style, 16-team double-elimination tournament (held over one day on two tracks, mind you), this year’s bracket has a slight hitch as only 15 teams will be competing (Kingston and ToRD have merged their fresh meat teams for the event, neither having enough skaters who qualified under the “fresh” rules); however, this year’s tournament excitingly welcomes some new leagues as well.

Once again, layer9.ca will be there to live stream the complete event, with single cameras on each track until the later knock out rounds when a full boutcast will bring you the medal-round action.

For a link to the bracket, click here. And here’s a breakdown of where you can find each team. Beginning at 7:00 PM (seminfinals), the tournament shifts to one track.

THE BUBBLE

An amalgamation of the freshest skaters from six Northern Ontario leagues, The NEO Fights return to Fresh after an interesting 2014 tournament saw them become the highest scoring team to be eliminated in two games (they scored 219 points in their two losses and despite the early elimination, were the second highest scoring team in the first round); they kick things off against long-time participants South Simcoe at 11:00 AM, in the opening game of the tournament.

The Bubble track actually features a who’s who of Fresh history. Roller Derby Quebec (who formerly participated as part of a Quebec provincial fresh meat team) will debut against Buffalo’s Queen’s Court (Queen City remains the lone US team in the tournament—they’ve been a part of it since the start). The Kingston/Toronto mixed team, the Rogue DVAS, will take on Forest City’s Thickets (quarterfinalists last year). Wrapping up the opening round games in the Bubble are two perennial Fresh participants, the Renegade Derby Dames and Royal City’s Our Ladies of Pain.

*Catch the Bubble live stream here.

THE ARENA

Wellington Roller Derby’s Bloody Marys will get a bye past their opening match, but will face the winners of the Arena’s opening game, featuring Durhams DRRD’y Farmers and the 705 Bombshells (another amalgam team featuring leagues in and around the 705 area code). 2012 champs Montreal’s Smash Squad returns to the tournament (after being part of the Quebec provincial team in the last two tournaments) and will square off against the team that won it all last year, Capital City’s Cannon Dolls. Finally, the host Derby Debutantes will close out the opening round games with a showdown against Les Rebelles, who represent the debuting Roller Derby Sherbrooke.

*Catch the Arena live stream here.

 

PAST WINNERS OF THE “SLOPPY CUP”

Sloppy Cup

 

YEAR WINNER RUNNER-UP THIRD PLACE
2008 Death Row Dames (HCRG) Venus Fly Tramps (TCRD) Slaughter Daughters(RVRG—then ORD)
2011 Gold Miner’s Daughters (GCRG) D-VAS (ToRD) Queens of Pain (RCRG)
2012 Smash Squad (MTLRD) Top Herloins (RCRG) D-VAS (ToRD)
2013 Les Bûches (Quebec) D-VAS (ToRD) Hammer City/Pulp Affliction (ORG)
2014 Cannon Dolls (CCDD) Les Bûches (Quebec) D-VAS (ToRD)

 

**Remember to tune in to layer9.ca starting at 11:00 AM on Saturday morning to catch all of the fresh and furious action. As an added bonus, games featuring teams from Quebec will have a bilingual live stream.

The Beast of Beasts: Daughters win second Beast in a thrilling tournament

Tommy Toxic's trophies are always a hilight of the tournament, but this year's were particularly beastly. (Photography by Joe Mac)

Tommy Toxic’s trophies are always a highlight of the tournament, but this year’s were particularly beastly. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Some things just get better with age. Like wine, cheese and scotch, Montreal Roller Derby’s annual Beast of the East just keeps on improving. While it could just speak to the age of the sport and overall development of the game, it also speaks to the strength, popularity and steady growth of roller derby in this region specifically. Despite the fact that the best players in the two biggest leagues represented (Montreal and Toronto) were not involved in the tournament (their talents were on display in a thrilling Friday night WFTDA showdown won by the New Skids on the Block 210-121), the competitive level and the display of skill far surpassed the expectations for a house league tournament.

