Hellcat of Panar

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

ToRD’s All Stars and Future Stars Initiate the Bunker

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath was on hand to blow the first whistle in the Bunker. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

In December of this year the first ever World Cup of roller derby will be played over three days on two tracks in the Bunker, the new home of Toronto Roller Derby; on Saturday the Bunker got its first taste of action as ToRD hosted a double header welcoming the Royal City All Stars (out of Guelph) and the Montreal Sexpos to the city to initiate the new venue. Both bouts of the double header were played on the smaller, more intimate Track 2 as the main track was still under construction (both tracks will be in use during the World Cup). With special guest provincial NDP leader Andrea Horwath on hand to blow the first whistle, the energy level and sense of anticipation for the first action in the venue was palpable. The home league ended up splitting the games in this successful launch.

Game 1: Royal City All Stars 203 vs. D-VAS 42

DVAS pivot Bridget Bones lines up against Royal City pivot Cannonball Doll. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Having just completed its first full bouting season, Royal City has proven to be a league to watch. The three hometeams had a successful year in Guelph playing out of the Sleeman Centre and had a successful travel season as well: in June the travel team had a fantastic performance at the Blood Spill on the Hill, CWRDA’s Eastern Championship, finishing 5th overall. The Queens of Pain (a mix of players from hometemas the Killer Queens and Our Ladies of Pain) took an impressive 3rd place at the 2 Fresh 2 Furious tournament in July. This weekend marked their first foray into playing against competition from ToRD. Before the bout, Royal City coach Professor Wrex implied that the team was hoping for a strong performance to prove that they were prepared for competition beyond ToRD’s team of undrafted skaters: After 60 minutes of smart, dominant derby, they certainly proved that point.

For many of these D-VAS, this was their last chance to make a big impression before ToRD's 2011 entry draft. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

The D-VAS were playing far more than just another bout. Just over a month away from ToRD’s annual entry draft (with a large, talented draft pool, this year’s draft has been the most highly anticipated ever), this bout marked the last time the D-VAS had a chance to make an impression on the hometeam captains. It was a multi-generational roster that took to the track on Saturday (including 6 skaters who had just finished Fresh Meat in June, ToRD’s most recent intake), providing a cross section of ToRD’s future stars. While there was a vast array of experience levels (and the problems, such as penalties, that come with it), the skaters fought hard straight through to the end, and were actually successful in accomplishing the mandate of the D-VAS: to gain experience and learn the sport.

The D-VAS actually got off to an explosive start when debut D-VAS Roadside Bombshell roared through to a 5-0 grand slam (she would pick up the most leads for the D-VAS in the first half). But as Royal City settled in and shook off the early bout jitters, their pack slowly took control: with better timing allowing for quicker transitions, Royal City quickly got back into it and took the lead on a Hot Cross Guns jam. Then tragedy for a D-VAS skater: Raunchy Hextall, making a much anticipated return after a long injury absence, went down on her first jam of the bout with a broken collar bone, a heartbreaking end to the night for the dedicated D-VAS.

Hellcat of Panar was part of a very impressive Royal City jammer rotation. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

With a commanding 99-19 lead at the half, Royal City didn’t look back in the second. Royal City Pivot Mandy Maggotbone lead the way once again for this ever-improving pack, but was aided gamely by Ginger Slaughters, Cannonball Doll and the Archbitch of   Slamterbury. They began to experiment with their jammer rotation late as well, but not before Hot Cross Guns, Lady Gorejess and the Hellcat of Panar had established a dominant lead.  D-VAS Laya Beaton  once again proved to be a powerful and confident skater (who will need to refine her approach to avoid penalty troubles); very fresh D-VAS General Patten, a fantastic skater, also laid down another performance that should guarantee that she jumps the draft queue; and despite a late ejection, blocker Renny Rumble seems game-ready, and was the ToRD future stars’ most effective blocker against a tight pack in the one-sided loss.

CN Power's Candy Crossbones lines up against Sexpos' Ti-Loup. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Game 2: Sexpos 44 vs. CN Power 79**

Fans of flat track roller derby in Toronto could not have asked for a better bout to close out the night than the one provided by Montreal’s Sexpos and ToRD’s CN Power. The Sexpos, Montreal’s B travel team, is a B team by designation only as they are the equal to any league A team in Canada, which they proved on this night giving CN Power everything it could handle before falling behind in the second half of their 35 point loss, the team’s first to a Canadian squad.

The Sexpos set some nearly impenetrable walls in the first half. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

From the opening whistle this bout was everything that flat track roller derby should be. With an extraordinary ref crew that kept the game moving swiftly and fairly, the bout was sometimes blazingly fast, sometimes grindingly slow; it was gritty at times, beautiful at others, but most importantly, it was always smart. With both teams showing respect for their opponents, the bout started off with each side straining to get a sense of the other. CN Power crept out to an early lead that was quickly chipped away. The early head-to-head battles resulted in many lead changes that had an appreciative crowd only growing louder by the second. The jammers from both sides seemed equally matched with CN Power running an experienced rotation anchored by the agile Bambi and the tough Candy Crossbones, while the Sexpos responded with Ti-Loup, Greta Bobo (both coming off of breakout home seasons in MTLRD) and recent transfer Honey Badger. Dyna Hurtcha and Brim Stone also entered the rotation, giving CN Power a physical, potentially defensive advantage at jammer. By the midway point of the half the Sexpos inched ahead 16-9, but hard fought Dyna Hurtcha jam brought CN Power back into it, 16-14. And that’s when Montreal’s pack took over.

Led by excellent pack work from Chasing Amy, Bikini Skills, Ninja Simone and Sparkle  N’ Maim, the Montreal team built formidable back walls on the opening pass that were successful enough to dominate the remainder of the half, allowing their jammers to take most of the leads and baffling the CN Power blockers. It was enough for the Sexpos to pull ahead for a 33-24 lead at the half.

Down by 9 at the half, CN Power solved the Sexpos' back wall and dominated the second half. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

CN Power came out prepared for the second half. Unable to establish their own control of the bout, they decided to disrupt the Sexpos’, and it worked to great effect. Opting to keep it slow and refusing to allow the Sexpos to establish their back walls, Toronto pulled within 4 on the opening jam of the half. Candy Crossbones then took full advantage of a slow-pack power jam (one of only two on the bout) to pick up ten points and give CN Power the lead. Subsequent jams by Bambi and then yet another physical jam by Dyna Hurtcha (in which she scored a big jammer take out on her lead pass) solidified the CN Power lead, 48-33; a lead that would not be overcome. The second half was clearly CN Power’s, holding the Sexpos off the scoreboard for almost half of the second period and only 11 points in the final 30 minute frame (to CN Power’s 55) to gain an impressive 79-44 victory.

This was a smart, defensive, fast-paced bout that was a pleasure to watch. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

For CN Power, the win was more symbolic than anything, but the victory gave the ToRD team a psychological fix that was much needed after tough, one-sided losses to Montreal’s A team, New Skids on the Block, in the last two Quad City Chaos tournaments (2010, 2011). The impressive depth of the Sexpos is indicative of the formidable depth of Montreal’s very impressive league and they were an excellent opponent (tough, skilled and smart) for CN Power as the ToRD all stars begin their WFTDA play and prepare for 2012, which will be their first full season in flat track roller derby’s top league.

* Next up for CN Power will be the Hammer City Eh! Team at the Bunker on October 1st. This will be an all-important WFTDA North Central showdown. The Smoke City Betties will also be in action against the Hamilton Harlots in the first half of the double header. Stay tuned for more details.

(**Disclaimer: The Derby Nerd made his bench managing debut for CN Power**)