Rainbow Fight

Dolls and Chicks Win Big on Opening Night of ToRD’s 2017 Season

crowd-shot-season-opener

There was an energetic crowd at the Bunker for Toronto Roller Derby’s 2017 season opener. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Toronto Roller Derby kicked off its second decade last night in front of a packed track at the Bunker. With revamped rosters and many new faces on the league’s four home teams, there were a lot of questions coming into the season opener and although the games lacked the parity seen in many of last year’s regular season showdowns, all four teams gave something for their fans to cheer about.

Death Track Dolls 247 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 105

It was the 16th of March in 2014 when Rainbow Fight last strapped on the quads in a Toronto Roller Derby game. The sanctioned season opener between the ToRD All Stars and the Killamazoo Derby Darlins was Fight’s WFTDA debut and despite loads of expectations, she did not disappoint. Joining a deep jammer rotation that had made waves in the 2013 Division 1 WFTDA playoffs, Rainbow led the way in scoring with 110 points over the course of six jams, part of an overwhelming ToRD attack, but then what seemed a simple hit in a hard-hitting affair changed everything.

rainbow-returns

Rainbow Fight had a big impact in her return to ToRD after a two-year absence. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Diagnosis: lacerated kidney. It would be more than a year before Rainbow would return to the track, this time back with her hometown league, St. John’s 709 Derby Girls. And on Saturday night, the long road back continued when she joined a rebuilt Death Track Dolls team that she had last laced up for in a record-setting 2013 season. Although she saw limited action with the star in the season opener, she was a force in the pack and part of a well-rounded Dolls performance that caught many by surprise with what turned out to be a one-sided victory over a Gore-Gore Rollergirls team that they had not beaten in two years.

The Gores actually got out to a quick start, opening up an early lead of 14-5 that they built to 18-9 before a topsy-turvy fifth jam in which the teams traded jammer penalties, and saw Dolls’ rookie jammer (but former Vipers’ standout) Scrappy pick up 10 points to help her team take its first lead. The teams continued to match each other blow-for-blow over the next few jams with the Dolls opening up a slight 14-point gap. The Gores took their first timeout of the game, and it sparked something in the team as veteran-jammer Beaver Mansbridge followed up the break with a 19-point jam that saw the Gores retake the lead 52-48.

arg-v-gores

Dolls rookie ARRRguile looks to open a lane held by Gores Commander Will Wrecker and Santa Muerte. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The lead, however, would last precisely one jam. And a few minutes later, with the Dolls up 10 and the Gores threatening, Rainbow Fight donned the star for the first time, picking up a casual 24 points (in part due to some excellent blocking—this was not a powerjam) to give the Dolls the biggest lead of the game (90-56) and one that they would not relent the rest of the way.

The Dolls dominated lead-jammer status in the first half 12-5 (extending that to 23-12 overall) which forced the Gores into numerous star-pass scrambles (the Dolls did a better job of separating the pivot and jammer in the second half). However, the game was truly put away over the first seven jams after the break: leading 105-61 at halftime, the Dolls dominated the Gores over that opening stretch, outscoring them 56-11 and effectively putting the game out of reach.

With significant turnover in the off-season, the Gores were experimenting with their jammer rotation using Royal City transfer Thighlight of Your Life (22 points and 40% lead percentage) and Vipers graduate Mina Von Tease (12, 30%) significantly, but got their most steady performances from the returning jammers Beaver Mansbridge (33, 50%) and Murdercat! (30, 33%). The pack was led by veterans Santa Muerte (beginning her eighth season with the Gores), Viktory Lapp, and Stabbey Road, but also featured great play from improving Tara Bush and from Dolls’ off-season transfer Commander Will Wrecker, who delivered a number of heavy shoulder hits to her former Dolls teammates. They also got some solid play from Durham Region transfers Psycho Magnet and Hatin’ McWrath.