The Slaughter Daughters accept their second Beast in three years. (Photo from the Slaughter Daughters Facebook page)

The Slaughter Daughters accept their second Beast in three years. (Photo from the Slaughter Daughters Facebook page)

It was a historic tournament on a historic date, and in the end it became a duel between the two most successful teams in the tournament’s history. In the process, MTLRD’s La Racaille became the first team to appear in four finals, while their opponents, Rideau Valley’s Slaughter Daughters joined the 2008-2010 La Racaille team as the only to reach three consecutive championship games, but then one-upped them by becoming the first ever repeat champion.

From the energy and consistency of the nearly perpetually capacity crowd, to the stunning displays of athleticism on the track, this 6th annual Beast certainly lived up to the moniker the Beast of Beasts.

ToRD's Chicks Ahoy! kicked off the tournament with a minor upset over Rideau Valley's Riot Squad. (Photo by Joe Mac)

ToRD’s Chicks Ahoy! kicked off the tournament with a minor upset over Rideau Valley’s Riot Squad. (Photo by Joe Mac)

DOUBLE ELIMINATION ROUND

A remarkable twenty games get played on the opening day of the Beast, and the tone was set when the tournament kicked off with a minor upset. The Chicks Ahoy!, ToRD’s most inexperienced team (playing short handed at that) managed to hold off Rideau Valley’s Riot Squad by 8 points. Remarkably, seven teams managed to top the century mark in the opening round as for the most part things went as expected early. The Slaughter Daughters dispatched two ToRD teams early on to advance straight through to the quarter finals (scoring over 100 points in both games including a 117-2 win over the Smoke City Betties), joined by Montreal teams Les Filles du Roi and La Racaille and ToRD’s Death Track Dolls as teams going 2-0 to advance. Even at this stage of the tournament it was clear that La Racaille and the Dolls were joining the Daughters at a level of play that was going to be hard to match. La Racaille also topped 100 points in both their openers, while the Dolls looked equally impressive dispatching Les Casse-Gueules and then shocking the hometown Contrabanditas 96-30 in a surprisingly one-sided win.

Vicious Dishes pivot Sofanda Beatin puts a hit on Filles du Roi jammer Beth Rave. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Vicious Dishes pivot Sofanda Beatin puts a hit on Filles du Roi jammer Beth Rave. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The rebuilding Vicious Dishes became the first defending champion not only to lose in the first round, but were actually the first team eliminated from the tournament when they lost to the Riot Squad. First timers from Quebec, Les Casse-Gueules, and London, the Luscious Lunch Ladies, also fell 0-2 to be eliminated, joined by five-time participants, the Derby Debutantes, who have yet to make it past the first round in their history at the event.

The final four elimination games lived up to the expectations, all providing thrillingly competitive action. The Chicks Ahoy! concluded their surprising tournament by giving the far more experienced Thames Fatales all that they could handle before falling 53-46. It took a while, but Les Contrabanditas were able to hold off the Riot Squad 86-57 and the TKOs eliminated the Gore-Gore Rollergirls in a scrappy, penalty-filled affair that seemed closer than the 85-42 score indicated. Finally, rookie participants from Quebec, Le Rouge et Gore, pulled off the stunner of the tournament, holding off a shocked Smoke City Betties teams 58-56 in the closing game of the opening day, and arguably the most emotional win of the tournament.

ToRD's Death Track Dolls picked up momentum early in the tournament and carried it all the way through. (Photo by Joe Mac)

ToRD’s Death Track Dolls picked up momentum early in the tournament and carried it all the way through. (Photo by Joe Mac)

KNOCKOUT ROUND

Quarterfinals

By the time the quarterfinals rolled around, three teams, at least, had clearly distanced themselves from the pack. While Les Filles du Roi were able to dispatch Le Rouge et Gore 76-17, it was the performances in the other quarterfinals that truly impressed. La Racaille simply overwhelmed their leaguemates Les Contrabanditas (117-64), while the Daughters slaughtered the Thames Fatales 113-31 (with only a 29-0 four minute run midway through closing the gap for the Thames), and ToRD’s Dolls, despite major penalty trouble, rode some phenomenal power killing to a 79-35 win over the surging TKOs.

Semifinals

Photo from Slaughter Daughters Facebook page.

