Roller Derby

Quad City Chaos 2013: Preview

The 2013 Quad City Chaos is the 4th edition of the tournament.

The 2013 Quad City Chaos is the 4th edition of the tournament.

It’s the end of March, which means it’s time for Toronto Roller Derby’s Quad City Chaos. For the first time in the tournament’s brief history, the fourth edition of the annual invitational will be a completely WFTDA sanctioned tournament—the first of its kind in Canada. While WFTDA teams have always been a part of the tournament (Hammer City and Montreal were both full WFTDA members at the first QCC in 2010, and last year three of the four teams were), the fact that this is a fully sanctioned tournament raises the profile of the event and makes it a more appealing destination. With four excellent teams at the top of their games, this year’s tournament should be the most competitive and exciting yet. Add to that the inclusion of ToRD’s second travel team, the Bay Street Bruisers, hosting two games of their own, and the tournament has an even greater depth of competition.

THE TOURNAMENT

The QCC is a two day, round robin tournament that was topped by host CN Power in 2012 (the hosts have a 7-2 lifetime record in the tournament), but was dominated by Montreal in the first two years, when the New Skids on the Block compiled a 6-0 record while outscoring the opposition a staggering 1455-222. Those first two years, coming as they did after flat track roller derby’s “Great Leap Forward” in 2009, proved important sharing grounds for Canada’s top travel teams. In 2010, Vancouver’s Terminal City All Stars finished last in the tournament (0-3), but used the event as a taking off point to become the dominant WFTDA Division One team they are now. Both the Tri-City Thunder (2011, 2012) and Hammer City Eh! Team (2010, 2012) have taken part in two tournaments, with the Thunder holding a 3-3 record and the Eh! Team sitting at 1-5.  Finally, Ottawa’s Rideau Valley Vixens (returning this year), have taken part in the last two tournaments. In 2011, they were in tough going 0-3, before going 1-2 last year including a thrilling, competitive loss against the Tri-City Thunder.

THE TEAMS

CN Power's Betty Bomber. Art work by Quick Draw (Adam Swinbourne)

CN Power’s Betty Bomber. Artwork by Quick Draw (Adam Swinbourne)

CN Power (WFTDA Rank: 49th)

The host CN Power have used this tournament as a spring board for their season since the inaugural event in 2010. Last year, the team went 9-2 in sanctioned play including 7-0 in tournament games (at QCC, ECDX and Brew Haha). With CN Power skaters pulled from home teams in 2013 and focusing exclusively on WFTDA play, expectations are higher than ever.

This season, CN Power is already off to a hot start, going 2-1 with one-sided wins over Fort Wayne and Killamazoo, and a well-fought loss to one of the top teams in the game, Naptown. CN Power has lost only to Montreal in the QCC, and this year, based on recent results, they enter as clear favourites in their games against Queen City (they’ve beaten them two in a row) and Rideau Valley (they have never lost to the Vixens); they are in tough against Ohio, the second highest ranked team to ever play in the tournament and a team that beat them by 100 points in their only meeting last year.

The Vixens' Hanna Murphy (formerly known as Semi Precious). Art work by Quick Draw (Adam Swinbourne)

The Vixens’ Hanna Murphy (formerly known as Semi Precious). Artwork by Quick Draw (Adam Swinbourne)

The Rideau Valley Vixens  (WFTDA Rank: 71st)

After competing in last year’s tournament as a WFTDA apprentice league, they burst onto the WFTDA scene in 2012. Going 7-6 overall and 4-2 in WFTDA sanctioned play, it was easily the busiest season for the Vixens and has undoubtedly brought them to another level in their play. Stacked with a formidable front line led by Team Canada skaters Hanna Murphy (formerly known as Semi Precious) in the pack and Soul Rekker on the jam line, they are backed up in the pack by 2012 breakout blocker Margaret Choke and veterans Sister Disaster and Da Big Block. But there is a rising crop of talent on the team as well. Potential triple threat Pix E. Cutz is a force, while Keuhl (AKA: Mudblood) Brennan (Eh Nihilator) and Rudolph (Frostbite Me) all emerged last year as key components of the team. This year keep an eye on newcomers The Warden (an emerging jammer with house league team, Riot Squad) and Eastern Block’her who skated last season with Capital City, a team that earned a solid reputation despite a last-place finish at last year’s RDAC Eastern Regionals.

The Vixens are 0-1 so far this year, kicking things off with a loss to Queen City. This weekend could be a challenge for the Vixens. They’ve split their only two games with the Furies, have never defeated CN Power, and Ohio will be the highest ranked WFTDA team they have faced since playing Montreal at QCC 2011. Nonetheless, the Vixens may have the least to lose and, therefore, the least amount of pressure.

The Lake Effect Furies (Queen City) (WFTDA Rank: 68th)

LiBRAWLian of the Lake Effect Furies. Artwork by Quick Draw (AKA: Adam Swinbourne)

LiBRAWLian of the Lake Effect Furies. Artwork by Quick Draw (AKA: Adam Swinbourne)

Queen City had an inconsistent 2012, going 8-8 overall and 7-8 in sanctioned play, but lost ground against opponents such as Toronto and Tri-City. Their inconsistency is best seen, perhaps, in their performances against the Vixens which included an 89-point loss at the end of last summer, compared to a 90-point victory to kick off this year: making their meeting this weekend a tie breaker of sorts, but also an interesting measure of which (if either) of those previous results is correct.

The Furies have a depth of talent on the bench. Offensively, Addy Rawl, who was a Team USA alternate at the World Cup and has continued to skate with the American National program, leads the attack. Furies rookie LiBRAWLian is a jammer to watch after an incredible breakout house league season in 2012. CU~T, Ivana LeiHerOut, Head Mistress, and Day TripHer supply veteran leadership in the packs. Melania Kosonovich returnd to Queen City this season after time away that included skating a season in Los Angeles.

The Furies are 2-0 so far in 2013 on strong victories over Rideau Valley and Black-N-Bluegrass, and look to continue that strong start against the stiff competition at QCC. They’ve lost two in a row against CN Power and have never faced Ohio.

Ohio's Phoenix Bunz. Artwork by Quick Draw (AKA: Adam Swinbourne)

Ohio’s Phoenix Bunz. Artwork by Quick Draw (AKA: Adam Swinbourne)

Ohio Roller Girls All Stars (WFTDA Rank: 23rd)

The Ohio Roller Girls may be the hardest working team in the WFTDA. In 2012, they went a remarkable 20-2 before going 1-2 in the North Central playoffs, being eliminated by Naptown: No one in 2012, played more sanctioned games than the skaters from Columbus.

An original WFTDA member, Ohio earned a massive, well-deserved reputation last season gaining big victories over Madison, Brew City and Arch Rival to name a few, and went 2-0 on their first Canadian roadtrip (burning through southern Ontario in May of last year). Led by the incredible, multi-talented triple threat Pheonix Bunz (2012 North Central blocker MVP), the offense will also be paced by a solid jammer rotation of The Smacktivist, Kitty Liquorbottom and Hellionboi, all supremely talented and boasting lots of big-game experience. But there is considerable depth in the pack as well. Led by veteran blocker Amy Spears, the packs also boasts hard-hitting Bratislava Bruiser and positional maven Loraine Acid.

