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Lake Effect Furies Open Up 2016 Season With A Statement Win Over Roc City

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The Lake Effect Furies wasted no time asserting themselves on Sunday at their 2016 Season Opener, kicking off the bout on a 113-0 run before the visitors Roc City could even get on the board. From beginning to end the Furies were dominant and by the time the dust settled they skated away with a 406-52 win, giving up only 9 points the entire bout 5 on 5. The win was exactly what skaters, coaches and fans were hoping for to start this season and this type of performance will need to be repeated throughout their remaining sanctioned home schedule against Ithaca, Green Mt. and Killamazoo. 

The win becomes the highest Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) score in Furies history (461), their 3rd highest positive point differential (+354), their third highest all time single game increase on Flat Track Stats and pushes them to their all time highest Flat Track rating (770). Controlling the game with 86% lead jam percentage, Roc City was forced to make up 43 of their points off of 6 Furies jammer penalties. Their jammers played with a lot of heart and determination, but the Furies blockers ground them down from start to finish. 

Roc City played without star jammer GO! (Flu) and missed veteran blockers like Lethal Lorelai dearly in this bout. Ranked 76th coming in with an average WFTDA score of 233.76, Roc City come away with a lot of bumps and bruises and only 87 WFTDA points. Last year, almost to the day, they came to Riverworks and challenged the Furies to closer a 213-105 loss that netted them a 207 WFTDA score, above their 191 average at the time. This is the ruthlessness of the WFTDA ranking system though and Roc City is unlikely to gain any sympathy from the Furies – especially not after the Furies got to experience what playing Gotham feels like last year and while they will carry the 95 WFTDA score they received from that game around their neck like an albatross all season. 

The Furies mental toughness in this bout was superb. There were no runs or momentum swings for Roc, they played clean and took fewer penalties than their average last year, and while giving up 7.1 points per power jam is still a bit high that is much less than last year. Panic didn’t set in, blockers dug in and did their job regardless of how many of them were on the track. The bout pointed more towards the finer points – jammers taking that extra second to shift their weight as they hit the pack, that extra second on re entry to leave the referees with no doubts. Ending the bout on a final jam with a 4-2 pack advantage for Roc and InSINerator taking a penalty was the first sign of slippage, but the rest of the game was so overwhelmingly positive and dominant it is hard to nit pick. The Furies actually increased their share of total points in that 2nd half – there was no let up.

The Furies jammer statistics go from huge to nuclear – Murphy with a +7.3 per jam, Miss Fire going 70/10 with 7/8 leads, Sin going +10.7 per and 90% of total points and Librawlian putting up 145/6 with 11/11 on leads and +12.6 per and 96% of total points. Sin had a 35-0 jam, Brawl 30-0, Murphy 25-0 and Miss Fire’s highest were two 14-0 jams. 

Let's go Lake Effect Furies! Thanks for having us! @qcrg #rollerderby #qcrg

A video posted by IGers Buffalo (@igersbuffalo) on

 

As dominant as the jammers were this bout was more of a coming out party for the Furies blockers. Locked into to a system that looks tighter and stronger than last season the Furies blockers held Roc jammers for full 2 mins on their initial passes multiple times – creating massive jams and a nice test of their own jammers endurance. Bricks Hit House looks absolutely terrifying on the track for the Furies right now and their overall communication, reforming and timed offense is all greatly increased from D1 Playoffs in October last year. The video above shows a nice assist from Furies blocker Midnty Maniac as Librawlian pushes through the Roc blockers and Bricks holds a Roc blocker as a “goat.” 

This is great news for the Furies, and a great statement game, but they now have under two weeks to prepare and keep this going as they head to the Quad City Chaos Tournament in Toronto, On (Canada) on March 19th to face more familiar foes – Tri City Roller Derby and Toronto Roller Derby’s CN Power. The competition will be stiffer and it will be up to the Furies to stick to the gameplan they executed in this game while lead jams become more rare and penalties may increase. With WFTDA weights of 2.56 (Toronto) and 2.43 (Tri-City), the Furies need a good showing against these teams to propel themselves back up in the rankings and into Division 1 Playoff territory.

They take back to the track at Riverworks this coming Friday with a mash up Expo of Buffalo’s two travel teams – the Furies and the Subzero Sirens – to work on their in game fitness and also have some fun.

