Seaway Roller Derby Girls

The Fresh Get Furious at the 2014 Fresh and Furious Tournament

The freshies continue to look less and less fresh every year as the Cannon Dolls and Les Bûches put on an impressive display of flat track roller derby in the championship final.

The medalists from the 2014 Fresh and the Furious. (Photo by Rocio "Robotomy" Gomez)

The medalists from the 2014 Fresh and the Furious. (Photo by Rocio “Robotomy” Gomez)

When you are at a tournament and looking for stories, many may emerge. The 2014 Fresh and the Furious tournament was no exception. At first, it seemed as if the story of the tournament was going to be the inclusion of junior-program graduates (there were four), and then it appeared as if it was going to be a story of an injury-riddled tournament (two broken legs and an asthma attack—all requiring ambulances), but then—reminiscent of the 2011 version of the tournament—one single team ended up writing its own story.

Capital City’s Cannon Dolls came into this year’s freshie showdown as a virtual unknown. This was the fourth consecutive year that Ottawa’s Capital City has sent a team to the tournament, but it was the first time that they had managed to advance beyond the double elimination round. And of course, not only did they advance, they ended up winning it all. Not since the Goldminer’s Daughters stormed the tournament in 2011, has such an underdog performed so well. And while that tournament saw the Daughters struggle early before coming on strong in the elimination rounds, the Cannon Dolls announced their presence early (they were the first team to surpass the century mark with a 118-33 victory over the Belleville Bombshells) and never really looked back on the way to a thrilling, last-jam 80-78 victory over Les Bûches in the tournament final.

Eventual champs the Cannon Dolls (green) defeated eventual quarterfinalists, Fox Force Five, in the double elimination round. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Eventual champs the Cannon Dolls (green) defeated eventual quarterfinalists, Fox Force Five, in the double elimination round. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

One of the continuing stories over the history of this tournament, has been the increased level of play in each subsequent year. This year was no different, and indeed, may have marked yet new heights. By the end of the tournament the Dolls and Les Bûches had pulled well ahead of the competition, and each did so with vastly different styles. The Cannon Dolls played tidy, efficient flat track roller derby, simple, but smart, and subtle in its sophistication. Led by a seemingly wise-beyond-her-years pivot named Edmonton (but aided in the pack by some surprising talent as well including Apple Sass and Icetina), the Dolls’ offense was paced by three speedy jammers (Labrosse, Kaio-Kensi, and Caume-A-Kazi) who displayed excellent footwork and a natural instinct for the game (it turns out they all come to the game with considerable skating experience in either hockey or figure skating). So while the team was able to field an explosive offense, it was their defense that really defined their success. They gave up only 34 points per game (compared to Les Bûches’ 83) and finished with the top overall point differential (+268) after their 5-0 run.

The host, Derby Debutantes, lost a nail-biter of an elimination game to Royal City's Our Ladies of Pain. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The host, Derby Debutantes, lost a nail-biter of an elimination game to Royal City’s Our Ladies of Pain. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Les Bûches were quite a different team. Full of offensively talented skaters (they too had a solid jammer rotation led by Le Grande Noirceur and Rapidass but completed by triple-threat Commionette), at times defense seemed an after thought. Averaging a tournament record of 121 points per game, they also gave up 75+ points in four of their five games. They had a looseness and swagger to their game that nearly backfired in the semifinal, but that they managed to reign in for the final game.

This year’s final four provided an interesting cross-section of the tournament. Two traditional powers (the defending champs Les Bûches and Toronto Roller Derby’s D-VAS) and two teams who were marking their final four debuts (the Dolls and the South Simcoe Rebel Rollers: another returning team that reached new heights this year). South Simcoe played a similar style game as the eventual winners, but didn’t quite have the depth of talent of the winners. Despite notching their fourth consecutive top-three finish, the D-VAS never seemed to find that extra gear in the tournament, and seemed to run out of steam in the semifinals where they were handily dispatched by the Cannon Dolls 119-7, easily the most lopsided result of the tournament.

There were some other strong leagues and stories in the final eight as well. For the second straight year a team from Orangeville (Fox Force Five) made the quarterfinals (they made it to the Top 4 in 2013) showing the continued strength of that team. Royal City, returned to the quarterfinals after a one-year absence, but the big surprise of the final 8 came from Northumberland’s Ganaraska Gravediggers. Facing an elimination game against the Renegade Derby Dames, a last-gasp pass gave the team the upset victory.

And this takes us back to one of the original stories of this year’s Fresh and Furious tournament: The Rise of the Juniors. They are here. And they are very, very good.

