GTA Rollergirls

Beast of the East Update: Participants Named!

The participants for the 2013 Beast of the East were named this weekend, with a very experienced group of teams getting selected to take part. This year will mark the 6th time this tournament has been held; hosted by the Montreal Roller Derby, this year’s tournament will run from April 27th to 28th.

THE PARTICIPANTS

Montreal Roller Derby

Les Contrabanditas

Les Filles du Roi

La Racaille

The host league, and Canada’s most competitive roller derby league, Montreal’s three home teams always seem to have something to say about the outcome of the event. Of the three teams, only Les Contrabanditas remain without a championship, while the Beast of the East’s winningest team La Racaille (17 wins and three trips to the finals) won in 2009 and Les Filles du Roi won it all in 2010. Last year, all three teams made it to the quarter finals, with La Racaille managing a 4th place finish.

Tri-City Roller Girls logo

Tri-City Roller Girls

Vicious Dishes

Total Knock Outs

Tri City’s Vicious Dishes return to defend the title they won so convincingly last year. While the Dishes lost some key skaters in the off season, they remain a seasoned crew. This year, they will be looking to achieve what no other team has: a successful defence of the Beast of the East trophy. The TKO’s make their return to the Beast after an 0-2 debut in 2011.

Rideau Valley ROller Gilrs logo

Rideau Valley Roller Girls

Slaughter Daughters

Riot Squad

The 2011 champs, the Slaughter Daughters, made it all the way back to the final last season, before falling to Tri-City’s Dishes. Nonetheless, it has been a successful two years for the Slaughter Daughters at the tournament and inter-city level, and remain the top ranked home team in the country. As with the Vicious Dishes, many of Rideau Valley’s WFTDA-team skaters play on this team, making them an experienced, formidable crew. The Riot Squad did not complete last year, but compiled a 1-4 record over two appearances in 2010 and 2011.

ToRD logo

Toronto Roller Derby

Chicks Ahoy!

Death Track Dolls

Gore-Gore Rollergirls

Smoke City Betties

All four of Toronto Roller Derby’s home teams have taken part in all of the Beast of the East tournaments, but despite each team’s various successes over the tournament’s history, none have taken home a title. The Chicks Ahoy! finished in 3rd place last season, while Dolls finished 3rd in 2011 when the Gores were runners up. The Smoke City Betties (who had a spirited run to the quarterfinals last year) made their only top 4 appearance in 2009. This year, many veteran skaters are now playing exclusively for ToRD’s WFTDA team, CN Power, meaning that it will be somewhat of a rebuilding year for ToRD’s home teams.

Forest City logo

Forest City Derby Girls

Thames Fatales

Luscious Lunch Ladies

Outside of Montreal and Toronto, London’s Thames Fatales are the only team to have played in every Beast of the East, making it as far as the quarterfinals in 2010. While one other Forest City team has played in the Beast (The London Thrashers in 2008), the Luscious Lunch Ladies will be making their debut in 2013.

GTAR logo

GTA Rollergirls

Derby Debutantes

The Debutantes made their debut in 2009 and have appeared every year since. They’ve picked up two wins along the way, but have yet to advance to the quarterfinals.

Roller Derby Quebec logo

Roller Derby Quebec

Les Casse-Gueules

Le Rouge et Gore

Roller Derby Quebec made its Beast debut in 2011 when it was still a one-team league. This year Les Duchesses, that original team, are now the travel team supported by two home teams, Les Casse-Gueules and Le Rouge et Gore, who will both be appearing at this year’s Beast. Les Duchesses picked up Quebec’s first Beast victory last year.

Bruisers Sit Atop Throne as Eastern Champions

ToRD’s Bay Street Bruisers, 2012 RDAC Eastern Canadian Championship (Photo by Greg Russell)

You could look at the outcome of the Roller Derby Association of Canada’s 2012 Eastern Canadian Championship and see that the status-quo had been maintained: No one would have been surprised to see Toronto, Forest City and Royal City finish as the top three teams in the tournament. But if that is all that you took away from this weekend, you’d be missing almost the whole story. With four of the ten games being settled by 10 points or less and only two breaking the 100-point differential, the real story was in the parity. There was fantastic, exciting roller derby provided during nearly every game with the tournament’s only winless team, Capital City’s Dolly Rogers, providing some of the most exciting moments, losing by miniscule margins of 9, 6, and 5 points. The tournament’s lowest ranked team, Nickel City’s Sister Slag, grew almost exponentially. They started the tournament getting knocked around by the eventual champs in the opening game before pushing a vastly more experienced team to the limit in their second. Then in the second of back-to-back games, they upset their favoured opponents to claim 6th spot.