The Sirens also came away Sunday with a dominant win taking the Roc City B Sides for a spin with a 290-94 win. The first Sirens bout for Queen City Junior Roller Girls graduate Veggy Cowgirl, she looked perfectly at home in the Sirens deep jammer rotation. Her, Dana Scullcrusher, Celery Stalk-HER and Double Barryl were relentless all game. The Sirens put up 145 points a half and only allowed 39 and 53 points for the B Sides. Undefeated this season, the Sirens move to 3-0 and the win shows that much more progress as they never had a momentum lapse in the 2nd half as they did in their first two bouts this year. Like the Furies they kept the pressure on from start to finish. 

Tickets for the Mash Up Expo are available at http://www.qcrg.net/event/lake-effect-furies-opponent-tbd-8/

 


Dollies Pull Off Thrilling Last Jam Win Over the Saucies

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Guest Post By Vile Love It 

The Queen City Roller Girls home season has seen some super tight games and this past Wednesday’s rematch between the Suicidal Saucies and the Devil Dollies didn’t disappoint. With more lead changes than you could keep track of, the Dollies squeaked out a 161-173 win in the exciting last jam.

Dollies jammer McCreadie pulled her team to within 2 points of the Saucies in the second to last jam and then both teams’ clutch jammers:  Rosi for the Saucies and Double Barryl for the Dollies lined up on the track. Unfortunately for the Saucies, Rosi headed to the box early in the jam leaving Double Barryl on the track to calmly gather up the winning points.  She cemented her team’s victory and then hung out in the back until the period clock wound down and the Dollies maintained their 2-0 record against the Saucies this season. 

This was an important game for the Saucies. They lost to the Dollies in the home season opener (179-113) the largest point spread of any home game this season. The Saucies then went on to beat the Alley Kats 174-158 on February 3rd. 

The Dollies, on the other hand, have fallen to the Kats twice. On January 13th they lost by 3 points in another last jam win (164-161) and then again on February 13th 133-115.

In the Saucies mind, it might have been: we beat the Kats, the Kats beat the Dollies, so therefore, we should beat the Dollies. But it just doesn’t always work out like that. First, the Saucies were down several players.  Maggie de Sade is out with an ankle injury. TeKill’ya Sunrise is also injured.  Fresh Slaughter Pearl, Poisonous Peaches and Chet UpStandUp sat out Wednesday’s game due to a variety of issues. The Saucies did pull up Veggy Cowgirl and Emma Dilemma from the Queens Court to fill in and they both made quite a difference.

Veggy Cowgirl is the first Queen City Junior Roller Girl graduate to skate in the adult league and she has made an immediate splash. She has skated games with the Queens Court and recently made the Subzero Sirens travel team. Veggy skated with the junior league for four years and is the eldest daughter of QCRG co- founder Sissy Fit (who herself used to play for the Saucies) so suffice it to say, she’s been skating since before she could walk. She also played on the Junior World Cup Select Team in 2014.  She is a versatile player and was effective as blocker (sometimes pivot) and jammer. 

Emma Dilemma also filled in as a Saucie on Wednesday night. She is a recent transfer from Toronto Roller Derby where she played with the Gore Gore Girls for 5 seasons including 2014 when that team won the prestigious Canadian Beast of the East Tournament.  She was quite effective as a blocker and looked at home in her hastily made red t-shirt.

The Dollies remain under the strong coaching of Senor Wiener assisted by Assistant Coaches and Lake Effect Furies players Ivana LeiHerOut and LiBrawlian (who is also co-coach of the Subzero Sirens). Senor Wiener crafted a team of a select few of anchor veteran blockers including Chickadeemolish, Lip Service, LaBatt Bruise and Bully Holiday and then packed in a solid group of rookies and second year skaters. His rookies, however, aren’t all “technically” rookies.  Double Barryl played for Watertown before she took a year off for knee surgery and a baby. McCreadie and May Bringdowndahaus were with Niagara Roller Girls before they came south.

The Saucies relied heavily on Rosi, Flame Throw-Her, Sigourney Cleaver, and Veggy Cowgirl as jammers (with both Rosi and Veggy playing double duty as blockers). 

The Dollies were down regular jammer Jules Burns and so spread the jammer love around to SlamUwell Jackson, Erin Go Braless, Nic Nugget along with regulars Double Barryl, McCreadie and Raspoutine. 

The games started out a defensive battle with “hit it and quit it” jams where few points were scored. Eight minutes into the game the score was only 13-10 with the Saucies in the lead. Although there were jams where one team was ahead by 10 or 15 points, neither team dominated for more than a jam. At the half the score was Saucies 60, Dollies 59.

