SewWhat?

End of an Era: Betties Knock off Defending Champs in ToRD Semifinal

Smoke City Betties jammer WackerHer attempts to power through a Death Track Dolls wall in the ToRD semifinal. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Smoke City Betties jammer WackedHer attempts to power through a Death Track Dolls wall in the ToRD semifinal at The Bunker in Dowsnview Park on Saturday night. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

At the midway point of the opening half, it was still anyone’s game.

From the opening whistle, the Smoke City Betties had managed to keep one step ahead of the defending champion Death Track Dolls, but with a scoreline that read 66-40, they hadn’t been able to distance themselves. It was still anyone’s game.

And then, suddenly, it wasn’t: A methodical fourteen-minute, 50-0 run (in which they managed to nab eight out of nine lead jammers) extended the Bettie’s lead to 76 points. The Dolls would never get closer again, and after a second-place regular season and two-straight ToRD championships, they fell short in their attempt to make it three in a row in the 200-123 loss.

Betties blockers (l to r) Brickhouse Bardot, SewWhat?, and Jammher'head Shark contain Dolls jammer Common Dominator. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Betties blockers (l to r) Brickhouse Bardot, SewWhat?, and Jammher’head Shark contain Dolls jammer Common Dominator. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

On Saturday night the Betties (who finished third in the regular season) delivered a complete game effort from a determined, focused and unified team that seems to have saved its best efforts for the most important time of the season, and after dominant quarterfinal and semifinal wins looks poised to challenge the three-time champion Gore-Gore Rollergirls in Toronto Roller Derby’s ninth Battle for the Boot.

The Betties played such a complete game that it is actually difficult to pull out standout performances. Part of the key to the success that the team has displayed in this year’s playoff run seems to be that everyone is buying into her role on the track. In a post-game interview, blocker/pivot SewWhat? attributed this partially to an off-season turnover in leadership that required everyone to step up and take responsibility—something that the team obviously did not shy away from. And from emerging leaders like SewWhat?, Honey Boom Boom and LowblowPalooza, to first-year transfers like Anne Bulance and Brickhouse Bardot, to the veteran core of Tushy Galore and titmouse, the Betties have built the depth to compete against anyone in the league.

Dolls blocker Hannibelle looks to contain Betties jammer Wolverina. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Dolls blocker Hannibelle looks to contain Betties jammer Wolverina. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

As they have all season, the Betties used a deep, consistent jammer rotation led by the unflappable duo of WhackedHer (43 points and an 83% lead percentage at half, that translated to 51, 73% for the game) and Wolverina (who was the game’s leading scorer with 69 on a 77%) to terrorize the Death Track Dolls, who didn’t have the defensive depth to match the consistent turnover of diverse jammers. Overall the Betties had a 65% lead percentage at halftime (and an even more impressive 73% over the second half of the opening period, ) accounting in large part for the considerable 118-54 lead at the break.

Playing desperation derby, the Dolls actually had a better second half (eventually outscored 82-69 in the period) that was a little deceiving as their most sustained push (a 30-7 run) came over the last five minutes when the Betties had taken their skates off the gas and the game was out of reach.

The Dolls got a monumental effort from Sleeper Hold, who donned the star for a remarkable 22 jams on the night. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Dolls got a monumental effort from Sleeper Hold, who donned the star for a remarkable 22 jams on the night. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Part of the change could be attributed to a momentous effort from second-year jammer Sleeper Hold who appeared in twelve jams in the second half alone (and finished the game with 66 points and a 41% lead percentage on 22 jams). The lack of depth in the position was the result of the bad luck that seemed to follow the Dolls this season. With rookie of the year candidate PrEditor unavailable for the remainder of the season (along with Scarcasm being unavailable for this game) and Devochka having just returned from injury (she got stronger as the game went on, and was excellent as pivot—receiving some key passes and managing 15 points on 60% in limited action with the star), the Dolls were left with Sleeper, rookie Common Dominator (who only had 18 jams worth of experience under her belt coming into the game), and D-VAS call up Battering Ma’am (who didn’t look out of place at all, recording 20 on 42%) to try to match the Betties offensive depth. The Betties rotation was rounded out by CN Power jammer Smoka Kola (54, 69%) and six-year veteran titmouse, whose numbers seem to pale compared to her counterparts (18, 27%). But upon closer inspection, the crafty veteran found ways to deliver and had the Nerd’s “stat of the night”: an incredible 7 stolen points, including 4 in the second half.

Similarly, the Dolls’ pack was lacking some key pieces as well, as both Dawson and Bloc Quebecois were not yet ready to return (Slam Wow and Junkie Jenny were already gone for the season). Another D-VAS call up (and former Doll) Lucid Lou was excellent given the circumstances, and Robotomy, Getcha Kicks, Hannibelle and Stringer Belle continue to provide a consistent core to the pack, but it simply wasn’t enough against a Betties team that was firing on all cylinders.

In the end, the 77-point victory allows the Betties to return to battle for the boot for the third time in history. The showdown with the Gores marks a rematch of the 2009 Battle for the Boot, and is the first appearance for the Betties since a 2013 loss to the Dolls.

Nerd Glasses

* The game was broadcast on Rogers TV. Stay tuned for rebroadcasts. Also, the thrilling preliminary game between the D-VAS and Royal City’s Our Ladies of Pain was also broadcast. Definitely find the time to tune in to this thrilling game. (You can also watch track-side footage of both games on layer9.ca)

These two teams will be meeting again in Guelph on June 13th. If this game was any indication, it might be a road trip worth making for Toronto fans!

*Battle for the Boot 9 is on June 6th at the Bunker. Tickets are on sale now.