It was a tournament that delivered on both fronts: great derby, but a great learning experience for the teams as well.

ROUND ONE

Sister Slag was paying close attention during their opening round loss to the Bruisers. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The only significantly one-sided bouts occurred (unsurprisingly) in the opening round. Second seed Bay Street Bruisers (Toronto) took down seventh seed Nickel City’s Sister Slag (Sudbury) by 137 points, though the far less experienced team from Sudbury certainly had moments, and used a strong opening and then final ten minutes to keep the score down. In the only other lopsided score of the weekend, third seed Misfit Militia (from Aliston’s Renegade Derby Dames) tore up the track against the G-sTARs (GTAR), building on a 160-10 half-time lead and riding some stifling pack work to a 326-point victory. The win sent a clear message and set up a highly anticipated semifinal matchup up between the tournament’s second and third seeds.

The final first-round bout lived up to the billing as the closest seeds the Brute Leggers (fourth) and the Dolly Rogers (fifth) swapped leads throughout (Capital City was up at half) to kick off the tournament with a thoroughly entertaining game that would be indicative of much of the weekend’s matchups. The Royal City hosts were able to put together a customarily strong second half to pull ahead and hold on for the 142-131 victory and an opportunity to face off against the defending champions, Forest City, in the semfinal.

The G-sTARs defeated the Dolly Rogers on their way to a fifth place finish. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

CONSOLATION ROUND

The opening round divided the teams into the consolation bracket and the single-elimination medal round, with the three losing teams from the opening round playing a round robin to determine the bottom three spots in the tournament. This round began with a showdown between the fifth and sixth ranked teams in the tournament, and it too did not disappoint finishing with the G-sTARs clutching a 140-134 victory against the Capital City Derby Dolls. Growing through a tough rebuild, the GTA skaters looked like a far different team this time around, shaking off their opening–round loss to win both of its consolation games. Built around veterans like Newfie Bullet, Lee Way Wreck’em and Holly de Havilland, and featuring a promising skater in Paper Jam, they were able to close out their tournament with a 19-point win over Sister Slag to secure fifth spot.

The Dolly Rogers used this tournament to announce its presence. Led by strong pack work from the likes of Whips N. Chaynes and eventual team MVP Delicate Plow’her, some crafty jamming from Sneaky Dekey and consistency from Ha-Lou-Ween (not to mention double-threat performances from Violently Jill and Deanna Destroi), Capital City impressed with their ability and preparation, but showed that they still lack the all-important game experience that allowed them to close out wins.  They closed out their tournament the way they began it, with a thrilling back-and-forth game characterized by large swings in momentum, only this time it was with a surprisingly resilient Sister Slag. Led by Elle Hoar (whose role seemed to grow as the tournament went on), and paced offensively by Legzy Megzy and Red Hot and Anna Maul, the Nickel City skaters seemed to grow closer together during the tournament and finished as a much tighter and more polished team than they were when it began. They closed out the final consolation game with a natural grand slam to break a tie and secure sixth place with the 149-144 victory.

MEDAL ROUND

The Brute Leggers were taken out of their game by Forest City’s physicality. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Perhaps the greatest level of tension and excitement came in the semifinals where the top four seeds squared off. In the first semi-final, the Brute Leggers dominated Forest City early on. With an offence paced by Hot Cross Guns and Hellcat of Panar and a pack anchored by Kim Scarsmashian, Forest City—responding with a jammer crew of Andi Slamberg, Mighty Thor and Torque e Mada and a veteran pack now ubiquitous in eastern Canadian derby—was only able to score 7 points over the first twenty minutes of the half. But with London blocker Mirambo raising the intensity level, knocking Royal City off balance, the defending champs began to claw back and were down 60-38 at half. Never able to get their heads back into it and thrown off by Forest City’s intense physicality, the hosts managed only 26 second-half points to fall 145-86.

The Bay Street Bruisers needed a late comeback to get passed the Misfit Militia, in one of the most exciting games of the tournament. (Photo by Neil Gunner).

In the second semi-final, the Misfit Militia roared off of the jammer line and barely looked back, throwing everything they could at the Bay Street Bruisers who could never really get anything going in  the first half. Consistent jamming from Randy Roll-lin and Zombabe and dominant pack work from Renny Rumble had the Bruisers stumped throughout. The Militia had a 27-point half-time lead. The dominance continued in the second half, but the persistence of jammers Bala Reina and titmouse, and the on-track leadership of eventual team MVP Chronic had the Bruisers sticking around, never letting the lead grow past 50 points, and when the penalty calls started going their way, they were ready. A 29-point Bala Reina power jam (much of it orchestrated with the Bruisers having only two Blockers, Chronic and Miss Kitty La Peur, on the track) with only ten minutes remaining had Toronto within 12 points and holding all the momentum. They controlled things for the final ten minutes aas frustration mounted for the Renegade Derby Dames and were able to hold on to advance to the final.

