dust bunny

Gores End Losing Streak with Win over Dolls

Dolls (1-0) and Gores (0-1), met in each of their second games in the 2012 ToRD season. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 131 vs. Death Tracks Dolls 91

In what was their best effort in four years against the Gore-Gore Rollergirls, the Death Track Dolls showed that they are a team on the verge of competing for the Boot, the Toronto Roller Derby championship. But for now, the experience (and the consistency that comes with that) of the three-time ToRD champion Gores is still a little too much for the Dolls to handle. And while the Gores led for virtually the whole game and threatened at times to pull away, the Dolls never looked out of it but couldn’t make up for points accrued on power jams, and the Gore-Gore Rollergirls put a stop to their first ever multi-game losing streak to even up their regular season record at 1-1.

Despite a lack of depth in the jammer position, the Gores still hold down two of the top jammers in the country in Dust Bunny and Bambi (44 and 34 first-half points respectively), a duo that can’t be stopped but has to at least be contained if a team hopes to take down the Gores. The Dolls had mixed success trying to do so in the early going, but couldn’t mount any offense of their own (for the second-straight bout they went with a 6-jammer rotation) and found themselves down 31-9, 12 minutes in.

Dolls rookie Bellefast had another strong game and didn't seem intimated facing off against vets like Dust Bunny. (Photo by Joe Mac)

While the Dolls have a wide array of jammers to choose from, the Gores have been beginning to develop their rotation from within, first adding Santa Muerte and this Saturday putting Draculaura into the mix. Draculaura was a surprise of the game for sure, having only minimal experience jamming previously (she doubled her career jamming stats in this game alone) and improved with each jam she had with the star. Another continuing revelation with the star is Dolls’ rookie Bellefast, who was a relentless force for the second straight bout and who, along with Panty Hoser, put a majority of the Dolls’ points on the board in the first half, a combined 31 points, as they remained within reach, 79-35 at the break.

While the Gores sport some fantastic jammers on the line, the Dolls have come to excel at producing triple threats. Over the course of her career, Jubilee has done it all for the Dolls, and Betty Bomber has provided the model of the triple threat, a  model that team co-captain Panty Hoser has followed this season as well, adding jammer to her pivoting and blocking strengths. Ames to Kill could be another skater to watch on this relatively inexperienced but promising Dolls roster. She wore the stripe at one point late in the game and with the veteran poise of Hoser and Lucid Lou and second-year skater Kat Atomic at her side, helped orchestrate an 18-point jam that almost had the Dolls back into it.

The Gores' Gamma Rei lays a big hit on Jubilee. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

While there is a youthful push in the Dolls (three rookies, including UpHer Cut in her debut, were on the track), the movement is being led by the veterans and the on-track leadership of Sinead O’Clobber, and supported by skaters like Speedin Hawking and Downright Dirty Dawson.  But the experience of the Gores skaters led by Lady Gagya, Molly Boom and Foxy Sinatra was too much to overcome. And with the absence of former key pieces of the Gores, Chronic stepped up in a big way and seems ready and capable of taking on more responsibility on the track; similarly, Gamma Rei laid down some big hits on the track as well, adding a physical meannes to the team that gives them yet another dangerous weapon in the pack. Pushed around but not down, the Dolls were still in it, down 119-67 with just under six minutes remaining.

Although the Dolls played their most consistent derby near the end of the game, they stepped it up in the second half overall, and with that late push actually outscored the Gores 56-52 in the second. But power jams were the difference in this one (accounting for almost all of the point differential), and the benefit of experience helped the Gores hold back the Dolls and take advantage of the tiny errors they made (stolen points here, a loose trap there), to win 131-91.

***Next up for all ToRD hometeams is the fifth annual BEAST OF THE EAST! (April 20-22, Montreal)***

2012 Season Preview: Gore-Gore Rollergirls

Gore-Gore Rollergirls

Wins Losses +/- Notes
2011 Regular Season 3 0 +184 Won 10, 11 and 12th straight ToRD bouts.
2011 Playoffs 0 1 – 65 First loss since 2008 championship

2011

The Gore-Gore Rollergirls were the model franchise of ToRD’s first half decade.  In the first five seasons they appeared in every championship game and compiled an impressive 17-3 overall record (13-1 regular season, 4-2 playoffs) that included a 12 bout ToRD winning streak that stretched from 2009 to last season’s Battle for the Boot. As last season began, there was little indication that this would change. They stormed out of the gates in 2011 defeating the Death Track Dolls to kick off the season (the Dolls, by the way, are the only team to ever defeat the Gores in a regular season game). They would continue their winning streak, posting their third straight undefeated regular season, but they would also have success outside of ToRD as well.