Ohio is already off to a fast start in 2013, boasting a 2-0 record after wins over Bleeding Heartland and Burning River. They enter the QCC as clear favourites. While they’ve only ever faced CN Power, they are (and have consistently been) ranked much higher than their three QCC opponents.

Bellefast of the Bay Street Bruisers. Artwork by Quick Draw (AKA: Adam Swinbourne)

Bellefast of the Bay Street Bruisers. Artwork by Quick Draw (AKA: Adam Swinbourne)

B-TEAM SHOWDOWN

For the first time ever, the Quad City Chaos will also feature B-Team matchups.

First off, ToRD’s Bay Street Bruisers will take on Queen City’s Devil Dollies on Saturday. The Dollies, one of Queen City’s house league teams, has a long history in Canada, being one of only two US teams to play in the Beast of the East; they did so in 2008. The Bruisers then take on Ohio’s Gang Green on Sunday. This second showdown will be a rematch of the first ever Bruisers game last May, when the Ohio B-Team defeated the Toronto B-Team 173-109. It was the Bruisers only loss since being resurrected in 2012, and they will be out for revenge on Sunday.

All Games will be streamed live on Canuck Derby TV.

SCHEDULE:

Saturday, March 23rd

10:00 AM: lake effect furies logoLake Effect Furies (QCRG) vs. Vixens LogoRideau Valley Vixens

12:00 PM: CN Power LogoCN Power (ToRD) vs.Ohio logo Ohio Roller Girls

2:00 PM: Bay Street Bruisers LogoBay Street Bruisers (ToRD) vs. devil-dollies-logoDevil Dollies (QCRG)

5:00 PMOhio logo Ohio Roller Girls vs. Vixens LogoRideau Valley Vixens

7:00 PMCN Power LogoCN Power vs. lake effect furies logoLake Effect Furies

Sunday March 24th

11:00 AMBay Street Bruisers LogoBay Street Bruisers vs. Gang_Green_Logo_GreenGang Green (Ohio B)

1:00 PMOhio logo Ohio Roller Girls vs. lake effect furies logoLake Effect Furies

3:00 PMCN Power LogoCN Power vs. Vixens LogoRideau Valley Vixens

Word on the Track: Montreal Downs Boston, Saskatoon wins RDAC Champs, WFTDA Releases Rankings

MONTREAL TAKES TWO ON WEEKEND ROADTRIP

Montreal New Skids are now 3-0 in sanctioned play to kick off 2013.

Montreal New Skids are now 3-0 in sanctioned play to kick off 2013.

New Skids on the Block (MTLRD) 17th 188 vs. Boston Massacre (BDD) 21st 117

New Skids (MTLRD) 17th 333 vs. Port Authorities (Maine RD) 60th 38

Montreal Roller Derby’s New Skids on the Block played its second game of the season on Saturday, scoring an important 71-point victory against the Boston Massacre, in what was the first bout of the season for the Boston Derby Dames travel team. It was the fourth win in a row for Montreal over their long-time rivals since February 2011. Previous to that win, the Massacre had defeated the Skids in three straight dating back to 2009.

But believe it or not, Montreal and Boston’s rivalry dates back even further. The Derby Dames B-travel team, the Boston B Party, has been playing Montreal teams (house league and travel) since 2008. This past Saturday, Les Sexpos defeated the B Party 211-148. The last time these two particular teams met was in 2011, a one-point victory by Boston.

On Sunday, the Skids hit up Maine Roller Derby’s Port Authority for a sanctioned hangover matchup. Montreal won it handily, 333 to 38. It was the second WFTDA sanctioned meeting between the two teams, and the first since a 79-point Montreal victory victory in May 2011. Maine, which had consistently been an East Region “bubble playoff team” (they finished 11th in the region last season), now find themselves buried deep in WFTDA’s Division Two (60th overall).

SASKATOON DEFEATS REGINA IN ALL-SASKATCHEWAN RDAC CHAMPIONSHIP

RDAC held its first championship, featuring teams from three of its regions.

RDAC held its first championship, featuring teams from three of its regions.

Saskatoon Roller Derby defeated their cross-province rivals, Pile O’ Bones Derby Club, 245 to 188, in an all-Saskatchewan final at this weekend’s Roller Derby Association of Canada (RDAC) championship in Edmonton, Alberta. Played in the stunning Ica Palace at the West Edmonton Mall and broadcast expertly (in awesome high def) by AMJ Productions and Canuck Derby TV, the tournament didn’t quite live up to its billing as a national championship, but was nonetheless a great showcase of the flat track game featuring teams from disparate regions of Canada.

It was an excellent opportunity especially for the Saskatchewan finalists, who have largely remained out of the eye of the larger Canadian derby community due to their comparative lack of inter-regional play. And they were strong, clearly dominating a tournament that suffered for excitement in the opening round for a lack of parity but brought closer, more competitive games on Sunday.

With western champions Terminal City, eastern champs Toronto Roller Derby (Bay Street Bruisers) and eastern runners-up Forest City absent from the tournament, expectations fell to West Kootenay and E-Ville. Ranked 6th and 11th in Canada respectively, they were the top ranked Canadian teams left in the tournament. But Pile O’ Bones Derby Club’s Sugar Skulls (Regina) and Saskatoon Roller Derby’s The Mindfox (who’d been ranked 12th and 13th respectively), proved that they belong in the discussion of the top travel teams in Canada. Saskatoon’s Mind Fox, especially, were well ahead of the competition, winning their games by an average of about 107 points (and even in the close, 57-point championship game, the result never seemed in doubt as they led 169-77 at half).

While the Atlantic Canadian teams from Moncton and Saint John, New Brunswick, finished at the bottom of the pack, they entered the final tournament ranked 20th and 28th in Canada, so actually performed above expectations. Moncton defended their Atlantic Championship when they defeated Fog City in a back-and-forth placement game that was closer than the final score indicated. Also, strong individual performances and great strategic thought—if not executed perfectly yet—from both teams, proved that even only three years into existence, Atlantic Canadian roller derby is on an upward rise. Kootenay Kannibelles and E-Ville Dead both seem to be rebuilding, especially West Kootenay after a considerable roster shakeup last year, and played below expectations established after impressive 2012 seasons.

RDAC Championship Final Standings

1.mindfoxlogo The Mindfox (Saskatoon Roller Derby) (Defeated Sugar Skulls 245-188 in the final)

2.Sugar Skulls Derby LOGO Sugar Skulls (Pile O’ Bones Derby Club)

3.Evile Dead LogoE-Ville Dead (E-Ville Roller Derby)(Defeated Kootenay Kannibelles 164-158 in 3rd place game)

4. kannibelles LogoKootenay Kannibelles (West Kootenay Roller Derby)

5. Lumbersmacks LogoLumbersmacks (Muddy River Rollers) (defeated Shipyard Sirens 238-187 in 5th place game)

6. Shipyard Sirens LogoShipyard Sirens (Fog City Rollers)

** All games are archived on Canuck Derby TV.**

WFTDA logoWFTDA RELEASES FIRST DIVISIONAL POWER RANKING

The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) released its first rankings since shifting to a numerical-based divisional ranking system for 2013. Under the current ranking system, teams have the opportunity to earn their way into Division One (top 40) by July to qualify for the Division One Payoffs. The next twenty teams will play in two Division Two playoff tournaments (locations recently announced). The Division Two finals will also take place on the same weekend as the Division One Championships in Milwaukee, Wisconsin).