The Brute Leggers pulled it together to defeat the Misfit Militia in the third place game. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Misfit Militia never seemed to recover from the defeat, while the Brute Leggers pulled it together after their emotional loss to come back to control the third place bout most of the way and skated to the 190-129 victory. The championship game provided an entertaining first half that saw the Bruisers storm out 42-9 lead at the halfway mark. Strong jamming from Bala Reina and Bellefast continued to pace the Bruisers who were able to impose their style of play on the game early, and never let Forest City get comofortable. Although penalty troubles allowed London to get back into it only a few minutes later (they even briefly took the lead at the 10-minute mark), the Bruisers regained control to lead 78-54 at the half. The second half was all Bruisers with the lead increasing steadily to 135-86 at the midway point, before they held on for the 163-88 victory and took home the 2012 RDAC Eastern Canadian Championship.

The Bay Street Bruisers and Forest City All Stars (Eastern Region) join the Terminal City All Stars and Kootenay Kannibelles (West), Saskatoon Roller Derby and Pile O’ Bones Derby Club (central) at the Canadian championship. The Atlantic representatives will be determined at a tournament in St. John’s in September.

Bruisers’ jammer (and one of the team MVPs) Bala Reina was dominant in the final. (Photo by Greg Russell)

COMPLETE RESULTS

First Round

Brute Leggers (Royal City Roller Girls) 142 vs. Dolly Rogers (Capital City Derby Dolls) 131

Misfit Militia (Renegade Derby Dames) 354 vs. G-sTARs (GTA Rollergirls) 28

Bay Street Bruisers (Toronto Roller Derby) 253 vs. Sister Slag (Nichel City Roller Derby) 116

Consolation Pool

G-sTARs (1-0) 140 vs. Dolly Rogers (0-1) 134

G-sTARs (2-0) 194 vs. Sister Slag (0-1) 173

Sister Slag (1-1) 149 vs. Dolly Rogers (0-2) 144

Medal Round

Semifinals

Forest City All Stars 145 vs. Brute Leggers 86

Misfit Militia 130 vs. Bay Street Bruisers 140

Third Place

Brute Leggers 190 vs. Misfit Militia 129

Championship

Forest City 88 vs. Bay Street Bruisers 163

Dames of Thrones Preview: Eastern Champs Second RDAC Regional Tournament

A TALE OF TWO TOURNAMENTS

Last month the Terminal City All Stars won the 2012 RDAC Western Canadian Championship in fairly convincing fashion: holding off a more than game West Kootenay Kannibelles team in the final, 159-75. The Kanibelles turned a lot of heads with their dominant performance in the tournament, and with E-Ville upending Red Deer’s Belladonnas in the third place game, it was clear that the top four teams in the region had performed as expected, and the top two teams had qualified for the Canadian Championship.

It will be a slightly different story at this weekend’s Dames of Thrones: RDAC Eastern Canadian Championships.

With the top leagues in the east focused squarely on the WFTDA, the Eastern Championship has developed into an Eastern Canadian B-Team Championship (although Montreal and Tri-City will not be sending their B-Teams).  Nonetheless, with the absence of the top teams in the region, this tournament will feature a fairly even field of teams that should provide a close, exciting tournament. A lot of these leagues are looking to work their way into that upper-echelon of derby, and this weekend will provide them with a platform on which to do that. With a wide open field, the scene is set for a team to make some waves and announce itself as a the Next Big Thing in Canadian Derby.

THE TEAMS

The Forest City All Stars won the inaugural Eastern Canadian Championship last year in Ottawa. (Photo by Neil Jeffry)

The Favourites

Given the relative lack of play between participants, it’s somewhat challenging to pick favourites, but as defending champions (winners of the precursor CWRDA Championships last year), London’s Forest City All Stars are the team everyone is gunning for. Formed out of Forest City’s two hometeams, the All Stars came together exclusively for last year’s Eastern Canadian Championship and took the tournament by storm, scoring one-sided victories at every level (and defeating a Rideau Valley B-Team for the championship). The All Stars have seen limited action this year, but have scored lopsided victories over Blue Water (Port Huron, Michigan) and Lansing’s Mitten Mavens in preparation for the tournament. Part of eastern Canada’s first wave of leagues, Forest City has the most experienced core of skaters in the tournament, and boasts a roster very used to these big-game situations.