Northumberland's Iggy Popper (left) was one of four junior-program graduates in the tournament. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Northumberland’s Iggy Popper (left) was one of four junior-program graduates in the tournament. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

While there will come a day when we look back upon this particular tournament as a seminal moment in the welcoming of graduates from our country’s various junior programs, it is not hard to see that in a few years, this tournament will be dominated by these skaters. The Gravediggers featured a tall, strong jammer named Iggy Popper, a graduate of both Toronto Junior Roller Derby and Peterborough’s junior program. She was just one of four. The Renegade Derby Dames featured two junior graduates in Shatterproof and Lil’ Mae-Hem (who both played key roles). Finally, ToRD’s D-VAS also debuted a recent graduate, with Fight of the Conchords playing a strong game, showing a nice instinct on the track, particularly for offense.

This year’s tournament once again continued the trend of increasingly impressive performances from apparently “fresh” teams, a testament to the strength of leagues’ training programs but also the impact of having junior skaters graduate to the senior levels: they are going to bring a lot of experience with them to the senior levels of the sport, raising the bar considerably.

In the end, Les Bûches and the Cannon Dolls proved to be head and shoulders above the competition: game play and strategy, endurance and discipline—the final was played at a level that belied the “fresh” moniker of the tournament.

THE ALL-NERD TEAM

It was hard to narrow down the immense level of talent displayed by the dozens and dozens of skaters who took part in the tournament, but if I had to throw together a single line of skaters (with two jammers) this would be it:

Pivot: Edmonton (Cannon Dolls)

Blocker: Crazy Squirrel (Renegade Derby Dames)

Blocker: Block Quebecois (D-VAS)

Triple Threat: Cammionette (Les Bûches)

Jammer(s): Labrosse (Cannon Dolls), Le Grande Noirceur (Les Bûches)

***A big congratulations should also be sent out to the D-VAS’ Holly Rocket, who picked up the first ever Louisa Kalimeris Heart Award, given to a player who demonstrates heart, determination and a positive attitude over the course of the tournament.

Toronto jammer Holly Rocket won the first ever Louisa Kalimeris Award for heart, determination and positivity on the track. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Toronto jammer Holly Rocket won the first ever Louisa Kalimeris Award for heart, determination and positivity on the track. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

THE RESULTS

Double Elimination: ArenaD-VAS 67 vs. DRRDy Farmers 23

Fox Force Five 74 vs. Derby Debutantes 63

Belleville Bombshells 33 vs. Cannon Dolls 118

D-VAS 83 vs. Our Ladies of Pain 58

Fox Force Five 38 vs. Cannon Dolls 63

Debutantes 88vs. Belleville 66 (eliminated)

Our Ladies of Pain 90 vs. Debutantes 88 (elim.)

Fox Force Five 75 vs. DRRD 37 (elim.)

 

 

 

Double Elimination: BubbleGanaraska Gravediggers 32 vs. South Simcoe Rebel Rollers 67

Queen’s Court 91 vs. Windsor A-Salt 62

NEOFights 105 vs. Les Bûches 150

Thickets 68 vs. Renegade Derby Dames 87

South Simcoe 72 vs. Queen’s Court 56

Ganaraska 50 vs. Windsor 49 (elim.)

Les Bûches 111 vs. Renegade 78

Thickets 117 vs. NEOFights 114 (elim.)

Queen’s Court 31 (elim.) vs. Thickets 54

Renegade 73 (elim.) vs. Ganaraska 76

 

Quarter Finals

D-VAS 70 vs. Ganaraska 41

South Simcoe 70 vs. Fox Force Five 51

Cannon Dolls 59 vs. Thickets 15

Les Bûches 127 vs. Our Ladies of Pain 61

Semi Finals

D-VAS 7 vs. Cannon Dolls 119

South Simcoe 90 vs. Les Bûches 139

Third Place

D-VAS 68 vs. South Simcoe 56

Championship

Les Bûches 78 vs. Cannon Dolls 80

 

** The games were boutcast in HD by Layer9 . Check here for the complete archives.

Fresher and Furiouser: the 2013 Fresh and Furious Tournament

Les Buches became the second consecutive team from Quebec to win the Fresh and Furious tournament. (Photo by Francis St-Onge from Les Buches Facebook page)

Les Buches became the second consecutive team from Quebec to win the Fresh and Furious tournament. (Photo by Francis St-Onge from Les Buches Facebook page)

For the second straight year, a team from Quebec swept in to win the Fresh and the Furious tournament. Last year, Montreal’s Smash Squad were the stars of the show, and this year, Les Bûches—a team made up of skaters primarily from Quebec but also from Montreal, Rimouski and Trois Riviere—were the dominant team in the tournament, leading virtually every game from start to finish and going undefeated. It was actually clear early on that this was going to be a three-team tournament, as ToRD’s D-VAS and Hammer City’s Fresh Meat joined Les Bûches in distancing themselves from the competition.

