Dollmination: The Dolls put up record numbers in championship season

The Betties join the Dolls (with the Boot) for a post game photo. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Betties join the Dolls (with the Boot) for a post game photo. (Photo by Greg Russell)

It finally was the Year of the Doll.

After years of merely proclaiming it so, this year the Death Track Dolls put together an unbelievable season on their way to clinching their first ever ToRD championship. It was also a great turnaround for their opponents in the final, the Smoke City Betties, who Battled for the Boot for the first time since a 2009 loss to the Gore-Gore Rollergirls. The Betties threw all they had at the Dolls, but simply couldn’t match the depth of a Dolls team that was peaking at the right time in a season that has built slowly but steadily. They followed that same arc in this game as well, eventually pulling away in the Battle for the Boot and winning it by a championship game record setting 258-73 score.

The game began as a battle as the Betties started strong in grinding out a 3-1 lead after three jams, but there was a sense that the Dolls were more comfortable with the intensity of the game and were never truly strained. Approaching the 10 minute mark, with the Betties leading 7-5, a 20-0 jam orchestrated by what has become a trademark stifling defense represented the second and final lead change of the game. It was jammed by Bellefast and on the following jam, Santilly in Yo Face scored another 13 pointer, all on natural grand slams, to blow the game wide open. They Dolls managed a 61% lead percentage in the first half to the Betties 35%, to open up a 78 point lead at the break.

Dolls co-captain Scarcasm duels with Betties blocker Platinum Bomb. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Dolls co-captain Scarcasm duels with Betties blocker Platinum Bomb. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The half unraveled very much as the season did for the Dolls: a solid, but not extraordinary victory over the Chicks Ahoy! kicked things off (the Gores and the Betties would both earn victories over the Chicks by significantly better scores); then a phenomenal run to third place at the Beast of the East, followed by a tough but character-building loss to the Forest City Timber Rollers, prepared them for their dominant run through the rest of the regular season.

All season the Dolls won on hard and heavy defense and an excellent, soul-sucking power kill, led by co-captains Scarcasm and Speedin Hawking and including an emerging Ames to Kill and a reborn Audrey Hellborn, but supported by a roster loaded with strengths up and down the bench. Added to a core that has been building this team for up to five years were shrewd draft picks that included a mix of ToRD-built skaters and experienced transfers led by 709 Derby Girls transfer Rainbow Fight, who broke years-old jamming records in the house league this season, and was still the fourth jammer in a high-powered four-jammer rotation of Santilly In Yo Face, Bellefast and Getcha Kicks who all combined to set a league team scoring record of 689 points in the regular season.

Betties co-captain Misery Mae gets ready to set an offensive pick for her jammer, Udre. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Betties co-captain Misery Mae gets ready to set an offensive pick for her jammer, Udre. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The second half of the Battle for the Boot started off much the same as the first half, as the Betties were once again at their best from the opening whistle and managed to catch the Dolls off guard. A 31-0 run to kick off the second half (built on four straight lead jams and padded by a 20-point power jam), was the best sustained push by the Betties of the game and got them within 47 points, ten minutes into the half.

But once again, they could not sustain the push, and when the Betties made a mistake (in this case back-to-back jammer penalties) the Dolls pounced, putting up 55 points over four jams to bring their lead back over 100 points and essentially put the game out of the reach.

Santilly In Yo Face jukes around Misery Mae in the midst of a run of 11 straight leads to put the game away in the second half. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Santilly In Yo Face jukes around Misery Mae in the midst of a run of 11 straight leads to put the game away in the second half. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Dolls followed this burst with a series of 11 straight lead jammers that brought them to their record-setting scores. Although the championships haven’t necessarily been close games (the Gores 89-53 win over the Chicks in ’07 remains the lowest scoring and closest final), this Dolls victory was particularly dominant. They were the first team to score over 200 points in the Battle for the Boot, and their 185-point victory was the biggest margin of victory in champs’ history.

As in this game, the Dolls season also closed out strong compared to its beginning. The last time the team was near the top, they finished tied with the best record in the 2008 regular season but ended up losing the tiebreaker, slipped to second and lost in the semifinals to the Chicks. Previous to 2013, that had been the closest the team had come to finishing in top spot in the league. They closed out this home season with a 233-153 victory over the Gores and an even more impressive 265-63 victory over the Betties to clinch top spot.

Dolls co-captains Scarcasm and Speedin Hawking accept the Boot. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Dolls co-captains Scarcasm and Speedin’ Hawking accept the Boot. (Photo by Greg Russell)

This season marked an overhaul in league structure that saw CN Power skaters leave their home team rosters; this allowed the Dolls and the Betties—who’d been rebuilding during the Chicks and Gores recently string of dominance—to be ready when their opponents faced the big roster shakeups they dealt with this season. With the combined experience they had, the overall talent and structure, the Dolls were simply too much for the Betties in the Battle for the Boot 7 and, ultimately, too much for all of ToRD in 2013.

* That concludes the 2013 ToRD house league season, but stay tuned as things are just ramping up for ToRD’s travel teams, with a handful of home games remaining for the Bay Street Bruisers and the D-VAS, and the WFTDA playoffs coming up for CN Power.