The Bruisers and the Brute-Leggers recently faced off with the Bruisers winning 176-153. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Contenders

One of Canada’s top leagues, Toronto Roller Derby, will be sending its B-Team, the Bay Street Bruisers, to compete in the tournament and should be looked upon as a threat. Although the teams itself has not been playing together long (the B-Travel team was born this year and has only two games under its belt), it is made up of an experienced roster of skaters from ToRD’s four houseleague teams. 1-1 on the season thus far, they enter the tournament as the #2 seed on the strength of a recent victory over the Royal City Brute-Leggers. The Brute-Leggers have been rounding into form over two years now and have been very busy this year, compiling a 6-3 record on the season. But two of those losses have come to the Bruisers and the Thames Fatales (Forest City’s top hometeam), which should give Toronto and London some confidence heading in.

The Dark Horse

Renegade Derby Dames’ Misfit Militia, could be the dark horse pick of the tournament.

If there is one team that could shake up the top, it could be the Renegade Derby Dames’ Misfit Militia. Training in relative quiet in Aliston, Ontario, there isn’t a lot to base judgement of this team on, but it is a squad made up of a core of very strong skaters. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that they have had uneven results this year: They’ve faced off against two tournament participants in their only two bouts of the  season, dominating the Derby Debutantes before falling in a tight one against Capital City’s Dolly Rogers (who will also be participating).

The Field

Ottawa’s Dolly Rogers lead the pack of the rest of the participants and have had an interesting season as well. The team is 4-3 on the season but seem to rounding into form and are coming off of back-to-back victories that included a 283 point thrashing of Peterborough. Dolly Rogers skater Lobster, veteran skater with Capital City, said the team was not too surprised with their victory over Peterborough and will be use it as “a bit of a confidence boost.” The team Brazil representative at the World cup added that “this tournament’s going to be what we need right now: a challenge.”

Capital City’s Dolly Rogers defeated the Renegade Derby Dames earlier in the year.

Although GTAR’s G-sTARs did exceptionally well at last year’s tournament, finishing in  third place, the team has gone through a recent roster overhaul that sees them slipping into a mid-season rebuild that could hamper their chances this weekend. The G-sTARs are 1-6 on the season with a lot of losses coming against stiff competition, but the sole victory was in their final tournament tune-up against Durham’s Atom Smashers that ended the six-game slide.  Nickel City’s Sister Slag has the least amount of game play this year. Playing out of Sudbury, Nickel City has followed an optimistic 2011 (going 2-4 in their first season of bouting) with a quiet 2012. Their only competition has come in a one-sided victory over the Derby Debutantes, GTAR’s B-Team, in May.

THE OPENING ROUND

While the defending champion Forest City All Stars will receive a bye to the semifinals, the other six teams kick things off in the opening round. First whistle blows at 8:30 AM, with the host Brute-Leggers facing off against the Dolly Rogers. Up next (10:15) will be the Misfit Militia against the G-sTARs; the Misfit Militia crushed the G-sTARs’ little sister (the Derby Debutantes) early this season, so the GTA skaters will be looking for revenge. The opening round ends with the Bay Street Bruisers squaring off against the Sister Slag at 2:00 PM.

The winners of these three games will advance to the final four, while the losers will continue the tournament in a round-robin consolation bracket to determine final seedings.

***Dames of Thrones: RDAC Eastern Canadian Championship will be boutcast live all weekend by the fine folks at Canuck Derby TV. Check here for the complete schedule.

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.

Beast of the East 2012 Update: Participants Named

It’s official! The 2012 Beast of the East draw has been complete and all 16 teams have been named. The Beast of the East is hosted by Montreal Roller Derby and will take place April 21st and 22nd, 2012 at Arena St. Louis.

PARTICIPATING TEAMS

Representing Montreal Roller Derby (MTLRD)

Les Contrabanditas

Les Filles du Roi (Beast Champs 2010)

La Racaille (Beast Champs 2009)

Representing Toronto Roller Derby (ToRD)

Chicks Ahoy!

Death Track Dolls

Gore-Gore Rollergirls

Smoke City Betties)

Representing Forest City Derby Girls (FCDG)

Thames Fatales)

Representing Rideau Valley Roller Girls (RVRG)

Slaughter Daughters (Beast Champs 2011)

Representing the Hammer City Roller Girls (HCRG)

Hamilton Harlots (Beast Champs 2008)

Representing the Tri-City Roller Girls (TCRG)
Vicious Dishes

Representing the Greater Toronto Area Rollergirls (GTAR)
Derby Debutantes

Representing Roller Derby Quebec (RDQ)

Les Duchesses

Representing Durham Region Roller Derby (DRRD)