The Gores have been the most succesful team in ToRD's early history. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Entering the Beast of the East as slight favourites, they lost in the early going in a final-jam nail-biter (to the Vicious Dishes), but persevered to book their ticket to the final where for the second time in the tournament they fell in dramatic fashion to some final-jam heroics (this time to RVRG‘s Slaughter Daughters). Nonetheless, it was their first appearance in the tournament final and topped a successful Beast for ToRD teams (who finished second, third and fourth).

But in the Battle for the Boot they were brushed aside by a Chicks Ahoy! team that had been on the rise all year, and exposed some possible depth issues with the Gores. Never able to fully replace Lunchbox, the Gores relied too much on a two-jammer rotation, and their once dominant pack did not have the bench depth to compete against the Chicks. The margin of defeat, 111-46, was the greatest the team had ever suffered in ToRD play.

hellbat showed no fear of jamming in her time with the D-VAS. (Photo by Sean Murphy)

LOSSES AND GAINS

There isn’t much change to the Gores’ roster in 2012. Motley Cruella and Lulu Cthulu (a promising rookie in 2011) are gone from the lineup, but to this day, it is obvious that the Gores are still feeling the 2010 retirement of jamming great, Lunchbox. Despite attempts last year to incorporate Brim Stone into the jammer rotation, her value in the pack was simply too great to give her a regular spot. But the answer may have finally come in the Gores’ sole draft pick this year, hellbat. A two-season D-VAS veteran, hellbat seems custom made for the Gores. A confident swagger, a fearless attitude, and perhaps more importantly, a hunger for the star make her the ideal Gores draft choice.

But with very little change in the roster, it will be of vital importance to develop from within, and some second and third year skaters will have to be called upon to step up their games if the Gores hope to compete for the Boot once again this season.

The Gores generally rely on veterans like Molly Boom to pivot. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

BY POSITION

His Unholiness the Reverend Ramirez returns for an unprecedented sixth season behind the Gores bench and his calculating calmness has become an essential element of the Gores bench. With so little change in the lineup he’s got a veteran crew to work with.

Pivot:  Last year Molly Boom was the dominant pivot for the Gores, with veterans Brim Stone, Lady Gagya, Kandy Barr and Foxy Sinatra rounding out an experienced core. Another long-time Gore Junkie Jenny has also been known to don the stripe, and don’t be surprised to see some second and third year skaters (like Chronic, for example) get some opportunities to lead the pack.

Blocker: Over the past two seasons the pack has revolved around a core group of Hurlin’ Wall, Aston Martini, Santa Muerta, Chronic and Gamma Rei. With no new additions to the pack, there will be a great opportunity for third year skater Miss Kitty La Peur (who spent most of last year on injury reserve) and second year skaters Emma Dilemma, Mace O’Kissed, Wheely Nasty and Draculaura (formerly known as Pinky Violence) to step into more crucial roles in the pack.

Bambi has recorded the highest JQ rating in 4 of ToRD's first 5 seasons. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Jammer: In Bambi and Dust Bunny, the Gores have two of the most dominant jammers in ToRD’s early history (Bambi has recorded the highest JQ rating in four of the league’s five seasons, with Dust Bunny in 2007 the only skater to ever rate higher). But after that, it trails off. 2011 Triple Threat Brim Stone is more than capable, but will undoubtedly be needed in the pack; Santa Muerte could be called upon to take up some of the slack while rookie hellbat evolves into a regular role on the rotation as the season progresses.

EXPECTATIONS

Dust Bunny and Gamma Rei after a 2011 regular season win over the Chicks Ahoy! (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

The Gores will need to develop from within to compete with the Chicks’ this season. Arguably, they have an advantage in that they retained most of their roster from last season, but as it stands, still look incapable of competing with the Chicks over the long term. While they will be pushed by the Death Track Dolls (and maybe even the Smoke City Betties, who surprised them them in last year’s season finale), they have the offensive depth (fantastic jammer-blocker communication and comfort) to be competitive. Look for the Gores to start slow and build as the season wears on and some gaps are slowly filled by developing skaters. When the playoffs roll around, don’t be surprised to see the Gores in their sixth straight Battle for the Boot.

