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Subzero Sirens Hold Off the Hammer City Harlots In Debut Win

Credit: Rene T. van Ee

Credit: Rene T. van Ee

The Queen City Roller Girls’ move to Riverworks in 2015 was a major effort and in the move the league downsized and retired their B Travel Team – the B Lo Zeros, for the year. Fast forward to October and the Lake Effect Furies travelled to Omaha, Nebraska for their first ever Division 1 Playoff appearance. In their first game they pulled off a last jam victory against long time rivals CN Power from Toronto, On (Canada). CN Power was short handed with injuries, retirements and skaters who couldn’t travel, but their handful of B Team call ups kept them in the game and had them oh so close to a win. In that game Furies jammer InSINerator wrenched her neck as she fell forward on a blocker. She played through the injury in that game and later against Gotham, but stiffness forced her to sit against No Coast. Travelling with an already short jammer roster, the Furies suffered. Both of these games, and the entire experience that weekend, spoke to the need for the league to revive its Travel B Team and that became top priority in the offseason. Tryouts began less than a month later and the roster was set by mid November. 

Officially renamed the Subzero Sirens, the B Team set their sights on this first bout against the B Team for the Hammer City Roller Girls in Hamilton, On. This was the first time these leagues B Teams would square off, and the first time the leagues played each other since the Furies beat HCRG 263-105 in an unsanctioned game in June 2014. With a whole new team and coaches, and in a new venue, the outcome of the game felt wide open. 

The Sirens immediately set the tone though with a massive 19-0 jam to start the bout and they pushed that to a 87-22 advantage 14 jams in, capitalizing on 4 Hammer City jammer penalties. Hammer City responded, playing even for the rest of the half and putting up 59 points to the Sirens 124. Giving up 16/23 lead jams to the Sirens, and taking 5 jammer penalties in that first half the Harlots needed to regroup. Sirens jammers Double Barryl Cheryl and Dana Scullcrusher dominated in that first half going 26/4 and 61/1 (!) and a combined 11/11 on lead jams. The Harlots would need an answer for them. 

The 2nd half started off tight, but the Harlots slowly chipped away at the lead capitalizing on Sirens penalties. They turned 3 Sirens jammer penatlies and 2 powerstarts into a run and pulled the bout to 171-132 for the Sirens with over 10 minutes left. Sirens blockers finally dug in and stayed out of the box, while Sirens jammer and Co-Captain McCreadie answered with an 18-4 jam to stop their run. The Harlots wouldn’t get close again. 

Although a 70 point victory, the Harlots finished with a solid 2nd half putting up 101 points to the Sirens 106 and overall they matched the Sirens after initially giving up that 87-22 run in the 1st. They increased their lead jams in the 2nd half to 11/26 and their jammers played a clean and disciplined 2nd half to at least give them a chance. 3 of their jammers held net positive ratings in that 2nd half and their jammer fErineheit put up 54 points and a +8 rating for the bout. 

The Harlots blockers were able to minimize the damage in the 2nd half, but they could not contain Dana Scullcrusher who went 96/9 for the bout with an 11/13 lead jam count. A debut not just for the Sirens, this was also a debut for this Niagara Roller Girls transfer who is a Travel A/B rookie this year. 

After building that solid lead, the Sirens did a great job of bending but not breaking, responding to runs from the Harlots and building the lead up again. Veteran blockers like C0-Captain Celery Stalk-HER did a great job of calming their team down in the 2nd half to regroup. Coaches forced jammers to try and time their call offs, which led to some points being stolen by Harlots jammers, but the experience will pay off and Sirens jammers played focused for the entire bout managing to steal points on jams without lead as well. Overall, with a roster of many young and inexperienced skaters and everyone playing together for the first time, this was a solid win for the Sirens. Getting into the habit of making “every jam count” as it does in the WFTDA weighted rankings that the Furies play under, will take time as will developing that killer instinct to bury teams and not let them back into bouts. Cutting down on penalties, holding walls without rolling, and bridging will be a focus for the blockers and playing under control with power jams and call offs will be a focus for jammers (the Sirens jammers took 2 penalties in the game while on powerjams). 