As of today, Montreal (17th) and Vancouver’s Terminal City (39th) are both in Division One, while Toronto (49th), Tri-City (50th), and Rideau Valley (71st) are firmly placed into Division Two. Hammer City, Canada’s other full-WFTDA team, is in Division Three (133rd  overall).

All Division One teams make the playoffs, but in Division Two only the top twenty teams make it, which means that while Toronto and Tri-City are in solid positions, Rideau Valley Vixens have some work to do to move up the ten spots to nab a playoff spot. Both Toronto and Rideau Valley will be playing in this weekend’s Quad City Chaos, a good opportunity to advance their positions.

CANADIAN POWER RANKINGS ANNOUNCED

Just in case you missed it, last week it was announced on The Derby Nerd that The Nerd will be joined by Captain Lou El Bammo, Dick Pounder and Andi Struction in producing Canada’s first National Power Ranking. Read all about it here.

Nerd Glasses

Introducing: The Canadian Power Ranking

On Monday, April 1st, the first ever truly national Canadian Power Ranking will be released on the Derby Nerd.

Captain Lou brings years of coaching and announcing to the Power Rankings.

Captain Lou brings years of coaching and announcing experience to the Power Rankings.

For the past two years, Rollergirl.ca, most recently in conjunction with flattrackstats.com, has been doing a fantastic job in providing a consistent numbers-based ranking system for Canadian teams, which has provided an excellent source of comparative information about the burgeoning Canadian roller derby community and has led to some great cross-country discussion. In much the same way that the Derby News Network’s Power Rankings complement flattrackstats.com, the Canadian Power Ranking will be working to complement this great endeavor by adding a slightly more subjective look at things—although through objective lenses, of course.

Power rankings simply add value to the comparative discussion of teams; unlike purely statistical ranking systems, power rankings are a human (some would say opinion)-based system able to take a much wider range of variables into play. Power rankings can account for circumstances beyond the control of numbers, like changes in rosters (through injury, transfer etc.) and winning streaks—things that stats-based systems need time to account for. The best, most reliable power rankings, therefore, require more than one brain to be truly representational.

So, the Nerd is not going about this alone: to ensure broad, regional, unbiased decision making, some of our country’s finest derby nerds will be working together equally on the power rankings.

Captain Lou El Bammo comes to the team armed with an overwhelming amount of knowledge gleaned from days as a coach and bench manager with the Tri-City Roller Girls, where he worked with house league team the Venus Fly Tramps and the WFTDA travel team, the Thunder. Currently he’s on the coaching staff of the Royal City Roller Girls’ travel team, the Brute-Leggers. Along with watching the game from that side of the bench, he’s also been active on the mic, acting as a play-by-play and colour commentator for Rogers TV, Canuck Derby TV, and WFTDA.TV.

Andi Struction brings both a skater and an announcer's perspective to the sport. (Photo by Stephen Giang for SeattleWeekly.com)

Andi Struction brings both a skater and an announcer’s perspective. (Photo by Stephen Giang for SeattleWeekly.com)

The Nerd and Capt. Lou will be joined by a few representatives from western Canada. Dick Pounder was recently appointed Head Announcer for the Roller Derby Association of Canada (RDAC) and has been announcing games in Alberta and for the emerging Calgary Roller Derby Association for years. On top of that, he’s been known to lace up the skates and get out there on the track as well (skating previously for the Glenmore Reservoir Dogs and currently with the Red Deer Dreadnauts), so knows the game from inside and out.

And finally, Vancouver’s Andi Struction also brings that inside/out perspective to the proceedings. A skater with Terminal City Roller Girls since 2006 and currently an assistant captain with the house league team, Faster Pussycats, Andi is also a noted commentator and announcer. A former co-host of the Derby Deeds podcast, she’s been honing her chops on the mic at such major events as the Big O, Flat Track Fever and the RDAC regionals over the past few years

Announcer Dick Pounder has also played the game so knows the game from the inside as well. (Photo by Steve Recsky)

Announcer Dick Pounder has also played the game, so knows the game from the inside as well. (Photo by Steve Recsky)

Captain Lou also sees the Canadian Power Rankings as being an important part of the Canadian roller derby discussion: “Canada is really big and teams are really far apart…which makes it harder for the math to be properly predictive. There just isn’t enough correlative games to make a truly accurate list (based purely on stats),” he says, discussing the importance of this endeavor, and “since we don’t have a proper cross-pollination of games, creating a Power Rankings crew filled with people who have a lot of derby knowledge and are able to sift through disparate datasets to filter out the best of the best is the optimal solution.”

Andi Struction thinks the timing is right and is excited about the future of the sport in this country. ” ‘Canadian’ roller derby didn’t really exist because the east and west teams didn’t really have a chance to play each other,” she said. Dick Pounder agrees that this will be a big year for Canadian derby: “The WFTDA factor should prove to be interesting in Canada this year.”

Andi is also optimistic about the top leagues joining the WFTDA, which would encourage more top-level play. “With Calgary and Kootenay joining the ranks (soon), the eastern teams could potentially do western Canadian tours and hit three WFTDA birds with one stone.”

As alluded to, the Power Rankings Team will be limited by some of the challenges of living in a massive country like Canada with very little cross-region play. Some things to keep in mind about the Canadian Power Rankings:

  • The rankings will be a consensus-based: much like the system used by the DNN (and consistent across many sports). All four voters will present their personal choices to each other and then engage in debate until a consensus is reached.
  • The rankings will be quarterly: at least to start. Due to the lack of inter-region play, allowing time for a wider number of games seems advantageous right now.
  • The rankings will only consider A-level travel teams. It’s just simpler that way, and as more and more Canadian leagues follow the WFTDA model, the opportunity for A-level interleague play has been increasing as well, and it is becoming much easier to speculate how these teams would fare against one another.

    The Derby Nerd rounds out the Power Rankings team. (Photo by Todd Burgess)

    The Derby Nerd rounds out the Power Rankings team. (Photo by Todd Burgess)

We’re only a few weeks away from the inaugural ranking on April 1st, but there is a lot going down in those few weeks that will affect that premier ranking: The RDAC Championship is this weekend in Edmonton featuring A-level travel teams from the West, Saskatchewan and the Maritimes, while ToRD’s fourth annual Quad City Chaos (March 23rd, 24th) will feature two of Canada’s top teams, ToRD’s CN Power and the Rideau Valley Vixens, facing off against top level WFTDA competition. Both tournaments will be boutcast on Canuck Derby TV.

It’s going to be an exciting year for Canadian roller derby, all involved in putting together this Canadian Power Ranking are proud to be bringing another angle to the exciting discussion that will take place. Captain Lou also hopes that these rankings will inspire more than just healthy debate: “I’m hoping that new leagues just starting out will be able to look at the Power Rankings list and use it as inspiration to keep going through the hard times (and) I really hope that a Canadian Roller Derby Power Rankings list will inspire more cross-Canada roller derby bouts, so that east will meet west more often than they have in the past.”

