Santa Muerte

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.

Advertisements

Gores Pull into Top Spot in ToRD standings; Dolls improve to 1-1

The Gore-Gore Rollergirls and Smoke City Betties dueled for top spot in the standings. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The Gore-Gore Rollergirls and Smoke City Betties dueled for top spot in the standings. (Photo by Joe Mac)

For the second time this month all four of Toronto Roller Derby’s house league teams were in action and it was a scrappy night at The Bunker on Saturday. Big hits, tight defense and some explosive jamming defined the evening’s games, and when the dust settled on the track the Gore-Gore Rollergirls (2-0) found themselves in first-place in the league, while the defending champion Death Track Dolls (1-1) managed their first win of the season over the least-place Chicks Ahoy! (0-2) to pull even with the Smoke City Betties (1-1).

Gore-Gore Rollergirls 155 vs. The Smoke City Betties 148

The Gores led for most of the game, but only narrowly, including a 13-point lead at half. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Gores led for most of the game, but only narrowly, including a 13-point lead at half. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Right now it looks as if the ToRD regular season is a three-way race for the top and there doesn’t appear to be much distance between the competitors. For the second game in a row, the Gore-Gore Rollergirls held off a late charge from their opponents to win by the narrowest of margins, and the Smoke City Betties (who trounced the Chicks in their season opener) will be left to wonder, “What if…?”

It’s been a long road for the Betties since their last Battle for the Boot appearance, and after the season opener it seemed as if this could be the season that the venerable team bounces back. On Saturday, things started off spectacularly for the Betties, with Smoka Cola picking up lead and the Gore jammer Santa Muerte heading to the box, the Betties found themselves spotted an 11-0 lead right out of the gates. The Betties actually dominated the opening minutes of the game, taking advantage of a scattered Gores team to lunge ahead 26-0 nearly seven minutes into the opening period.

The Gores went with a broad jammer rotation (Taranosaurus Rex, Lexi Con, Santa Muerte, Beaver Mansbridge, and Lumberjack Flash, who was playing her first game of the season), and it took them awhile to get going as the packs couldn’t find a steady rhythm with their jammers. Speaking of packs, co-captain Chronic returned after missing the season opener and was a huge presence for the Gores, and former D-VAS Knoccer Mom also made her ToRD debut.

It took a while for the Gores to get going, but they had managed to stem the flow by the ten-minute mark and picked up 10 points in the opening third of the half, but were still down 40-10.

As they did in their season opener, the Betties favoured a tighter rotation and it was clicking from the start. Led by Smoka Cola, Wolverina and Kil’Her At Large, it was WackedHer who truly got things going early on and was cutting up the Gores’ packs in the first half. Off-season transfer AnneBulance made her first appearance in the pack, and TJRD graduate Fight of the Chonchords debuted and looked very comfortable playing on a line with Tushy Galore, Honey Boom Boom and Brickhouse Bardot. But it was veterans SewWhat? And Lowblowpalooza who stood out when the Betties were controlling things early.

Taranosaurus Rex, who got knocked around last week against the Dolls, had a  bounce-back game against the Betties and sparked the Gores comeback midway through the first. Absorbing a big hit from Betties’ blocker Isla Be Damned, Rexy bounced right back, laying down a 19-point jam at the midway point to double up the Gores’ score and get them back into the game, down 59-38.

Betties' jammer Smoka Cola tore up the track and was key in her team's late-game comeback. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Betties’ jammer Smoka Cola tore up the track and was key in her team’s late-game comeback. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Gores started to come in waves over the last half of the opening period, with skaters like Viktory Lapp taking on bigger roles on the track and seeming to gain confidence with each passing moment (Vik supplied some nice offense during the comeback). Beaver Mansbridge was wearing the star for the first (and it turns out, only) lead change in the game when the Gores pulled ahead 72-69 with only five to go in the half. The Betties came undone over the final five, with jammers repeatedly in the box, and by the break, the Gores had taken a slim 83-70 lead.

The physicality ramped up in the second with both teams landing massive hits. But there had been a clear momentum shift in the game, and despite trying to mix it up by jamming SewWhat? and Honey Boom Boom, the Betties could not muster a sustained offensive push and by the midway point of the half found themselves facing the largest deficit of the game, down 132-85.

Then, at the 10-minute mark, Betties jammer Smoka Cola took over the game. It started with 21-point jam and continued through to the end, playing every second jam and almost single-handedly bringing the Betties back. With 2:30 left, the Betties were back within 19 and had outscored the Gores 37-18 over a twelve-minute stretch, but some questionable calls stalled the comeback. A few overextended jams (a 7-4 jam and 6-4 jam for the Betties) killed precious time on the clock, and inexplicably, with their team playing the best derby they had all night, the bench did not try to stop the clock in the last five minutes, leaving a time out and an official review on the board despite having pulled within 10 points (this would also have provided Smoka with time for a breather as well, as she began to run out of steam near the end of her heroic run). In the end, time ran out on the Betties and the Gores remained perfect on the season with the 155-148 win.

Death Track Dolls 245 vs. Chicks Ahoy! 151

Chicks' jammer Monster Muffin battles with Dolls' pivot Hannibelle

Chicks’ jammer Monster Muffin battles with Dolls’ pivot Hannibelle

The Chicks were coming off of a rough loss to the Betties in their season opener, and burst out of the gates after the opening whistle in the first game of the evening, seeming like a team obsessed and catching the Dolls off guard to hold a narrow 9-8 lead, five minutes in.