2011 STATS HIGHLIGHTS

  • Scoring was down 136 points over previous season.
  • 2010 rookie of the year Hurlin’ Wall led the team in +/- with a +115. Dust Bunny’s +108 was tops among jammers in the entire league.
  • Santa Muerta led the team in blocks (41) and tied Hurlin’ Wall in knockdowns (5). Hurlin registered 39 blocks herself. Molly Boom, Brim Stone, Lady Gag-ya and Aston Martini all registered over 20 blocks.
  • Bambi was the highest rated jammer in the league for the 4th season in a row with a 41 JQ rating; she led the league in scoring (147 points) and points per jam (3.5). Dust Bunny led the team with a 72% lead percentage and scored 128 points.
  • The Gores were built around a core of blockers led by Molly Boom who skated 55% of her team’s jams. Hurlin Wall (46%), Brim Stone and Lady Gag-ya (45% each), and Aston Martini (44%) were close behind. Molly Boom found herself in the penalty box more than any other as well, registering 5 minutes in penalties. Bambi and Santa Muerte sat for 4 minutes each.

***The Chicks and Gores meet in the 2012 season opener at The Bunker in Downsview Park. Tickets are on sale now! The Bout will also feature a showdown between this year’s D-VAS in a D-VAS Black vs. D-Vas Red bout. Doors for this double header open at 5:00 PM.

Quad City Chaos Recap (Part 2): The Commentary

THE RESULTS

TEAM WINS LOSSES +/-
New Skids on the Block (Montreal)

3

0

+764
CN Power (Toronto)

2

1

-133
Tri-City Thunder (Kitchener)

1

2

-193
Vixens (Rideau Valley)

0

3

-438

Montreal’s New Skids on the Block won their second straight QCC. (photo by Todd Burgess)

It must be hard to head into a tournament knowing that at some point on the weekend you will have to play in a bout that will amount to a one-sided shellacking, but that is the current state of Canadian roller derby where Montreal’s New Skids on the Block are playing on a competitive level that is unmatched in this country. But all credit goes to CN Power, Tri-City Thunder and Rideau Valley’s Vixens who entered their bouts against the defending Quad City Chaos title holders looking like nothing less than teams hungry for a victory. Despite how determined and confident the opposition may have been, for the second year in a row the Skids raised the bar on the competitive level of Canadian roller derby and cruised through their three games with an average margin of victory of 250 points (scoring a remarkable 860 total points) to win their second straight Quad City Chaos.

THE PLAYERS

Thunder’s Motorhead Molly and Vixens’ Semi Precious continued to lead their teams at the QCC. (photo by Chrissie Wu)

The Usual Suspects

The Skids have such a strong team that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to distinguish individual players; nonetheless, it is hard to argue that Jess Bandit and the Iron Wench are not the top players in their positions at this tournament, or in the country for that matter. In the same vein as the Oly Rollers’ pivot Sassy, Jess Bandit is the kind of player that you need to really study (and watch live) to see how dominant she can be, so simply effective that she almost slips under the radar. The Iron Wench’s brilliance may be easier to see, but it is no less impressive. For CN Power, team captain and on-track leader Brim Stone has emerged as a more-than-capable pivot in her own right and is a key in the resurgence of ToRD’s all stars. Somehow, just when you think that Defecaitlin (AKA: Dust Bunny) has achieved the pinnacle of her abilities, she steps it up another notch, this weekend having the best jammer battles with the Wench and dominating in her other bouts. Sin-e-star continues to be a solid, reliable presence in the Thunder pack, and even added “big-moment jammer” to her already impressive resume this weekend, providing an emotional spark to her team and an offensive boost when needed.

 Defecaitlin vs. Iron Wench. (photo by Laine White)

But the offense is getting a real boost from the ever-improving Motorhead Molly, a reliable, unshakeable presence on offense. Finally, the Vixens’ Semi Precious wouldn’t look out of place on any of the rosters at the QCC. A phenomenal talent in the pack (whether pivoting or acting as a rogue striker), the fortunes of this team will revolve around her play on the track. And while Rideau Valley’s offense continues to add depth, it is still anchored by the impressive Soul Rekker who was key for her team all weekend, especially leading the push back late in the bout against the Thunder.

Jubilee has really stepped it up for CN Power in 2011. (photo by Todd Burgess)

The Steppin-It-Uppers

For the well-rounded Skids, the importance of both Cheese Grater and Lil’ Mama to the continued development of this team was obvious this weekend. Cheese Grater is the prototypical triple threat, and her increasing role with the stripe speaks to her importance on a team that defines itself by pack control. And while Lil’ Mama’s toughness has never been a question, with Ewan Wotarmy sidelined with an injury, her importance as jammer was highlighted, and she brought that same sort of toughness to jamming, often skating through opposing blockers. CN Power has improved so much that it’s difficult not to cite every member of the team for steppin’ it up. Dyna Hurthca continues to show an increased poise and discipline in the pack, while a suddenly squeaky clean Nasher the Smasher needs to be commended for her willingness and ability to go one-on-one with the Iron Wench. Finally, Jubilee, who once briefly retired from the sport, has not only come full circle in her return, but has surpassed herself. Her pack work has