Dolls win and Betties impress in their season openers

Smoke City Betties and Death Track Dolls kicked off their 2012 seasons on Saturday. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Smoke City Betties 100 vs. Death Track Dolls 115

The Betties are back.

After two years of rebuilding led to a string of punishing defeats at the hands of their ToRD leaguemates, the Smoke City Betties have returned to competitive form narrowing the gap between themselves and, at the very least, the third place Death Track Dolls. And while the Dolls were the team that took the brunt of the first wave of this new-look Betties club, they were not at all interested in lying down and allowing the skaters in blue to trod all over them; the Dolls showed their own improved level of determination as they overcame a half-time deficit to come back and snatch away the 15-point victory.

The biggest issue with the Dolls in 2011 was an unbalanced and inconsistent offense, and although they do have what looks like a future jamming star in rookie Bellefast, it seems that for the Dolls to find success in 2012, they will need to provide offense by committee and they used a deep rotation of six jammers in their season opening win, rotating primary veteran blockers like Jubilee and Panty Hoser from the pack onto the jammer line. The Betties, on the other hand, seem to have a fairly set rotation of jammers that they rolled out to much success on Saturday. Second-year skater Rug Burn took on the star for the first jam of the season and lined up against an imposing triple threat in Betty Bomber, and was joined by BruiseBerry Pie and titmouse as the primary jammers. It was a back and forth battle in the early going with neither team able to shake the other, and after 5 minutes, neither had taken control , with the Dolls holding a precarious 10-9 edge.

Scarcasm (providing a bridge for the Dolls' front wall) was one of many impressive rookies in the game. (Photo by Greg Russell)

In a game that was all about renewal and the future, it was the rookies who stood out in this one. The Dolls played three of their impressive draftees and from Bellefast’s fearless jamming to Ames to Kill’s poise in the pack to Scarcasm’s impressive track awareness (providing some nice bridging early in the half), this rookie class is living up to the hype that preceded the season. The Betties also tracked impressive rookies Renny Rumble, Laya Beaton and Slaptrick Swayze (along with sort-of-rookie Wolverina).  But in another return of sorts, injury-plagued skater titmouse, looked in mid-season form (despite being off skates for the last few months), and was a big part of the Betties early success, as they held a 20-19 lead eight jams into the first half. At this point, the Dolls began to inch ahead, riding a wave of slightly undisciplined play from the Betties and using a power jam to snatch the biggest lead of the half, 44-20. But the Betties would not yield, and once again it was titmouse who stepped up late in the half, and on a jam in which the Betties were able to recycle Demolition Dawn continuously, she picked up a string of natural grand slams that saw the Betties retake the lead, 47-44. A series of back-and-forth jams kept things close, with the Betties holding a six-point edge at the break, 58-52.

Veteran Bettie Sin D Drop-Her working with rookie Renny Rumble in the pack. (Photo by Joe Mac)

While rookies stepped up in this bout, veterans certainly left their mark on the game as well. Dolls co-captain Panty Hoser put in early notification of her interest in the triple-threat award as she looked very comfortable jamming (despite the fact that she’d never jammed in a game before). Her captain-counterpart Sinead O’Clobber also continues to emerge as an on-track leader , leading smart packs and helping to orchestrate the second half push back, aided by steady play from pack-vets Monichrome, Downright Dirty Dawson, Lucid Lou, and Slam Wow. Within four minutes of the restart the Dolls had retaken the lead, 65-61. Mia Culprit, Lady Scorcher and Sin D Drop-Her anchored the Betties defense and helped orchestrate the mid-half comeback. With 17 minutes remaining, Hoser got sent to the box, springing a Rug Burn power jam, and a solid offensive block from Scorcher helped the Betties regain the lead.

The lead changes continued through the middle of the half, with the Dolls holding a slight edge, 89-88 with ten minutes remaining. The Betties looked to mix things up by putting Wolverina on the line, but the Dolls locked in the defense at this point and held on to the momentum. With seven minutes remaining, it was a Rug Burn major cut (and subsequent power jam skated by Hoser) that finally may have turned the tides in the Dolls’ favour: solid isolation and trapping by Bomber and Jubilee assured a big pick up, and they took the biggest lead of the half, 108-92. Despite the best efforts of BruiseBerry Pie and titmouse on the line, the Betties were unable to mount a comeback, and some clutch late-game jamming from Bellefast (who may not have gotten lead in her final few jams, but always passed cleanly and forced calls) allowed the Dolls to ride out the wave at the end and hold on for the 115-100 victory.

titmouse made an impressive return from injury to anchor the Betties' offense. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Along with all of the debut skaters, Mr. Wencer on the Dolls’ bench and Raunchy Hextall on the Betties’, also made their bench managing debuts, and the benches ran smoothly all night. While both teams have to be pleased with the way things went, the league itself was victorious as well. This bout, along with a thrilling season opener between the Gore-Gore Rollergirls and the Chicks Ahoy!, means that after a few years of blowouts and wide gaps in talent, ToRD is nearing a level of competitive parity that has not been seen in years. With this year’s rookie class looking to be the most successful and deepest yet, and all four teams anchored by solid veteran cores, 2012 looks to be a very exciting year for roller derby fans in Toronto.

***Next up for ToRD is the third annual Quad City Chaos on the weekend of March 31st and April 1st. Stay tuned to the ToRD website for ticket availability.