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Lake Effect Furies Skate Away From Omaha With 8th Seed

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The Queen City Roller Girls “Lake Effect Furies” came away from their first ever Division 1 Playoff tournament with an 8th seed position after entering at 9. Not only was this their first D1 appearance, but this is also the first time the Furies leave a playoff tournament in a higher seeding position than they entered (6th to 9th in 2013 in D2 and 2nd to 5th in 2014 in D2). Their down-to-the-last-jam win over familiar foe CN Power on Friday was their first ever win against Toronto and it ensured they would come out no lower than 8th. 

The Furies followed that win by facing the best roller derby team on the planet, Gotham, and losing 590-29 (which isn’t as bad as it sounds). That loss pushed them into the consolation bracket where they played No Coast on Saturday and fell 329-186. Missing their #2 jammer InSINerator, because of neck soreness from a fall in that CN Power bout, put the team at a huge disadvantage and they couldn’t recover. The loss placed them in the battle for the 7th seed on Sunday with Helsinki, another team making their first D1 appearance, and the Furies fell 274-199. 

The Furies couldn’t sustain the emotional high of that last jam win over CN Power and the chance of playing Gotham. They took 10 more penalties than No Coast, and although they took fewer penalties than Helsinki they could not capitalize on them. The inability to create offense, without taking penalties, by Furies blockers was exposed against those two teams and spiralling penalty trouble allowed for momentum swings that they could not come back from. 

The experience gained by the Furies should fuel them moving forward. Playing so many games against higher ranked opponents made it obvious what parts of their game they need to work on – depth, discipline, offensive blocking and reforming. Although they had their moments, and Librawlian played out of her mind all weekend, the Furies should feel good but also like they have unfinished business. Yes, they reached their goals this year of making D1 and they moved up in the tournament – but the Furies never successfully played their game for 60 minutes this whole weekend. This team has not hit its ceiling yet. 

How good was Brawl? She scored 417 points this weekend. There are still three bouts left to play, but as of writing that is the most for the tournament and ties Rose City’s Scald Eagle for most in ALL playoff play. The only jammer likely to surpass them is Bonnie Thunders. She juked, apex jumped and spun around anything that was put in front of her. It would be a long shot for a 8th seed skater to win Tournament MVP, but she is definitely someone who is in the discussion. Derby fans from all over the world who were seeing her play for the first time were impressed. 

Brawl aside, the team also rallied behind some great coaching – including Guy who had the best official review percentage of the weekend and played the clock perfectly against CN Power. Veterans Tabrina and Pepper scrapped all weekend and Pepper’s positioning on star passes against No Coast was a thing of beauty. Both of them finished tied for the best differential per jam with Bricks following right behind. Bricks fouled out in those final two games, but also sported the best lead jam % for the weekend of any blocker. The Coaches, leadership, veterans and rookies should all feel proud that they won and lost as a team all year long. This team entered this tournament making their first D1 appearance and as the smallest market present. A team from Buffalo, NY played against Toronto, New York City, Lincoln, Nebraska and Helsinki this weekend in an international sports tournament and held their own. That is awesome and should be celebrated.