Check back in on April 1st for the first Canadian Power Ranking.

Level Up! So Called “Rookies” Have Major Impact in ToRD House League Opener

The 2013 ToRD House League Opener saw 23 rookies on the track. (Photo by Derek Lang)

The 2013 ToRD House League Opener saw 23 rookies on the track. (Photo by Derek Lang)

Those who watched Toronto Roller Derby’s 2013 season opener on Saturday night were introduced to (and undoubtedly impressed by) a whole new crop of “rookie” skaters, only you have to use the term “rookie” lightly. In all, 23 new skaters donned their teams’ colours for the first time on the weekend, but of that crew, only three were true rookies, in that they had little to no bouting experience before the weekend. So while there was a considerable amount of fresh names and faces on the track, there was surprisingly little drop off in the level of talent. There are a few reasons behind that.

For starters, ToRD fans (and Canadian roller derby fans in general) know that this year the skaters on Toronto’s top WFTDA team, CN Power, left the home teams to focus solely on skating for the travel team (to considerable early season success). It left a wide gap in the teams’ rosters, pulling away core skaters, some of whom had played for their teams from the start of the league.

Secondly, the skaters who filled those gaps were largely products of ToRD’s farm system, the D-VAS (which is about two years old). In total 11 of the 23 rookies on Saturday night played on a D-VAS team that played seven games least year, not to mention took part in the annual Fresh and Furious tournament (finishing third). Some of the the games were home games (including an intersquad game to kick off the year), but also travel games as well, giving this batch of D-VAS a level of competitive experience unsurpassed in a ToRD draft.  “Some of the rookies [on ToRD home teams in 2012] didn’t get to play as much as the D-VAS did,” said one of those D-VAS products, Mazel Tough—now a Smoke City Bettie—in a preseason interview.

Rookie (transfer) Rosemary's Rabies jams for the Chicks while fellow rookies R-2-Smack-U and Smack Mia Round work the pack. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Rookie (transfer) Rosemary’s Rabies jams for the Chicks while fellow rookies R-2-Smack-U and Smack Mia Round work the pack. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

And finally, nine of the 23 skaters on the track on Saturday were transfers of varying levels of experience, from World Cup skaters like Rainbow Fight (Canada) and Udre (Finland) to a skater like SewWhat? who has played in multiple leagues to a skater like Getcha Kicks who has been playing for a number of years and comes to ToRD with a solid on-track reputation in place. For these skaters, a lot of their decision making process on transferring was based on wanting to improve their level of play. “To have people around (me) better than (me) and pushing me to be better is really important to me,” said Betties rookie SewWhat?

The experience of these skaters means that unlike rookies of the past, they will be put into big roles early and often and expected to take on a lot of responsibility. Judging by the performances on the weekend, these skaters are relishing the role. “I’m excited to develop my game (as a jammer) and to get a lot of play time because there is a lack of jammers on the team,” said D-VAS product Lexi Con, who led the offense for the Gores in the opener.

“Whatever they need me to play, I’ll do it,” said debut Doll Rainbow Fight talking about being a potential triple threat in a long line of Dolls triple threats such as former Dolls captains Betty Bomber and Panty Hoser (both now playing for CN Power). This level of confidence in ability and in being able to perform an immediate role, bodes well for the future of not only the house league, but of the league in general.“I like to do a bit of everything,” said new Bettie LowBlowPalooza, echoing Rainbow’s sentiment. “I like pivoting,” she said with a confidence that many rookies in different situations wouldn’t be able to back up.

Chicks rookie jammer Chevy Chase Her led her team in scoring. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Chicks rookie jammer Chevy Chase Her led her team in scoring. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The games on Saturday night showed that the supposed rebuilding that will take place this year will be a different sort than those rebuilds seen in the past (such as when the original Betties roster imploded following the 2009 season beginning a rebuild that really only ended last season). The transfers like Chevy Chase Her (who led the Chicks in scoring), Canadian Psycho (Dolls), and Tomy Knockers (Betties) had immediate impacts on their teams, while the D-VAS graduates like Lexi Con, LowBlowPalooza, Purple Pain (Gores) and Chicks Ahoy!’s Smack Mia Round (who seems to have finally shaken off the injury bug long enough to begin to reach her potential of being a solid, impactful blocker) also took on big roles early. But even the recruits of the most recent fresh mean class fared well, with Emraged fitting into the pack surprisingly well on the Chicks, and the Gores feeling comfortable enough to dress two pure rookies (Full Deck and Cirque du So-Laid).

The house league captains are well aware of the impact that these skaters are having on the teams. Gores co captain Santa Muerta pointed out how much easier it has been to train: “We get to skate next week and work on team integration and not so much picking up basic skills,” she said after the draft, citing the exceptional level of the new skaters.  Dolls co-captain Scarcasm knows the impact will be felt all across the league, “I think it’s an exciting year for ToRD; it’s going to push everyone a little bit further and harder.”

** Next up for ToRD is the 4th Annual Quad City Chaos, a WFTDA Sanctioned tournament with CN Power (and the Bay Street Bruisers) hosting teams from Ohio Rollergirls, Queen City Roller Girls, and Rideau Valley Roller Girls. Weekend passes, day passes and even individual tickets for Saturday night prime time game are available.

Of the nine Chicks sitting on this bench, seven were playing in their first ToRD house league game. (Photo by Derek Lang)

Of the nine Chicks sitting on this bench, seven were playing in their first ToRD house league game. (Photo by Derek Lang)

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.

2013 Season Preview Part 1: Chicks and Gores

In 2013, the Chicks won their third ToRD Championship. (Photo by Greg Russell)

In 2012, the Chicks won their third ToRD Championship. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Chicks Ahoy!

2012 Results: 3-0 regular season; second consecutive ToRD Championship (3rd overall). 3rd place at the 2012 Beast of the East.

Who’s Out?

With the majority of CN Power skaters separating from hometeams in 2013, the losses sustained by the Chicks roster are substantial. In terms of 2012 track time, four of the top five skaters are no longer on the roster: Nasher the Smasher (50.8% of all jams), Tara Part (49.2 %), Mega Bouche (47.7%) and Rebel Rock-It (46.9%) are all now full-time members of CN Power. But more than just simple track time, this accounts for a massive loss in leadership as Nasher, Mega and Tara form a core of the Chicks’ pack that dates all the way back to their first ToRD championship in 2008.

The loss extends beyond the pack as well, as their jamming rotation also takes a big hit. One of ToRD’s all time leading scorers (and another member of all three Chicks championships), Candy Crossbones joins 2012 breakout skater Bala Reina—who became the first jammer to lead the league in all five major jammer stats including scoring with a remarkable 211 points—as members of CN Power in 2012.

What’s more, some recent skaters who were emerging as steady vets also retired in the off season: Hum Dinger, Red Light Roxy and Snapp’n Cooter had all developed into key components of team.

Who Remains?