Another first-year transfer was the story in this one, as Monster Muffin, on the heels of her strong debut against the Gores, anchored an improved Chicks offense, and had a lot of success against the Dolls.  It took a while, but the defending champs finally blew open the game on a Scarcasm 25-point jam, all coming off of natural grand slams as the Dolls’ pack locked things down.

There weren’t many changes to the Dolls’ roster from the season opener, nor for the Chicks who stuck with their tight jammer rotation of Monster Muffin, R2 Smack U and Wheels of Misfortune (with Rosemary’s Rabies offering relief). The line of EmRaged, Biggley Smallz, Rabies and Joss Wheelin was outstanding for the Chicks all night, often shifting momentum with single, dominant jams, and kept the Chicks within reach, down 61-32 with 10 left in the opening period. The Dolls also maintained their season-opening rotation anchored by Devochka (who was steady all night), Sleeper Hold (who had three critical, game-changing jams), and Scar, but also gave track time to the rookie jammers Common Dominator and PrEditor.

The Chicks took advantage of some Dolls’ jammer-penalty issues, and despite excellent penalty killing from Hannibelle and Robotomy, pulled within 6 points with three minutes to go. It was only a Dolls’ power jam in the final moments that gave them a relatively secure 92-62 lead at the half.

The Dolls began the second half on a power start along with a 4-2 pack advantage, and despite the efforts of EmRaged (who was coming off of her second straight excellent game), they made the Chicks pay. A few 20+ point power jams in the opening ten minutes of the half saw the Dolls open up a substantial 144-69 lead. It was one that they would not relent.

Once again the Chicks faded after a great start. The Dolls led by 30 at the break. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Once again the Chicks faded after a great start. The Dolls led by 30 at the break. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Despite some penalty troubles Dawson had another strong game in the pack for the Dolls and along with Getcha Kicks (who has fully transitioned from jammer to key blocker for the Dolls) provided some timely offense for their team. Hannibelle, working well on a line with Robotomy, continues to emerge as a powerhouse in the pack for the Dolls who seem to have weathered yet another massive turnover and look strong in the build-up to the playoffs. UpHer Cut made her return to the Dolls after a year-long hiatus, and rookie, and former D-VAS standout, April Cruel made her debut.

The Chicks looked much better than they did two weeks ago, and with a strong core led by that phenomenal line of Biggley, Em, Rabies and Joss have a lot to build around. Rookie Vag Lightning continues to improve and was a strong physical presence in the pack, while returning veteran Hoff (who very briefly retired in the off season), is playing some of her best derby in years. Add to that a talent like Monster Muffin anchoring the offense, and the Chicks are trending upward and could be a dangerous foe come playoff time.

But on this night, the Dolls proved to be a step ahead, and looked much more consistent in skating away with the 245-151 victory to even up their record at 1-1.

** Layer9.ca was there track side to record the proceedings. Watch the archives here.

**ToRD is right back at it next week! It’ll be a travel team double header at The Bunker with the Bay Street Bruisers hosting their rivals the Bruteleggers (out of Royal City) and the D-VAS hosting Orangeville. Tickets are available now.

Gores to Battle for the Boot After Semi-Final Win

The Gore-Gore Rollergirls held off Chicks Ahoy! in a highly competitive semi-final showdown, while the D-VAS impressed against South Simcoe in their final performance before the 2015 entry draft.

This was the sixth playoff meeting between the Chicks and the Gores, but the first time they have faced off in the semi-final instead of the final. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

This was the sixth playoff meeting between the Chicks and the Gores, but the first time they have faced off in the semi-final instead of the final. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The “Dynasty” has completed one more step on its quest to return to the top. After reaching 6 consecutive ToRD championships from 2007-2012, the Gore-Gore Rollergirls were stunned in last year’s semi-finals by the Smoke City Betties leaving them and their co-perennial power house leaguemates Chicks Ahoy! out of the championship game for the first time ever. It would be a league turn around that would not last long, as both are clearly back in the mix. The Gores booked their ticket to the Battle for the Boot with a tight, entertaining 152-97 victory over the Chicks on Saturday at the Bunker.

There was an old-school feel to the game brought on not only by the two teams’ long history together, but also by the fast-paced, grinding style of play they brought to the track. The Gores got off to a light advantage from the start, but were unable to pull away in the early going, never leading by more than 20-30 points. They were getting a strong game from their core of reliable veterans led by Santa Muerta, Chronic, and Kandy Barr, who were incredibly physical and, at least in the early going, never let the Chicks get into any sort of rhythm.

Chicks jammer Roadside BombShel made her return to the roster after a long injury lay off. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Chicks jammer Roadside BombShel made her return to the roster after a long injury layoff. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Chicks, however, looked strong as well, and seem well passed the brief drop to the bottom of the league that they endured last season. Led by their own core of blocker veterans (notably Rosemary’s Rabies, Biggley Smallz, Robber Blind and Emraged), the Chicks played a simple, old school, fast-pack defense to offset the lead-jammer advantage that the Gores had early on and it kept the score close. They played with a spark and intensity that was perhaps tied to the emotional return of jammer Roadside BombShel (who missed a season and a half recovering from injury): the scrappy jammer picked up right where she left off playing a more jukey style of game that was able to separate some of the Gore walls.

Both teams were suffering from injuries to key skaters and relied on call-ups from the D-VAS to bolster their jammer rotations; the Chicks call-up (and recent league transfer) Smoka Cola was simply extraordinary in the game, and in particular in the opening half, leading her temporary team in scoring (20 points) and the game in lead percentage (71%) through the first 30, looking incredibly comfortable on the track with exquisite footwork and powerful acceleration.