2013 Beast champs the Slaughter Daughters flanked by 2nd place La Racaille and 3rd place Death Track Dolls. (Photo from Slaughter Daughters Facebook page)

In the opener, Les Filles du Roi played their absolute best derby of the tournament. With La Racaille leading 50-9 and seemingly on cruise control, Les Filles mounted a major comeback, completely flipping the table to outscore their leaguemates 51-10 the rest of the way and set up a final jam with the score tied at 60. An FDR jammer penalty on the first pass sealed the deal and La Racaille picked up 25 to win 85-60. In the other semifinal, the Dolls and Daughters engaged in one of the hardest hitting bouts of the tournament with blockers from both teams providing their entries for hit of the tournament, while the Daughters ended up pulling away in the end (it was 26-24 at the midway point) to win the thrilling game by 28 (68-40).

Finals

The Dolls shook off their semifinal loss to compose themselves and come back and dominate Les Filles du Roi 136-29 in the third place game, completing an impressive tournament and earning them third place honours for the second time in three years. The historic final matchup (this year extended to two twenty minute halves) started off incredibly tight with La Racaille playing some of their best derby to keep pace with the Daughters, down only 2, 43-41 at the half. While La Racaille were able to keep pace, they could never dictate it, and eventually the relentless Daughters, who had the deepest bench in the tournament, inched ahead before pulling away for good at the end, holding on for a 103-74 victory to become the first ever two-time Beast of the East champions.

The Dolls' Rainbow Fight (right, warming up with Santilly In Yo Face) was virtually unpassable as a blocker and unstoppable as a jammer. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The Dolls’ Rainbow Fight (right, warming up with Santilly In Yo Face) was virtually unpassable as a blocker and unstoppable as a jammer. (Photo by Joe Mac)

NERD’S PICKS

MVP: Rainbow Fight (Death Track Dolls)

The continued development and depth of the Slaughter Daughters knocks Hanna Murphy (formerly Semi-Precious) off the perch she’s held for the past two years. Not that she’s not still worthy, but the play of skaters like Eh Nihilator (finals MVP), Margaret Choke, Da Big Block, Sister Disaster and others have risen to a more equal level (no doubt pulled up by the continuous excellence of Murphy). And certainly a few other skaters warrant consideration with the exceptional Mel E Juana leading the way (Sofanda Beatin looked strong early but her Vicious Dishes only played two games). But this weekend, Rainbow Fight emerged as a powerhouse in the sport (those who saw her dominate on the smaller scale of last year’s RDAC Atlantics aren’t surprised).  Virtually unpassable as a blocker/pivot, Rainbow also could win the argument for top jammer on the Dolls, if not in the tournament: handed the star whenever her team needed a shift in momentum, she consistently delivered. On a Dolls team loaded with individual talent, Rainbow Fight still managed to stand out.

Breakout Player: Miracle Whips (Les Contrabanditas)

Miracle Whips jamming against the Thames Fatales. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Miracle Whips jamming against the Thames Fatales. (Photo by Joe Mac)

There were a handful of players in contention here. Beth Rave and Demanda Lashing stepped up for Les Filles du Roi in a big way, and Nana Bistouri was a huge reason behind the surprising success of the Le Rouge et Gore, while it’s easy to forget that Ova Kill is only in her second year with the TKOs, and rookie Kindree Surprise seems to be the centerpiece of a rebuilding Thames Fatales offense; however, there is no new player who had a bigger impact on her team than Miracle Whips. A star at last year’s Fresh and Furious rookie tournament in Toronto, the argument could be made that there was no single player who was more important for her team all weekend. The rebuilding Contrabanditas were constantly buoyed by the consistent play of Whips who almost single-handedly gave them a boost whenever things seemed about to get out of hand.

Le Rouge et Gore made it all the way to a quarterfinal bout against La Racaille in their first Beast. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Le Rouge et Gore made it all the way to a quarterfinal bout against La Racaille in their first Beast. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Breakout Team: Le Rouge et Gore (Roller Derby Quebec)

For the second year in a row, this was a pretty easy selection. From their record-setting performance against the Derby Debutantes (most points scored by a single team, 159, and most combined points in a 20 minute BOE game, 191), to their stunning upset over the Smoke City Betties (58-56 in a must-win elimination game), Le Rouge et Gore proved to be a team to watch in a league on the rise. From the clutch jamming of Nana Bistouri to the relentless pounding of Mobydith to the depth provided by Dina Myth and Douche Nuken, this Rouge et Gore team more importantly displayed a spirit of perseverance that was impossible to ignore.