Co captain Dyna Hurtcha returns to the Chicks for a 4th season. (Photo by Billy Archos)

Co captain Dyna Hurtcha returns to the Chicks for a 4th season. (Photo by Billy Archos)

Luckily for the Chicks, they boasted one of the deepest benches in Canadian home team roller derby and have a strong core to rebuild around. This season’s co-captains, Dyna Hurtcha and Kookie Doe, despite playing for CN Power, are sticking around to help facilitate the rebuild. Kookie Doe can anchor an offense while Dyna Hurtcha is one of the league’s great triple threats. They also have a mighty veteran core to lean on.

One of the league’s most dynamic strikers, Marmighty returns to terrorize opposing jammers (remarkably, Marmighty skated in 57% of the team’s jams in 2012). Two members of ToRD’s B-Travel team, Robber Blind and Furious Georgia will be relied upon to take up some leadership slack, and four of the team’s most important recent prospects—Biggley Smallz, Roadside BombShel, Doris Doomsday and Tess D’Urb Evil showed that last year they are ready to take on a larger role.

And finally, although hobbled by off season surgery to begin the year, the sole remaining original Chick, Hoff, will provide undeniable leadership off the track to help guide this team through a potentially challenging period.

Transfer and former D-VAS Chevy Chase Her is one of many experienced "rookies" on the Chicks (photo by Billy Archos)

Transfer and former D-VAS Chevy Chase Her is one of many experienced “rookies” on the Chicks (photo by Billy Archos)

Who’s New?

Who isn’t? Might be a better question. Ten new skaters will be donning sailor green in 2013, a mix of experienced farm team skaters and fresh prospects. The most game ready are those skaters who played a significant amount of time with D-VAS last year and picked up a considerable amount of game experience. Chevy Chase Her (jammer and potential triple threat), Joss Wheelin (jammer/blocker), Machete Maiden (blocker), Mean Streak (jammer/blocker), R2 Smack U (blocker), Rosemary’s Rabies (jammer), and Smack Mia Round are joined by Kingston Derby Girls transfer (B)lackey(E) as being game ready and given the massive turnover on the rosters, could all take on key roles with the team over the course of the season.

How’s it Look?

Surprisingly, not bad! Given the amount of turnover, you’d think that things would be looking gloomy, but the Chicks just may be able to ride out this storm. With Dyna Hurtcha potentially impacting every position, the pack looks strong with key strikers Marmighty and Biggley  balanced by solid positional players in Robber Blind, Furious Georgia and Roadside BombShel. The jammer rotation, led by Kookie Doe, will undoubtedly feature Chevy Chase Her and Rosemary’s Rabies (among others), and given their experience, should be able to have an immediate impact.

So, while it may be a lot to think that this team will be capable of a third straight ToRD championship, the drop off will not be as severe as initially though, and they should be capable of being competitive in every game.

The Gore-Gore Rollergirls

The Gores are three-time ToRD champions. (Photo by Ashlea Wessel)

The Gores are three-time ToRD champions. (Photo by Ashlea Wessel)

2012 Results: 1-2 regular season, Defeated the Betties in the semifinal before falling to the Chicks in the Battle for the Boot.

Who’s Out?

Change started early in 2012 for the Gore-Gore Rollergirls, with key pieces of the pack retiring midseason. In the off season, Molly Boom and Aston Martini (more essential pack players) followed suit and hung up the skates.  The Gores also felt the pinch in the CN Power pull up as well, losing smooth skating pivot Lady Gagya (who along with Foxy Sinatra, played in 52% of the team’s jams) and the explosive jammer core of Dust Bunny and the league’s all-time leading scorer, Bambi. It’s the core of the Gore dynasty that has seen the team reach all six ToRD championship games.

Original Gore Kandy Barr will be joined by Santa Muerte as 2013 co captains. (Photo by Ashlea Wessel)

Original Gore Kandy Barr will be joined by Santa Muerte as 2013 co captains. (Photo by Ashlea Wessel)

Who Remains?

Co captain Santa Muerte and Chronic—two members of CN Power—have elected to skate for the Gores for one more season, add to that the Bay Street Bruisers duo of  Foxy Sinatra and Junkie Jenny and co captain Kandy Barr (the three remaining original Gores) and the skaters in leopard print still have a hearty pack to build around.

Over the past three years, the Gores have been slowly building internal pack depth and that build will play out this season with Emma Dilemma, Gamma Rei, Wheely Nasty and Miss Kitty La Peur all facing much more responsibility in the pack. In terms of veterans, only R.I. Pink (formerly Draculaura / Pinky Violence) spent a significant amount of time with the star last season (although Santa Muerte is a capable triple threat), which means that the jamming—long the strength of this Gores squad—will come primarily from rookie sources.

Who’s New?

Whatever they say about “Gore attitude,” the team certainly seemed to be drafting to fill needs, and they may have done so impressively. While the explosive offense has alway been central to the success of this team, the Gores have traditionally been top heavy, with not a lot of depth at the position. In one off season, a deep draft has changed all that.

Lexi Con will be key part of the Gores' offensive rebuild. (photo by Ashlea Wessel)

Rookie Lexi Con will be a key part of the Gores’ offensive rebuild. (photo by Ashlea Wessel)

D-VAS-developed skaters Lexi Con and Viktory Lapp have both been seen with the star, with Lexi emerging as a juggernaut as 2012 wore on. Joining them as part of this exciting new rotation are transfers Taranasaurus Rex, Beaver Mansbridge and Tarantulove, who all have significant experience jamming (Taranasaurus Rex is already a member of the Bruisers, and Tarantulove played a full WFTDA season with the Rideau Valley Vixens last year).

The pack is filled out with fomer D-VAS captain Purple Pain and transfers Gypsy Nose Bleed and Amefyst (who had off-season surgery and will miss the beginning of the season). Long term rookie prospects Cirque du So-Laid and Full Deck fill out the 2013 Gore Roster

How’s it Look?

This is definitely the dawn of a new era for the Gore-Gore Rollergirls. Along with the shift in on-track personnel, there has even been a changing of the guard on the bench. After six seasons, His Unholiness the Reverend Ramirez has committed full time to CN Power this year, leaving his former understudies Hot Carl and hellbat at the reigns. While there will definitely be a period of transition for this team, they bring an exceptionally experienced group of rookies to the track in 2013 (only two of the ten new draftees lack significant track time), and will certainly be competitive. After riding the wave of inconsistency last season, at the very least—and baring injuries—2013 should bring a steady, consistent roster to build around.

ToRD Hosts Killamazoo to Kick off Travel Team Season

Kill v ToRD 2013 posterToronto Roller Derby’s 2013 travel team season kicks off on February 2nd with a double header at The Bunker as CN Power hosts the Killamazoo Derby Darlins and the Bay Street Bruisers face off against Killamazoo’s B-Team, the Killa Crew. In a growing rivalry, this will be the third time that CN Power and Killamazoo square off in the past two years, with CN Power taking the first two games in a home and away series.

The Derby Darlins vs. CN Power

CN Power is coming off of a strong first season competing in the WFTDA, going 9-2 in sanctioned games and climbing from 17th to 13th overall in the North Central Region. They kicked things off in February with an upset over then 14th ranked Fort Wayne in Indiana before coming home and reeling off four straight sanctioned victories over Roc City (Rochester, New York), cross-province rivals Hammer City and Tri- City, and Buffalo’s Lake Effect Furies.