The bout saw a great sized crowd and also pointed to how the location at Riverworks is becoming a hub for surrounding leagues. Non-skating officials (NSO’s) and referees came from Niagara Roller Girls, Hammer City, Roc City and Ithaca and a nice sized Canadian contingent was on hand cheering on Hammer City and also NRG transfers like May Bringdowndahaus, McCreadie and Dana Scullcrusher. 

The next QCRG bout is this Friday and it is a charity bout for Buffalo Dream Weavers with the #Icecanos squaring off against the #IceCars. The league is asking for donations of hats, gloves and scarves on game day. You can learn more about the event at its facebook event page and you can get tickets at http://www.qcrg.net/event/charity-mash-up-7/


Bombshell Battalion Sink Queen’s Court With A Second Half Comeback

Credit: Robert Kerr (Dark Images Photo)

Credit: Robert Kerr (Dark Images Photo)

The Bombshell Battalion, the B Team for Alliston, Ontario’s Renegade Derby Dames, finished their about against Queen City Roller Girls Queen’s Court on a 88-39 run to skate off with a 181-158 victory on Sunday. The bout marked the first time QCRG hosted another league this season, and also marked the league debuts for TeKill’Ya Sunrise, Mortu Mary, Schmitty Schmitty Bang Bang and QCRG’s first graduated Jr league skater Veggy Cowgirl. 

The Queen’s Court, made up of 1st and 2nd year league skaters, got out to solid lead in the first half going on a 29-0 run to capitalize on the Battalions jammer penalties. Pushing that lead to 32 points at 60-28 would be the most comfortable margin for either team in the game, and the Battalion slowly chipped away at that lead to pull to 20 at the end of the first half 99-79. With a jammer penalty differential of 4/1 and a lead jam favouring Queen’s Court 14/26, the Battalion were lucky to be down just 20 at half. 

The second half started off tense and saw a tight bout. Only 35 total points were scored through the first 11 jams of the half and the Queen’s Court held a 119-94 advantage with just under 20 minutes left. The Queen’s Court collapse would begin in the 12th jam as CurlySlew for the Battalion grabbed lead and 9 points on TeKill’Ya Sunrise – pulling the bout within 16 points. After Double Barryl Cheryl grabbed lead and 4 points for the Queen’s Court to respond, the Battalion managed a 20-0 score on a jam that would have fans searching for their WFTDA rule books.

Queen’s Court jammer Raspoutine had her jammer star cover fall off as she made her way through her initial pass and as she skated around to pick it back up and put it on her head the Queen’s Court blockers couldn’t make sense of the chaos. Raspoutine would pass all Battalion blockers, but was still held up until she star passed to Sigourney Cleaver. This finally forced a call off, but not before the Refs scored 15-4 points for the Battalion and then corrected that to 20-0. Tie game.

The Court responded with a 14-2 run to build their lead back up before TeKill’Ya Sunrise grabbed two jammer penalties in the same jam and the Battalion went 18-0 to take the lead for the first time since the 3rd jam of the bout. The Court would again respond pulling the lead down to 2, before their jammer MegaLO-MEINia was called on a track cut and Battalion jammer Laya Down capitalized with a back breaking 22-0 jam. They pulled that lead down to 14 heading into the final jam, and Battalion jammer CurlySlew was called for a penalty in that jam, but it was too late. 

Fans got a close and exciting game. 19 of the games 53 jams were called off before either team could score 4 points, with 10 of those either 0-0 or 0-1 jammer races. The penalty advantage the Court held in the first half swung the other way in the 2nd and the Battalion did a better job of capitalizing on those mistakes – the Court were 51/34 on powerjams while the Battalion went 55/4. Perhaps the most impressive stats of the game are the 2nd half stats for all of the Battalion jammers. They ran a 3 jammer rotation for the entire bout, there was no drop off and consistency throughout, and they managed to play more disciplined in the 2nd half. CurlySlew led them in that second half scoring 48 points on 6/9 lead jams and going +32 in the half taking only one penalty after taking 3 in the first half. 

