Hurlin Wall

Gores cap off another unbeaten regular season with win over Betties

The Gores were pushed early by the Betties who had their best bout of the season. (Photography by Neil Gunner)

Smoke City Betties 59 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 130

Despite three bouts in the Greater Toronto Area last night, the Hangar was packed, the crowd eager to see the Gore-Gore Rollergirls and Smoke City Betties square off in their final bout of the regular season. The Gores were all but assured of not only a spot in the playoffs, but of a bye directly to Battle for the Boot 5. For the Betties, the end of another losing season was on the horizon, but this seemed to inspire them to pull out a strong performance against the defending champs, and in the end, despite a score line that read a 71 point victory for the Gores (their twelfth in a row), the Betties were able to skate away knowing they’d brought the fight to the champs, managing to put together, arguably, their best bout of the season.

Fast, physical packs defined the bout.

Things started off very well for the Betties, with some strong walls and solid jamming to keep things close early on. Leads were hard to get but even harder to hold as the jammers often exited their initial passes together. The Betties seem to have taken an important step forward: they’ve bought into the systems that are necessary to play to be successful, and they’ve settled nicely into their roles on the track. Particularly in the early going, and then periodically throughout, the Betties seemed to be playing the exact same game—fast, tight packs, a short jammer rotation–but the Gores, with their experience, just managed to keep a step or two ahead. There’d been whispers of a new-look Gores team—some potential surprises—and at one point, with the Gores threatening to pull away (up 40-5 nearing the midway point), it looked like the fans might see something interesting happen, but big pickups from BruiseBerry Pie and Memphis Kitty on consecutive power jams (despite some excellent power kill work by the Gores) narrowed the lead to 40-23, and necessitated some strong play from the Gores to keep the Betties in check.

Hurlin Wall' continued her role as jammer hunter with some hard blocking on Betties' jammer Sail Her Poon.

The story for the Betties early on was the exceptional play of both BruiseBerry Pie and Memphis Kitty, who stepped up in a big way. Memphis Kitty has been having an excellent season for the Betties, shining first against the Death Track Dolls and then in this one; she fought for every inch of track and forced some timely calls by the Gores jammers. She seemed to relish the opportunity to face familiar opponents in Bambi and Dust Bunny. Bruise also had a great night jamming, and is developing into a triple threat for the Betties, excelling tonight especially at pivot (settling into a more organizational role) and with the star (where she was strong both strategically, and physically), and had some hard-fought battles with Hurlin’ Wall in the early going. The Gores finished the half solidly, but the Betties seemed unperturbed and remained well within reach 60-33 at the half.

Brim Stone was back jamming for the Gores.

As the Gores did increase their lead, some of that expected experimentation began. Looking to add depth to their jammer rotation, Bambi and Dust Bunny did pack duty for much of the second half allowing Brim Stone to lead rookie Lulu Cthulu and second year player Pinky Violence in the offence. Also, Aston Martini donned the stripe to lead the pack and rookie Wheely Nasty also gave pivoting a chance, part of another big night for ToRD rookies (in a season that is turning out to be the year of thre rookie). Emma Dilemma was solid in the pack for the Gores, while Misery Mae was a big part of the Betties defence playing a physical game, but reeling it in defensively when needed. The Betties kept hanging around, keeping the Gores in their sights, and were well within reach, down only 67-49 ten minutes into the second half.

Platinum Bomb was just one of the skaters playing multiple roles.

The Betties continue to tinker with things as well; with Bruise taking on more of a role jamming, Tropic Thunder took on a larger role in pack. Similarly, having jammers titmouse and Platinum Bomb at their disposal allowed Memphis Kitty to take up the stripe and lead the packs. While the Betties managed to hang on until late in this one, the experienced Gores were eventually able to pull away. As with the bout against the Dolls (where the Betties also drifted late), the Betties could not sustain the momentum long enough to overtake their opponents. Nonetheless, having their best showing against the Gores in the last three bouts—and maintaining a consistent upward growth throughout the season—should allow the Betties to go confidently into the off season knowing that they have finally turned a crucial corner on the road back to competitiveness. They’ve got the right mix of experience and talent now; it’s just a matter of bringing it all together. For the Gores, the victory secures a trip to the June 25th championship and a chance to defend the Boot.

