Plan B

ToRD Travel Teams Kick off 2014 Season with High Expectations

2014 CN Power

CNP 2014 by ezio+ian

This weekend, CN Power will kick off its 2014 season with an intriguing exhibition game against the non-ToRD members of Team Ontario (the provincial team will actually be calling up some of its “second team” members to fill out the roster). All in all, 21 members of Team Ontario will take part in the bout at the Bunker on Saturday.

The Set-up

2013 was a banner year for Toronto Roller Derby’s CN Power. It was a slow-build sort of season, beginning with some big wins over the likes of Killamazoo and Fort Wayne but some setbacks as well, such as a stunning loss to Rideau Valley Vixens at QCC. In the end, it all seemed for the best as the team slowly rounded into form, culminating in a playoff-clinching two-point victory on the road in Bleeding Heartland (which was followed by a stunning 301-98 deconstruction of a former D1 team in Milwaukee). And then, of course, the run in Salem.

Read Beck Wise's Boston vs. Toronto game recap on Derby News Network (featuring photos by Donalee Eiri)

Click on photo to read Beck Wise’s Boston vs. Toronto playoff recap on Derby News Network (featuring photos by Donalee Eiri)

Having just watched Terminal City go on a surprising run in their own Divisional tournament, Toronto, ranked last in their 10-team playoff field, continued where Vancouver left off and pulled off playoff upsets of their own: a 215-90 take down over Sacred City (Sacramento), and eventually an even bigger upset over the historic Boston Derby Dames 204-198. Even their quarterfinal loss to Atlanta was a stunner; their hard fought 219-171 loss surpassing even the wildest of expectations.

CN Power finished 2013 9-8 in sanctioned play (counting playoffs) and 10-8 overall. They are currently ranked 29th in the WFTDA and 2nd in Canada.

But CN Power’s (and ToRD’s) success also spilled out into other venues as well. Joining Bay Street Bruiser Bench Coach Flyin’ Bryan Killman on Team Canada are five members of CN Power. ToRD’s top travel team also dominates the Team Ontario roster with eight members (one, Bambi, has since retired).

The Roster

Given the incredible success and growth of the team in 2013, arguably the most important aspect of the 2014 roster is the lack of change. 17 of the 20 skaters from the 2013 roster return. In addition, the replacements—all graduates of ToRD’s B-team program—don’t represent a drop off in talent. Ames to Kill (who was a call-up for the playoffs last season), Scarcasm, and national team member Rainbow Fight are all game ready and were essential parts of the on-track leadership core of the Bay Street Bruisers last season. Ames and Scar provide strong pack depth for a team loaded with some of the best blockers in the country (including Team Canada’s Nasher the Smasher and Dyna Hurtcha), while Rainbow Fight is an incredibly talented triple-threat who should be able to fit in wherever she is needed.

CN Power will have to contend with the loss of leading scorer Bambi (seen here against Ohio at QCC 2014). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

CN Power will have to contend with the loss of leading scorer Bambi (seen here jamming against Ohio at QCC 2014). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Rainbow will undoubtedly spend some time with the star, helping to fill out an impressive offensive roster that will need to make up for the retirement of ToRD’s all-time leading scorer Bambi, who retired in the off season. In the playoffs last year Bambi finished with a 50% lead percentage while scoring 258 points on 5.5 points per jam. While Rainbow will be looked upon to pick up some of this slack, the rest of the jammer core remains in place. Fellow Team Canada members Bala Reina (202, 5.3, 45% in the playoffs) and Dusty (126, 3.8, 33%) remain, while the rest of the rotation will be filled out by Motorhead Molly (59, 1.7, 37%), Kookie Doe (who missed the end of the season due to injury) and Candy Crossbones and Dyna Hurtcha (both of whom will probably spend the majority of their time in the pack).

CN Power’s new captains are long-time ToRD vets and former Chicks Ahoy! teammates Nasher the Smasher and Tara Part. Rounding out the pack are playoff standouts BruiseBerry Pie, Renny Rumble and Jubilee, but there is astonishing depth as well as Mega Mouth, Betty Bomber, Panty Hoser, Lady Gagya, Santa Muerte, and Mia Culprit all return for the 2014 season.