The Dolls, meanwhile, were led offensively by Holly Rocket (78 points, 75% lead percentage), with scoring spread out evenly among the other members of the rotation: Scrappy (35, 73%), Bat Ma’am (34, 50%), and in quality (but limited action), Rainbow Fight (49, 100%) and Ellen Rage (45, 60%). The pack has remained mostly unchanged from 2016 anchored by the aforementioned Rainbow Fight but also veterans DaSilva, Wheatabitch, Getcha Kicks, and Dawson (back for her Doll-record ninth season) but bolstered significantly by off-season transfers Kate Silver (from Mad Rollin’ Dolls) and Candy Crunch (Montreal).

Smoke City Bandits 94 vs. Chicks Ahoy! 266

In the biggest off-season change in the league, the Smoke City Betties (formed pre-ToRD in 2006, and one of the first flat track roller derby teams in Canada) changed their name (but not their look), debuting as a rebranded Smoke City Bandits at the season opener. Meanwhile, the team that saw the least off-season turnover, the defending champion Chicks Ahoy!, picked up exactly where they left off after last year’s championship run. And while the Chicks dominated the first three quarters of the matchup, the Bandits showed that they could still be a team to watch in 2017 as they refused to quit and roared back in the end, outscoring the champs over the final fifteen minutes of the game avoiding what was beginning to look like a record-setting win for the Chicks.

tits-fiure-neil

Bandits jammer titmouse tries to evade a hit from Francesca Fiure. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Despite the plethora of new faces, it was cagey 8-year veteran titmouse who got things started for the Bandits (returning to the jammer rotation after a year spent in the pack), picking up a quick 3 points to give her team an early lead. However, it was another veteran, twelfth-year skater Boxcar, who got the Chicks on the board with a (fitting) 12-point jam that gave the Chicks the only lead they’d need.

It was steading sailing for the Chicks over the next 45 minutes or so, holding the Bandits scoreless over streaks of seven jams and then four jams twice on their way to a 126-30 halftime lead. One thing to note, however, was how clean the game was in terms of penalties with the Chicks picking up only four and the Bandits picking up seven (with two being to jammers resulting in 12-point and then 18-point jams), resulting in a fast-paced and quickly played opening thirty.

Riding a very experienced jammer rotation (unchanged over last year’s championship run) and some solid pack work, the Chicks looked to be every bit in championship form to kick off the second half, going on a thoroughly dominant thirteen-jam run in which they outscored the Bandits 94-2, building an incredible 220-32 lead.

However, it was then that things changed.

The Bandits picked up the team’s first power jam midway through the half and once again it was veteran titmouse who put down 9 points in her team’s biggest jam of the game. And suddenly, the Bandits were rolling.

Looking more and more together in the pack, Smoke City held the Chicks scoreless for six straight after the power jam, while wracking up 31 of their own and although they couldn’t contain the Chicks the rest of they way, the Bandits continued their best sustained play of the game straight through to the end, outscoring the champs 62-46 over that stretch (accounting for two-thirds of their total points).

box-blow-neil

Chicks jammer Boxcar, caught up in a swarm of skaters, scored 72 points on a 100% lead percentage. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

For the most part, both teams stuck to a pretty tight four-jammer rotation, and because of the lack of penalties in the first half, the same jammers faced off throughout the first thirty. Rookie Killa HurtZ (28 points, 45% lead percentage) had a strong debut for the Bandits, going toe-to-toe with 2016 league leading scorer Monster Muffin (72, 58%), who was held to a 50% lead percentage in the first half. Boxcar (72, 100%) had the best game among the jammers, getting lead nine-straight times before shifting into the pack and finishing with an impressive 6 points per jam average. Second-year skater Banshee (53, 58%) was third in team scoring with Chicks scoring rounded out by Sleeper Hold (49, 46%). Along with Killa HurtZ  and titmouse (26, 62%) the Bandits offence was anchored by Royal City transfer Brawnson (27, 33%) who had an impressive debut. After a slow start, long-serving veteran (but only second-year jammer) Genuine Risk rounded out the scoring, picking up 11 points in the second half.