The inexperience of the Queen’s Court skaters showed throughout parts of the bout, but for the most part these skaters looked at home playing against experienced skaters from Renegade Derby Dames which included Amazon and Bad “D”Cisions from their 2015 A Travel Team and some skaters from surrounding leagues. The debut of Veggy Cowgirl in the adult league was special. She held her own going 4/4 in points on 3 jams with 1 lead and as a blocker she did an amazing job tracking the opposing jammer and drew a couple track cut calls. TeKill’Ya Sunrise also had a strong start in the first half in her debut before running out of steam. This bout for the Court saw 7 of their skaters playing their 3rd bout in 8 days – the 7 Dollies rookies on the roster – and the second half collapse makes a bit more sense thinking about how their legs most likely felt like cement. 

Skating through the fatigue Double Barryl Cheryl kept up her solid start to 2016 grabbing 7/9 lead jam statuses in the game and going 35/2 on points for the best +/- in the bout. The move to jam her more in the 2nd half pulled her out of the blocking core though and the strong game her and Veggy were having blocking in the first half didn’t carry over. Erin Go Braless and Raspoutine had solid bouts going for 50 and 36 points, but the Battalion were able to capitalize on their inexperience at key points. The Court jammers struggled with call offs and clock management, giving up points with lead jam status or before the Battalion jammer had made their initial pass, but they also fought hard to steal points on many jams as well. The in game feel, especially in a close and aggressive bout like this, will definitely help them work through those panic moments and momentum swings. These bouts for the Queen’s Court are about bout experience and a game like this, complete with freak scenarios, back and forth lead changes and a rowdy crowd, are perfect for the development of these skaters – even if it is in a loss. For anyone interested in viewing footage of the bout you can find bout footage on the QCRG youtube channel. 

The focus now moves to the next visiting Canadian team as the Lake Effect Furies B Travel Team the Subzero Sirens make their debut against the Hammer City Rollers B Team, The Hammer City Harlots, on Saturday January 23rd at Riverworks. Doors open at 1pm and first whistle is at 2pm. You can get tickets online here


QCRG Week 2: Future of QCRG to Take to the Track Against Two Canadian Teams

letsrollbuffalo

Since our week 1 preview the Queen City Roller Girls have set a new all time attendance record and kicked off their 2016 home league season with two competitive bouts that saw the Dollies beat the Saucies to open the Season and the Alley Kats beat the Dollies for their first win since 2012. That down-to-the-last jam victory for the Kats offered three lead changes in the final ten minutes and will be remembered as one of the most exciting bouts in the history of the league. By any measure, Week 1 was a resounding success. 

Week 2 shifts to the Queen’s Court and the revived B Travel Team the Subzero Sirens. The Queen’s Court, 1st and 2nd year skaters, will take on the Renegade Derby Dames from Alliston, On (Canada) on Sunday January 17th at 2pm and the Subzero Sirens will take on the Hammer City Harlots B Team from Hamilton, On (Canada) on Saturday January 23rd at 2pm. These bouts will be the first time QCRG hosts another league in 2016, and the first time visiting leagues will get to bout in a fully finished Riverworks facility. 

The Queen’s Court roster for Sunday includes many 2nd year skaters (home league rookies); MegaLO-MEINia, Molly Malign, Double Barryl, Percipihatin’, Sigourney Cleaveher, Cinister, Raspoutine, Erin GoBraless, and Skarpinski. Rachel Tension, formerly Jaded, is returning after some years off and will be playing in the bout and TeKill’Ya Sunrise, Mortu Mary, Schmitty Schmitty Bang Bang and Veggy Cowgirl will all be making their league debuts on the track on Sunday. For Veggy Cowgirl this is also an important milestone as this is her first adult league bout after being the first Queen City Jr Roller Girl to graduate to the home leagues. 