* The Toronto Junior Roller Derby league held its inaugural bout to kick off the double header, hosting New Hampshire’s Mad Missfits; stay tuned for a full recap later this week.

* Both games were boutcast live by the ToRD TV team via Canuck Derby TV. You can watch the archived boutcasts here. Layer9 captured it all track side in HD.

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.

Power kills the ‘Zoo; DVAS slay the Sisters

CN Power hosted Michigan's Killamazoo Derby Darlins at a packed Hangar.

Killamazoo Derby Darlins 35  vs. CN Power 197

It was a pink-clad and energized sell-out crowd at the Hangar that greeted the Killamazoo Derby Darlins as they made their first foray north of the border. And it was a pink clad, hyped up roller derby team that welcomed them to Canadian roller derby. Recently promoted to full WFTDA status, Killamazoo looked shaky early on as they adjusted to the slick Hangar floors, and after being overwhelmed in the first ten minutes, never really seemed to get back into it, as CN Power skated away with a lopsided 162 point victory.

FIRST HALF

The jammer trio of Land Shark (pictured), Candy Crossbones and Defecaitlin was dominant.

Having lost four bouts in a row to end 2010, CN Power rejigged the lineup, found a new focus and purpose, and put a renewed effort into training and preparation: It paid off early. After the opening jam ended in a 0-0 deadlock, Defecaitilin got CN Power on the board for their first lead of the bout and it was a lead they would not relent.  Killamazoo had no answers early on for the sustained ToRD attack led by the strong jamming trio of Land Shark, Defecaitlin, and Candy Crossbones (who led the bout in scoring with 78 points in 10 efficient jams). ToRD’s jammers managed an impressive 83% overall lead percentage (led by Land Shark’s 87%), keeping a lot of the decision-making in their own hands.

While at times ToRD seemed thrown off by the loose, stretched packs (and did suffer some discipline problems that resulted in a fair number of penalties), Dyna Hurtcha, Brim Stone and Dolly Destructo showed a great track awareness, assisting with timely offensive blocks when their jammers were stuck against Killamazoo pivots at the front.  But for the most part, the divided blockers made easy pickings for the ToRD jammers who could not be beaten one-on-one. A much needed timeout 9 minutes in seemed to settle down the Michigan skaters and in the following jam were able to put up their first points of the bout. Nonetheless, mid way through the half, the visitors faced a 56-4 deficit.

Lady Hawk (blocking Defecaitlin) had a strong bout for Killamazoo.

There were moments of great individual effort from the Killamazoo skaters; Darlin triple threat Javelin had a strong bout, leading her team in blocks (10), and despite being trapped behind a back wall at one point on a well-executed Toronto power jam, played some brilliant one-on-one defense on the jammer to limit the damage. Even with some big hitters of their own, the Killamazoo skaters got increasingly frustrated by the heavy hits doled out by the likes of Jubilee, Nasher the Smasher and Tara Part. Despite the ability in flat track roller derby to make up a lot of ground in a short amount of time, CN Power seemed in total control of this one, building a 112-10 lead heading into the half.

SECOND HALF

CN Power played a textbook flat track roller derby bout, strategically sound and physically prepared. Dictating their style of play, ToRD’s pivots—co-captain Brim Stone and the Chicks Ahoy! trio of Rebel Rock-It, Mega Mouth and Tara Part—controlled the pace and, when possible, the formations of the packs; whether walling up along turns to open an outside lane for Land Shark, or splitting an unfocused pack to allow Defecaitlin to deke her way through, Toronto’s packs were working well for their jammers. To their credit, Killamazoo never stopped battling and were able to slow CN Power’s point production late in the game. Lady Hawk had a strong second half for the ‘Zoo delivering solid blocks in the pack and donning the star for her team as well. Rosie Ferocious took advantage of a rare Killamazoo power jam to pick up 9 points in The Darlins’ biggest jam of the night (Sparkills had an 8 pointer to open the second-half scoring for Killamazoo). But with 10 minutes left in the game, and the fans beginning to trickle out of the Hangar on an increasingly snowy evening, CN Power was cruising, up 174-31.

CN Power rookie Hurlin' Wall lines up Killamazoo jammer Javelin.