Gores jammer Lexi Con (evading a hit from Joss Wheelin) led the game in scoring with 91 points, including 59 in the opening half. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Gores jammer Lexi Con (evading a hit from Joss Wheelin) led the game in scoring with 91 points, including 59 in the opening half. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

2013 league leading scorer Lexi Con, saw her chances to repeat as scoring champion fade away when a late season injury kept her out of the Gores’ lineup; however, she looks none the worse for wear, and has arguably returned from injury even stronger. It was a late first half power jam skated by Lexi (and adding to her game-leading total of 91 points, of which 59 came in the first) that allowed the Gores to add a bit of a cushion at the break as the Chicks had roared back. Suddenly a 30-point deficit bad been stretched to 50, with the Gores leading 93-43 at half.

One thing that has changed about this Chicks Ahoy! team from their rough 2013 rebuild to now is their resiliency: whenever it seemed as if they were done in this game, they found that internal strength and motivation to fight back and stay in it. It was the quality that put them over the edge in a thrilling regular season win over the Betties and that was what kept them in this one when it threatened to get away from them.

The Gores picked up the second half right where they left off in the first, going on a 26-4 run to increase their lead to 119-47. The Gores’ depth shined through in the second as well as Purple Pain and Miss Kitty La Peur played some of their strongest derby of the season, with Purple locking down the front of the pack and Kitty often playing from the back.

The Gores' Chronic, Santa Muerte and Purple Pain work to contain Hyena Koffinkat. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Gores’ Chronic, Santa Muerte and Purple Pain work to contain Hyena Koffinkat. (Photo by Greg Russell)

But the Chicks just wouldn’t go away. Hyena Koffinkat brought her now expected intensity to the game and was a force particularly in the second half, often going toe-to-toe with (arguably) the only jammer in the league who could match her in on-track intensity: Lumberjack Flash; but after being contained for much of the first half, Hyena broke free in the second. This, coupled with a heads up half-time decision to flip the roles of R2 Smack You and Heavy Knitter (from pivot to jammer and vice versa), had the Chicks come storming back in the second, going on a 27-2 ten minute run of their own to pull back within reach, down 126-74 at the midway point of the second.

And the Chicks just kept coming, pouring it on until the end, with the Gores frantically able to hold on, getting incredibly strong jamming late from Beaver Mansbridge, who played with the star more than at any other time in her ToRD career thus far. When it was all said and done, despite getting stronger as the game went on, the Chicks simply ran out of time , and the Gores own tenaciousness allowed them to seal the deal and book their ticket back to the Battle for the Boot with the 55-point victory.

**The Gores will face off against defending champion Death Track Dolls in the 2014 ToRD Championship on October 18. Tickets are on sale now.

D-VAS 213 vs. South Simcoe 172

The least experienced members of these two teams squared off at Fresh and Furious 2014 in July with the D-VAS winning narrowly. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The least-experienced members of these two teams squared off at Fresh and Furious 2014 in July with the D-VAS winning narrowly. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

In the opening game of the double header, the D-VAS ended their 2014 on a high note with a big win against a scrappy team in the South Simcoe Rebel Rollers to improve their season record to 5-2 (not including a third place finish at this year’s Fresh and Furious tournament) and leave an excellent impression ahead of this year’s entry draft.

The teams were virtually deadlocked early on, with only D-VAS’ power jams keeping the home team ahead (including an incredible 27 point jam from top prospect Smoka Cola), up only slightly, 59-43 at the midway point, the D-VAS opened things up a bit at half, up 119-74. South Simcoe was led in the pack by captain Mis Terplow, Painkiller Jane, Luna-Zee (who eventually fouled out) and Suzy Scalp-Her, with Crash Brownie coming on strong late. South Simcoe was liberal with their jammer rotation early on, before locking in the trio of Amazon, Axe Attack and Brand Her (all of whom had successes at one point or another during the game).

Battering Ma'am, pivoting for the D-VAS, had a strong night at all three positions. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Battering Ma’am, pivoting for the D-VAS, had a strong night at all three positions. (Photo by Greg Russell)

There were three separate occasions where a South Simcoe jammer picked up multiple penalties on the same jam, and this was certainly the difference in the end as the D-VAS led the whole way during the second half , but were never able to pull away, instead holding on in the end for the 41-point win.

There were a variety of D-VAS standouts in this final game before the entry draft, with Vag Lightning standing out in the pack and Smoka Cola dominating at times with the star, while Battering Ma’am was all over the track in a strong triple-threat performance. But all season there have been a variety of players who have stepped up for the D-VAS making draft-day decisions all that much harder.

**Both games were filmed by Rogers TV. Stay tuned to local listings for re-airing dates and times.

Gores Take Down Chicks to Kick Off ToRD’s 2014 Season

Chicks Ahoy! 157 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 218

The Chicks and Gores season opener was the seventh regular season meeting between the two teams. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Chicks and Gores season opener was the seventh regular season meeting between the two teams. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

When last they met, the Chicks Ahoy! and the Gore-Gore Rollergirls were on different paths. The Gores were wrapping up a second place finish in the 2013 regular season standings while the Chicks were putting to rest a rough, rebuilding season that saw them suffer historic losses (all of this in the wake of back-to-back ToRD championships). The Gores took the final game of the 2013 regular season 323-75 in a lopsided, hard-to-watch game. Fast forward half a year and the Chicks Ahoy!, despite not too many changes to the roster, are suddenly back in the conversation, and it’s not that the Gores have slipped, as they too seem poised to contend.