While both teams are still dealing with pre-season injuries to key skaters, the deep Chicks pack was led by current longest-serving Chick Robber Blind and anchored by the incredible pack play of Rosemary’s Rabies (who despite an already long career still seems to get better and better every season), Vag Lightning, Annguard, Francesca Fiure and returnee Sammy Destruction (formerly known as Hyena Koffinkat), who also put up 21 points in limited action with the star.

The Bandits were also led by a core of veterans around whom the team is rebuilding its pack: Morton, Jamm’herhead Shark, Lowblow Palooza, Fight and Anne Bulance were all key contributors, while Rideau Valley transfer pivot Jessica Rabid led the way for the newcomers.

Nerd Glasses

*The game was broadcast by RogersTV Check local listings for replays.

*Next up for all four teams is a February 11th double header that will see the Dolls and Chicks square off for first place, and the Bandits and the Gores go for their first win of the season.

* All stats are unofficial.

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Dolls and Gores Draw First Blood in ToRD 2013 House League Opener

The Dolls ended a six-year losing streak against the Chicks in the home opener. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Dolls ended a six-year losing streak against the Chicks in the home opener. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Six years, six regular season losses, three playoff defeats—that is the dominance that Chicks Ahoy! has had over the Death Track Dolls in Toronto Roller Derby’s first six seasons. And it all ended on Saturday night.

In front of a packed house, ToRD kicked off its sixth season with a doubleheader featuring all four Toronto house league teams. In the opener, years of frustration finally turned into a night of celebration as a deep, balanced Dolls team took a 79-point victory over the defending champions, signaling a shift in power in the league. While the Smoke City Betties ended their long losing streak over the Gore-Gore Rollergirls last season, they were not able to summon the same kind of performance in the opener, as the Gores played simple, well-controlled derby on their way to a 57 point win that declared that this Gores team may not be due for as major a rebuild as some thought.

Jammer Bellefast and Dolls blockers approach a Chicks wall of Biggley Smallz and Dyna Hurtcha. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Jammer Bellefast and Dolls blockers approach a Chicks wall of Biggley Smallz, Dyna Hurtcha and Robber Blind. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Death Track Dolls 191 vs. Chicks Ahoy! 112

The Dolls burst out of the gate, taking the first two lead jammer statuses (going to Bellefast and Getcha Kicks) before Chicks’ rookie Chevy Chase Her broke the streak, only to find herself sent to the penalty box for a low block. Scrappy jammer Santilly In Yo Face did her best despite a tough penalty kill led by Dyna Hurtcha, pulling the Dolls ahead by 10 points. Two jams later the Dolls found themselves on a second power jam, this time skated by Bellefast. Early on, the Dolls were pounding on the Chicks, pulling ahead substantially, 41-8, only 8 minutes into the half.

Roadside BombShel was in the midst of a strong game jamming before being seriously injured in the second half. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Roadside BombShel was in the midst of a strong game jamming before being seriously injured in the second half. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Chicks came alive at this point as the Dolls began to run into penalty troubles. The pushback was led by a Roadside BombShel skated power jam with only two Dolls blockers (Ames to Kill and Scacasm)on the track. With Getcha Kicks running into serious penalty issues midway through the half—and her blocker teammates following suit—the Chicks roared back and even took over the lead, 49-47, with 12 minutes to play in the period. Roadside—who converted back to jamming after a solid season of blocking in 2012—and Chevy Chase Her paced the offense, with Chevy scoring 24 points on a power jam to pad the lead. But as this Chicks team rebuilds, there will be ups and downs, and they weren’t able to maintain their lead.

Once the Dolls overcame their penalty issues and settled into the game, they were eventually able to chip away at that lead and virtually neutralized the Chicks offense for the final 10 minutes of the half, taking a 111-71 lead at the break.