Killamazoo’s Yoga Nagettit starting taking out her frustrations on the track late in the second half, keeping things physical and scoring a solid jammer take out on Land Shark. But it was Hurlin’ Wall, CN Power’s lone rookie in the lineup, who took over the pack for Toronto in the second half, leaving it all in the track with some ferocious hits and strong positional blocking. After also looking impressive in her hometeam opener, it doesn’t seem like we’ll have to worry about a sophomore slump for Hurlin. Dyna Hurthca joined the jammer rotation in the second half, adding a physical component to CN Power’s offense, propelling them to a 197-35 victory.

After an inconsistent 2010, CN Power looks reenergized and refocused in 2011. The continuity of a set roster has visibly aided the pack awareness, and more than ever, CN Power looks like a unified front. With significantly stiffer competition coming up in next month’s Quad City Chaos, ToRD’s all stars can’t spend too much time celebrating this one. But the confidence gained from this victory, and knowing  that they can pull off a WFTDA calibre bout, will only help CN Power moving forward.

TEAM STATS

Stat CN Power Derby Darlins
Margin of Victory/Loss +162 -162
Lead Jammer Percentage 83% 14%
Points Per Jam 4.93 .88
Total Blocks (Knockdowns) 56 (19) 65 (8)
Hits on Jammer (Jammer knockdowns) 10 (15) 41 (7)
Assists (including offensive blocks) 49 25
Minor Penalties (Major penalties) 43 (15) 48 (16)

BLOCKER STATS LEADERS

Stat (Minimum 7 jams) CN Power Derby Darlins
Blocks (Knockdowns) Nasher  8 (3 with 5) Javelin 10 (Miss B. 2)
Jammer hits (Jammer knockdowns) 4 with 2 (Tara/Dyna 4) Javelin 8 (Miss B. 2)
Assists (including offensive blocks) Dyna/Rebel  8 Sparkills  6
Blocker +/- Jubilee +108 Yoga Negattit -11
Pivot +/- Brim Stone +70 Noam Stompsky -25
Total +/- Jubilee +108 Sparkills -34
Minor Penalties (Major penalties) Rebel 6 (Nasher/Dyna 3) Javelin 8 (Ivanna / Beverly 3)

JAMMER STATS LEADERS

Stat (Minimum 5 jams) CN Power Derby Darlins
Points Candy  78 Rosie Ferocious 9
Points Per Jam Candy  7.8 Rosie Ferocious 1.5
Jammer +/- Candy  +72 Rosie Ferocious -5
Lead % Land Shark 87% Rosie Ferocious 20%
Jam % Land Shark 38% Lady Hawk/Beverly 17%

Zebra Mafia: Penny Whistler (Head Ref), Parking Lot (Assistant Head Ref), D-Minus (HCRG), Hot Carl (HCRG), R’Effin Adorable, Trickless Magician (Killamazoo), Ref-ormed Rebel (FCDG).

D-VAS (ToRD) 71 vs. Sister Slag (NCRD) 38

The opening bout of the double header featured ToRD’s future stars, the D-VAS, hosting Nickel City’s Sister Slag. Lead by bench managers Raunchy Hextall and retired CN Power jammer Lunchbox, the 2011 D-VAS are beginning a journey that could eventually see these fresh meat drafted onto one of ToRD’s four hometeams. Many of these players were skating in their debuts, which allowed ToRD’s fans (and hometeam captains with an eye for the future), the first look at the next crop of Toronto talent. It’s going to become increasingly more difficult to gain a position on one of the Toronto rosters, and this bouting experience is integral in the development of these players.

Smashley of Sister Slag lines up against the D-VAS' Hellbat (photo by Joe Mac)

For Nickel City, this bout represented the second foray south after 2010’s bout against Forest City’s Luscious Lunch Ladies. The skaters of Sister Slag, the league’s travel team, are picking up necessary experience on these trips to bring back to their developing league (which consists of two hometeams: The Sudbetties and Smelter Skelter). This bout was the first of a home and home between these two teams that will be reciprocated with a visit by the D-VAS later in the year.

With Low Ride Her on the bench nursing an injury, Sister Slag was missing an essential component of their team. A competitor in the all star game at Toronto’s Blood & Thunder Training Camp, she could have been a difference maker in this one. What this gap did allow, was for other skaters to step up and lead their team. Smelter Skelter captain Smashley lead the offense for Sister Slag with 16 points, joining Wheels of Misfortune in going toe-to-toe with each of the D-VAS solid crop of developing jammers. The comparative experience of the remaining D-VAS from last year’s squad was evident on the track. Laya Beaton (10 blocks, 5 assists) and Skinned Knee Crosby (9 blocks) were strong up front for the DVAS, with Laya taking her turns with the star as well. Sister Slag captain Dirt Devil was a solid leader for her team on the track, pivoting with confidence.