When a game is this close it is difficult to point to a statistic that won or lost the game for either team.  The Saucies had a total of 8 penalties in the first half but then doubled it for a total of 24 penalties. The Dollies had 16 penalties in the first period and 15 in the second. Dollies caught lead jam slightly more often than the Saucies, but they couldn’t always capitalize on it.

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Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems). Shot at 1/8th Second.  

One fan said the score board resembled a basketball game, back and forth, back and forth but in the end, the Dollies were able to keep their winning record against the Saucies. Fans can see the full bout footage from the game here on QCRG’s youtube channel

The home teams are taking a break during March as the Lake Effect Furies and Subzero Sirens take center stage at Riverworks. The Lake Effect Furies open their home season against neighboring Roc City All Stars with the Subzero Sirens playing against Roc’s B Sides on March 6th and follow that with a Subzero Sirens + Lake Effect Furies Mash up Expo bout on Friday April 11th. You can always find ticket at qcrg.net/tickets.  

 

 

 


Buffalo’s Lake Effect Furies Set to Kick Off 2016 Season This Sunday at Riverworks

2016 Furies

Photo By Jim Bush

After a thrilling last jam victory over long time rivals CN Power (Toronto Roller Derby) in their game at Division 1 Playoffs in Omaha, NE last year, their first ever D1 Playoff appearance, the Furies were elated. 

That win gave them the chance to play Gotham Girls Roller Derby, the roller derby dynasty that to that point hadn’t lost a bout in 5 years. Predictably, the Furies lost big. The experience gained from that bout and playing the best in the world, will hopefully fuel this years playoff run. However, it also put this team in a tough spot to start this year. 

The result of that bout alone is the difference between the Furies current ranking (46th) and the low 30’s where they would sit without it. They scored just 95 WFTDA points in that bout, well below their average of 340 at the time. (WFTDA scores are a math equation made up of percentage of total points scored, divided by 3, times the weight of a given team – then the result averaged from your sanctioned bouts over the last year). 

The Furies battled through the rest of the weekend coming out with a higher seed than they entered (9th to 8th), but that in seeding bump doesn’t get reflected in their ranking. 

The Furies current position at 46th has them only 6 spots and 12 points out of that 4oth spot – the cut off for Division 1 Playoffs – but the log jam around that cut off will make things tough. They will have to climb 6 spots without being leap frogged by other teams in the process. The level of talent they have on the roster is enough to do it, but it won’t be easy.

At this level the mantra of “every jam counts” is constant, but the focus for the Furies will be playing dominant roller derby for 60 minutes, every game, without any let up or panic. They will need to consistently hit their all time top end of WFTDA scores this year to get back to where they want to be – representing Buffalo in Playoffs against teams from all over the globe.  

Their first opponent, the Roc City Roc Stars from Rochester Roller Derby, will be a tough first challenge. Ranked 76th with a weight of 1.76, the Furies need to beat Roc City in convincing fashion. To just play to their average they will need to score 63% of the total points in Sunday’s bout. To get back into D1 Playoff position though, they will have to aim even higher.

Since Win-Loss records are not the determinant for WFTDA rankings this creates an in game battle that is purely mental – how do you not let up, how do you stay focused and dominant? The Furies got to experience the other side of this in their Playoff loss last year to Gotham, the team with the best killer instinct in the history of women’s flat track roller derby. If there is one main thing they need to take away from that experience, ironically, it will be that. That is what they will need to tap into in order to get back into Division 1 territory. 

With very little roster turn over and a full returning coaching staff – long time veteran B’Kini Whacks has taken a year off while two rookies join the roster, Niagara Roller Girls transfer Dana Scullcrusher and Queen’s Court graduate Rosi – the Furies should benefit early from the continuity of the roster. They can also expect the return of blocker Head Huntress from injury this year, which should shore up their blocking core even more.

With a jammer rotation that is deeper and tighter than last year – Librawlian, InSINerator, Miss Fire and Murphy – the Furies have more options this year shifting hard hitting jammer Low Hits Griffin to more of a blocking role and having three alternate jammers to call on for relief on top of her – Ashes t’ Ashes, Rosi and Dana Scullcrusher. Penalty trouble or off games will be that much easier to bear in the jammer rotation this year as a result. 

The Furies have also re-doubled their efforts at cross training this off season, joining with trainer Matt Crawley at Impact Training at the Harborcenter in hopes of adding to their strength, endurance and overall fitness. Impact also trains members of the NLL Buffalo Bandits, as well as members of the NWHL Buffalo Beauts. 