Motor City Madames

Representing the Muddy River Rollers

Reines of Terror

Representing Thunder Bay Roller Derby

Babes of Thunder

Nerd Meat Part 10: Playing the Game

Nerd Meat: The Nerd Does Derby

Part 10: Playing the Game

It’s the opening bout of a key tournament and ToRD’s fresh meat team, the D-VAS, is lining up to play Queen City’s Baby Brawlers, the fresh meat team from this venerable Buffalo league; it is a big showdown between the youngest members of two very experienced flat track roller derby leagues. In deference to Queen City’s reputation and history, the D-VAS have tracked a comparatively “veteran” lineup of skaters from ToRD’s second-last fresh meat in-take. But in the midst of these skaters is one, #747 Ames to Kill, who is the freshest of fresh meat. She just completed her minimum skills test a few weeks before after completing the ten week fresh meat program. She looks focused playing in the pack, any fears—those nerves that have got to be there—are well-hidden. She looks like just another D-VAS.

Ames to Kill (#747) makes her debut in the DVAS opening bout of 2 Fresh 2 Furious (blocking with Rennie Rumble and pivot Skinned Knee Crosby). (Photo by Sean Murphy)

The 2 Fresh 2 Furious tournament (hosted by the GTA Rollergirls) is a showcase for new leagues and fresh meat teams of established leagues that has become an annual event in Toronto, and it fills a great need. With well over twenty leagues and counting, Ontario may be one of the fastest growing regions of flat track derby in the world right now. The growth of the sport in Ontario is reflected in the growth of the sport in Toronto, and ToRD is booming: right now the D-VAS have a roster of over 30, all at various stages of development, but all eligible for the 2011 draft that will be held at the end of the year (needless to say, they won’t all be drafted—ToRD has become too big and too competitive for that, but with the advent of the D-VAS, they will still get to play and hone their skills). Over the course of the 2 Fresh tournament, eight of the skaters with whom I’d graduated from the fresh meat program would play (Along with Ames, Slaptrick Swayze, Lexi Con,  BelleFast, General Patten, Smack Mia Round, Purple Pain and Zom-Boney would all get track time). The D-VAS would go on to finish second, losing in the final to the Gold Miners’ Daughters, a talented team from Timmins who came out of nowhere to record the victory.

Hitz Miller pivots for Durham Region against the Gold Miners' Daughters. (Photo by Sean Murphy)

It was hard for me not to become reflective during the course of the tournament. Along with the connection I felt for the D-VAS, my sister was also playing for Durham Region Roller Derby (Hitz Miller) who also had a successful tournament, and were the only team that beat the eventual champs (albeit early in the tournament in a non-elimination bout). But it was also hard not to see, out of this microcosm, the larger picture that it played into. This tournament, for instance, and other freshie bouts and tournaments around the world represent the ever-strengthening foundation of this sport’s revolution. Along with MMA, roller derby truly is the sport of the 21st century. In terms of participation, its growth far outstrips that of any other sport being played on the planet (in 2003 there were about five active flat track leagues in only one country, eight years later and there are well over 900 in about two dozen countries). And as much as the sport has grown, it has changed continuously as well: the tens of thousands of current participants in the sport are all active members in its evolution. Eight years ago the teams that were playing were all competing at a fairly similar level as well. Now, the game being played at 2 Fresh 2 Furious (as watchable and exciting as it is) is nowhere the level of game being played at the WFTDA Championships.

Timmins' Gold Miners' Daughters won 2 Fresh playing the kind of up-temp derby that the Oly Rollers have mastered. (Photo by Sean Murphy)

While evidence of the beginnings of track strategies and isolation plays could be seen during the tournament, the level of play was at a fairly basic level (for the most part, the most advanced teams strategically, were those that did the best). The Gold Miner’s Daughters won the tournament playing a very basic style of roller derby, what I’ve come to call the “hit and run” game that defined the fast-paced action of banked track roller derby and was the default mode for the early flat trackers as well. It relies on fantastic individual talent (especially the jammers), and strong endurance. While there aren’t really any exclusive hit and run teams left at the highest levels of competitive flat track roller derby, some, including the extraordinarily talented Oly Rollers, still play a fairly simplistic style of derby that is fast and hits hard. There are others too, like Chicago’s Windy City Rollers,  who still play the fast game. The obvious drawback to this strategy is that if you run into a team of players who are better skaters than you, you’re in trouble. This was most evident for me when Philly’s Liberty Belles, who can play the fast game when necessary, took on Oly in the semifinal at the 2010 WFTDA Champs. The fastest bout of the tournament, the score remained close early on as Philly did their best to keep up with the Rollers, but despite how close the score was at half,  52-34 Oly, the game seemed all but over by then: It was clear that in a fast-paced, hit and run bout, Oly wasn’t going to be caught. And they weren’t, with their lead barely changing throughout another fast second half. When Oly was finally taken out by Rocky Mountain in the final, it was by a smart, strategic team that understood the key to victory against Oly was not trying to outduel them in a race: the key was playing a diversified, multi-paced bout that would draw Oly away from its strengths.