Chicks veteran Kookie Doe and Dolls rooke transfer Rainbow Fight battle in the second. Both had strong games. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Chicks veteran Kookie Doe and Dolls rooke transfer Rainbow Fight battle in the second half. Both had strong games. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Dolls depth at jammer, with Bellefast, Getcha Kicks, Santilly and rookie transfer Rainbow Fight providing a variety of styles and approaches, kept the Chicks defense from any sort of consistency, and the Dolls packs had the same sort of dominant depth with a few solid lines led by Ames and Scarcasm on one side and Speedin Hawking and Sinead O’Clobber on the other. While co captains Dyna Hurtcha and Kookie Doe along with a strong veteran leadership from Biggley Smallz, Robber Blind and Furious Georgia (who continued her strong offensive play) held a young team together, it was that punishing Dolls pack work that led to a tragedy on the track.

Enjoying one of the games of her career (she was second in scoring on the Chicks with 19 points at half), Roadside suffered a tragic major leg break near the midway point of the second half. When the teams returned to action after a lengthy break, the Chicks couldn’t find the momentum to claw back, and even with Dyna Hurtcha taking a jam and Kookie Doe wearing the star more, managed only 18 points in the second half of the period, suffering their first loss to the Dolls ever and their first ToRD loss of any kind in two years.

Gores rookie Taranasaurus Rex fights a Betties three-wall. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Gores rookie Taranosaurus Rex fights a Betties three-wall. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Smoke City Betties 110 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 167

After an inconsistent, but promising 2012, the Smoke City Betties entered the season with high expectations. The Gores, after slowly losing a massive chunk of a roster that had taken part in every single Battle For the Boot, came into this season with much more muted expectations. From the opening whistle to the last, this Gores team showed that it doesn’t plan to rebuild this year. They made it quite clear that they plan on competing in 2013.

Two rookies, Gore jammer Lexi Con and Betties transfer Tomy Knockers duel at the front of the pack. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Two rookies, Gore jammer Lexi Con and Betties transfer Tomy Knockers duel at the front of the pack. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Co-captain Santa Muerte kicked things off jamming, taking 3 points before passing the star to one of many impressive rookies on the night, Lexi Con, who immediately made her presence known.  The Betties packs looked loose early on, and they seemed a little caught off guard by the explosive Goes start and found themselves deep in a hole, down 20-6, 8 minutes in to he game. For a team that had relied so much on a few key jammers throughout the years, the Gores showed a variety of skaters in that position last night, led by Lexi Con but also veteran blocker Foxy Sinatra, whose explosive style was also hard to contain and co captain Kandy Barr.  R.I.Pink continued her progress with the star and a few promising rookies, Taranosaurus Rex and Viktory Lapp, rounded out a surprisingly deep rotation.

Betties co captain Hailey Copter had a typically strong performance against. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Betties co captain Hailey Copter had a typically strong performance. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Despite the early push from the Gores, they were unable to leave behind the Betties, and after a bench time out calmed down the skaters in blue, the Betties outscored the Gores 20-9 over the remaining few jams of the half, but remained down, 86-35 at the break.

The Betties looked solid from the jam line as well, led by co captain Hailey Copter (formerly titmouse) and featuring Woleverina, transfer skater Udre, and 2012 breakout skater Slaptrick Swayze who continues to make her presence felt with her calm, steady jamming. The Betties continued the strong play to start the second half, outscoring the Gores 39-18 over the first ten minutes.

While there were strong individual performances in the pack from the likes of Renny Rumble, Tomy Knockers (who may have sustained a wrist injury during the game), Platinum Bomb and Tushy Galore (formerly Sin D Drop-Her) to name a few, they were not able to sustain the same tight formations for long stretches as the Gores were, allowing the Gores to stay in it. For the Gores to be sucesful this season, they need veterans in the pack to step up and assume larger roles, which we saw especially from the likes of Junkie Jenny, but also from Emma Dilemma and Miss Kitty La Peur in the second half.