Ripper A. Part (Vixens). (photo by Neil Gunner)

gotten increasingly tighter and her ability to take opposing players out of jams—whether it be with sniper-like jammer take outs or strong positional blocking—has noticeably improved. Finally, for the Vixens, the offense as whole stepped it up. Soul Rekker is no longer the sole weapon on this team, as Dee Dee Tee looks fearless and Ripper A. Part is so much more effective now than she was a year ago that she actually looks physically bigger on the track. In the pack, the role of Surgical Strike (who stepped it up at the recent Blood and Thunder All Star bout at the Hangar) cannot be denied; she was one of the most capable Vixens’ blockers all weekend.

 

The Breakout Players

You have to look at the younger Skids to find a breakout player here, and with Mange Moi-El Cul and Hustle Rose playing up to high expectations, Hymen Danger was the surprising Skid this weekend, looking very strong in the bout against CN Power on Saturday night, and not looking at all out of place on the roster. For CN Power, the story of travel-team rookie Hurlin’ Wall is becoming an increasingly interesting narrative in Toronto Roller Derby. An absolutely unintimidated blocker, Hurlin’ does not know the word quit; already an impressive striker and one-on-one blocker, as her pack awareness increases, she will just become more and more of an important cog in the CN Power machine. For the Thunder, with the already important Freudian Whip taking on an increasingly foundational role for the team, it was Leigh-zzie Borden who was the real breakout story of the weekend. A force in the pack, Leigh-zzie also showed a proficiency with the star as well and provides yet another well-rounded skater to Tri-City’s already impressive roster. If you caught any of the Vixens’ bouts this weekend, it was impossible not to notice Assassinista. Whether leading her pack with the star, or blocking within it, AK-47 left it all on the track every time she was out there. An energetic, seemingly tireless player for Rideau Valley, she will be a big part of this team’s future.

 

THE WRAP

Assassinista had a breakout tournament for the Vixens. (photo by Chrissie Wu)

 

While these tournaments don’t generate the same kind of fan-energy at the Hangar as regular bouts (they are long and often feature one-sided results) they are a necessary part of the growth of the sport in Canada, allowing eastern Canada’s three up-and-coming hometeams the ability to collect valuable track time against excellent competition. And the value of getting to play a team of the calibre of Montreal’s New Skids on the Block cannot be denied. It was their play at last year’s QCC that kicked off the strategic development of teams all across Canada (last year’s participant Vancouver has since begun to play in WFTDA’s Western Region), and it will certainly have the same effect this year, easing ToRD and Tri-City into WFTDA competition. For Rideau Valley, this marked the highest level of competition that they have faced and was certainly an excellent experience to kick off their WFTDA Apprenticeship. And of course for anyone who follows Canadian roller derby (whether you were at the Hangar or watching on the boutcast), it was an extraordinary display of the some of the finest roller derby this country has to offer.

** Canuck Derby TV came to town to boutcast the QCC in its entirety. You can watch the archived bouts here.  Stay tuned to ToRD.TV for interviews and layer9’s trackside boutcast.

ToRD Championships: The Battle for the Boot

#2 Chicks Ahoy! (3-1) vs. #1 Gore-Gore Rollergirls (4-0)

In the future, when people look back at the early history of ToRD, no two teams will feature more prominently than the Gore-Gore Rollergirls and the Chicks Ahoy!. On Saturday, November 13, 2010, these two teams will meet in the ToRD Championship for the third time in four years. The defending champion Gores will be looking for some measure of revenge this year: that loss to the Chicks in the 2008 final marked the only time they failed to win the title  and was also the last time they suffered a defeat in ToRD play, regular season or playoffs. The Chicks, on the other hand, are still looking to regain their championship form.

These two teams have had far different seasons. A team stacked with vets, the Chicks started slow in 2010 with unfocused exhibition showings at the Beast of the East and in Tri-City. The Gores started 2010 where they left off 2009, finishing fourth in the annual Montreal tournament (and first among the non-MTLRD teams), and then opening the season with a dominant victory over the Smoke City Betties to set the tone for the campaign. The Chicks certainly came together as the season went on, rounding into shape at just the right time and saving their best games of the season for the end (including an impressive win over the Death Track Dolls in the semifinals). The Gores completed their second straight undefeated season winning each game by no less than 44 points.

