Betties Chicks 2015 by Neil Gunner
Over the years, ToRD has consistently tweaked its regular season/playoff model. Back in Season 1 in 2007, the then six teams in the ToRD house league were divided into two pools (the Bruisers and D-VAS were both still run as home teams at that point), but only the top two teams made the championship (regardless of the team’s pool). For the following season, four of the six teams made the playoffs, but by 2009, with the league down to four squads, once again only two teams made the Battle for the Boot. Since that time, the league has been (mostly) consistent in having a three-team playoff with the top team getting a bye to the championship game (in 2010, all four teams were given a spot).
This season, ToRD is experimenting with a new “tiered” playoff system that gives all four teams a shot at the Boot, but gives a marked advantage to the top team, who now gains a huge two-round bye directly to the championship game. This year, by the slimmest of margins, that advantage goes to the Gore-Gore Rollergirls, who will be playing in, remarkably, their eighth Battle for the Boot in nine years. It is a stunning run of consistency that has produced three championships, although none since 2010, finding themselves on the wrong end of the score in three of the past four championship games.
Quarterfinal: Smoke City Betties vs. Chicks Ahoy!
May 2, Ted Reeve Arena (Doors 4:00 PM; Opening whistle 5:00 PM)
This year, the third and fourth place teams will meet in a quarter-final matchup with the winner moving on to face the second place, and defending champion, Death Track Dolls in a semi final. While this year’s quarterfinal between the Chicks Ahoy! (0-3) and the Smoke City Betties (1-2) will mark the first playoff meeting between these two teams, they do have a long and varied history. Since the Chicks last won the Boot in 2012, the Betties have a slight 2-1 advantage over their counterparts, including a relatively dominant 238-117 win early on in the 2015 season, but we are only twelve months removed from a twenty-point Chicks win over the Betties, so don’t count the skaters in green out just yet.
It’s been a challenging season for both of these teams, but arguably, even more so for the Betties. Since making their second Battle for the Boot in 2013, expectations for Toronto’s oldest team have been sky high and after kicking off this season with that one-sided win over the Chicks, kept mounting. A narrow, 7-point loss to the surging Gore-Gore Rollergirls helped build those expectations for the season-ending showdown with the Death Track Dolls with a bye to the second round of the playoffs on the line. While the win was narrow (37 points), the Dolls did lead from start to finish with the gap widening to its largest point over the final few jams of the game. After both teams had put up similar results against the Gores and Chicks, it had to be a disappointing result for the Betties. That chance for redemption could be the driving force behind their push.
Semifinal: Death Track Dolls vs. Quarterfinal Winner
May 23, The Bunker in Downsview Park
The Death Track Dolls are the current two-time defending ToRD champions, but after two seasons of relative dominance, the seemingly constant roster shuffling may have finally caught up to the champs. But one thing this team has shown is an ability to pull out a clutch performance when needed: from a record setting Battle for the Boot win in 2013, to a much closer win in the 2014 final, to the impressive and surprising performance to close out this season against the Betties to clinch this spot in the semifinals, the Dolls can be counted on to bring it when it matters most.
They have faced some challenges this season though, and two years of massive roster shuffles, injuries and lack of experience on the bench could finally be catching up. They enter the playoffs a little battered, including missing the services of veterans Dawson, Junkie Jenny, and Goldie Lock N Load, but also promising newcomer Bloc Quebecois. Rookie Lace Frehley is also still working her way back from injury. Adding to the team’s woes, the team’s jammer rotation is also in question, with rookie-of-the-year candidate PrEditor unavailable for the rest of the season, and Devochka still slowly returning from an injury.
The Dolls managed to stay a step ahead against the Betties in their season closer, and handled the Chicks earlier in the season with a 94-point win, but just as those teams began strengthening as the season has gone on, the Dolls have found themselves dealing with increasing adversity.
And, of course, watching it all from the wings will be The Gore-Gore Rollergirls. Well rested and waiting patiently for June 6th and the 2015 Battle for the Boot.
**The May 2 quarterfinal at Ted Reeve Arena will be part of a double header. The second game will feature the Bay Street Bruisers taking on Tri-City’s Plan B, for the first meeting between these WFTDA B-teams. Tickets are now available!