Usual pack menace Foxy Sinatra (in a massive collision with Udre and Platinum Bomb)

Usual pack menace Foxy Sinatra (in a massive collision with Udre and Platinum Bomb) had a surprisingly strong night jamming for the Gores. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Gores ran out the clock, closing out the game with strong, well-managed jams from Foxy, and then fittingly from rookies T-Rex and Lexi. Although the Gores led from start to finish, they never fully distanced themselves from the Betties, and while their 167-110 victory was definitive, the Betties always just seemed a jam or two away from putting it all together and getting back into it.

If there was an underlying story of the night, it was the strong play of the so-called rookies on the track. This is clearly the highest level of rookie class ever, based on the large number of transfers and the time many spent on the D-VAS last season. After a fantastically skilled night of derby, the future looks bright.

**I’ll take a look specifically at how that impressive rookie class performed in my next post on Thursday**

**Check out layer9.ca for archived videos of the bouts**

2013 ToRD Season Preview Part 2: Betties and Dolls

The Betties ended a three year ToRD losing streak in 2012. (Photo by David Artemiw)

The Betties ended a three year ToRD losing streak in 2012. (Photo by David Artemiw)

Smoke City Betties

2012 Results: 1-2 regular season; lost semifinal to the Gores.

Who’s Out?

In 2012, the Smoke City Betties lost skaters left and right as the season went on as the final core of original skaters slowly moved on. During the season, long-serving Betties Hot Roller and Memphis Kitty called it quits with Sail Her Poon, Rug Burn and General Patten also moving on. The mid-season changes actually seemed to bring the team together and led to the most successful Betties season in years.

In the off season, however, a few more key pieces left the track. Grim Avenger and Lady Scorcher (who had developed into a key member of the pack) both retired, while triple threat BruiseBerry Pie and pivot Mia Culprit were called up to CN Power for 2013.

Who Remains?

Co captain and jammer Hailey Copter (formerly titmouse) had the best season of her career in 2012. (Photo by David Artemiw

Co captain and jammer Hailey Copter (formerly titmouse) had the best season of her career in 2012. (Photo by David Artemiw

After last year’s early season shifts, what emerged was a tight core that led the team to a second place finish in the regular season and a birth in the semifinals. After an injury-free year finally showed us just what she’s capable of, co captain Hailey Copter (formerly titmouse) will lead the offense (Hailey was second in the league in scoring with 130 points and was the second highest rated jammer on the season), being joined by veteran Wolverina and 2012 breakout jammer Slaptrick Swayze (an impressive 3.47 points per jam in her rookie year).

Co captain and pivot Misery Mae leads a pack that became increasingly tight last season and whose turn around was a key to the team’s success. Triple threat (and CN Power skater) Renny Rumble remains with the team this season (she had the second highest track percentage on the team last year at 52%), anchoring a pack that is built around veterans Tushy Galore (formerly Sin D Drop-Her), Tropic Thunder, Platinum Bomb, Mouth of the South, Genuine Risk and Laya Beaton,

Who’s New?

The Betties were also savvy drafters and picked up a whole lot of experience in the offseason. Transfers Tomy Knockers (who already skates for the Bay Street Bruisers) and Udre (who skated for Team Finland at the World Cup) are experienced, multi-faceted skaters who bring a few tools to the team. SewWhat? also followed a winding road to ToRD (including passing through Australia) and Uncivil Servant is a cross-city transfer with significant experience under her belt.

Potential triple threat LowBlowPalooza joins the Betties after a successful stint with the D-VAS. (Photo by David Artemiw)

Potential triple threat LowBlowPalooza joins the Betties after a successful stint with the D-VAS. (Photo by David Artemiw)

Joining them are key D-VAS-developed skaters LowBlowPalooza (already emerging as a prototypical ToRD triple threat), and the positionally solid blockers Mazel Tough and  Zom-Boney. Their most inexperienced pick up, Kil’Her at Large, has the pleasure—and relatively stress-free privilege—of developing around a solid core of skaters.

How’s it Look?