These are all great signs going into the 2016 season. With just 5 home games scheduled for this season, and only 4 of them sanctioned (meaning counting towards their WFTDA score and rank) packing Riverworks and having a large supportive crowds will be a priority. They have already sold out front row tickets and tables for this Sunday, and matched the pre sale levels of the leagues home opener in January, so along with the decent weather forecast for Sunday they are set up nice for this Sunday double header that will see the B Team Sirens take on Roc City’s B Sides following the Furies bout. 

By the end of this month the Furies will have played 3 total sanctioned bouts – Rochester at home and then CN Power (Toronto Roller Derby) and Tri City Thunder (Tri City Roller Derby) at the Quad City Chaos tournament in Toronto. How these bouts go should give a good read on the direction the team will take this year. Coaches and skaters will be hoping to make March a statement month. 

Things to Watch 

Penalties: The Furies were great 5 on 5 last year against whoever they played, but creeping penalty trouble and panic would decide games last year (Steel City, Ohio, Tri City). With so much continuity and a dedication on the part of skaters to study their penalties and the rule set, they should see those numbers go down. Beyond that though fans should watch to see how the team reacts when they do still take penalties. Calming down and digging in can be the difference between giving up one manageable powerjam and allowing the other team to gain momentum and go on a run. 

Start and End of Half: The Furies did a great job last year of dominating against New Hampshire at home, beating them 518-29 and setting a new club record for positive point differential at +489. A lot of developing that killer instinct relies on starting and ending well in each half. No let up to start and no letting light creep in near the end of a half to give the other team hope. Mental toughness. 

General Admission tickets are still available for presale online. The Box office opens on Sunday at 1pm. Furies play first. Tickets – https://www.facebook.com/events/220103121672762/

Bout Poster By Gelia

Bout Poster By Gelia


Subzero Sirens Keep Up Winning Ways, Subdue Greenbelt Riot

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Following up on their debut win 230-160 against the Hammer City Harlots in January, the Subzero Sirens put up another win this past Wednesday against the Greenbelt Riot, the travel team of the Niagara Roller Girls beating them 253-86. Grabbing these wins against close Canadian rivals is helping this team establish an identity after the league made reviving the B travel team a priority for 2016. 
 
Just as they did in the bout against the Harlots, the Sirens jumped out to massive early lead and capitalized on opposing jammer penalties. This time they were able to draw that momentum out across the entire half, skating to a huge half time lead of 166-14. Lead by 5 powerjams to none, the Sirens jammers overwhelmed the Riot blockers in the 1st half – going 19/22 on lead jams. Every Sirens jammer was at least +35 in the half, with Double Barryl perfect on leads 5/5, McCreadie putting up the most points with 47, and Celery STALK Her and Double Barryl both holding their opponents on the jam line scoreless (Celery 43/0, Double Barryl 35/0). 

The second half held up similar to the Harlots game as well though as the Sirens let the Riot creep back in. The Sirens finished on a 29-1 in the final 5 jams to win the half, 87 to 72, but throughout the 2nd half the Riot’s adjustments disrupted and frustrated the Sirens blockers and most of their jammers. Lead jams swung the other way in the second half going 13/24 for the Riot, and the jammer penalty differential closed tighter with 3 for the Sirens and 4 for the Riot. 

Playing awe struck in the first half it seemed like the Riot needed to bottom out before they could focus and play their game in the 2nd. As soon as they did, they looked like a team that belonged and overall in that 2nd half they were able to minimize the damage caused by Sirens jammers not named Celery STALK Her. Tightening their jammer rotation in the 2nd half, playing with a bit more discipline, and focusing on controlling lead jam percentage were all successful moves and they will walk away from this bout hopefully remembering and focusing in on those positive in game adjustments. 

For the Sirens, the two first half leads they have built in their first two games show the promise of this revived B team. They have the ability to dominate the opposition with a solid 1-4 jammer rotation that generally plays clean and smart. The only glaring problem is that they let their foot off of the gas. This is typical for skaters who play in win/loss environments, but for the skaters on this team who wish to play for the Travel A Team – The Lake Effect Furies – this kind of drop off is unacceptable. Weights and ratios demand that every jam counts. It can be tough for skaters to develop that cut throat attitude towards opponents, but it is something this B Team will have to work on. Riot jammer Homewrecken Holly was also able to exploit the outside lines against the Sirens blockers in the 2nd half by taking hits and spinning out while staying in bounds. It happened enough times that the Sirens blockers should focus on communication and lateral movement to close those lines off in the future. 