** For the fourth season in a row, Canuck Derby TV broadcast all of the action live, and you can relive it here at the archives.

**The Nerd would like to extend a special thanks to Montreal Roller Derby once again, and also to the crew (production and announcing) at Canuck Derby TV led by Dr. Johnny Capote.

2013 Beast of the East Falls on Historic Date

The 6th Beast of the East happens to fall on the 10th anniversary of the first official flat track roller derby game.

The 6th Beast of the East happens to fall on the 10th anniversary of the first official flat track roller derby game.

In derby time, it’s been forever.

In derby time, it’s been eons since flat track roller derby first took shape. There have been massive, glacial shifts in the attitude of the sport, in the collective goals and aspirations of its participants. There have been evolutionary developments in the game itself, as flat track roller derby has gone from being a secondary offshoot of a dying sport to the dominant style of play in the fastest growing game in the world; its gone from being a DIY feminist-punk movement to a globally competitive sport.

In derby time, it’s been forever. In real time, it’s been 10 years.

On April 27th, 2003, the first official game of flat track roller derby was played. The roots of the sport, of course, run deep and date all the way back to the 1930s and even earlier, but on that Saturday in Austin, Texas, The Texas Rollergirls committed to the flat track and kicked off their inaugural season by blowing the opening whistle on the ruleset that would eventually form the basis of the WFTDA rules that we play under today.

It seems fitting somehow, that the opening day of the 6th annual Beast of the East falls on the historic 10th anniversary of this seminal event. Montreal Roller Derby’s Beast of the East is the original tournament in Canadian roller derby, and is the last major tournament in the sport that features house league teams exclusively. Its importance in the development of roller derby in this country, and in its continued celebration of both the spirit and the sport of the game, cannot be denied.

Forest City's Thames Fatales (6th) and Luscious Lunch Ladies (1st) will both be appearing at the Beast. (Photo by Derek Lang)

Forest City’s Thames Fatales (6th appearance) and Luscious Lunch Ladies (1st) will both be appearing at the Beast. (Photo by Derek Lang)

THE COMPETITION

Two days, sixteen teams, twenty-eight games, eastern Canadian house league domination on the line. Of the participants, eight of the teams have participated in every single BOE tournament since 2008 (Forest City’s Thames Fatales join the four ToRD and three MTLRD teams as original participants), while the Derby Debutantes (GTAR), the defending champion Vicious Dishes (TCRG) and 2011 champs the Slaughter Daughters have been involved since 2009. After a year off, both RVRG’s the Riot Squad (third appearance) and TCRG’s Total Knock-Outs (second) return to the tournament representing house leagues whose other representatives have won the last two events.

Finally, three teams will be making their debuts, but all three play in leagues that have strong ties to the tournament. Roller Derby Quebec has been represented in the last two tournaments by Les Duchesses, which is now a travel team supported by two house teams, Les Casse-Gueules and Le Rouge et Gores, who will both be making their tournament debuts. The Luscious Lunch Ladies will also be debuting, representing London, Ontario’s, Forest City Derby Girls. This is actually the third London team to play in the Beast after the now defunct London Thrashers accompanied the Thames Fatales in 2008.

The Slaughter Daughters defeated the Gore-Gore Rollergirls in the 2011 final and are the favourites heading in to the tournament. (Photo by Derek Lang)

The Slaughter Daughters defeated the Gore-Gore Rollergirls in the 2011 final and are the favourites heading in to the tournament. (Photo by Derek Lang)

THE EXPECTATIONS

In the first three years of the tournament, Montreal Roller Derby dominated, placing all three of the league’s teams in the final four. Then, as the roster of Canada’s top team, the New Skids on the Block, left those teams, the field suddenly opened up. In 2011, while Rideau Valley’s Slaughter Daughters would win the wildest final in tournament history (watch the final jam here), this edition of the event was dominated by ToRD, whose teams finished in the second through fourth place spots. Last year there was true parity finally, as the final four teams would represent four different leagues with the defending champion Slaughter Daughters figuring prominently once again, falling in the final to the Vicious Dishes.  That Daughters team would follow MTLRD’s La Racaille as the only team to reach back-to-back finals. La Racaille actually qualified for the first three finals of the tournament’s history (2008-2010, winning in 2009), a feat that the Daughters could—and should—match in 2013.