The visiting team from Alliston, the Renegade Derby Dames, are a WFTDA certified league and ranked #277. The team has struggled to get wins over the last few years, squeaking out close wins over Tri City’s Plan B Team in 2014 and the Nickel City Derby Dames and the South Simcoe Rollers in 2015. They kicked off their 2016 season with a l0ss to Forest City and look to be on a small upswing coming into this bout. This should make for a tough and close bout on Sunday. 

The following Saturday the Subzero Sirens host the Hammer City B Team, the Hammer City Harlots, for an afternoon bout at Riverworks. The league ran a B Team in 2013 and 2014 named the B Lo Zero’s, but disbanded the B Team before the 2015 season prioritizing the Furies and the move to Riverworks. After seeing the success of other competitive B Team programs, like the excellent use of B Team skaters by rivals Toronto Roller Derby’s CN Power at Division 1 Playoffs in Omaha, NB, reviving the B Travel Team became a league priority. The league took a large team name list down to 3, voted on it, and decided to revive the Subzero Sirens name – a name that was originally intended to be the name of the Alley Kats way back in 2009. 

The Sirens roster includes 2015 Furies: Celery Stalkher, Her Heiny Granger, Wrecks Kitten alongside rookies, Chet UpStandUp, Double Barryl, May Bringdowndahouse, McCreadie, Molly Malign, and TeKill’ya Sunrise. The rest of the roster is rounded out by veterans NicNugget, Wailing Wench, Maggie de Sade, Chickadeemolish, Brutali-Tease, Jules Burn, June Cleaveher, and SlamUWell Jackson. The B Lo Zeros were 4-1 over their history and this new version of the B Team will be looking to be competitive against top tier B Teams for D1/D2 Playoff Teams. 

The Hammer City Harlots will be making the trip down the QEW for their first bout of the 2016 season on the 23rd. According to Flat Track Stats the Harlots went 3-4 in 2015 with most bouts being blowouts either way – only one of those bouts was within 90 points. The Hammer City program has been running consistently since 2007, so the league has continuity and experience on their side, but the Subzero Sirens will be looking to make a statement in their first bout. The Sirens and the Queen’s Court want these Canadian teams leaving feeling upset about more then just the exchange rate. 

You can always find tickets at qcrg.net/tickets


New Year, New Alley Kats: Kats Pull Off Thrilling Last Jam Victory Over the Devil Dollies

Cred: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

Cred: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

January 28, 2012. That is the date of the last Alley Kats victory. They squeaked out a 141-135 win that night over a Suicidal Saucies team that would not win a game in 2012. When that bout happened Whitney Houston was still with us, the Occupy Movement was still grabbing headlines, and Lindy Ruff was still the coach of the Sabres. 18 losses later and the Alley Kats got to celebrate their first victory in almost four calendar years with a 164-161 win while a snow storm raged outside. The team, fans and their coaches hugged, cheered and some even cried. With 9 returning skaters this year and 5 skaters who have been with the team since that last win, this was an emotional and well deserved victory. 

It almost didn’t happen though. After a tight first four jams, with three lead changes, the Kats managed a 30-0 run over the next 3 jams to pull away 46-17. The Dollies cut back into the lead, but then gave up a 14-4 powerjam and a 25-0 jam by Ashes t’ Ashes. This was the safest lead of the night at 54 points, but it only lasted a short while as the Kats gave up a 33-0 run to the Dollies later on in the half when they got bogged down with jammer penalties. Sitting 105-89 at the half the Kats led, but they opened the door for the Dollies to get back into the bout. With a close first half lead jammer status 11/9 favouring the Dollies and jammer penalties 3 a side, it was already looking like the end was going to be close. 