Unsurprisingly, the skater who had the best complete game for the Sirens is one with the most experience as a Furie, Celery STALK Her. Skating with the Furies from 2010-2015, Celery is now Co-Captain of the B Team. In the jammer rotation for this game, although typically a pivot, Celery was dominant –  going 65/4 overall for a +61 rating, 70% lead percentage, 0 penalties and also a 28-0 jam in the first half to break the spirit of the Greenbelt Riot. The Riot were able to put up double digits against all Sirens jammers in that 2nd half except for Celery.

The Sirens now have a short break before heading back out on the track at Riverworks in the double header, and Furies Season Opener, against Rochester (Roc City) on March 6th. Tickets are already going fast for that bout, so fans should order ahead if they want to beat lines at the box office or secure front row or VIP tables. 

When the Sirens do the hit the track again they may look a bit different as the team has added two new skaters to their roster – Erin Go Braless (Dollies/Queen’s Court) and the leagues first graduated Jr. skater Veggy Cowgirl (Queen’s Court). Look out for them, and for their new badass logo designed by Gelia (below). 

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Alley Kats Hold On to Repeat Against the Devil Dollies

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Guest Post By Vile Love It

In the first rematch of the 2016 season, the Alley Kats and Devil Dollies took the track in a game that often matched old school derby against new strategies.  Although the Dollies were able to come within striking range of the Kats several times, and kept the score tight up until the last few minutes, old school won out that night and in front of a sold out crowd this time the Kats skated away with their second win of the season 133-115 (both against the Dollies).  

The last time these teams met this season the Kats won in a nail-biting last jam 164-161 for their first win in four years.  In Saturday’s game, the Kats pulled out ahead early in the first period and although the Dollies came to within 9 points several times, the Kats were able to stay focused, keep their penalties low and the pressure high and, most importantly, keep the lead through to the final whistle.

The Dollies have adopted the latest braced wall, sometimes called a quad, made famous by the nearly unstoppable Victorian Roller Derby from Australia.  Victorian nearly toppled the Gotham Girls Roller Girls in the semi-finals at the Womens Flat Track Derby Association Champs using the incredibly strong and agile wall formation.  This formation is new for the Dollies and they are still perfecting it since it requires lightening speed reformation.

On the other side of the benches, the Alley Kats kept up a fairly steady four wall across the back line on most starts.  They only set up using a braced wall in one jam to shut down the Dollies’ Double Barryl.  Even in the pack, they relied on simple walls and tough hits to control the Dollie jammers and blockers.

The Kats also employed another “oldie but goodie” derby strategy and frequently grabbed a lone Dollie blocker and held her in the back of the pack behind a wall of Kats (the blocker is fondly referred to as a “goat” by players and coaches).  The pack is defined by the most players from both teams within proximity to each other (10’ if you want the technical definition).  So the Kats kept control of the pack and reduced the Dollies blockers’ ability to keep blocking their jammer.  It’s an old strategy and the Kats successfully used it again and again.

The Kats relied on their core jammers:  Ashes t’Ashes, Karsmashian and Evil-Lyn Cognito throwing in Ana Killinspree and ½ Pint Destroyer to shake things up.  On the other hand, the Dollies spread the jammer helmet cover around.  Double Barryl and McCreadie stayed in the regular rotation but they also used Jules Burn, Raspoutine, Nic Nugget, SlamUwell Jackson and Erin Go Braless.  Notably, it was the Kats veteran Jammer Evil-Lyn Cognito who was out in that last jam to ice the game for her team – just as she did back in their first match up. 

Another sold out crowd takes in a QCRG bout at Riveworks.

Another sold out crowd takes in a QCRG bout at Riveworks.

Out of all of the Dollies jammers, Nic Nugget had the most penalty trouble, catching back to back penalties in the second period.  Double Barryl skated away with a goose egg of penalties by the end of the game, the only jammer to spend no time in the box. She was also their highest scorer and most consistently won lead jam status.

Both teams had a significant number of jammer penalties: the Dollies had 8 and the Kats had 10.  All in all, the Kats only had 24 penalties (including their jammer penalties) and the Dollies had 27.  This was notable given the high physicality of the game.  The Dollies focused more on strategy and less on heavy hitting, with the exception of May Bringdowndahaus, Chickadeemolish and, of course, Lip Service, who sent many Kats jammers packing throughout the night.