However, the bigger story of the tournament could be the return of Montreal as a house league power. This is the third year of the house league’s rebuild and after the decimation of the 2011, they fared well last year with all three teams making it to the quarterfinals, and La Racaille finishing in the fourth spot.  With La Racaille winning MTLRD’s preseason round robin tournament, look for them to lead the charge, facing potential challenges along the route from Tri-City’s TKOs and ToRD’s Death Track Dolls. Montreal could easily send three teams back to the final four for the first time in two years.

La Racaille won MTLRD's preseason round robin tournament and could lead a Montreal return to power at the Beast. (Recap photography by Sean Murphy)

La Racaille won MTLRD’s preseason round robin tournament and could lead a Montreal return to power at the Beast. (Recap photography by Sean Murphy)

ToRD could face the same drop off this season as Montreal did in 2011. With the majority of CN Power skaters now playing exclusively for that team, the ToRD house league teams are rebuilding. Chicks Ahoy! who’ve been power houses in the last two tournaments (4th and 3rd place finishes) were the most affected and could be done on day one (although a favourable draw and some strong play could seen them sneak into a Sunday matchup against the Daughters); the Gore-Gore Rollergirls also could be done early, the victims of a tough draw that will see them open against the Slaughter Daughters. Look for the Death Track Dolls and 2012 quarterfinalists the Smoke City Betties to carry the torch for Toronto and should both score final eight spots.

Speaking of change, last year’s champs the Vicious Dishes have gone through a massive roster change up and recently lost to the TKOs in an interleague showdown, showing that they may not be ready to defend their title, and that the TKOs could be the team to watch from Tri-City, and should make it to the quarterfinals. With the Quebec teams lacking experience, Thames Fatales and the Lunch Ladies rebuilding, the story of this tournament should once again be the Slaughter Daughters. Boasting a number of skaters from the travel team Vixens, the Daughters are poised to join the 2008-2010 La Racaille as the only teams to reach three straight finals (actually, don’t be surprised to see these teams face off against each other in the final)

On that historic night ten years ago in Austin, two of the sport’s first housleague teams, the Hotrod Honeys and Honky Tonk Heartbreakers took to the track for the initial game of flat track roller derby. Thousands of kilometres away and ten years after the fact, Rideau Valley’s Riot Squad and ToRD’s Chicks Ahoy! will kick off the Beast of the East and carry on a tradition that though still young, has come a long way in a short period of time.Canuck Derby TV logo

* On Friday night, ToRD’s CN Power will take on MTLRD’s New Skids on the Block in a WFTDA showdown.

* All of the BOE 2013 will be boutcast live by Canuck Derby TV. Tune in starting at 8:00 AM (EST) on Saturday, April 27th, to catch all 28 games.

* Catch up on the history of the Beast of the East here.

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

Future Stars Set to Face Off at Fresh and Furious Once Again

The third Fresh and Furious tournament (GTA Drift), hosted by GTA Rollergirls, will take place on July 14 at Ted Reeve Arena.

At last year’s 2Fresh 2Furious, eight separate leagues were represented in the quarterfinals with the upstart Gold Miner’s Daughters just rounding into form as they knocked off  Durham Region, Royal City and then ToRD’s D-VAS in succession in the elimination round to upset the field and win the tournament. It was a shocking victory for everyone in attendance, as the team from Timmins came from out of nowhere. It was shocking enough that even Nick L Bagg, the Daughters’ coach, would refer to it as “incredible.”

But that’s exactly the kind of tournament that the Fresh and Furious showdown is: a place for new skaters, new teams, and even new leagues to test themselves—often for the first time—against outside competition; it’s a chance for fresh-faced teams to see how far they’ve come, or how far they still have to go.

One of the founders of the tournament, Splat Benetar, points out that a “freshie” tournament like this is more important now than ever, “Derby has become such a strategic, fast skating, fast thinking and hard hitting game, that having a freshie environment gives these skaters a chance to play teams that have equal experience as themselves.”

