Tropic Thunder

Team Preview: Smoke City Betties

SMOKE CITY BETTIES

Wins Losses +/ – Notes
2010 Regular Season 0 3 -574 Currently on a 5 bout, ToRD losing streak.
2010 Playoffs 0 1 -88 A comparatively solid showing in the semis.

The 2010 Betties lost their 4 ToRD bouts by an average of 165 points. (Photo by Joe Mac)

2010

Things could have ended very badly for the Smoke City Betties in 2010. The team staggered into ToRD’s semifinals as the fourth seed, lining up across the track from the defending champion Gore-Gore Rollergirls. Having lost their previous four bouts by a combined score of 975 – 167, the Betties seemed primed to be blown out, and in a big way. But then an interesting thing happened in that October bout: a cohesive team finally emerged to play its most competitive bout of the season.

After exploding the roster of the squad who’d made a spirited run to the 2009 championship, the 2010 Betties were rebuilding around a small core of veterans. There were certainly a fair share of growing pains along the way, but growing pains build maturity. The Betties ended last season truly looking like a team of the future.

LOSSES AND GAINS

BruiseBerry Pie salutes the crowd in her Hangar debut at the 2010 Clam Slam. (Photo by Joe Mac)

For the first time in years, it is possible to talk about the Betties in terms of gains as opposed to losses. With a favourable position in the draft, the Betties played on their solid youth group by focusing on stockpiling veterans. ToRD veteran Mia Culprit returns to the track in 2011. A founding member of ToRD, and a veteran of the Gore’s 2009 championship team, Mia brings a wealth of experience to the track for a team that desperately needs it. Key is her ability to pivot, which, especially for a young squad, is extremely important. Another key addition to the front of the pack is BruiseBerry Pie. After cutting her teeth with the GTAR’s Derby Debutantes, BruiseBerry will be making her much anticipated ToRD debut in the Betties’ season opener. The hard-hitting pivot potentially entering the prime of her career could be a game changer for this Betties squad. Co-captain Lady Scorcher has said that the roster continuity, along with the addition of veterans, has really helped the team prepare for the season. “Last year we started the ToRD season with 12 rookies, this year we have two, it’s a completely different feel,” she said.  “We’ve had almost a year and lots of experiences that have bonded us as a team, and the new drafts are integrating with the team really well.”

Mia Culprit returns to the track after a one-year hiatus (seen here playing for the 2009 champion Gore-Gore Rollergirls). (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

BY POSITION

The Betties will be led by a trio of new bench bosses this season: Sneaky Teaze, a former player and then coach of the original D-VAS, returns, and she’ll be joined by The Count and Shaun Fletcher. During last year’s rebuild, many of the young Betties were thrust into important roles on the track. “We really had to throw most of our skaters into new roles, with big performance expectations last year,” Scorcher admitted in discussing the pressure on the Betties rookies last year. “It felt a bit like climbing a mountain, but now the peak is in sight and we aren’t limiting our expectations of what is possible this season.” So while it may have seemed punishing at the time, this experience should make for a team that is solid positionally in 2011.

Pivots: Both Mia Culprit and BruiseBerry Pie have considerable experience with the stripe, and will undoubtedly be looked upon for leadership up front. Last season, vets Hot Roller and Pretty Peeved stepped up to take on most of the load in this position and will probably do so again this year. Lacy Brawler and Lady Scorcher are two other experienced options up front (and both evolved into great two-way players late last year), but last season’s rookie triple threat Sail Her Poon can handle the pressure, and Grim Avenger (who had the third most track time among the rookies) ended 2010 with a prominent and versatile role in the pack and could be a pivot of the future.

Nine Betties played their first bouts in 2010 (including Mouth of the South, titmouse and Tropic Thunder). (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Blockers: Once again, due to necessity, the Betties have an experienced group of second-year skaters who can fill out the pack. Mouth of the South, Sin D Drop Her, and P Doddy (whose track time increased considerably as the season progressed) all gained valuable experience last season and will be looked upon to take on a leadership roles in 2011. Diva Zapata and Genuine Risk both seem poised to take on considerably more of the workload as well. All of this means that rookie additions Rug Burn and Misery Mae (who gained valuable bouting experience with the D-VAS in 2010) have the privilege of developing at a slow, considered pace, free of the burden of expectation that last season’s rookies had thrust upon them.

Jammers: It could be argued that this is the position that the Betties struggled with most last season. Sole vet Memphis Kitty led the youthful attack and she’ll be back to perform the same role this season. The good news is, is that jammer squad who had an initiation by fire in 2010 is back intact. Tropic Thunder led the 2010 Betties with a 24 % jammer percentage and showed considerable grit and determination in what was a challenging role to play on such an inexperienced team. Her 24% was just ahead of Poon’s 22%, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the captain spread herself across the positions more, allowing fellow sophomores Platinum Bomb and titmouse a chance to develop with the star.