Having inched their way to 15th in the North Central at that point, the Toronto all stars suffered their first set-back of the season, losing a hard-fought bout against the extremely talented Ohio Roller Girls out of Columbus, Ohio. It was a back and forth game in the first half, with Ohio pulling ahead by 13 at the break on the back of a power jam. In the second half, a string of untimely injuries had Toronto scrambling; despite their best efforts, they were unable to recover getting badly outscored in the second half and falling 197-91.

The loss propelled the team into its first appearance at the Milwaukee’s Mid-West Brewhaha where they would open with an impressive 158-124 victory over Burning River (Cleveland), before dismantling Fox City (Appleton, Wisconsin) 441-43. This would mirror their inaugural experience at Philadelphia’s legendary ECDX just a few weeks later, where a hard-fought bout (a fantastic 148-120 victory over Maine) would be followed by another blowout (a 375-60 win over Harrisburg), victories made all the sweeter due to the absence of key skaters to injuries.

CN Power after a victory over Buffalo rivals, the Lake Effect Furies. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

CN Power after a victory over Buffalo rivals, the Lake Effect Furies. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

It was at this point in the season where injuries and unexpected retirements began to take their toll.  While their impressive run brought them all the way up to 13th in the North Central, it would not be enough to get into the playoffs, which allowed the team to focus on rebuilding a roster. This rebuilt roster would only get one chance to play, a disappointing loss to Grand Raggidy on the road in Grand Rapids in October. Nonetheless, the team was ready for 2013 and a renewed focus on WFTDA play.

2013 marks a major change in ToRD’s focus, with the skaters of CN Power leaving their home teams to focus exclusively on travel team play in the highly competitive league.  This new roster will face a stiff first challenge against a revamped Killamazoo Derby Darlins who ended 2013 as one of the hottest teams in the North Central Region. Finishing 10-4 in sanctioned play and leaping from 20th to 14th in the WFTDA North Central Region, the Darlins went 7-2 from July to October, but showed some inconsistency when a big upset over Grand Raggidy was followed by a shocking loss to NEO (out of Akron and ranked only 23rd in the region at the time). But Killamazoo’s strong showing against Grand Raggidy and then also against Ohio and Detroit (albeit in losses) shows that this team can bring it against tough competition. Having lost two in a row to CN Power, they will undoubtedly be on the hunt for revenge.

The Killa Crew vs. The Bay Street Bruisers

ToRD’s newly reborn Bay Street Bruisers (the former home team was resurrected as a B-Team in 2012) had an extremely successful first season, putting together an impressive 6-1 record after beginning their season in May.

The Bruisers first ever bout was a tough one against a very strong Ohio B Team, Gang Green (who went 13-4 in a very busy season), a bout that would turn out to be their only loss in 2012 (163-107). The Bruisers then headed to Guelph to take on Royal City’s Brute-Leggers, in what would turn out to be another tough game, a 23-point victory.

The Bay Street Bruisers as 2012 RDC champions. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Bay Street Bruisers as 2012 RDAC champions. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

This would set the stage, for ToRD’s first appearance at RDAC’s Eastern Canadian Championship (Roller Derby Association of Canada). The Bruisers would take down Nickel City’s Sister Slag in the first round, before mounting a late-game comeback to take down Renegade Derby Dame’s Misfit Militia by 10 points in the semi final. In the final, the Bruisers defeated the defending champion Forest City All Stars 177-88 to take the Eastern Canadian championship.

In the fall, a new-look Bruisers’ roster would continue to have success, first taking on the Brute-Leggers in a rematch of their tight May bout, this time roughing up their Royal City opponents at home, winning 271-43. The Bruisers finished 2012 on the road, taking a short-handed roster to Grand Rapids to take on the G-Rap Attack, a game they would win 162-80.

The Killa Crew now has two full seasons under their belts, and were busy in 2012, playing twelve games. But wins were hard to come by for the Crew, as their 4-9 record indicates. Two late-season losses to the G-Rap Attack (though both were fairly close) are the only points of comparison with the Bruisers. But a new season brings new expectations. This will be the first game of the season for each team.

** Doors open at The Bunker at 5:00 PM, with the opening game whistle at 6:00 PM. Tickets are available online or at select outlets.

ToRD Tops Up: Second Draft Completes 2013 Rosters

Toronto Roller Derby’s top-up draft completed the roster selection for the 2013 home season, and with a set of draftees ranging from experienced transfers to the freshest of D-VAS, it marked a stark contrast to the experience-heavy December draft.  The lack of comparative experience allowed the teams to draft with an eye more to the future, as most core rosters had already been sent. Not to say there aren’t some clear impact players in this draft, because there certainly are (6 of the 15 skaters have significant experience outside of ToRD); yet a majority of the skaters have yet to gain any track experience.

Death Track Dolls Logo

Death Track Dolls

Android W.K.

Chicken Sluggets

Rainbow Fight

Robotomy

As they did in the December draft (when they picked up two of the most experienced players in Getcha Kicks and Canadian Psycho), the Death Track Dolls managed to grab highly touted transfer Rainbow Fight, formerly of the 709 Derby Girls in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. One of the founding members of that league and a member of Canada’s World Cup team, Rainbow Fight is another game-ready weapon in the Dolls’ arsenal; a noted jammer, Fight is a potential triple threat in the same vein as former Dolls triple threats like Betty Bomber and Panty Hoser. Rainbow herself speculates that this may be the case behind her selection: “Maybe they hope that I will build on my blocking…they are looking for another PBJ (Pivot/Blocker/Jammer).” Whatever her role, she is excited to be on a team that, on paper, looks like a contender. “I feel like it’s going to be a great year of the Doll.”

With one of the most experienced rosters in the league, the Dolls give us a glimpse of the future in their other picks. Android W.K., Chicken Sluggets and Robotomy are all fresh D-VAS who have yet to gain track experience, but will make for good long-term prospects. But it seems that the future is now for the lone ToRD team to never have battled for The Boot.

“If the Betties and Dolls aren’t in the championship, I’m going to eat my hat,” concludes Rainbow Fight, confident that there has been a power shift in the league.

Smoke City Betties Logo

Smoke City Betties

Kil’Her At Large

SewWhat?

Udre

The Betties went for experience in this draft, with a clear eye toward building on last year’s breakthrough season. Of their three pickups, only KillHerAtLarge is lacking significant game experience. Back in Canada for a year, jammer SewWhat comes to ToRD after taking a three-year winding road through Australia (picking up the sport with the Sun State Roller Girls and helping to found Malice Springs Roller Derby) and then Toronto’s Rollergettes before arriving on the D-VAS, ready, she says, to play in a competitive league. “The Betties were my favourite team last season,” she says of her new team. “They were the underdog…but they are really building to win…My goal is to work really hard,” she says, adding that she believes the Betties have a roster that is capable of pushing her to a new level.

Also transferring to ToRD with three years’ experience is Finnish skater, Udre.  A former member of Kallio Rolling Rainbow (a district of Helsinki), Udre was also a member of Finland’s somewhat surprising 5th place team at the Roller Derby World Cup (making her the second World Cup skater who has transferred to ToRD for this season).

