Death Track Dolls 115 vs. Smoke City Betties 62
Two teams desperate for a win and looking to get their seasons back on track clashed at the Hangar on Saturday night; and with nothing left to lose and everything to gain, both teams left it all on the track. Key players on both sides stepped up, and supporting players emerged as potential leaders, and after a hard fought back and forth that for the second week in a row had the crowd appreciatively in it for the long haul, the Death Track Dolls prevailed for their first win of the season, leaving a bruised but not battered Smoke City Betties—confidence restored—left to build off of what was perhaps the team’s best bout in two years.
There were a lot of stories to follow in this one; from the official return of retired player Slaughter Lauder to the Betties (this time running the bench with rookie Wolverina) to a couple players making impressive bouting debuts (Rug Burn for the Betties, Santilly In Yo’ Face for the Dolls, both graduates of the D-VAS program); aside from the action off the track, there was a lot to think about on it as well. The Betties got off to a dream start in this one, tight back walls from Betties’ vets Pretty Peeved and Mia Culprit combined with precision jammer take outs by BruiseBerry Pie
and slick jamming from Memphis Kitty saw the Betties fly out of the gates and take a 6-0 lead. But the Dolls didn’t panic and a Land Shark 4-and-done a few jams later gave the Dolls their first lead of the bout. But the Betties were unfazed. Inspiring her teammates, the impressive rookie Rug Burn picked up lead jammer on the first jam of her career. The first half of the period was a scrappy back-and-forth affair, but some early penalty troubles for Bruise and some solid jamming from the Dolls’ all-star duo of Sharky and Betty Bomber, had the Dolls up 6 thirteen minutes in.
Not to be outdone by her rookie counterpart, it didn’t take Dolls’ rookie Santilly In Yo’ Face long to assert her presence in the discussion of rookie of the year as well. Aided by some great one-on-one work from Lucid Lou on Bettie’s jammer titmouse, it was a huge 15 point jam for the fearless rookie that finally blew this bout wide open, giving the Dolls the biggest lead of the half, 35-14, and leading off a series of jams where the Dolls would threaten to pull away. But the Betties, showing a calmness on the bench and a resolve on the track that had not been seen in the opener, would not be pushed around and some great power-kill defence and timely jamming of their own (concluding with a Memphis Kitty power jam) had them clearly back into it, down 48-27 at the half.
The veteran presence of the Dolls pivots (including Sinead O’Clobber, who had a breakout bout) allowed the Dolls to remain calm and weather the pushback. While the Betties never seemed out of it by any means, they just couldn’t wrestle away the momentum from the Dolls and build any sort of sustained comeback. But they were still frustrating their opposition. BruiseBerry continues her vicious assault on ToRD since transferring to the league in the off season, and after just a so-so return, the rust has fully fallen off of Mia Culprit and she had a scrappy and altogether effective bout, getting under the skin of her opponents and providing some solid blocking. One such contentious jam actually left Dolls’ key jammer Land Shark fuming on the bench, which allowed Santilly more track time to hone her skills. Her and Rug Burn’s impressive debuts tonight along with Chicks’ rookie jammer Kookie Doe, represent the most impressive rookie-jammer-class possibly since the first season of ToRD(when the likes of Dust Bunny, Candy Crossbones and retired Bettie Jewel Kicker distanced themselves from the pack). Despite the increasingly deep Betties’ jammer lineup (a formidable foursome now with Kitty, Burn and titmouse joined by Tropic Thunder), the Dolls outpaced them in this one, just managing to pull away at the very end for an important 53 point victory.
While both teams looked far better than their season debuts there is still some work to be done. All of ToRD’s hometeams seem to be developing, strategically, into CN Power modelled teams, which is a good thing for the league, as the teams are constantly testing strategies off of each other. While power kill defences were mostly excellent from both sides, power jams were not fully taken advantage of. As parity comes slowly to ToRD, and there is less and less left separating the teams, the play of special teams is going to become essential: and while the Dolls especially were adept at setting traps, they had trouble holding them (not to take anything away from players like Sin D Drop Her of the Betties and Doll Jubilee who seemed especially competent at fighting their ways out of traps). For the Betties, the key will be to continue to build on the solid foundation that finally seems to have settled in. In terms of individual talent, there is very little (if anything) separating the Dolls and the Betties, teamwork, buying into systems and honing strategies is the only difference.
Next up for all of the ToRD hometeams is Montreal’s fourth annual Beast of the East, featuring the top sixteen eastern Canadian hometeams in a two-day, twenty-eight-bout tournament. All should be in mid-season form, and therefore, are expecting to do well. Keep an eye out for upcoming features tied into BOE 2011 including an updated eastern Canadian power rankings, a comprehensive look at the history of the Beast, and, of course, a preview for the 2011 event.