Toronto Roller Derby kicked off its 2014 house league season in style at The Bunker in Downsview Park on Saturday night in front of a packed house of fans who braved the frigid temperatures in order to ring in ToRD’s 8th season. Despite a much more competitive match than their last tilt, in the end the Gores continued their regular season domination over their long-time rivals Chicks Ahoy! with a hard fought 218-157 victory. It was the seventh time the two teams have met in ToRD’s regular season, and the sixth time the Gores emerged victorious.

Chicks Hyena Koffinkat lines up next to Lumberjack Flash. Rookies (and transfers) would have big roles in this game. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Chicks’ Hyena Koffinkat lines up next to Lumberjack Flash. Rookies (and transfers) would have big roles in this game. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Both the Chicks and the Gores were bolstered this season by choosing wisely in an entry draft that featured a number of experienced skaters transferring from leagues as far away as Halifax and Vancouver: some of these so called “rookies” had a major impact on the season opener. Both teams seemed hesitant off of the starting whistle, but it was the Chicks who took advantage of some early Gore penalty trouble. One question the Chicks had entering the season was with their jammer rotation and they answered that quickly. Second-year Chicks Heavy Knitter and Chevy Chase-Her (fully healed from injury) were joined by draftees Hyena Koffinkat and the blazingly fast Sneaky Dee to form a rotation that has the potential to see out the season. The Gores also threw a rookie into the rotation as Lumberjack Flash joined Lexi Con, Taranasaurus Rex and R.I. Pink with the star in the opening period. With depleted packs, the Gores couldn’t get much going early on, while the Chicks pulled ahead 29-13 ten minutes in.

Lexi Con (who lef all scorers) attempts to break through a Rebel Rock-It and Rosemary's Rabies two wall. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Lexi Con (who led all scorers) attempts to break through a Rebel Rock-It and Rosemary’s Rabies two-wall. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

But the Gores roared back. After riding through the penalty troubles, the Gores took off, picking up a string of five straight lead-jammer statuses and going on a 48-0 run to retake the lead. Indicative of a season opener, the first half had wild swings in momentum as the rust fell off and both teams struggled through penalty issues and loose packs, with neither able to take control. A final-jam power jam for the Chicks (skated by Sneaky Dee who had 34 first-half points) had them within 9, down 91-82 at the half.

The Gores made a slight adjustment at half time, swapping in rookie transfer Guardian Paingel to the jammer rotation and slipping last year’s second-leading scorer T-Rex into the pack (she had 29 points in the first half to lead the Gores in scoring). The Chicks stuck with the plan and led off with Hyena Koffinkat (who had made a big impression with 35 points in the opening period); unfortunately, the Terminal City transfer found herself sitting for back-to-back penalties that allowed her Vancouver counterpart, Paingel, to make her mark on the game. The Gores came out flying to start the second half and took advantage of the penalty trouble for a 31-0 run that helped them amass a lead that the Chicks, despite determined play, could not overcome. Paingel would pick up three leads in her first three jams and fourteen points in the process (she’d finish with 21 in the half).

Sneaky Dee tries to sneak past Gores vets Santa Muerte and Kandy Barr. Sneaky Dee scored 68 points to lead the Chicks. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Sneaky Dee tries to sneak past Gores vets Santa Muerte and Kandy Barr. Sneaky Dee scored 68 points to lead the Chicks. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Last year’s leading scorer, Lexi Con, who had a relatively quiet first half, simply took over in the second, picking up 76 points (for 104 on the game). But it was also the pack work that was the difference. Veterans Santa Muerte and Chronic were simply dominant at times, and the leadership of pivot Kandy Barr was undeniable as well. But depth players also stood out with Viktory Lapp playing the most effective game of her career, while rookie (and Halifax transfer) Machu Beatchu looked incredibly comfortable in her first game in Toronto, despite running into some penalty trouble.

The Chicks also saw some depth players step up into big roles, perhaps none more so than R2-Smack-U who often donned the stripe as pivot, Rosemary’s Rabies who has transitioned from jammer to blocker this season and was excellent on the track with some timely snipes and demoralizing drag backs, and Emraged who seems ready and willing to build off of an impressive rookie season in 2013. But it was the veterans who led the way with Robber Blind and an inspired Tess D-Urb-Evil picking up heavy minutes and Rebel Rock-It and Hoff (both returning to the Chicks after Rebel spent last season on CN Power and Hoff spent it on injured reserve) adding depth; Biggley Smallz, who was having a big game, fell into penalty trouble early and eventually fouled out.

Although the Chicks were never down by more than 61 in the half, they were never able to get closer than 30 either and a balanced Gores’ half allowed them to take their victory comfortably. In the end, the Gores showed that they are a team to beat this season, but perhaps more importantly, the Chicks are back as well. The close game is nice a season-opening promise of parity in Toronto Roller Derby.

TJRD Torontosaurus Wrex 236 vs. AJRD Blister Sisters 82

TJRD hosted Alliston for their first JRDA sanctioned game of 2014. (Photo by Joe Mac)

TJRD hosted Alliston for their first JRDA sanctioned game of 2014. (Photo by Joe Mac)

But it wasn’t all about ToRD on Saturday, as the night was capped off by a thoroughly entertaining junior bout that saw Toronto Junior Roller Derby’s Torontosaurus Wrex hold off Alliston’s Blisters Sisters 236-82.