The Betties add experience to an already solid roster. After last year’s fantastic (though inconsistent) season, hopes haven’t been this high since 2009, the year of their one-and-only trip to championship.

Gore-Gore Rollergirls logo

The Gore-Gore Rollergirls

Amefyst

Cirque du So-laid

Full Deck

Tarantulove

Last year was a challenging year for the three-time ToRD champions. Wracked with injuries and a lack of offensive depth, the Gores managed to slip into the ToRD playoffs on a tiebreaker after a demoralizing regular season loss to the Smoke City Betties. It was their worst regular season showing ever, but buoyed by the return of some of those injured skaters, the Gores were able to make it to their sixth consecutive Battle for the Boot.

In the initial draft, the team looked to shore up these inefficiencies (only exacerbated by the loss of the two highest scoring jammers in league history to CN Power), and continued to do so with the Top-Up Draft. While Cirque and Full Deck are rookies, Tarantulove and Amefyst are experienced transfers. Amefyst spent the past two seasons helping to develop Durham’s Atom Smashers (she was  key part of their Gibson’s Cup victory this season) and DRRD’s travel Team, the Devils. She is smart pack player capable of wearing the stripe. Tarantulove, meanwhile, was one of Rideau Valley’s most highly touted prospects last season and gained valuable experience at the WFTDA level with the travel team Vixens. She will fit in nicely with the Gores young jammer rotation, and admitted after the draft, that she had a feeling she’d be a Gore.

Chicks Ahoy! logo

Chicks Ahoy!

(B)lackey(E)

Emraged

Heavy Knitter

Smack Mia Round

The winners of back-to-back ToRD championships in the past two seasons (and three overall), the Chicks roster was left in tatters after CN Power separated from the home teams this year. The rebuild begins in earnest with four more skaters added to a very young roster. Kingston transfer (B)lackey(E) is probably the most experienced in the group, but Smack Mia Round has spent the better part of two seasons with the D-VAS and has picked up valuable track time along the way.

It could be a challenging season for the Chicks who have barely faced any adversity since the 2009 season. But Smack Mia Round, who did not hide her desire to be drafted by the Chicks (“I’ve been a Chicks fan from the start,” she openly admits) believes that the positive attitude at the foundation of the team will pull them through. “The spirit of the Chicks is still there. That’s still clear,” she says, despite the massive shake up of the roster in the off season (they lost the most skaters to the new CN Power team). “In the past few months I really figured out what about derby was most important for me…they are ‘Team Number Fun,’ ” she says of their famous motto, “and that’s what I wanted.” She’s confident that the team can get over the roster shake up.

“Also,” she points out, “You can practice really hard when you are happy.”

**ToRD’s regular season kicks off on March 2nd with all four home teams in action. Stay tuned for a full preview.**

2013 ToRD HOME TEAM ROSTERS

(Before the Top-Up Draft; *R* signifies 2013 rookie)

  Chicks Ahoy!
Biggley Smallz 1017
Chevy Chase-Her 7 *R*
Doris Doomsday 818
Dyna Hurtcha (C) 21
Furious Georgia 2
Hoff 65+
Joss Wheelin 5by5 *R*
Kookie Doe (C) 807
Machete Maiden 613 *R*
Marmighty 41
Mean Streak 529 *R*
R2-Smack-U 1977 *R*
Roadside BombShel 3165
Robber Blind 34A
Rosemary’s Rabies 15 *R*
Tess D’Urb-Evil 1891
  Death Track Dolls
Ames to Kill 747
Audrey Hellborn 1134
Bellefast 5678
Canadian Psycho 1000*R*
Demolition Dawn 36
Dolly Parts ‘Em 925
Dawson Z682
Getcha Kicks 76 *R*
Monichrome 35
Rhage InA Cage 2112
Santilly In Yo’ Face 1129
Scarcasm (C) 204
Sinead O’Clobber 87
SlamWow 1995
Speedin’ Hawking (C) 3E8
UpHer Cut TK0
  Gore-Gore Rollergirls
Beaver Mansbridge 422 *R*
Chronic 60
Draculaura 467
Emma Dilemma 716
Foxy Sinatra 13
Gamma Rei 300
Gypsy Nose Bleed 1066 *R*
Junkie Jenny 37
Kandy Barr (C) 8
Lexi Con 66 *R*
Miss Kitty La Peur 44
Purple Pain 2627 *R*
Santa Muerte (C) 111
Taranosaurus Rex 4*R*
Viktory Lapp 148.5*R*
Wheely Nasty 705
Smoke City Betties
Genuine Risk 1301
Hailey Copter (C) 1
Laya Beaton 83-5
LowBlowPalooza 483*R*
Mazel Tough 18*R*
Misery Mae (C) 101
Mouth of the South 17
Platinum Bomb 78
Renny Rumble 1205
Sin D Drop-Her 1983
Slaptrick Swayze 79
Tomy Knockers 416*R*
Tropic Thunder 47
Uncivil Servant 8305*R*
Wolverina 111
Zom-Boney BON3*R*

Building the Future: The 2013 ToRD Entry Draft

The 2012 D-VAS bench in an early season game against Kingston’s Disloyalists. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

The four home teams that make up Toronto Roller Derby’s house league held their annual entry draft this past weekend at Cardinal Skate shop in Toronto.  The developing competitive structure of the league has seen the timely development of the D-VAS, which in 2012 has—more so in this generation than ever before—become a true farm team, developing smart, game-ready (and experienced) skaters who will be able to fill immediate roles on the teams.

On top of the usual retirements, ToRD’s WFTDA-level travel team, CN Power, is now built of a (mostly) unique twenty-skater roster, meaning that there were plenty of spots to be filled on the home teams this season. So much so, that this year’s draft will actually be conducted in two parts. This past weekend, each team filled their roster to sixteen skaters, and early in 2013, there will be a top-up draft that will include the remaining current D-VAS and also the skaters who make up the most recent graduating Fresh Meat class.

Joss Wheelin (jamming) and R2-Smack-U were both drafted by the defending champion Chicks Ahoy!. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The two teams who combined have won the first six ToRD Championships, the Chicks Ahoy! and the Gore-Gore Rollergirls, saw the greatest off-season roster shakeups, leaving room for six skaters apiece. Last year’s third-place finishers, the Smoke City Betties, were able to pick up five skaters, while the comparatively unchanged Death Track Dolls had only two openings to fill.

Despite the potentially appealing desire to just try to replace the exiting skaters with carbon copies from the D-VAS, none of the teams took that approach to the draft, yet each team still had a particular approach in mind. “We approached it a lot like (the Chicks) have in the past,” explained Chicks Ahoy! co-captain Kookie Doe, “a lot on personality.” Her co-captain Dyna Hurtcha further refined their stance. “Teamwork,” she said when asked about what qualities they were looking for . “And how they fit in with the team; how they will affect the team dynamic.” During a slight rebuild a few years ago, the defending champion Chicks took on a “We’re number fun!” mantra that they will look to continue this year.