ToRD TV caught up with Jerry Seltzer at the 2010 WFTDA Championships.

But this, along with many aspects of derby, is debatable: flat vs. banked; mainstream vs. underground; men vs. women vs. everyone. I believe that when all is said and done, there will be derby for everyone at every level, on whatever surface. But right now with the community—as large as it is—still so interwoven, there are a lot of developmental debates. Jerry Seltzer, one of the founding fathers of the sport (his father, Leo, created the sport in the 1930s), and Commissioner from 1959 to its original demise in 1973, is still a central figure in the debates. While Jerry openly and freely offers invaluable advice and support on his blog and his insights are often inspired (and inspiring), I believe he’s missing the mark on at least two major points: the importance of television in Derby’s perpetuation¹, and the fact that the banked game is better than the flat one.

Eight of the Nerd's fellow fresh meat graduates suited up for the D-VAS at the 2 Fresh tournament. (Photo by Sean Murphy)

I don’t like this valuing of the banked over the flat (or vice versa, for that matter), and I also think that it is a waste of time: they are no longer the same sport.  When historians look back upon flat track history, I believe they will mark the year of the true birth of flat track roller derby as 2009. This is when the players of the sport began to exploit the advantages of playing roller derby on a flat track as opposed to a banked one; this is when the sport of flat track roller derby was no longer interchangeable with its banked-track progenitor.² It’s no secret that I prefer flat track over banked track because of the democratization of it, because of the inherent strategy involved in manipulating the pace at which the game can be played. It is not a perfect sport yet (what sport is?), but WFTDA seems to be on the right track in developing it (currently, they are experimenting with eliminating minors, another necessary step in flat track’s evolution). While I do hope that banked track continues to be played (perhaps with the flat track elements that have crept into it removed), my heart is on the flat track, where it will stay.

Despite completing Fresh Meat, I’m not that interested in playing the sport at any competitive level and am content, right now, to chronicle the growth of the women’s version of it; for me, watching the newest D-VAS in the 2 Fresh tournament was as close as I’ll come to playing on a team. Having spent ten-weeks sweating and struggling on the track with them, from first skate to minimum skills test,  I’ve watched each of those skaters closely; I’ve seen them progress from early jitters and confusion over the game, to the confident skaters on the track they’ve become. On top of that, I also feel that now that I am writing about them playing in a game—having read their names on the backs of their uniforms, seen their focus and balance increase with each jam—I have truly come full circle in my own fresh meat journey; I’ve come through the other side full of the same desire to fulfill the same role I’ve always filled—chronicling the early days of this amazing sport. Now I am just armed with an even greater appreciation for not only  the game itself, but for the larger role it plays in the lives of its participants.

That, as simple an admission as it sounds, has been my greatest achievement in this whole process.

Timmins’ Daughters Mine for Gold at 2 Fresh 2 Furious

The Gold Miners' Daughters (Timmins), 2 Fresh 2 Furious Champions. (Photo by Joe Mac)

When the Gold Miner’s Daughters opened up their 2 Fresh 2 Furious with a slight upset over the more experienced Violet Uprising from Royal City, it didn’t turn too many heads. And when the unheralded team had a setback in their second bout, it seemed that would be the end for the upstarts from Timmins. But by the end of a grueling one-day, two-track tournament, the small-town skaters would find themselves face-to-face with their big city counterparts from ToRD, and more surprisingly would stare them down; the Daughters saved their best for last as they overcame ToRD’s D-VAS in a 43 point championship victory.

A TALE OF TWO TRACKS: The Double Elimination Round

Durham Region defeated Kingston (Shirts) to kick off the tournament. (Photo by Sean Murphy)

The Battle for the Bubble

The two teams from Guelph’s Royal City were the pre-tournament favourites in this pool, and while Violet Uprisings was two and done in the double elimination (losing a heartbreaker 47-42 against the Kingston “Shirts” team in the elimination game), the mixed team of Queens of Pain kicked things off with what turned out to be the dominant performance of the tournament, a 99-15 victory over another hybrid team made up of players from Ottawa (ORD), Timmins (TRD), and Soonami (Sault St. Marie); they followed that victory with a tougher 32-17 win over Belle City’s (Brantford’s) Belles of the Brawl to assure themselves a spot in the quarterfinals.