EXPECTATIONS

There is a general sense that after such an intense 2010, the future is now for the Smoke City Betties. And things look good in the preseason, as a confident looking Betties squad recently gained a hard-fought victory (81-77) over a similarly matched Rideau Valley Riot Squad. The 2011 version of the Betties looks far removed from the team that suffered a 234 point loss on its last trip to Ottawa (last August vs. The Slaughter Daughters). It remains to be seen how this team can compete in ToRD this season. Aside from the Gores predictably strong squad, there are many unknowns. The Death Track Dolls looked vulnerable in their season opener, and the Chicks Ahoy!—a team that has thrived on a consistent, experienced lineup—will be tested as they integrate a considerable rookie crop this year. Despite all of the new faces on the Chicks, the Betties are not taking their opponents lightly. “They still have plenty of big hitters, fast jammers and strong leaders,” Scorcher points out, adding “we’re really looking forward to starting off the season with this game, as it will be a great opportunity to see how far we’ve come since last playing them.”

There is one thing about this game that is a given: this bout will most certainly not be a repeat of last season’s 266-42 blowout.

From the Archives (July 19, 2009): Betties 68 vs. Chicks 61 (Betties' Slaughter Lauder tries to pass Chicks' Mega Bouche). (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

2010 REGULAR SEASON STATS HIGHLIGHTS

– Over ToRD’s full 2010 season, had an average margin of loss of 166 points. Memphis Kitty’s -123 was actually the top overall +/- on the team.

– Sail Her Poon led the team in scoring (47 PTS, a 1.88 PPJ), while Memphis Kitty led with a 31% lead percentage.

– Pretty Peeved led the team in assists (12), blocks (24) and tied with Lady Scorcher for the lead in knockdowns (3).

– Lacy Brawler (who led the Betties in track time, appearing in 60% of the team’s jams) picked up the most minor penalties (29), majors (8) and total penalty minutes (14).

* Betties play the Chicls 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.

Check out ToRD.TV’s “Derby Couch” preview:

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).

2010 ToRD All-NERD TEAM (Part 2): THE ROOKIE LINE

Gores' Hurlin' Wall 2010 Rookie of the Year.

THE 2010 ROOKIE CLASS

The 2010 rookie class is arguably the top rookie class so far in ToRD’s brief history. But with the re-emergence of the DVAS as an organized bouting squad of undrafted players and the growing popularity of Toronto Junior Roller Derby, the drafts are only going to get stronger and stronger every season.

That being said, putting together only a single line of rookies was extraordinarily difficult. But here it is, the 2010 All-Nerd Rookie Line:

PIVOT

Pivot: Sail Her Poon (Smoke City Betties)

While no Smoke City Betties made my starting 14, the rookie line—for obvious reasons—is full of Betties. With an overwhelming amount of rookies, the Betties’ first year skaters had no choice but to take on big roles both off and on the track. No skater epitomized this more than Sail Her Poon.

A rookie captain, Sail Her Poon showed comfort and poise on the track well beyond her experience. Skating in 42% of the Betties’ jams this season, Poon  would  spread that playing time across all three positions on the track. Despite being a rookie on an outmatched team, she managed to pick up the first JQ points of her career (finishing top ten in Jam %, points and points per jam). In the end, she split her time in the pack and jamming almost perfectly 50-50. This complete-track awareness is why Poon is wearing the stripe on the Rookie Line.

Blocker: Marmighty (Chicks Ahoy!)

BLOCKERS

The Gore-Gore Rollergirls’ Hurlin’ Wall was the only rookie to make the Starting 14, so it shouldn’t be any surprise to see her here. A strong positional jammer whose timing got better as the season went on, Hurlin has the athleticism and track sense to be a complete pack player. The sole rookie on the Chicks Ahoy! this year, Marmighty, also makes the cut. Marmighty got a crash course in derby on a Chicks squad loaded with veterans and it showed in her play. Starting off strong positionally, she finished a +/- of+91, and it didn’t take the New Zealand import long to get confident with her physical game either, and finished third

Blocker: Grim Avenger (Betties)

on the Chicks in blocks and fourth in knockdowns; able to muscle her way into prominence on a stacked lineup. Lastly, another member of the Betties’ rookie class, Grim Avenger. From the opening bout (in which she skated 15 of her teams’ 37 jams) Grim was expected to play a big role in the Betties pack: she played up to those expectations. By the final bout of the regular season she was wearing the stripe and leading packs (she would be an integral part of the Betties’ strong playoff performance against the Gores as well).

Jammer: Tropic Thunder (Betties)

JAMMER

ToRD has developed into a tough league to be a rookie jammer in. The most that you can ask for is for her to endure and, hopefully, keep getting up. Tropic Thunder accomplished that and more for the Betties this year. From her breakout performance at the Fresh Meat Scrimmage during last year’s off season to the triple-threat role she played in the opening bout, Tropic Thunder became an integral part of the Betties’ attack by the end of the season and ended up jamming 25% of her teams’ jams on the season. She also led her team in scoring in the Betties’ final two regular season bouts of 2010. She is the third Bettie on this team and one of many who form the solid foundation for the Betties’ future.

Recap the The All-Nerd Starting 14 here.

Upcoming: Saturday, final post of 2010. A few favourite photos and off-track highlights.