After the retirement of long-time Bench Coach His Unholiness the Reverend Ramirez in the off season, former 709 Derby Girls Coach (and currently with the Smoke City Betties) Wade Wheelson joins veteran Bench Manager Sonic Doom on the bench in 2014.

***Catch CN Power in preseason action this Saturday at The Bunker against Team Ontario, in the provincial team’s first ever game. Doors open at 5:00 PM, opening whistle at 6:00 PM. Tickets available online or at various downtown outlets.

2014 Bay Street Bruisers

Photo by Ashlea Wessel (ashleaw.com)

This weekend, while their big sisters are hosting Team Ontario, ToRD’s B-travel team, the Bay Street Bruisers, will be hitting the road and heading to Bloomington, Indiana, to take part in the 4th annual B-Cup tournament featuring eight B-teams, seven representing D1 teams and the 8th from Tri-City (ranked 4th in D2 and on the verge of making the leap into the top division).

The Set-up

Toronto Roller Derby has one of the deepest programs in Canadian roller derby, and a key to that depth is the Bay Street Bruisers. Since taking shape as ToRD’s B-travel team for the 2012 season, the Bruisers have compiled a remarkable 14-3 record. In 2013, the Bruisers continued their success in Canada and began travelling with CN Power south of the border as well. Last year they  notched wins over B-teams from Ohio, Bleeding Heartland, Killamazoo, Brew City and Montreal among others.

The Bruisers defeated the Montreal Sexpos in August. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Bruisers defeated the Montreal Sexpos in August. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Their losses last season came against Rideau Valley’s Slaughter Daughters (who were the top ranked house league team in Canada) and the A-level Misfit Militia, both incredibly talented teams. Arguably, the most important win of the season came against Montreal’s Sexpos (162-101) in a showdown between the nation’s top two B-teams. It was a game loaded with pressure as the Bruisers faced the B-team from Canada’s top league: a B-team that only two years before had nearly beaten CN Power.

The Bruisers finished 2013 with an 8-2 record and are currently the 9th ranked team (and top B-team) in Canada.

The Roster

The Bruisers went through a major off-season transition as a group of new skaters took over the reigns from the first generation. Captained by veteran jammer (and third-year Bruiser) Bellefast and Just Jes (the returning skater formerly known as Aston Martini), the Bruisers do have a returning core of skaters to build around. In the pack, veterans like Robber Blind, Junkie Jenny, Kandy Barr, Biggley Smallz and Misery Mae remain with the team, while Tushy Galore and former captain Chronic return to the fold after single-season hiatuses (they were a dominant duo on the track together in their first stints with the team).

Chronic (left) and Tushy Galore will be reunited on the Bruisers after helping the team win the 2012 RDAC Easterns. (Photo by Neil Gunner).

Chronic (left) and Tushy Galore will be reunited on the Bruisers after helping the team win the 2012 RDAC Easterns. (Photo by Neil Gunner).

As for the offense, jammer titmouse returns for a third season with the Bruisers, while Lexi Con returns after a breakout 2013 run, and Chevy Chase-Her will finally get to see some track time after injuries sidelined her last year. Finally, triple threat Getcha Kicks rounds out the returning skaters.

While there are a handful of new faces to the team, they bring with them a lot of experience. SewWhat? is in her second season with ToRD after stints with various leagues in Australia and the Rollergettes. Joss Wheelin, Android W.K. and LowBlow Palooza are all also second year skaters with ToRD; all three developed through he D-VAS system. ToRD rookies Honey Boom Boom and Sneaky Dee may be in their first year in the league but had successful seasons with the D-VAS in 2013 and had both played with the Rollergettes before that, so bring a lot of track experience with them. And finally, Matchu Beatchu transferred from Halifax in the off season and already has one ToRD houseleague game under her belt.

Flyin’ Bryan Killman, part of Team Canada’s management team, returns for his second year on the Bruisers’ bench.

***The B-Cup tournament will be boutcast on DNN. The Bruisers kick things off against Nashville at 11:30 AM on Saturday. You can view the boutcast schedule here.