Fresh and Furious: GTA Drift is the third year that they tournament has run, providing the up-and-coming stars of eastern Canadian roller derby an opportunity to get some important tournament experience, but also just that all-valuable track time. Splat points out that despite the “fresh” nature of the skaters, the competitive level of the event has increased every year: “Many newer skaters are developing their skills and learning strategies faster each year…I think it does stem from the veteran League (members) teaching their Fresh skaters all these skills and strategies.”

The one-day double-elimination style tournament will feature fourteen teams dueling over two tracks, and while all fourteen teams will at least get two games, the top two teams will get a bye directly to the quarterfinals. There are returning leagues, but certainly some new and exciting ones as well.

TRACK ONE: TED REEVE ARENA

Border City (in blue) and South Simcoe (squaring off last year) will both be sending teams again. (Photo by Joe Mac)

ToRD’s D-VAS, South Simcoe’s Rebel Rollers, Windsor’s Border City Brawlers, and the Royal City Roller Girls are all returning from last year’s tournament with a fresh batch of skaters to introduce to the community. Joining these teams will be three leagues making their Fresh and Furious debut: the Renegade Derby Dames, London’s Violet Femmes (a  LOCO derby league), Woodstock Roller Derby’s Woodstock Warriors, and Montreal’s Smash Squad.

While it’s almost impossible to predict how these young and inexperienced teams will respond to the tournament setting, the inclusion of Montreal in this pool automatically makes things intriguing. “Montreal has amazing top-level skaters teaching their fresh skaters,” Splat points out, “so they will be hard to beat.” The freshest of skaters from Canada’s most successful league will certainly become automatic front runners and will open the tournament against Woodstock Roller Derby, not only a fresh team, but a very fresh league.  The Border City Brawlers and D-VAS matchup is intriguing as well, as Border City made an impressive league debut at last year’s tournament, and it will be interesting to see how the second wave of Windsor skaters competes. Royal City, another league that did well last year and that has been surging since, will also undoubtedly introduce an impressive new group. While the nature of this tournament means that everything is essentially up in the air, look for Montreal, D-VAS, Royal City and Renegade Derby Dames to come through this bracket.

Guelph’s Royal City will be sending a team again, as will Gold City, the unified Timmins league. (Photo by Joe Mac)

TRACK TWO: THE BUBBLE

Aside from the freshly formed Lindsay Roller Derby, the Bubblle will feature leagues with at least one year’s experience now under their belts. Durham Region had a strong showing last year, defeating the eventual champion Gold Miner’s Daughters in the first round before exiting in the quarter finals. The Gold Miner’s new league, Gold City, will also be represented in this bracket, undoubtedly hoping for the same exciting results as last year, while Capital City (Ottawa), Queen City (Buffalo), and the host GTA (sending the Derby Debutantes) round out the slightly more experienced bracket in the Bubble. While once again a tough bracket to predict, look for the always well trained Queen City team to excel. Splat also  points out that the home team Debutantes are a team to watch: “Their understanding of derby strategy and great sense of team work makes them a contender.” Of course,  Timmins (who will be merging with fresh skaters from Soonami as well) will want to show that last year’s stunning performance wasn’t just a one off, but a sign of successful things to come.

Toronto’s D-VAS and Timmins’ Gold Miner’s Daughters met in last year’s final (the Daughters won 67-24). (Photo by Joe Mac)

Beyond the obvious importance of having a showcase for the next generation of up-and-coming skating talent, this tournament is exciting in its unpredictability. With fresh faces at various levels of skating ability and experience, as with last year, there are a few factors that will determine the winner. The team that not only has the endurance to last the day, but that is able to come together and improve as the day goes on will be the team that has the most success.

But the tournament is about much more than winning. As Splat Benetar points out, it’s as much about gaining that all important derby attitude: “Let’s face it, just a few months ago (many of these skaters) were wobbling and falling, trying to learn to skate and now they are out there kicking butt.  I would say that these so called ‘Freshies’ are so impressive and with their positive attitude, they will grow our sport.”

***Fresh and Furious: GTA Drift takes place on July 14 at Ted Reeve Arena. First whistle is at 11:00 AM. Tickets are available at select retail locations and online.