But this is a “freshies” tournament, which means that there were the requisite surprises as well with Fergus (aided by a few key skaters from Grey Bruce) providing the Cinderella-like moments early on before Orangeville’s surprising final four appearance forced everyone to take notice. All in all, it was the grueling, epic, single-day tournament that everyone has come to expect from this tournament, only the level of play continues to advance at an impressive, almost unbelievable rate, showing that the future of the sport in the region is bright indeed.

DOUBLE ELIMINATION ROUND

The Arena

Les Buches and Hammer City met in a key early matchup. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Les Buches and Hammer City met in a key early matchup. (Photo by Greg Russell)

In the arena, things got off to a tight start when Border City’s Windsor A-Salt took out Woodstock/GTA’s Debutante Warriors (there was a number of mixed-league teams in this tournament, most borne out of the necessity of having enough skaters to fit under the strict eligibility rules). Last year’s finalists, the Top Herloins out of Royal City were smacked around by the Renegade Derby Dames early and eventually eliminated by Windsor. Capital City—a league to watch this season—had a rough go of it as well, falling in two straight. While the top two teams in the pool—Les Bûches and Hammer City—battled early with Les Buches taking the tight 88-61 win, before Hammer City put in two dominant performances, culminating in a mind-boggling 198-13 win over Durham’s DRRDy Farmers, to advance.

Les Bûches, Hammer City, Alliston’s Renegade Derby Dames, and Windsor all advanced to the quarter finals from the main arena.

Despite only having seven skaters, Crow City (Chatham) put in a heroic performance, going 1-2 in the double elimination round (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Despite only having seven skaters, Crow City (Chatham) put in a heroic performance, going 1-2 in the double elimination round. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Bubble

Aside from perennial contenders the D-VAS, the pool was wide open in the Bubble, allowing a few surprise teams to emerge. Fergus advanced straight through to the quarters with back-to-back victories over Queen’s Court (Buffalo) and the Smooth Operators (Peterborough’s 705 Roller Derby), becoming the only team in the first round to record multi 100+ point games in the process. After giving the D-VAS everything they could handle in the opener, Orangeville began its march to the final four with a tight victory over the Power Dames (made up mostly of Cornwall’s Seaway Roller Derby Girls) before eliminating 705 in a one-sided elimination game. The D-VAS advanced straight through with a 138-11 victory over a short-handed Crow City team (who easily won the spirit award for going 1-2 with only 7 skaters on their bench!). Finally, the NEOFights (a mixed team from Northern Ontario—a “fresh” version of the NORD team that recently finished second at the RDAC eastern championships) overcame an opening-game loss to knock off Queen’s Court and Crow City.

The D-VAS, Fergus Feims, Orangeville’s Pulp Affliction, and the NEOFights advanced to the quarterfinals from the Bubble.

An impressive and surprising run by Fergus was finally stopped by Hammer City in the quarterfinals. (Photo by Greg Russel)

An impressive and surprising run by Fergus was finally stopped by Hammer City in the quarterfinals. (Photo by Greg Russel)

QUARTER FINALS

After the double elimination round, the tournament shifted to a single-elimination knock out playoff. The NEOFights continued to round into form as the day went on (much like their big sisters counterparts did a few weeks before at RDACs) and gave Les Bûches all that they could handle in the quarters, but simply didn’t have the offense to penetrate Les Bûches increasingly stingy defense. Fergus’ shocking run finally came to an end against a very strong Hammer City team that managed a second-straight 100+ point game to advance. The D-VAS and Windsor continued a rivalry that has built in this tournament (they faced off twice last year, splitting the games) with the D-VAS providing too much depth for the Border City freshies, and Pulp Affliction extended its unlikely run by knocking off the favoured Renegade Derby Dames.

Orangeville turned some heads with a run to the final four, but were overwhelmed by Les Buches in the semis. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Orangeville turned some heads with a run to the final four, but were overwhelmed by Les Buches in the semis. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

FINAL FOUR

Orangeville’s exciting run came to an abrupt conclusion against Les Bûches, who dumped them 99-9 in the semi finals: It really was the point at which this mixed Quebec team truly came together. Nonetheless, it was an impressive, take-notice tournament for Orangeville who were lead by strong performances from Hall N Ass (who was actually a Tri-City fresh meat) and Starbust with the star and Kate Knevil and Red Hot Sonia in the pack to name a few. At a tournament of freshies, Pulp Affliction simply didn’t have a sophisticated enough offense to overcome Les Bûches increasingly stifling play.