The second half saw the Dollies grab 7 of the first 10 lead jammer statuses with the Dollies managing to tie the bout at 118 before giving up another jammer penalty. After allowing the Kats to build a small 9 point lead  they stormed back on a 21-4 run of their own. The final 10 jams of the second half saw a tie, three lead changes, and 3 jammer penalties. The Kats would push back grabbing 6 of 10 lead jams and setting the stage for the final two jams.

The Kats were down 158-153 with 1:42 left. Head Coach Shockher called a time out and then sent out Ashes t’ Ashes to line up against Double Barryl. Barryl to that point had a stellar 12/15 lead jams. Ashes quickly grabbed lead jammer though and called the jam with 4 points, 50 seconds left and more importantly before Double Barryl could score. 158-157 Dollies, coach Señor Wiener responded with his own time out to freeze the clock and rest his jammer before sending Double Barryl back out against Kats jammer Evil Lyn. These two had lined up against each other 5 times in this bout with Double Barryl claiming all leads and flexing a 30/8 points advantage. Evil Lyn had the crowd and a 4-3 pack advantage though. As the jam began Evil Lyn stretched out the Dollies blockers while the Kats swallowed Double Barryl. In a one on one match up against Dollies blocker Lip Service, Evil Lyn bunny hopped over her on the inside in turn 2 to claim lead. She raced around the track and made another pass before Double Barryl could get through, but still needed to run down the clock. As she came around for her third pass, Double Barryl was able to grab three points, but the game clock had run down so Evil Lyn hit the pack and called the jam – 7 to 3 for the Kats. The comeback was complete, the Kats win 164-161. 

The crowd at Riverworks, who took in the bout during a snow storm, celebrated the win – even the ones who didn’t realize the gravity of the victory for the Kats. Outside of the 2015 Championship bout, this was the biggest nail bitter that the league has had in its new digs and the fans who could make it out got to see something special. 

For the Kats jammers Karsmashian led the way with 64 points and Ashes t’ Ashes had the best +/- with a +39 performance and the most lead jams with 8. The Kats jammers all played great, but it was also the teamwork of their blockers that made this win possible. Kats veterans Flocking Girl Scout, PaulverizHer, Knot Nice and newcomers lead by Ana Killingspree and Half Pint did a great job of holding the Dollies jammers and landing punishing hits both on Dollies jammers and on Dollies blockers to open up holes for their own jammers. Playing against a team that just had a bout 5 days prior, the Kats used their size and strength to disrupt the Dollies and give them a taste of their own medicine (the Dollies played and won with a similar style against the Saucies). They were able to target the two anchors of the Dollies blocking core – Chickadeemolish and Lip Service – and make sure their jammers were not recycled after being so close to getting free. 

On the Dollies side the bout saw another dominating bout from Double Barryl going for 74 points, 12 of 17 leads, and a +43 overall. Jules had a solid night right behind her, but most remarkable is the second half that rookie jammer Raspoutine had. After struggling in the first half with no lead jams, she returned in the 2nd half to grab 50% lead jams and +6 rating that included a handful of crucial jams down the stretch. Seeing how these rookie Dollies respond to adversity will be a big test for how they play down the road in the playoffs, and Raspoutine passed with flying colours on Wednesday night. The Dollies did control lead jam for the bout 25/19, so if they cut down on their jammer penalties this jammer rotation should be fine. 

The league now shifts to bouts for the Queen’s Court (1st and 2nd year skaters) on January 17th, the first bout for the revived B Travel Team the Subzero Sirens on the 23rd and another Charity Mash Up bout on the 29th before the Saucies and Kats start home league play back up on February 3rd. With new attendance records under their belt, and much more parity in the home leagues, QCRG is off to a great start in 2016. You can always find tickets at qcrg.net/tickets

For anyone who wants to re live that final jam.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BAgGtk0Px99/


Devil Dollies Roll to Victory in Front of Sell Out Crowd to Open QCRG’s 10th Season

Cred: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

Cred: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

The Queen City Roller Girls kicked off their official 2016 season at Buffalo Riverworks on Saturday afternoon in front of a sell out crowd – shattering all previous league attendance records with over 1,300 fans. The crowd, which included hundreds of first time fans, were treated to a close bout between the “scrambled” 2016 Devil Dollies and Saucies teams with the Dollies pulling out a 179-113 win. 