Belles of the Brawl defeated Kingston (Shirts) to stay alive in the tournament. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Durham Region Roller Derby entered the tournament with a long and winding history to get to this point, but they are a team on the rise and proved that early on as well defeating Kingston (46-22) and then the Gold Miners’ Daughters (38-30) to book their spot in the quarterfinals. The Daughters looked out of sorts in that bout, suffering too many jammer penalties to get any sort of offense going, and couldn’t overcome the solid pack work from Durham. But the loss may have been exactly what they needed as they bounced back to trample the ORD/TRD/SSM mixed team in the elimination game to set up a rematch against Durham in the quarters. In the other elimination match, the Belles of the Brawl overcame the impressive Kingston Shirts team 51-24 to set up the second quarterfinal rematch.

Royal City's Queens of Pain emerged as favourites after the most dominant victory of the tournament (99-15). (Photo by Joe Mac)

Belle City ran out of steam in the quarterfinal. For much of this round, the Belles had ridden the extraordinary play of jammer Vitamin K, who was especially dominant in their opening victory over Peterborough’s Electric City Rollers, but the Queens of Pain (with a very balanced attack led by Hot Cross Guns and triple threat Mandy Maggotbone) were too much and moved through to the final four with a 38-13 victory. The second quarterfinal was another rematch, this one between Durham Region and the Gold Miners’ Daughters. And while in the early going, it seemed like it would be another tight one, the Timmins skaters were just warming up. Despite strong jamming from Cutsie Bootsie and String Blade, and solid pack work led by pivots Karma Screwya and Hitz Miller, Durham had no response for the extraordinary jamming from the Daughters’ Kill’er Princess and Nasty Nads as the Timmins team pulled away in the end to get their revenge and, more importantly, their spot in the seminfinals.

Playing their first competitive derby, Windsor's Border City Brawlers picked up their first win ever (over the Ottawa Delinquents). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Tangle in Ted Reeve

There was no clear favourite on the other track which featured fresh meat teams from two WFTDA leagues (ToRD and Queen City) and the host, GTAR’s Chrome Mollys. The Mollys and D-VAS did their part, both going 2-0 to earn a bye to the quarterfinals (though both faced early challenges, D-VAS from Queen City, Molly’s from South Simcoe in an exciting and controversial game). Just to complicate matters, South Simcoe Roller Rebels threw their name into the mix when they kicked things off with a one-sided trouncing (83-36) over Windsor’s Border City Brawlers, who were making their competitive debuts. But Border City would improve as the day went on and would earn their all-important first ever victory, 53-47 against the Ottawa Delinquents.

ToRD's D-VAS eliminated Kingston (Skins) in the quarterfinals. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Border City, who were led by workhorse Tulkamania, would see their journey come to an end  in another nail-biter that went down to a final pass that saw the Kingston Derby Girls’ Skins team pull out a 44-42 hard-fought victory. Buffalo’s Queen City made up for an opening bout loss to pull out two victories in a row to get back to the quarterfinals (including an 85-4 shellacking of Peterborough’s Damaged Dollz who, shorthanded, were playing with borrowed D-VAS). They ended South Simcoe’s impressive tournament in the elimination game, holding off a stiff challenge to win, 39-19, and set up a quarterfinal showdown with the defending champ Chrome Mollys.

ToRD’s D-VAS ended the tournament for the Kingston Derby Girls when they eliminated the Skins in the quarterfinals, but it rounded out an impressive showing for the Kingston league, which saw both teams pick up at least a victory, and the Skins make it to the final eight. Queen City and the Chrome Molly’s sparred in the other quarterfinal in a great battle that saw the hosts pushing the Buffalo team to the very end. It was only a timely, game-saving jammer take out by the standout Day TripHer that allowed Queen City to hang on for the 43-37 win that eliminated the hosts.

The D-VAS and Queen City met in one semifinal. (Photo by Sean Murphy)

THE CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND

The final four featured two very intriguing matchups that did not disappoint. Two of the pre-tournament favourites, Queen City and ToRD’s D-VAS, squared off in the opening bout. These two established leagues have a long history from home team scrimmaging to travel team showdowns, and this first-time freshies matchup lived up to all expectations. Led by co-captains Skinned Knee Crosby and Tammunition in the pack, the D-VAS pulled away early, but their Hell Bat led offense, which had been explosive all day, faced a tough test from the Queen City packs and they never let ToRD pull away and kept it close to the final jam, but couldn’t quite narrow the gap, dropping the 28-23 decision. The second semifinal was equally as compelling. Heavily favoured Queens of Pain pulled ahead in the early going and controlled things for much of the game. But the Gold Miner’s Daughters were improving continuously all day, and it was visible in this bout. Pivot Ames to Mame kept things calm in the pack and pulled out big moves one-on-one. The tenacious skaters from Timmins never seemed out of it and with only two minutes left, jammer Kill’er Princess gave the Daughters their first lead of the bout, 32-28. Kill’er Princess was back out with the star for the final jam as well and as she’d done all day, calmly took the lead to call it and earn a berth in the championship.