The incredible growth of flat track roller derby has continued unabated and is establishing a system of grassroots support that will provide a platform of continued stability for the growth of the sport; something that is never more apparent than when the juniors take to the track.

AJRD Joe

Alliston’s Blister Sisters enter the track at The Bunker. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Toronto hosted Alliston to kick off their 2014 season and they looked very strong. It was close in the early going, as the hosts led 111-45 at halftime of the JRDA-sanctioned game, but they simply overwhelmed Alliston in the second half to record the 154-point win. It was a thoroughly enjoyable game—high in strategy, stratospheric in effort—a fine showcase of the future of the sport.

Fans will get another chance to watch Toronto’s juniors play on May 10th when they once again team up with their big sisters from ToRD for a game at The Bunker.

***Next up for Toronto Roller Derby: On February 8th ToRD’s marquee team, CN Power, will host Team Ontario in a preseason matchup that will feature some of the finest skaters in the province.

Dolls, Gores, Betties reach for the top; Chicks fight for their lives at ToRD Double Header

ToRD Poster May 2013The Death Track Dolls have a chance to do something that they have never done before: lock up top spot in ToRD’s house league regular season. Although in 2008 they tied both the Gore-Gore Rollergirls and Chicks Ahoy! with the best record, they lost out on the number one seed through a tie breaker. This season, a simple win (by any margin) guarantees their place in the final. It’s a remarkable turn around for a team that finished last in the league a year ago.

A Smoke City Betties win over the Dolls, however, would vaunt them into a tie for first, while even a loss could still see them through to the semifinals, pending a victory for the Gore-Gore Rollergirls over the Chicks Ahoy! (who will be missing key players this weekend).  A win for the Gores would assure them a playoff spot, but like the Betties, a loss wouldn’t necessarily eliminate them: last year they were blown out in the final game of the regular season but still held on to their playoff spot on a point differential tie-breaker. It could get complicated, but barring any upsets, it could also line up perfectly.

Death Track Dolls LogoDeath Track Dolls vs. Smoke City Betties LogoSmoke City Betties

The battle for first place in the league: the Dolls could clinch with a victory; the Betties could throw the standings into chaos with a big win. The Dolls have lived up to preseason expectations, while the Betties struggled out of the gate but seem to be turning things around. A second straight playoff berth seems all but assured for the Betties, but a win would truly shake things up heading into the post season.

The Dolls have a deep bench that includes seventh-year skater Monichrome. (Photo by Neil Gunner).

The Dolls have a deep bench that includes seventh-year skater Monichrome (battling with the Gores’ Gamma Rei). (Photo by Neil Gunner).

Story to Follow: Bench Depth

Both teams been using fairly even benches this season, a testament to their depth (each team has eleven skaters who have appeared in at least 30% of their team’s jams), but the Betties have shown less consistency than the Dolls  (they handled the Chicks more easily than the Dolls did, but they fell to the Gores, whom the Dolls defeated), which is probably due to less experience in those depth positions on the bench.

Story to Follow: Jammer Battle

These two teams clearly boast the best, most consistent rotations in the league. Each team has a primary trio (three jammers who’ve skated at least 20 jams for their team), with the Dolls trio of Santilly In Yo Face, Bellefast and Getcha Kicks arguably holding a slight advantage (they’ve outscored the Betties trio 352 to 317 with 4.4 points per jam against the Betties 4). However, the Betties rotation of Hailey Copter, Slaptrick Swayze and Udre hold the edge in a vital category, lead percentage, and it’s a significant difference at 62% vs. 50%. There are a variety of reasons for that disparity that could explain away some of the difference, but the fact of the matter is that if the Betties control the lead, they could control the game.

First year Doll Rainbow Fight battles against key Gores veterans Kandy Barr and Chronic. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

First year Doll Rainbow Fight battles against key Gores veterans Kandy Barr and Chronic. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The convenient comparison continues as each team also deploys a consistent fourth jammer. Wolverina has been solid in the role, and played her best derby of the year so far at the Beast of the East under an increased load in the absence of Slaptrick Swayze. The Dolls’ fourth jammer, Rainbow Fight, has been phenomenal from the start. In a limited role, she’s amassed 72 points on a 6.5 points per jam and has recorded an 82% lead percentage; even better, on the two occasions she did not earn lead jammer, she was able to get out quick enough to force a call before the jammers could score, meaning she has a perfect +72 plus/minus as a jammer.

Gore-Gore Rollergirls logoGore-Gore Rollergirls vs. Chicks Ahoy! logoChicks Ahoy!

THE rivalry to ToRD’s early history reignites this weekend. These teams have met in five of the six ToRD championships (each team has won three Boots), but this weekend’s showdown has a distinct focus: the Chicks are fighting for their lives, while the Gores are gunning for second, or even first place, in the league. Not since 2009 has a Chicks Ahoy! team failed to qualify for the Battle for the Boot, and this year, even the playoffs are in doubt. It will take a massive win and some luck for this year’s edition to make it through, and with a lineup as inexperienced as theirs is, that could be a difficult challenge.

Gores rookie Lexi Con is on pace to amass record jammer stats for a rookie.  (Photo by Greg Russell)

Gores rookie Lexi Con is on pace to amass record jammer stats for a rookie. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Story to Follow: Penalties

No surprise given the inexperience of the roster, but the Chicks Ahoy! lead the league with 73 penalty minutes (including 14 minutes in jammer penalties). Contrasted with that, the Gore-Gore Rollergirls enter the game as the least penalized team in the league (a full 30 minutes less than the Chicks), and with a much more experienced pack, the Gores could exploit the issue if the Chicks run into their usual problems, particularly on power jams.  Rookie Lexi Con has been tearing up the league in her first season (129 PTS, 4.3 PPJ, 73% Lead%) and can power through weakened packs and defensive walls on power jams.