With two Saucies jammers sidelined with injuries, TeKill’ya Sunrise and Flame Thrower, a jammer battle quickly developed between rookies; Rosi for the Saucies and Double Barryl for the Dollies. Those two rookie jammers faced off at least 7 times in the first half alone. The Dollies walls, anchored by veterans Lip Service, Chickadeemolish and Labatt Bruise, were too much for the Saucies and Double Barryl’s aggressive jammer style kept the Saucies blockers in disarray. Although lead % was close in the first half, the Saucies took more jammer penalties and entered the half down 70-58.

The 2nd half started with that Rosi v Double Barryl match up, but the Devil Dollies pulled away in the 2nd half off the strength of the full jammer rotation – fellow rookie jammers Raspoutine, McCreadie and 2nd year jammer Jules Burn. The Dollies immediately started the half on a 36-4 run stretching their lead out to 44 points. The Saucies managed to end Double Barryl’s lead streak and draw some jammer penalties on the Dollies, but they would only pull that deficit down to 39 before the Dollies finished on another run. 

Not knowing what to expect going into this bout with 14 rookies and teams scrambled from last year, fans got a very close and calculated game that saw lots of strategy. The Saucies executed multiple star passes, the Dollies were holding braced walls throughout and both teams focused on short and quick jams to keep the other off the board. This is a testament to the Queen’s Court program and also a good indication of the promise that exists moving forward in the league. Fans might have expected a drop off with so many veteran skaters retiring or moving to travel teams only, instead they got treated to a very skilled and competitive bout that featured lots of up and coming skaters taking direction from solid veterans. 

Both teams should leave the bout feeling good about their upcoming season. The Saucies were down two jammers and kept the bout close. That run to start the 2nd half is where they need to focus their attention and if they can bring down the level of panic and penalties they should be fine. Maggie, Sigourney Cleaveher, Peaches, Chet and Crimes all made lemonade out of lemons, and gave their team a shot with a short jammer rotation. Rosi is clearly developing as a force within the league and the feared “red wall” had it’s moments. 

The Dollies played a solid team game and have the luxury of alternating Lips Service and Chickadeemolish to punish opposing jammers. They could go even deeper in their jammer rotation if they have to and already they look like the league front runner for top jammer rotation even though it only includes 1 skater with a year under their belt. Double Barryl, who looked solid through the Expo bouts and made the B Team “Subzero Sirens” looks impressive and draws obvious Lo Hits Griffin comparisons with her style. Raspoutine is consistently building off of a great start and proving to be hard to knock down. The Dollies did however let the Saucies go on small runs and stay in the game by giving up some jammer penalties at inopportune times and a fully healthy Saucies roster might have added some more pressure to their calm and collected blocking core. 

The Dollies now shift their focus to their bout against the Alley Kats on Wednesday night. The season opener for the Alley Kats, the Kats have the upper hand after watching the Dollies on Saturday. We will see if they will be able to capitalize on that and grab their first win in years. 

The bout became a media event in Buffalo and the league has been very busy in the last few days shooting a commercial with Towne Automotive and releasing their 10th anniversary league photo. They have a long bout schedule ahead of them and keeping this momentum up will be the next challenge. 


Queen City Roller Girls 2016 Week 1 Preview

Photo Cred: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

Photo Cred: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

10 seasons. That is a huge deal for a grassroots sport like roller derby. Lots of people along the way would not have thought this sport was going to stick around – either in Western New York or anywhere else. Watching footage of what women’s flat track roller derby looked like 10 years ago it is almost unrecognizable. WFTDA, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, has institutionalized the sport and brought it to its present day form – where it is played globally with over 300 leagues and over a handful of continents represented. This is a huge accomplishment for the sport, for WFTDA and also for the Queen City Roller Girls who are entering their 10th season, and their second at Buffalo Riverworks which hosts the world’s first purpose built derby track. 