The other semifinal was a contrast as Hammer City and the D-VAS renewed one of Canada’s oldest roller derby rivalries. Hammer City was every bit the equal to ToRD’s fresh team except for perhaps in depth (and discipline, as D-VAS power jams truly sealed the deal in this one). Led by a few astonishing fresh meat skaters in Jangerous (jammer) and Homewrecken Holly (pivot), Hammer City fell behind early and often on undisciplined play, and despite a valiant comeback in the end, simply ran out of time against Toronto, falling 77-61. It was the third-straight year that the D-VAS qualified for the final four, and their return to the final comes on the heels of last year’s third place performance.

The D-VAS advanced to their third straight final four and second championship in two years. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The D-VAS advanced to their third straight final four and second championship in two years. (Photo by Greg Russell)

By the final game—nearing twelve hours after the tournament commenced—the D-VAS were showing signs of strain, while Les Bûches were just rounding into top form. Les Bûches represent the first real boom in flat track roller derby in Quebec; despite the fact that they have one of the top leagues in the game in Montreal, the sport has been slow to take off in the province (there are about five women’s leagues in Quebec right now compared to around fifty in Ontario). But it has been a very good year for the leagues that do exist.

Roller Derby Quebec leads the second generation of roller derby in Quebec: their Rouge et Gore have had an impressive 2013 making the final eight at the Beast of the East before winning the Moncton Murder tournament. Three of those skaters, Nelson Mandale, Dina Myth and Vinny Neutron were key for Les Bûches this weekend (not to mention their leaguemate Dur a Queer who was dominant at times in the pack). Dey Moniak had a very strong tournament representing Rimouski, while a few Montreal Smash Squad skaters were key as well: Clara O’Key and Sugar Shane in the pack, while Gameboi was simply unstoppable with the star, while also performing exceptionally well in the pack.

Both finalists were loaded with individual talent, including Montreal's Clara O'Key (Buches pivot) and ToRD's Emraged (D-VAS pivot). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Both finalists were loaded with individual talent, including Montreal’s Clara O’Key (Buches pivot) and ToRD’s Emraged (D-VAS pivot). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Not that the D-VAS didn’t have their share of stars as well. Babushkill and Moose Knuckles were key in the opening victory against Pulp Affliction, while the trio of Full Deck, Emraged, and Android W.K. were difference makers all day. They all played multiple roles throughout the tournament, and the season of training with ToRD’s houseleague definitely showed as their track awareness and poise was evident.

But in the end, Les Bûches simply had too many weapons to contend with and overwhelmed a tiring D-VAS team late, pulling away for the convincing 122-45 victory and the Fresh and the Furious 2013 championship.

RESULTS

Double Elimination: Arena Windsor A-Salt 56 vs. Debutante Warriors 55Hammer City 61 vs. Les Bûches 88

Renegade Derby Dames 87 vs. Top Herloins 31

Cannon Dolls 40 vs. DRRDy Farmers 58

Windsor 16 vs. Les Bûches 118

Debutant Warriors (eliminated) 39 vs. Hammer City 83

Renegade Derby Dames 69 vs. DRRDy Farmers 30

Top Herloins 76 vs. Cannon Dolls 26 (eliminated)

Windsor 67 vs. Top Herloins 28 (eliminated)

DRRDy Farmers 13 (eliminated) vs. Hammer City 198

Double Elimination: BubbleNEOFights 52 vs. Area 705 66Queen’s Court 36 vs. Fergus Feims 113

Power Dames 38 vs. Crow City 43

Pulp Affliction 22 vs. D-VAS 52

Area 705 51 vs. Fergus 100

NEOFights 114 vs. Queen’s Court 34 (eliminated)

Crow City 11 vs. D-VAS 138

Power Dames 43 (eliminated) vs. Pulp Affliction 52

Area 705 26 (eliminated) vs. Pulp Affliction 96

Crow City 41 (eliminated) vs. NEOFights 85

Quarter Finals

Les Bûches 82 vs. NEOFights 33

Fergus Feims 64 vs. Hammer City 119

Renegade Derby Dames 53 vs. Pulp Affliction 56

D-VAS 58 vs. Windsor A-Salt 34

Semi Finals

Les Bûches 99 vs. Pulp Affliction 9

Hammer City 61 vs. D-VAS 77

Championship

Les Bûches 122 vs. D-VAS 45

Les Buches Logo

** The games were boutcast in HD by Layer9 through Canuck Derby TV. Check here for the complete archives.