Lexi Con (now of the Gores) jams in her last game as a D-VAS (vs. Royal City’s Top Herloins). (Photo by Greg Russell)

Attitude was also something the attitude-rich Gore-Gore Rollergirls were also looking for. More than any of the teams in the league, the Gores emanate a particular aura that has always been hard to define even as it remains so unmistakable. First-year captain Santa Muerte cited that as the number one criterion for the Gores: “We look for skaters who have that same Gore attitude,” she said, adding that on the track that translates to skaters who “try really hard and want to be better than everybody else.” This Gore attitude was what first drew draftee Lexi Con to the team: “I met some of the Gores before Fresh Meat and felt a connection to that team for personality reasons,” she explained, saying that she knew she wanted to be a Gore even before she began to skate. “I’m super excited.”

In terms of filling positions, returning Gores co-captain Kandy Barr says that despite their loss of key jammers this season, they “were looking for triple threats,” but acknowledges that “jamming was definitely on (their) mind.” And that suits Lexi Con just fine. “I’m excited to develop my game (as a jammer) and to get a lot of play time because there is a lack of jammers on the team,” the draftee said, before adding, “I’m just excited to be on the team, and I’ll do whatever they tell me to do.”

New Doll Canadian Psycho pivots for the Bay Street Bruisers in a recent showdown against Royal City’s Brute-Leggers. (Photo by Greg Russell)

But drafting diverse, multi-position skaters seemed to be a trend. It was something that the Death Track Dolls could do as well. Having veteran skaters locked into many key positions on the team, they were able to choose well established transfers capable of playing in any capacity. Getcha Kicks and Canadian Psycho were just two of a number of those veteran transfers who were a part of this year’s draft, and Getcha Kicks, who has skated primarily as a jammer during her career, is looking forward to the opportunity to play on a Dolls team known for developing some successful triple-threats.

The Betties were extremely pleased with the way things went in 2012, and for the first time in years were able to enter the draft not looking to rebuild, but to fill gaps. “We thought of it as a chance to build on complementing the skaters that were currently on the roster,” said co-captain Misery Mae. “We looked for skaters who were game ready, and who were driven to be competitive,” she explained. But attitude had something to do with it too. New Bettie LowBlow Palooza admitted that in retrospect, there’d been hints that she could be a Bettie. “At the Beast of the East Misery Mae said to me, ‘You’re crazy; you’re meant to be a Bettie,” she laughs.

But her former D-VAS and now new Bettie teammate Mazel Tough admitted that, like Lexi Con had been drawn to the Gores, there was something that drew her to the Betties: “Before I really knew anything about the league, I felt aligned with the Betties,” she said

Gore draftee Viktory Lapp gets a helpful shove from new Bettie Mazel Tough. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

The talk of the draft was the level of play of the skaters entering the league. Because of the active game and tournament schedule, this batch of D-VAS has more track-time than any cohort has had previously. Add to that the handful of transfers, and there shouldn’t be too much of a dip in the league’s competitive level in 2013 (“Some of the rookies [on ToRD home teams] didn’t get to play as much as the D-VAS did,” Mazel Tough points out.). The way Santa sees it, these experienced rookies mean that the teams can essentially continue where they left off to the end the 2012 season: “We get to skate next week and work on team integration and not so much on picking up basic skills.”

What this means to most, is that every team has the potential to develop a competitive team. While Betties co-captains Hailey Copter (formerly titmouse) and Misery Mae both strongly believe the Betties had a competitive roster before the draft, Misery Mae does acknowledge that the additions will help, “with the draftees we have now,” she said confidently, “I feel that we are definitely at a competitive level.” But everyone admits that it’s hard to get a read on how things will play out next season, which makes for 2013 an exciting time for Toronto Roller Derby. “It’s unchartered territory,” said Dyna Hurtcha. Kookie Doe agrees, “We don’t know if all of the teams will be close or if there will be weaker and stronger teams.” Dolls co-captain Scarcasm echoes the sentiment as well, “I think it’s an exciting year for ToRD; it’s going to push everyone a little bit further and harder.”

LowBlowPalooza was drafted by the Smoke City Betties. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

And with the Death Track Dolls and the Smoke City Betties losing the least amount of core players, there could be a potential power shift in the league. “Last year we gained huge momentum from what we did the year before,” said Misery Mae, “and we hope to do that this year…this year we’ve gotten to the point where we feel our improvement level is Boot level.” Both teams also boast a high number of members of the Bay Street Bruisers. New Doll ( and current Bruiser) Canadian Psycho acknowledges that “the familiarity will be good for the team competitively.  Her captain Scarcasm agrees that the extra training won’t hurt, but cautions against relying on that, “It’s only half the team that ‘s on the Bruisers,” she mentions, “and we really need to work together as the Dolls and keep those teams separate.”

While this weekend only built up the core sixteen of the team, the competitive heart of each of the four teams is essentially in place. The January top-up draft will provide a unique opportunity to pick up some long- term prospects and even take risks on skaters based purely on potential. All in all, with a nearly level playing field, nineteen new skaters ready to take ToRD by storm, and a crop of rookies brandishing more track time than any other class in history, Toronto Roller Derby’s 2013 season is quickly becoming the most heavily anticipated season yet.

2013 ToRD HOME TEAM ROSTERS

(*R* signifies 2013 rookie skater)

  Chicks Ahoy!
Biggley Smallz 1017
Chevy Chase-Her 7 *R*
Doris Doomsday 818
Dyna Hurtcha (C) 21
Furious Georgia 2
Hoff 65+
Joss Wheelin 5by5 *R*
Kookie Doe (C) 807
Machete Maiden 613 *R*
Marmighty 41
Mean Streak 529 *R*
R2-Smack-U 1977 *R*
Roadside BombShel 3165
Robber Blind 34A
Rosemary’s Rabies 15 *R*
Tess D’Urb-Evil 1891
  Death Track Dolls
Ames to Kill 747
Audrey Hellborn 1134
Bellefast 5678
Canadian Psycho 1000*R*
Demolition Dawn 36
Dolly Parts ‘Em 925
Dawson Z682
Getcha Kicks 76 *R*
Monichrome 35
Rhage InA Cage 2112
Santilly In Yo’ Face 1129
Scarcasm (C) 204
Sinead O’Clobber 87
SlamWow 1995
Speedin’ Hawking (C) 3E8
UpHer Cut TK0
  Gore-Gore Rollergirls
Beaver Mansbridge 422 *R*
Chronic 60
Draculaura 467
Emma Dilemma 716
Foxy Sinatra 13
Gamma Rei 300
Gypsy Nose Bleed 1066 *R*
Junkie Jenny 37
Kandy Barr (C) 8
Lexi Con 66 *R*
Miss Kitty La Peur 44
Purple Pain 2627 *R*
Santa Muerte (C) 111
Taranosaurus Rex 4*R*
Viktory Lapp 148.5*R*
Wheely Nasty 705
Smoke City Betties
Genuine Risk 1301
Hailey Copter (C) 1
Laya Beaton 83-5
LowBlowPalooza 483*R*
Mazel Tough 18*R*
Misery Mae (C) 101
Mouth of the South 17
Platinum Bomb 78
Renny Rumble 1205
Sin D Drop-Her 1983
Slaptrick Swayze 79
Tomy Knockers 416*R*
Tropic Thunder 47
Uncivil Servant 8305*R*
Wolverina 111
Zom-Boney BON3*R*