The Gores Santa Muerte holds up Betties jammer Slaptrick Swayze, while Emma Dilemma holds off Platinum Bomb. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Gores’ Santa Muerte holds up Betties jammer Slaptrick Swayze, while Emma Dilemma holds off Platinum Bomb. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Story to Watch: Standout Performances

The Gores have survived their 2013 roster shake up by balancing their lines between veterans and less experienced players—something that the Chicks, with their massive disparity between new and returning players, have not been able to do with as much regularity. And while you hate to place too much weight on individual performances in a game that relies so much on teamwork, that could be the difference in this one. The Chicks will have to find a way to contain the vets on this Gore line up; they will not have to contend with key skater Santa Muerte, but that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier on the Chicks. Kandy Barr is arguably having the season of her career joining another long-time vet Foxy Sinatra in transformations into triple threats. Chronic and Junkie Jenny remain key in the pack as well, and Emma Dilemma is having a breakout season after being given a lot more responsibility; this has allowed the rookies a little freedom and a lot less pressure, which has helped Purple Pain, in particular, quietly develop into a key, effective part of the pack.

Chicks' veteran Robber Blind and rookie Joss Wheelin hold off Betties pivot Misery Mae. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Chicks veteran Robber Blind and rookie Joss Wheelin hold off Betties pivot Misery Mae. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Chicks will be without three of their track-time leaders this weekend (Kookie Doe, Dyna Hurtcha,  Biggley Smallz), and with such an inexperienced line up, the onus for leadership will fall to two skaters: Robber Blind and Furious Georgia (both have been eating up a ton of track time already this season, and have been key).  The only other pack skater on the Chicks’ roster who has picked up considerable track time (IE: appearing in more than 25% of the team’s jams) is rookie standout Emraged. This means that the Chicks will be relying on big performances from blockers who have to prepare (mentally and physically) to take on significant more track time and responsibility than they are used to.

** Doors at the Bunker open at 5:00 PM. Opening whistle for the Gore-Gore Rollergirls vs. Chicks Ahoy! is at 6:00 PM; Death Track Dolls vs. Smoke City Betties gets under way around 8:00 PM. Tickets are available online or at select downtown outlets.

** Catch up on the Stats and Standings here.

Ahoy! Ahoy! Chicks Build Early Lead and Hold On For Win Over Gores

The three-time champion Gores and two-time champion Chicks kicked off ToRD's 2012 season. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Kicking off its sixth season in front of a sold out crowd at The Bunker (the first Toronto Roller Derby league game held in the venue), ToRD’s 2012 regular season rematch between last year’s championship finalists did not disappoint. The Chicks Ahoy! and Gore-Gore Rollergirls looked in mid-season form in an exceptional display of high level flat track roller derby that saw the champs build an early lead and hold on against a resurgent Gores who, of course, refused to give up. Although penalty troubles would end up being the difference, tight, fast packs, slick jamming and excellent on-track communication would highlight this 13 point victory by the defending champion Chicks Ahoy!.

Exposive jamming by Bambi had the Gores jump out to an early lead. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Although it’s been nearly six months since last season ended, both of these teams are stacked with travel team skaters (fourteen members of CN Power alone would play in this bout) who have been skating (and bouting) steadily since the end of last season, so some of the rust you might expect to see in regular season opener was not evident. The opening jam featured an all star lineup with Brim Stone (Gores) and Nasher the Smasher pivoting their team’s top lines. CN Power teammates Dyna Hurtcha (Chicks) and Dust Bunny lined up with the stars. Some nice blocking early (including a big Mega Bouche hit on Brim), had the Chicks jump out to a 5-0 lead. The Gores responded quickly; with 2011 JQ ratings leader Bambi facing off against 2011 rookie of the year Kookie Doe. A fast, tight Gores pack recycled Kookie while Lady Gagya provided some excellent offensive help in springing Bambi for a massive pick up and a 16-5 Gores’ lead. The score would hold up five minutes in with Dust Bunny and Dyna Hurtcha battling to a stalemate despite physical jamming from Dyna (who absorbed blows to fight through packs) and quick juking from Dust Bunny.

The Gores' Santa Muerte and Chicks' Bala Reina rounded out their teams' jammer rotations. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Only 24 hours before, Chicks Ahoy! learned that jammer Candy Crossbones was out due to injury, which meant that second-year skater Bala Reina was slotted into the jammer rotation. This worked out well for the Gores who were also looking to develop their own jammer rotation and had third year skater Santa Muerte in place. This provided an intriguing matchup in the early going, and both skaters impressed in the busiest games (jamming) of their careers. In the first part of the half, the Gores had control of the bout, and big hitting from veteran Foxy Sinatra (who tangled with Tara Part early on), great blocking from Chronic (who was calm and controlled on second passes all night), and Aston Martini stepping up to neutralize Mega Bouche had the Gores clearly in the driver’s seat, up 23-7 ten minutes in. But with a lineup peppered with rookies (due to the Candy injury, the Chicks had all three of their rookies dressed—Roadside BombShel, Doris Doomsday and Biggley Smallz), it took some time for the Chicks to settle into this bout. But if any jam could be said to be a turning point, it happened about half way through the first half.