The Kats have a cadre of heavy hitting blockers, and in the second period, much of the Dollies’ offensive strategy was distracting ½ Pint Destroyer, and PaulverizHer.  But that left Knot Nice and Ana Killingspree to pick up the slack.  And they did.  Generally speaking, on a home team front, heavy hitting generally goes hand in hand with high penalties but the Kats kept it clean.

The Dollies will be back on the track on Wednesday, March 6 against the Suicidal Saucies.  

First though, the Subzero Sirens will take on the Niagara Roller Girls on Wednesday February 17 at 7 p.m. and the QCRG Juniors and the Queens Court will be playing in a double header on Sunday, February 28 at 2 p.m. (Juniors play at 2 p.m., the Queens Court about 4:30 p.m.) Tickets available at qcrg.net.


Devil Dollies vs Alley Kats Rematch a Hot Ticket for Riverworks on Saturday Night

Credit: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

Credit: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems). McCreadie v Ashes t’Ashes Jan, 2016. 

January 13th, the season opener for the Alley Kats and in the middle of a snow storm, marked a major milestone for Queen City Roller Girls Alley Kat’s – their first win since January 2012! That bout came down to the final jam, the 164-161 victory sealed by long time Alley Kats veteran jammer Evil-Lyn Cognito. It was one of the most thrilling QCRG games ever but the snow storm and Wednesday night schedule, meant only a couple hundred fans saw it. This Saturday at Riverworks at 7pm, the leagues first 7pm Saturday night bout of the year, the Kats will look to repeat that success in front of a much larger crowd. A week before the bout the league has already sold out all front row and VIP Table tickets while outpacing their presale tickets for their record breaking 1,300 fan season opener. No pressure. 

Three games into the home league season and aside from fast tracking skater development, the league has also achieved much better parity – every home league team is 1-1 and the average point margin is just 28. Two of those three bouts have gone down to the final jam. For comparison, the average point margin last year was 63 through 15 home league bouts with only 3 bouts all season being decided by less than 20 points. 

Fans heading out to Riverworks on Saturday night can expect another tight bout for this rematch. The last time out the Dollies jammer rotation, largely made up of league rookies, were thrown off of their gameplan by the aggressive blocking style of the Alley Kats. This time around they should be better prepared and if the Kats are to repeat it won’t be because they took the Dollies by surprise. They will need to focus on their gameplan and playing a disciplined game. Penalties sunk them late in their last bout against the Saucies and walking that thin line between being aggressive and staying out the (litter) box will always be the challenge for this team.  

The game will feature the two of the top home league jammers – Double Barryl for the Dollies and Ashes t’Ashes or the Kats. Their stats through two games are close – they share a league leading +60 rating when on the track and they both see 1/3 of their teams track time. Ashes holds an edge in points per jam (4.43/3.71), while Double Barryl has taken less penalties and has a higher lead jam percentage (64.5/50). These two held close track ratings the first time out (Ashes +39 / Double Barryl +43) and I expect to see them match up frequently on the jam line on Saturday night. In their last meeting the Dollies jammers were able to stay in the game off the strength of a strong showing from Jules Burn and a great second half from Raspoutine, while the Kats saw Karsmashian have a great game and Evil Lyn provided the key jams they needed to win. If Double Barryl and Ashes grind each other down to a wash it will be up to the rest of the jammer rotation on either side to be the difference. The Dollies have the deeper jammer rotation, but the Kats have the more experienced one. 

For the blockers this rematch is another test to see who can use the same blocking style to more effect. Both of these teams feature veteran skaters who’s comfort zones are out front of the pack holding, slowing and punishing opposing jammers. The Kats blocking core has the size advantage, but as long as the Dollies focus on controlling the pack they can stretch out those Kats blockers and key in on the most feared of their blocking core. Fans can expect lots of big hits in this bout, both in blockers targeting jammers and blockers trying to open up assists for their jammers and hold other blockers (“goats”) to control the pack. 

Box office open at 6pm and the first whistle is at 7pm. You can still pre order general admission tickets online, or pick them up at the box office. Online tickets – http://www.qcrg.net/event/devil-dollies-vs-alley-kats-3/

For more information you can also check out the Facebook Event Page for the bout – https://www.facebook.com/events/190870227938964/

Bout Poster By Gelia

Bout Poster By Gelia

 


Queen City Roller Girls Put Rookie Skaters on the Fast Track to Success

Saucies Rookie Jammer Rosi. Also on Subzero Sirens and Lake Effect Furies.