The Betties turned the page last season on a long and at times arduous rebuild that  began after the 2009 run to the championship game and seemed like it would never end. The team has completely remade itself now, rebuilt around a core of skaters who have changed the culture of the team as much as they’ve changed the way they skate on the track. Adding to this newfound stability is transfer coach Wade Wheelson who joins ToRD after coaching in St. John’s with the 709 Derby Girls.

After last year’s brief taste of success, you get the feeling that these Betties are going to be hungry for more in 2013. If all goes well, a chance to Battle for the Boot is definitely not out of the question.

Death Track Dolls

The Dolls look to improve off a disappointing last place finish in 2012. (Photo by Dan Lim)

The Dolls look to improve off a disappointing last place finish in 2012. (Photo by Dan Lim)

2012 Results: 1-2 regular season; did not make playoffs.

Who’s Out?

The Death Track Dolls did not lose a lot in terms of volume in the off season, but they lost some key players. Role players Kat Atomic and long-serving Dolls Lucid Lou and Spee Dee Ramone retired in the off-season, while veteran stars Betty Bomber, Jubilee and Panty Hoser joined CN Power full time.

While the losses for the Dolls are not as significant in terms of the numbers as the other teams in the league, they are certainly significant in terms of veteran on-track leadership as Bomber, Hoser and Jubilee were on the track for more than 50% of the Dolls’ jams last season. But this is a team that has built itself up well with a lot of depth over the pas few seasons, and could be more prepared than any to make the necessary adjustments.

Co Captain Speedin Hawking will lead a deep, experienced Dolls pack. (Photo by Dan Lim)

Co Captain Speedin Hawking will lead a deep, experienced Dolls pack. (Photo by Dan Lim)

Who Remains?

A range of internally developed skaters from a number of generations remain, including long-term veterans like Audrey Hellbornm, Dolly Parts’em, Demolition Dawn and  Monichrome, who have all been with the league from nearly the start. Downright Dirty Dawson, Slam Wow, co captain Speedin Hawking and Sinead O’Clobber represent the second wave of ToRD skaters, while co captain Scarcasm, Ames to Kill, Bellefast, Rhage in a Cage, Santilly In Yo Face, and UpHer Cut are all more recent additions who have quickly become pillars on this team.

The team had moments of brilliance last year, but also underachieved at times as well. With a deep, experienced pack at the core of the Dolls, consistency should follow in 2013.

Who’s New?

There are less new skaters on this team than any other, and, interestingly, they are on both ends of the experience spectrum. Transfers Canadian Psycho (co captain of the Bruisers), Getcha Kicks (another rookies Bruisers) and Rainbow Fight (a member of Team Canada at the World Cup) represent three of the most experienced newcomers to ToRD in 2013, while Android W.K., Chicken Sluggets, and Robotomy are as fresh as they come with virtually no track experience and represent the long-term development of the team.

Transfer Rainbow Fight will make her much anticipated ToRD debut this weekend. (Photo by Dan Lim)

Transfer Rainbow Fight will make her much anticipated ToRD debut this weekend. (Photo by Dan Lim)

How’s it Look?

Although the team always seems to proclaim “the Year of the Doll,” this year that expression rings more true than any other. With a solid team of returning skaters built around a well-selected core who are all rounding into peak form at the same time, the window for a championship is now wide open. And they seem to have all the pieces in place with an incredibly deep pack and a jammer rotation of Bellefast, Santilly In Yo Face, Rainbow Fight, and Getcha Kicks that will rival any in the league.

After last year’s disappointing inconsistency, the Dolls have all the tools to finally make it to the Battle for the Boot (they are the sole remaining home team not to appear in the championship game), and more importantly, may be hungrier than ever. Adding to the continuity is that Wencer returns to the bench for his second season, joined now by CN Power skater and long-serving Doll Panty Hoser. All in all, it’s an exciting time in the Doll House as for the first time ever, the Dolls are legitimate contenders for The Boot.

** Doors open at the season opening double header at 5:00 PM with the Dolls and Chicks squaring off at 6:00 PM followed by the Gores and Betties. Tickets are available online or at a number of downtown vendors.