The deep Chicks' packs were the difference early on as the defending champs built a lead. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Down 16 and unable to muster much offense, Tara Part orchestrated a nice first pass that completely caught the Gores off guard, and with both she and Marmighty hammering away on Dust Bunny, Bala Reina was able to score 4 quick points. Two jams later, relentless pressure from Nasher the Smasher earned the Chicks a power jam, ably skated by Kookie who managed 20 points and gave the Chicks their first lead of the bout, 33-28, a lead they increased steadily in the final ten minutes of the half as the Gores slipped into some penalty troubles. With about two minutes remaining, Dyna Hurtcha blew the bout wide open on another power jam. Chicks led 79-32 at the half.

Chicks' rookies Doris Doomsday and Roadside BombShel showed no fear in taking on one of ToRD's greatest jammers. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The penalty problems continued into the second half, eventually affecting both teams. Santa and Kookie traded jammer penalties early on as both teams struggled to keep control of the bout. While tight walls and well-executed traps had the Chicks seemingly dominating the packs (they looked to be targeting Brim Stone to isolate), they failed to increase their lead, and ten minutes in held the 40 point gap, 95-54. Continuing to trade penalties, the increasingly undisciplined nature of the bout was playing to the Chicks advantage and they did well to limit damage on a Bambi power jam mid way through before she ran into some penalty troubles herself, penalties that allowed the Chicks to continue to maintain the gap. But despite their strong play (including an increasingly improved rookie performance from Roadside BombShel), they couldn’t shake the Gores, and tightened packs (including great pairs work by Molly Boom and Chronic, and then Foxy Sinatra and Brim Stone), and an unrelenting focus kept the Gores within reach. Although down 128-89 with ten minutes left, the crowd in the Bunker buzzed with the awareness of a subtle shift in momentum.

Chicks' jammer Kookie Doe pressured the Gores long enough to secure the victory in the final jam. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Dust Bunny picked up a quick five points to bring the Gores within reach of the century mark. Then, in a key moment, a controversial call on a direction of game play hit by Mega Bouche led to a gross misconduct and expulsion of the popular blocker and the Gores jumped at the opportunity. Following great blocking from Hurlin Wall (who delivered a key late jammer take out on Dyna Hurtcha), Bambi slipped through to bring the Gores over the century mark. Dust Bunny and Bambi both continued to ring up points, slowly chipping away at the lead until they found themselves within 20 for the first time since the first half with only one jam to go. Dust Bunny and  Kookie Doe lined up for the final jam behind two packs featuring some of the best skaters in ToRD; it started off perfectly for the Gores, with Dust Bunny gaining lead and pulling in a natural grand slam to make it 137-120, but before she could get through on her second pass, Kookie Doe fought through the pack. Continuously recycled, she was unable to score and Dust Bunny managed another 4; but with Kookie set to eventually pick up points of her own, the Gores simply ran out of time, allowing the defending champs to hold on to the lead and win the opening bout of the 2012 season, 137-124.

The 137-124 win was the Chicks' first ever regular season victory over the Gores. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

While it was a great victory for Chicks Ahoy!, the Gore-Gore Rollergirls should come away pleased with their performance (they did not look like the overwhelmed team they appeared to be in the Battle for the Boot). Nonetheless, counting an off-season exhibition loss in Tri-City, The Gores have now lost three games in a row for the first time ever. With an excellent core of skaters, the Gores do have the time and opportunity to build from within, which is what they began to do tonight with the likes of Emma Dilemma and Santa Meurte getting key minutes. The Chicks had to be happy to have had the opportunity to play all of their rookies and feature a new jammer in Bala Reina. Despite trailing off a bit at the end of the game, it was a nearly perfect start to the season for the defending champions.

***Next up for ToRD is another double header on March 3rd when the Death Track Dolls and the Smoke City Betties kick off their 2012 season. Make sure to be their early though, as the opening bout will feature CN Power hosting the Roc City Roc Stars from Rochester, New York, in a WFTDA sanctioned match up. Tickets are on sale now!***

Team Preview: Chicks Ahoy!

Wins Losses +/ – Notes
2010 Regular Season 2 1 +192 Returned to 2nd overall (3rd in ’09)
2010 Playoffs 1 1 -40 First decisive victory over Dolls in 2 years.

In 2010 the Chicks played in their third championship in 4 years (all against the Gore-Gore Rollergirls). (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

2010

After a championship run in ’08 was followed by a disappointing ’09 that saw them eke out a 3rd place finish with a last-gasp victory over the Death Track Dolls, it seemed like that talented squad of Chicks Ahoy! who’d gone to back-to-back finals had run its course. But electing instead to shore up holes in the lineup with veteran free agents as opposed to dipping into the draft, the Chicks seemed committed to making one more run to the boot in 2010. And it paid off.

Despite a shaky start to the season, the experienced group of Chicks gelled as the season went on and looked primed for the playoffs after ending their regular season with a record-setting 224 point romp over the Smoke City Betties. They answered their remaining skeptics with a confident 36 point victory over the Dolls in the semifinals (the previous two bouts between these opponents had gone down to the wire). But The Boot would be out of reach for the Chicks as they were dominated defensively in the final, only able to put up 31 points in a one-sided loss. With such a veteran lineup incapable of making taking that final step, change was in the air.