Credit: Jim Bush. Saucies Rookie Jammer Rosi. Also on Subzero Sirens and Lake Effect Furies.

For roller derby skaters life is measured in strict time from off skates, to warm ups, to halfs, to jam clocks. Trainers and coaches set strict agendas for practice and try to stick to set lines in games. Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) ranked teams obsess over scores, ratios and team weights that all determine ranking. Aspiring skaters obsess over the “27 in 5” the amount of laps a skater must pass in order to meet their mandatory WFTDA minimums. The track itself is a game of geometry, an oval that can further be broken down into specific angles – blockers typically give space on the outside lines in the turns, a space which disappears as the track moves into the straight aways. Veteran skaters are constantly trying to find ways to break this sport down in mathematic terms for aspiring skaters – just from last week Booty Quake’s “Go From Benchwarmer to MVP with the 1% secret” is just one of the most recent examples. All of these obsessions are dependent on one thing though – opportunity. 

While skaters obsess over the mathematics of the game, leagues operate on a different level. Institutional knowledge, the high or low end of a leagues skill, everything from the training committee to the in game production all play a role in the development of a skater. Does your league have any transfer skaters who can bring a new perspective? Are skaters hungry to attend boot camps and workshops outside of the region, is your league quick to host them? How many refs do you have and at what level? How many opportunities are there to practice, bout and workout – and with who? While individual skaters will have their own strengths and weaknesses, a well rounded skater is a representation of a league as a whole. This is how top leagues stay at that level for years, and why it is so hard for aspiring leagues to make the jump. It simply isn’t up to individual effort. 

Some of the biggest changes that came in the 2015 offseason for the Queen City Roller Girls were a conscious strategy to acknowledge this. The league returned the B Travel Team (Subzero Sirens), brought the home teams down to 3 and all but 2 Lake Effect Furies skaters went Furies only (Rookie Rosi and 2nd year skater Ashes t’Ashes). This move alone ensured more bout experience for young skaters, especially young jammers who were getting buried on jammer rotations behind Travel Team skaters. On top of this the league instituted mandatory league practice by Furies skaters – increasing and adding diverse skill set training for young skaters – and also doubled its bout schedule to over 30. It is only February and between home league bouts, Sirens, Queen’s Court and charity bouts – which match Furies with young skaters – some rookies have already played in 8 bouts this year, more bouts than many leagues will play in a full year. The amount of bouts and the differing level of skill and strategy, all guided by the league, puts these rookies at a huge advantage. 

With the first purpose built derby track in the world to call home at Buffalo Riverworks, and record attendance over 1,300 to open the home league season, skaters are also getting to play in front of crowds and in a facility that feels like they matter. The majority of WFTDA leagues around the world still operate in “workable” conditions and some competitive leagues still struggle to secure spaces from one year to the next. QCRG skaters don’t have to worry about this and can focus on the track. 

What is the skill ceiling for the league? The Lake Effect Furies, the travel team, made their first Division 2 WFTDA Playoff appearance in 2013, following it up with another in 2014, before making their first D1 appearance in 2015 in Omaha, NB. Their highest ranking came last year at 30th, in the world, and their slow build should keep them pushing ahead in 2016. The team features Librawlian, who also coaches the Subzero Sirens, their star jammer who was third in points in all of the 2015 WFTDA Playoffs behind only Portland’s (Rose City All Stars) Scald Eagle, and New York City’s (Gotham Roller Girls) Bonnie Thunders – both recognized as two of the best jammers in the sport. The league has seen transfers from Southern Ontario,  and from as far away as Hawaii, and Madison, Wisconsin. Throughout the history of the league they have had one Team USA skater (Addy Rawl), but also had skaters move on to Team Germany (Lethal Lorelai), Team Canada (K-Wow), and currently has a skater credited with spreading roller derby to Denmark (Ana Killingspree – Alley Kats). Those first three skaters have since moved on, but the institutional knowledge remains. Also important, the league hosted a WFTDA tournament in 2012, has turned out elite level Non-Skating Officials like Stella By Starlight (who is head NSO for the upcoming Beaver Fever Tournament in Kitchener-Waterloo) and solid referees like Señor Wiener who is a level 2 certified WFTDA ref, coach of the Devil Dollies and also a Men’s Roller Derby star in his own right with the Toronto Outrage.