The bout was tight in the early going, with the D-VAS unable to hold leads. Some untimely Sudbury penalties and another D-VAS vet, Krash, may have been the difference in the end. Krash skated well all bout and gained confidence with her jamming as the game wore on. Keri Daway (who led the DVAS with 32 points and a 100% lead percentage in 6 jams) and Hellbat provided the depth at jammer that allowed the D-VAS to pull away with a 71-38 victory.

* Keep an eye on ToRD.TV for a video recap and layer9’s video archive of the bout. *

And finally, for your viewing pleasure: After the bout, a fan shot this video on the 101 TTC bus that runs from The Hangar to the Downsview subway station. Only roller derby could inspire a bus full of people to have a sing-along (to Queen at that). And to think they almost cut this route.

2010 ToRD All-NERD TEAM (Part 2): THE ROOKIE LINE

Gores' Hurlin' Wall 2010 Rookie of the Year.

THE 2010 ROOKIE CLASS

The 2010 rookie class is arguably the top rookie class so far in ToRD’s brief history. But with the re-emergence of the DVAS as an organized bouting squad of undrafted players and the growing popularity of Toronto Junior Roller Derby, the drafts are only going to get stronger and stronger every season.

That being said, putting together only a single line of rookies was extraordinarily difficult. But here it is, the 2010 All-Nerd Rookie Line:

PIVOT

Pivot: Sail Her Poon (Smoke City Betties)

While no Smoke City Betties made my starting 14, the rookie line—for obvious reasons—is full of Betties. With an overwhelming amount of rookies, the Betties’ first year skaters had no choice but to take on big roles both off and on the track. No skater epitomized this more than Sail Her Poon.

A rookie captain, Sail Her Poon showed comfort and poise on the track well beyond her experience. Skating in 42% of the Betties’ jams this season, Poon  would  spread that playing time across all three positions on the track. Despite being a rookie on an outmatched team, she managed to pick up the first JQ points of her career (finishing top ten in Jam %, points and points per jam). In the end, she split her time in the pack and jamming almost perfectly 50-50. This complete-track awareness is why Poon is wearing the stripe on the Rookie Line.

Blocker: Marmighty (Chicks Ahoy!)

BLOCKERS

The Gore-Gore Rollergirls’ Hurlin’ Wall was the only rookie to make the Starting 14, so it shouldn’t be any surprise to see her here. A strong positional jammer whose timing got better as the season went on, Hurlin has the athleticism and track sense to be a complete pack player. The sole rookie on the Chicks Ahoy! this year, Marmighty, also makes the cut. Marmighty got a crash course in derby on a Chicks squad loaded with veterans and it showed in her play. Starting off strong positionally, she finished a +/- of+91, and it didn’t take the New Zealand import long to get confident with her physical game either, and finished third

Blocker: Grim Avenger (Betties)

on the Chicks in blocks and fourth in knockdowns; able to muscle her way into prominence on a stacked lineup. Lastly, another member of the Betties’ rookie class, Grim Avenger. From the opening bout (in which she skated 15 of her teams’ 37 jams) Grim was expected to play a big role in the Betties pack: she played up to those expectations. By the final bout of the regular season she was wearing the stripe and leading packs (she would be an integral part of the Betties’ strong playoff performance against the Gores as well).

Jammer: Tropic Thunder (Betties)

JAMMER

ToRD has developed into a tough league to be a rookie jammer in. The most that you can ask for is for her to endure and, hopefully, keep getting up. Tropic Thunder accomplished that and more for the Betties this year. From her breakout performance at the Fresh Meat Scrimmage during last year’s off season to the triple-threat role she played in the opening bout, Tropic Thunder became an integral part of the Betties’ attack by the end of the season and ended up jamming 25% of her teams’ jams on the season. She also led her team in scoring in the Betties’ final two regular season bouts of 2010. She is the third Bettie on this team and one of many who form the solid foundation for the Betties’ future.

Recap the The All-Nerd Starting 14 here.

Upcoming: Saturday, final post of 2010. A few favourite photos and off-track highlights.