LOSSES AND GAINS

Replacing perrenial triple threat Mach Wheels will be a tough task. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

2011 marks the greatest change for the Chicks Ahoy! in its history. League stalwart Fubar Bundy, veterans Fireweed and Blammo, talented jammers Kari Mia Beere and Marvellous Maven, and fresh export Crimson Shivers are all gone from the lineup. But the biggest loss, is that of Mach Wheels. The most talented skater in ToRD’s early history, Mach Wheels became ToRD’s quintessential all star and defined the triple threat role that has become so prominent on ToRD teams. Her knowledge and experience helped shape Toronto Roller Derby and her leaving will be felt throughout the league; co-captain Candy Crossbones, a veteran of many battles with Mach Wheels, has admitted that the team is still recovering from that change.

But with change comes the necessary injection of fresh faces, something that the Chicks haven’t had in a while, and this has brought a new positive dynamic to the team. “Having so many new, hyper-enthusiastic skaters has really reminded everyone else why we love derby and how much we like to skate together,” Candy said, expressing an upbeat mood for the team.  “It’s really brought team morale up a lot.” With six new faces added to the roster via draft, this is clearly a new Chicks Ahoy!

Marmighty and Nasher the Smasher both had big years in the pack last season.(Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

BY POSITION

The Chicks also added new blood on the bench, and after a year-long apprenticeship spent closely analysing the sport, Flyin’ Bryan Killman will be making his ToRD debut this season as the Chicks’ new bench manager. He’ll have a talented pool from which to build lines.

Pivots: Even with the off-season changes, this is a team that looks strong up front. Rebel Rock-It and Nasher the Smasher, two of the league’s top pivots, return in 2011 to lead the pack, while co- captain Tara Part will also be involved up front. Over 2010, however, Mega Bouche took on an increasingly versatile role in the pack, and ended the year second in pivot percentage on the team. While it remains to be seen whether or not a rookie can step up to pivot so early in her career, Snappin Cooter could be a preseason consideration. “She has a great sense for what’s going on around her,” Candy Crossbones says of the newcomer, pointing out that she is a noticeably improving each practice.

Candy Crossbones has been one of ToRD's most consistent jammers. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Blockers: A good mix of experience (Cheri Nova, Furious Georgia) and youth (Marmighty), hard hitting strikers (Dolly Destructo, Dyna Hurtcha) and positional blockers (Hum Dinger, Hoff), this is a Chicks lineup that has a lot of depth in the pack. But this is also a position where a lot of players have the opportunity to step up. Candy Crossbones points to third-year blocker Robber Blind as a skater primed to have a breakout 2011.  Tess D’urb-Evil and Red Light Roxy are both showing signs of being natural pack players, and according to the Chicks captains, newcomer Bam Bam Hiterlow is living up to her name and is developing a “bad ass hit” that once perfected could be unstoppable.

Jammers: The position most affected by the losses in the lineup (Mach Wheels and Kari Mia Beere led the team in jam % last season), the Chicks’ attack will be a work in progress. Led by the dependable Candy Crossbones who is one of the top three four rated jammers in ToRD’s history, look for Dyna Hurtcha to take on more of a role with the star this season as the rookie crop develops. Although Rebel Rock-It has proved to be good for a record-setting jam here and there, and Dolly Dstructo has some history at the position, look for the Chicks to begin developing jammers out of the draft pool. Early on it looks as if Kookie Doe (who got some valuable experience in a recent exhibition bout in Ottawa) and Bala Reina are potential candidates. Candy Crossbones has compared Kookie Doe’s strong skating style to that of Mach Wheels, while Bala Reina is “fast and nimble” and is soaking up the strategies.

Last season's Betties vs. Chicks bout was a one-sided affair; this season's should be much closer. (Photo by Joe Mac)

EXPECTATIONS

With such change comes diminished expectations, which could actually play nicely into the hand of an exuberant, youthful team still bolstered by a strong veteran core. A fresh injection of youth may have been exactly what this Chicks team needed and if preseason fervor is any indication, the change has been positive. While they won’t dominate the upcoming season opener the way they dominated last year’s bout against the Betties, they could still enter the bout as favourites. Either way this bout will go a long way in describing how things could play out for ToRD in 2011. Free of the burden of high expectations, the Chicks Ahoy! could play loose and relaxed all year. Depending on how quickly and how well the fresh faces integrate, this Chicks team could be an intriguing story by the end of the season.

2010 REGULAR SEASON STATS HIGHLIGHTS

  • Counting exhibition bouts, the Chicks went 4-5 in 2010. They made their third appearance in ToRD’s Battle for the Boot in 4 seasons.
  • Rebel Rock-It led the team in total +/- (+183). Mach Wheels led among jammers (+97).
  • Mach Wheels led the team in scoring (106 PTS) and recorded a remarkable 75% lead percentage. Candy Crossbones led in PPJ (4.3), and she and Rebel each tied a ToRD single-jam record with 25 points.
  • Nasher the Smasher led the team in assists (15), blocks (35) and knockdowns (9).
  • Dolly Destructo (on for 53% of her team’s jams) and Nasher (51%) led the team in total track time. While Nasher had the most minors on the team with 39 (highest in the league), Dolly recorded the most majors in ToRD (11) and also had the most total penalty minutes (15).

* Chicks play the Betties in the season opener for both teams on Saturday, March 12. Tickets for the bout are available online, or at various outlets down town. Doors of The Hangar open at 6:30, opening whistle at 7:30

*To get warmed up, you might want to got to layer9 to check out the defensive gem that these two teams put together in 2009 (68-61 for the Betties; this was also the first official bout played at the Hangar).