Credit: Rene T. van Ee

Credit: Rene T. van Ee. Coaches Librawlian and Vile Love It with B Team Subzero Sirens. 7 skaters are league Rookies.

One of the most important numbers for a skater is age. Although many skaters play a high level of derby well into their 40’s, most skaters know that they have a “window” where they will be able to focus on the sport. Planning around careers, injuries, families and “life” can be tough. A lot of skaters make the decision to move from smaller leagues to more established leagues in order to maximize their time. If you are willing to relocate, carpool or commute some can immediately go from a new league to an established and certified WFTDA league and the chance to compete in Playoffs. For Niagara Roller Girls transfer last year, and my wife, Murphy, this meant going from a Non-WFTDA league to jamming against Bonnie Thunders in the span of a year. That is rare, but opportunity exists for many skaters willing to seek them out and commit. 

QCRG prepares for a new intake of skaters this coming Sunday with their first intake boot camp of the year. For most new skaters the trajectory will be longer, but already 1 Queen’s Court skater from last year is on the Furies roster and 7 are on the B Travel Team the Subzero Sirens. For all young and rookie skaters on home league teams they get to play on teams anchored and mentored by former Furies and Travel Team skaters, all the while being trained and coached by skilled skaters and veteran coaches. With 30 games in a season some skaters will plateau, but others will experience multiple seasons in one. For skaters who want to progress, who want to challenge themselves, and who are mindful of their “window,” QCRG is offering the one intangible a lot of other leagues struggle with – opportunity. The fast track is there for those who want it. 


Ranking NFL venues, the Stadium Journey way

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From time to time, you can find in your news feed some article trumping out “the best NFL stadium” or “Ranking the best and worst”. If you’re a stadium enthusiast, these will always make for interesting reads.

But in many cases, they’re also nonsense. And downright embarrassing at times, none more so than an article of this type that actually made it to the pages of USA Today this past October. Look closely and you’ll find that the misinformed writer assigned no actual scoring or metrics to his choices of what he deems to be the best, and the worst, stadium in the NFL, and everything in between. For example, NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, came in at 17th. Why, you wonder? The writer states, “My goodness is that a horrible name for a stadium, though I guess coming from a city that once had Enron Field, it could be worse.” That’s it. That’s all. So there you go.

Then there’s Stadium Journey.

If you haven’t heard of this media entity, you’re missing out. With a phalanx of writers scattered throughout North America and even beyond, the site is an aggregate of helpful and interesting information about sports venues everywhere. I have been affiliated with Stadium Journey for a number of years, keeping tabs on our sports palaces close to home, and from time to time, submitting profiles gleaned from our Ultimate Sports Road Trip travels.

stadiumjourney-193x67Stadium Journey has just released its annual rankings of the 31 NFL Stadiums and the experiences they offer. But unlike some of the write ups you stumble across, these rankings come to you thanks to the painstaking evaluation and review of writers from each of the cities that are profiled. Most of them have stellar credentials as accomplished sports travel enthusiasts, possess superior writing skills, and take the business of scoring and presenting their venue very seriously. Additionally, all the stadiums are re visited and re scored at the minimum of once every two years, so that information and data is fresh and relevant.

My contribution to this year’s roster of NFL venues and their scores is our very own Ralph Wilson Stadium. The longtime home of the Buffalo Bills landed at 19th of 31 once the scores were tallied. What places The Ralph at this level, being an aging though still (barely) functional stadium is the incredible tailgating scene, one of the absolute best in the NFL. Secondly, Buffalo’s unofficial anthem, the beloved Shout song, has endured for three decades and is as much a part of Buffalo as the chicken wing. What sunk Buffalo’s score is the location, sitting amidst 200 acres of asphalt in a manicured suburb, and the lack of access by anything other than private transportation.

And this year’s (returning) champ? Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium. And why not! With a superb location on the edge of a bustling downtown core, endless pre and post game food, drink and entertainment options, a building with a retractable roof and retractable end zone wall, abundant space for tailgating, and suitable for a myriad of events far beyond 10 days of football. Indianapolis’ gleaming playpen offers exactly the template for Buffalo’s future stadium plans, and they managed to fund and build it at a comparatively reasonable cost.

So there you have it. Click on the rankings, then click through to your favorite stadium and check out everything from the food to the tailgating to the prices to the extras. It’s a fun site to visit again and again.

Andrew Kulyk and Peter Farrell cover the NHL Buffalo Sabres and AAA Buffalo Bisons for Artvoice




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