Dolls Move into First Place with Win Over Betties

Betties fall to 0-2 after rematch of 2013 Battle for the Boot.

The Betties and Dolls met in a rematch of last year's championship game; the results were similar. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Betties and Dolls met in a rematch of last year’s championship game; the results were similar. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

After a rash of off-season roster changes that followed their 2013 Toronto Roller Derby Championship, the Death Track Dolls were expected to enter into a period of at least minor rebuilding. But on Saturday night at the Bunker, in their second game of the season, it was the Dolls taking one more stride toward securing a second-consecutive spot in ToRD’s annual Battle for the Boot with a decisive 208-70 victory over the Smoke City Betties.

The tale of the game could be read in the opening jam as the Dolls got off to an explosive 19-0 start, with the Betties’ jammer titmouse picking up a cutting penalty on her opening pass allowing the Dolls’ Bellefast to pick up four scoring passes. It was a poor start all around for the Betties as the Dolls’ packs dominated, allowing their jammers to pick up the first five leads and build a formidable 69-0 lead before the Betties got on the board at the ten minute mark of the opening half.

The Dolls’ stiff defensive walls and tidy jamming had them cruising in a comfort zone the Betties could never reach. Missing their two leading scorers from the season opener (WackedHer and co-captain Wolverina), the Betties’ offense ran through veteran titmouse, the ever-improving SewWhat?, and second-year skater Kill’Her At Large (with Honey Boom Boom supplying relief).

The Betties' Sew What (who eventually led her team in scoring with 28 points) attempts to evade Audrey Hellborn. (Photo by Greg Russell).

The Betties’ Sew What (who eventually led her team in scoring with 28 points) attempts to evade Audrey Hellborn. (Photo by Greg Russell).

The Dolls shifted things a bit offensively from their season opener, slipping co-captain Getcha Kicks into the pack (for the most part) as second-year jammer Chicken Sluggets entered the roster. Led by the explosive Bellefast, first-year ToRD skaters Devochka and Sleeper Hold continue to show poise beyond their experience level, no doubt aided by the excellent, confidence-building pack work of the Dolls.

The Betties’ bench (led by Bench Coach BruiseBerry Pie and introducing new Bench Manager Scarcasm) called a timeout late in the half as the game was getting away from them. Whatever was said seemed to take hold as the Betties had their most consistent push to close out the half (they scored 16 of their 26 points in the final seven minutes). Nonetheless, the Dolls were in control 119-26 at the half.

The Dolls got off to another quick start in the second, but eight minutes in the Betties got their first power jam of the game after a cut from Sluggets; this allowed them to stay within a hundred points (161-62), a gap that the Dolls would maintain for much of the half.

Misery Mae attempts to hold back Devochka as Laya Beaton holds the line. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Misery Mae attempts to hold back Devochka as Laya Beaton holds the line. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

There were definitely moments for the Betties in the half, and some great individual experiences as well. titmouse overcame a slow start (and 0 points in the first half) to put up 11 points in the second. The Betties also continue to be the most physical of teams in the league with Misery Mae (who was outstanding), Tushy Galore (who eventually fouled out) and Mazel Tough delivering punishing blows, a necessity, it seemed, as the Dolls managed to control things positionally.

There were some minor changes to the Dolls packs, but even with the few personnel changes the game remained the same: two solid lines anchored by key players (Just Jes and Android W.K. on one side, Dawson and Audrey on the other), but the play of all of the blockers is rising slowly and, seemingly, equally, as this balance and consistency looks to be key to the Dolls’ success.

Speaking of balance, scoring was spread out well among the jammers on both teams. Devochka led the way for the Dolls with 69 points (followed closely by Bellefast with 59 and Sleeper with 46), while SewWhat? led the Betties with 28 (followed by Kill’Her At Large with 25).

With the 138-point victory, the Dolls move to 2-0 and pull into first place in ToRD’s regular season standings. The Betties now drop to 0-2 and are in danger of not even making the playoffs just one year after competing in the championship game.

D-VAS Top Farmers 252-110

D-VAS jammer Battering Ma'am attempts to evade the Farmers' Crazy Mama. (Photo by Greg Russell)

D-VAS jammer Battering Ma’am attempts to evade the Farmers’ Crazy Mama. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Toronto and Durham Region’s future stars closed out the double header on Saturday night. Coming off of a resounding season-opening loss to a considerably more experienced team from Woodstock, the D-VAS started slowly in this one as well, gifting the visiting DRRDy Farmers an early lead (it was 42-36 Farmers near the midway point of the first). The home team took its first lead with only 11:30 left in the half (jumping ahead 59-54). The confidence seemed to grow after this, and by half, they had increased the lead to 113-73.

The D-VAS cruised in the second half, looking stronger as the game went on, while the farmers faded. Although the entry drafts for both leagues are a long way off at this point, there are definitely skaters making early impressions: the D-VAS got strong jamming all game from Murdercat and Battering Ma’am with the Annguard getting stronger late in the game. In the pack, Juggernaut J and Kimikaze were both strong positional presences, while Vag Lightning and April Cruel delivered some big hits.

For the farmers, double threat Crazy Mama lead the way, with Bad Princess and Roller Mitch putting in solid performances jamming. Jungle Jen also put in a strong, well-rounded performance for the visiting Farmers.

**With Montreal’s upcoming Beast of the East dominating the roller derby house league scene for the next few weeks, the next action in Toronto will be May 10th (D-VAS and Toronto Junior Roller Derby will hold a double header); the house league resumes on May 24th. Durham Region will hold its 2014 season opener on Saturday, April 12th, in Ajax. Check here for details.

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