This is the 3rd time the Gores and the Chicks have battled for the boot. (Tara Part and Dust Bunny in a 2009 bout at George Bell Arena)

THE OPPONENTS
While these two teams boast a majority of the members of ToRD’s all-star team, CN Power, they are not exactly uniform in their styles. The Chicks have spent this season focusing on their pack play, and refining the defense that has taken them so far in the past. After a disorganized beginning to the season, the Chicks pack tightened up as it went on and was the difference in their last two victories. Fast moving front walls, and deadly slow back ones (with a heavy hitter lurking on the margins ready to strike) typify their game.

The Gores have a deep arsenal of jammers and that dictates their style of play. Great individual blockers free up space and control pace through disrupting the strategies of their opponents: look for pivots and strikers to crack holes in the Chicks’ walls while the more positionally minded follow through and aid their jammers. The Chicks have shown an ability to adapt this season, while the Gores have been (for the most part) comfortably dictating play. This could come together in an interesting clash over the shape and direction of the championship bout.

Nasher the Smasher is once again one of the top pivots in the league.

THE MATCHUP

In terms of experience, no ToRD team can measure up against the Chicks Ahoy!. After an “off” 2009 (by their own high standards) in which they often looked undisciplined and a step-or-two behind the competition, the Chicks have stormed back in 2010. The pack play has been the leading aspect of the team’s improvement this season, and that transformation has been led by their talented pivots. Veteran pivots Rebel Rock-It and Nasher the Smasher are as good a one-two punch at the front of the pack as the league can deliver and both have had exceptional seasons. Hoff and Hum Dinger have also been predictably reliable this season, and Mega Bouche has been her usual devastating self. The inspirational return of Tara Part has only added more experience to an already deep pack, and stand out-rookie Marmighty looks extremely comfortable on the track. Triple Threats Mach Wheels and Dyna Hurtcha have been in and out of the lineup all season, but are in game shape right now and with Candy Crossbones in form as well, this marks the first time all three of these jammers will be available in the same bout this year.

The Gore-Gore Rollergirls did not have the same stability in their lineup as the Chicks did, incorporating a handful of rookies while at the same time making space for the return of two vets, Foxy Sinatra and original Toronto rollergirl Kandy Barr. But with such a stable core and solid leadership (including long-time manager Reverend Ramirez), the rookies have not looked out of place this season. The athletic Hurlin’ Wall has stood out in large part because of the ease with which she carries herself on the track: a strong positional blocker, her timing has been improving as well, and she’s more and more capable of making the big hit. Santa Muerte, Aston Martini and Gamma Rei have also looked strong in pack, and Pinky Violence’s role as a potential depth jammer became more defined in the semi-finals. But this is a team that is built around a solid core of more-than-capable vets. Junky Jenny and Molly Boom are steady presences with the stripe, while Lady Gagya has continued her rise as an effective striking blocker. The emergence of Brim Stone as a triple-threat has given the Gores a reliable weapon to complement the amazing jammer trio of Dust Bunny, Bambi and Lunchbox.

Expect Chicks' triple threat Mach Wheels and Gores' pivot Molly Boom to have more than a few battles

THE OUTCOME

At the beginning of 2010, it didn’t look like any team could compete with the defending-champion Gores, but as the season progressed there have been some signs of vulnerability in the seemingly impervious Gores’ game play. The Dolls dominated large swathes of the first half of their August bout, and the Chicks controlled the pack, and therefore the play, in isolated parts of their bout against the Gores in July. Also, the Chicks don’t look anything like the team that stumbled out of the gates at the start of the season. They also had the stiffer, more challenging test in the semis in a hard-fought bout against the Dolls, while the Gores had a comparatively easier time with the Betties.

It could come down to how well the teams respond to the atmosphere at The Hangar. Raucous and involved on a regular night, the sell-out crowd surrounding the track, coupled with the bright lights of the TV cameras and expanded media presence at the championship, will put a level of pressure on these clubs that has yet to be experienced at a ToRD championship. While almost all of the Chicks have experienced this big-game pressure (and mostly together), it remains to be seen how the Gores’ rookies will hold up. However it plays out, one thing is for certain: this is a bout that will live up to all historic expectations.

The defending champion Gore-Gore Rollergirls are looking for their 3rd ToRD championship.

Doors at The Hangar open at 6:30pm on Saturday, November 13, 2010. Bout time is 7:30.

Word on the track is that available tickets are few and far between. Online tickets sold out in record time last week, and a few ticket outlets are reporting sell-outs too, so call ahead.

If you can’t get tickets, don’t despair! For the first time in ToRD history, The Battle for the Boot will be televised. A bout replay will air on Rogers TV on Saturday, December 4, at 8:00pm.