The Gold Miners' Daughters were at their best in the final against the D-VAS. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

There was just something about the swagger that had crept into the Gold Minters’ Daughters’ game by the time the championship rolled around that made things seem like they were inevitable. After feeling things out in the early part of the tournament, gaining valuable track experience, the Daughters had continuously honed their game. When the opening whistle blew in the final bout of 2 Fresh 2 Furious, it looked like this team from Timmins had only just found its stride. This is not to take anything away from their opponents, ToRD’s D-VAS, who entered the tournament with heavy expectations on their shoulders and carried them well. Paced by an agile jammer rotation of Hell Bat, Keri Daway and Scrappy Skins, and anchored by the solid pack work of Renny Rumble, Laya Beaton and Bridget Bones, the D-VAS had the deepest roster in the tournament, but they seemed gassed by the end of the night and didn’t have enough to contain the extraordinary jamming by the Daughters’ duo of Nasty Nads and tournament Future Star (MVP) Kill’er Princess, which, by the end of things, was the not-so-secret to their success. It was an extraordinary showing for a team that came, seemingly, from out of nowhere, but has now let it be known that they have most definitely arrived.

* In the battle of royalty, the Queens of Pain (Guelph) defeated Queen City (Buffalo), 38-14, for third place, to end a strong showing for both teams. Guelph’s Royal City continues to show that they are a league on the rise, and are the leaders of the second-wave of Ontario roller Derby that is currently sweeping the province.

* Layer 9 captured much of the tournament in HD from his usual trackside location. Watch the final here!

*A special thank you to the GTA Rollergirls and all the tournament volunteers for their hospitality.

* Stay tuned: On Friday, the final Nerd Meat post will include a more personal reflection on the tournament.

COMPLETE RESULTS:

Ted Reeve Bubble Ted Reeve Arena
Double Elimination

DURHAM REGION ROLLER DERBY 46 VS. KINGSTON – SHIRTS 22

VIOLET UPRISING [RCRG] 30 VS. GOLD MINERS DAUGHTERS (TIMMINS) 47

ELECTRIC CITY ROLLERS (PETERBOROUGH) 30 VS. BELLES OF THE BRAWL 75

ORD/TIMMINS RD/SOONAMI 15 VS. QUEENS OF PAIN (RCRG) 99

DRRD 38 vs. GM Daughters 30

K-Shirts 47 vs. Violet Uprising 42 (eliminated)

Belles 17 vs. Queens of Pain 32

Electric City 24 (elimin.) vs.  ORD/TRD/SSR 56

GM Daughters 48 vs. ORD/TRD/SSR 23 (elim.)

Belles 51 vs. K-Shirts 24 (elim.)

Quarter Finals

DRRD 29 vs. GM Daughters 42

Queens of Pain 38 vs. Belle City 13

Double Elimination

BORDER CITY BRAWLERS 36 VS. SOUTH SIMCOE REBEL ROLLERS 83

CHROME MOLLYS (GTAR) 45VS. OTTAWA DOLLINQUENTS 24

D-VAS (ToRD) 59 VS. QUEEN CITY 32

KINGSTON – SKINS 65 VS. DAMAGED DOLLZ (PETERBOROUGH) 36

South Simcoe 42 vs. Mollys 44

Border City 53 vs. Delinquents 47 (eliminated)

D-VAS 85 vs. K-Shirts 12

Queen City 85 vs. Dollz 4

South Simcoe 19 (elim.) vs. Queen City 39

K-Skins 44 vs. Border City 20 (elim.)

Quarter Finals

Mollys 37 vs. Queen City 43

D-VAS 70 vs. K-Skins 20

 

 

 

Semi Finals

QCRG 23 vs. D-VAS 28

GM Daughters 32 vs. Queens of Pain 28

Third Place

Queen City 14 vs. Queens of Pain 38

Finals

D-VAS 24 vs. GM Daughters 67

2011 2 Fresh 2 Furious Champions: Gold Miners’ Daughters (Timmins)

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

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

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

ROUND ONE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT TO EXPECT

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

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

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

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

**Tournament Schedule:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

ROUND ONE

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

RELEGATION

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

Sunday, June 19, 2011
SEMIFINALS

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

RELEGATION

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

CHAMPIONSHIP

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