with contributions from those in the know

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It was to be a daunting task for the WFTDA Derby Darlins from Killamazoo to venture back into Canada, this time to face the also WFTDA Tri-City Thunder on the track at New Hamburg Arena.

It was almost as challenging to venture out of Toronto to try to get out there to New Hamburg on the Greyhound. Leaving Toronto for Tri-City and finding oneself instead at the end diverted in Guelph was not part of the plan. Especially with the nice people already waiting in Tri-City to take you out to the venue.

It was even colder in Tri-City than it was in Toronto which we had left two hours before. The head of ref crew Matt S. Faction said to keep the jacket on, for indeed the arena was cold enough to lay down ice for hockey.

Alas! it was the last home date for the Thunder. But the cold could not dampen the spirits of all those who made it out to New Hamburg. The accommodations were out for everybody, the playground and hoola hoop area, the vendors from both teams selling the KDD merch and newlywed Christa could not stay away from Derby and devoutly took her place behind the Tri-City table selling off wares and the remaindered Thunder shirts. Plus there were prizes, the 50-50, snacks and cotton candy!

The bundled for warmth team from Killamazoo were already on the track sliding around trying to get a grip.  Americans tend to find the hockey arena floors slipperier than they were accustomed to, playing on sport court or wooden floors more their style. Some of the names were familiar from the bout at the Hangar with CN Power back in February 26 of last season. It was the first time we began to notice the words stitched on the Derby Darlin socks such as Gay or Meat or Bacon. According to the programme and evidenced on the track, Javelin, (jammer) Yoga Nagettit,  Lily St. Smear, Badass Maggie, Ms B Haven, Killamity Kate, Jane Deere, Rosie Ferocious who all played against CN Power at The Hangar were still on the KDD roster this time around. Lady Hawk was not around but there was Terrorhawk.

So it was going to be a battle of the #59 ranked at the time Tri-City Rollergirls Inc. against #93 Killamazoo Derby Darlins [rankings based on Flat Track Stats]. Killamazoo had just come off a victory the September before against Southern Indiana and faced CN Power and Hammer City Eh! team on back to back weekends, taking one against the Eh! in Hamilton but falling to CN Power again at home.

The mood of the night started out on the serious side. The Thunder were nowhere in sight to do the friendly handshakes as the Derby Darlins were introduced by the Derby Darlins home announcer to the crowd on hand sitting along suicide row and in the arena stands. Then lo! the sound of the bagpipes of Big Bag followed by the roar of AC/DC Thunderstruck and the Thunder entered into the ring of combat miming their inner shark. Missing in action for the night on the Thunder bench included Rainblows Brite, and no Perky Set in sight.

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It was a night of tough Derby, pack battles and intelligent play. But for once calls of “Lippy cut the track!” were not to be heard – as a jammer. Lippy was not on the jammer line for the night and was absorbed into the hard hitting herd of Thunder sharks. But she still got her track cut call. Derby Darlins came out aggressive with pivot Javelin daring to face the Thunder pack while skating and blocking backwards. But her facing the Thunder made for an inviting full-on target that Stacie Jones took to heart and decked Javelin to the floor. Motorhead Molly set the tone for the Thunder starting with a blazing 20 point jam to start the bout. They never looked back as Thunder were already ahead before the Derby Darlins scored their first points at 66-3.

With the Derby Darlins getting to serious penalty problems and track cuts from their jammers, it got to the point where Lightning Slim was prompting the crowd: “Every time I say Motorhead Molly you say power jam!” However, there was no give up in the Derby Darlins and their own band of supporters in the crowd led their own raucous cheer of “Kill! Kill! Kill!” egged on by the Derby Darlins on the bench.

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Thunder racked up the points but not at light cost, as Derby Darlins engaged in numerous one on one hits. It was not like with Hammer City where a hit could be seen coming from a mile away, Killamazoo played it closer and tighter.

Killamazoo received some advantageous spots of their own, being on the power jam and began to advance their own points up the double digits. However, the Thunder despite the Derby axiom that no lead is safe until the final whistles blow were not in danger of losing their three digit lead. Boss Applesauce kept calling out the lines while Capn Lou El Bammo kept his steely focus on Matt S Faction and the refs calls.

Shooting the Thunder and Darlins from the centre was another whirl trying to track the likes of Derby Darlins jammers Terrorhawk wearing the C or Ramona D Flowers or Rosie Ferocious as they took on the trio of Tiny Dancer in her debut with the Thunder, Freudian Whip and Motorhead Molly. Motorhead Molly showed her Team Canada form being a dextrous speed merchant, although just at the moment when Lightning Slim was declaring that Motorhead Molly just can’t be knocked off her feet, down she went. The inner and outer refs had their own challenge trying to keep up with the pack or non packs while shouting a string of penalty calls. A good penalty wrangler such as Ros Vegas and line and penalty trackers are worth their weight in gold and they were just so fast in getting the marks onto the boards and calling out the threes and fours.

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There was little room for slow or stroller Derby as both sides played it smart, with little trapping, but jammers did try to counter each other into neutral gear to minimize the jam scores. Tiny Dancer, a tiny terror on the track along the lines of the Royal City’s Hellcat of Panar or Hot Cross Guns, had already proven her skills with the Total KnockOuts but she was a revelation with the Thunder as her pack sealed in the Darlins allowing her to break to the outside and score multiple grand slams of her own. Watching from the centre and still trying to keep up with it all, it was a thrill to see the sharkpack in co-ordinated fashion help engineer Motorhead Molly set a Thunder record with 29 points. Also making her Thunder debut was Fox Smoulder. In the past Fox Smoulder has been known to get in foul trouble, but stayed out of the bin this time against the Derby Darlins.

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Both sides engaged in what could be called “old-fangled” Derby with full-out racing around the track and rib-crunching hits with elbows and shoulders and blows to the back. Thunder were taking advantage of their home floor racing around the track with  Derby Darlins trying to keep up with on the smooth surface. It was evident they were  trying to get used to the slipperiness even during warm-ups. Thunder did not have to resort often to anything very cute in “new-fangled” tactics except for riding the train and one attempt at push Derby with both squads packed on the jammer line, blockers ready to take on the enemy and create the daylight for their own jammer while blocking the other out. It seems football analogies applied to Derby have caught up to the sport for real.

Tiny Dancer took to the line for the last jam and fifteen points later the game was over with a 231-30 score. Then there were shenanigans. With one hundred dollars being raised for some challenge for YWCA Kitchener Waterloo Marys Place, Lou ElBammo took one for the team and was the willing recipient of the whipped creme pie. The track was coated with the dredges of the pie and on piled the Derby Darlins which only added more awesomeness to a memorable night. If the Derby Darlins were going down, they certainly were going to do it with style!

So endeth the home season at Tri-City and already a touch of homesickness is being felt.

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Next up for Thunder: those furious girls down in Queen City. Brrr! it’s cold in here, there must be Furies in the atmosphere! and we are going to do some catch up with the summer – and one road trip ahead to Alliston to see the Renegade Derby Dames

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