Building for the Future: A Personal Reflection on Two Days of Derby (Part 1)

The Ohio Roller Girls came to Southern Ontario for their first ever Canadian road trip. (Photography by Joe Mac)

There has always been something incongruous about watching roller derby at the New Hamburg arena in New Hamburg , Ontario, one of the few venues used by the Tri-City Roller Girls. The town is a quaint, early 19th century community situated along the Nith River just outside of Kitchener/Waterloo. The streets are lined with old brick houses; there is a single-intersection “downtown.” The venue itself is a typical rural Canadian hockey rink of a certain era, with its wooden bleachers and creaky boards. On May 19, 2012, it also happened to be hosting a pretty intense roller derby showdown. The Ohio Roller Girls—who at 12-1 are somewhat of a “big green machine” in the WFTDA’s North Central Region this season—are playing in the first of two major WFTDA showdowns on this, their first road trip through southern Ontario. The Ohio All Stars and the Tri-City Thunder are tied at 20 about ten minutes into the first half. It’s a tense, chippy, hard-hitting and high-level bout that has only heightened the incongruity of the venue. In front of this typical (almost stereotypical) rural-Canadian backdrop there are two modern flat track roller derby teams playing the complicated game at an extremely high level, decked-out in sleek, sporty uniforms with the WFTDA logo attached prominently on the bottom right-hand corner of each team’s jerseys.

The Ohio All Stars are currently ranked 7th in the North Central region, a significant jump from 10th where they started the year. They’ve embarked on the kind of schedule (13 games so far) that will allow them to not only make the WFTDA Regional playoffs but also compete. It’s similar to the schedule they took on in 2011 just to make the Regionals (they played 16 games before the playoffs). Their opponents this weekend, Tri-City and ToRD, are comparative upstarts in the WFTDA attempting to do something that would be a rarity in the young sport: make the playoffs in only their first full year of highly competitive roller derby.

Virtually every jam of the A-team game began as a scrum start.

Ohio is an interesting model, and they have a history not unlike those of both Tri-City and ToRD. Formed in 2005, Ohio Roller Girls was originally a four-team houseleague that played a regular season, had playoffs and concluded with a championship bout. Starting in 2006 with the rise of inter-league play, the league began to shift its focus to the competitive travel team model. By 2009 they restructured the league to have “A” and “B” travel teams exclusively to allow a focus on WFTDA rankings. Both ToRD and Tri City began with the similar houseleague model. Only a year after its founding, Toronto, in 2007, embarked on an ambitious six-team houseleague that would stretch players in terms of resources and talent. Within two years, two of those first six teams were contracted from houseleague play leaving a four-team league in its stead. This was also the time when the league created CN Power, it’s eventual WFTDA travel team (following travel teams created in Montreal and Hamilton). Tri-City, which had a two-team houseleague (eventually increased to three), started the Thunder at a similar time.

Both models offer interesting contrasts. Ohio travelled this weekend with only 20 skaters to stretch over the four games they would play (two B-team and two A-team showdowns), an amazing show of endurance and game-preparedness. That togetherness is apparent against Tri-City. The Thunder are relentless in the first half, but Ohio is completely unfazed and they lead 79-48 at the break.

Ohio’s Gang Green defeated Tri-City’s PLan B 248-49.

This is where a little disclosure is necessary: while I’m enthralled over the A-team matchup (CN Power will be facing off against this very team tomorrow in what will be its most important game of the season and perhaps in the team’s history), I’ve also become extremely nervous about the B-team showdown in Toronto. Earlier in the evening, Ohio’s B-team, Gang Green, with a roster filled out by members of the A-team, dismantled Tri-City’s Plan B (a newly formed B team playing in its second game). The final score was 248-49. The next day the team I coach, the Bay Street Bruisers, will be taking this team on in our first game ever. While the CN Power vs. Ohio showdown may be the important showdown in the present, looking forward, the development of a B team may prove to be the most important development in ToRD’s competitive future.

****Tomorrow: “Building for the Future: A Personal Reflection on Two Days of Derby (Party 2)”