As QCRG enters its 10th season the home leagues look radically different. With skater retirements and some skaters choosing to go travel team only, QCRG was forced to slim down to 3 home teams for the first time since 2008 (before the Alley Kats). The league voted to retire the Nickel City Knockouts for the year, the 4 time reigning Champions, and now for the first time since 2011 the league will have a Champion other than the “bloooo.” On top of this, the league also redrafted (“scrambled”) the remaining skaters in the home leagues – which means only 14 skaters will be skating with the team they were on last year. Throw in 15 rookies into the mix and this year in the home leagues is wide open. Anyone who definitively tells you how this will play out is a liar. How these teams will mesh is anyone’s guess, but for the sake of a preview here are some things I will be looking for in Week 1. 

Devil Dollies v Suicidal Saucies – Season Opener –  Saturday January 9th 2pm @ Riverworks 

The Dollies will take the track on Saturday with only one rostered skater from last year – Chickadeemolish. They will also roll out with a league best 9 rookies and only 4 skaters who have more than 3 years experience (Bully Holiday, Chick, Lip Service and Labatt Bruise). Those veterans will anchor this team, especially former Lake Effect Furie and long time league member Lip Service, but it will be up to their coach Señor Wiener and bench manager Ivana LeiHerOut (Lake Effect Furies) to turn this roster into a contender. The former Knockouts coach, Wiener is a long time league member, a highly certified WFTDA Ref and a skater for Toronto Men’s Roller Derby. Wiener knows the game, and the league, inside and out. He coaches to win and he has an experience advantage over rookie coach Roxanne Debris (Saucies) and Shock-Her (Alley Kats). Not having Librawlian to rely upon will make things more challenging though and how the Dollies coaches adjust in game and keep this team motivated will be the key.

Coaches? You really want me to get excited about watching Coaches? Ok, ok, you want to hear about skaters too I get it! 

The Dollies bring on two Canadians out of their pool of rookies, jammer McCreadie and blocker May Bringdowndahaus. Former Niagara Roller Girls, these skaters are like rookies+. Their Queen’s Court teammates last year all had impressive years and many had stand out performances in the Expo bouts in December – I can specifically remember flashes of greatness from Raspoutine, Megalo-MEINia and Double Barryl. 4 of these rookies are also on the B Travel Team – Double Barryl, McCreadie, May Bringdowndahaus and Molly Malign – another sign of their promise. The obstacle with so many rookies though is that they lack bout experience and typically run, or don’t run, on confidence. Derby is a game of high high’s and low low’s and it is going to be up to the entire team to keep everyone focused, calm and on an even keel. 

With lots of potential jammers on the roster it will be up to Wiener and Ivana to manage the star and how deep they want to go. The Dollies give up a bit of size to the Saucies on the blocking line, so they are going to have to find an answer for that and make holes. This will not be an easy first test for this Dollies squad, however, all signs point to this class of rookies being ready for the challenge. If they skate out with this win I expect it to be because their jammers stayed aggressive the entire bout and their veterans and coaches kept everyone on the same page. 

The Saucies bring back four skaters – Joyride, Beatrix Boom, Wailing Wench and Cuban Mistress Crisis. They also welcome back Flame Throwher after a year off. Former Saucie Roxanne Debris moves to the bench to coach alongside former league ref Trip Ur Mama, and the Saucies also snagged up 5 rookies – Rosi, Sigourney Cleaver, Tekill’ya Sunrise, Chet UpStandUp and Skarpinski. Those rookies are matched with 8 skaters with 3 or more years of experience. The most interesting element of this mix will be if this roster can carry over the things that made the Saucies great – they blocked tight and skated as a team, played with discipline and grinded out bouts. The core is still there and the “culture” of the Saucies is still strong. This team has been looking to reclaim greatness, and has come very close in the last two Championships, so the expectation will be there from current and former Saucies and also fans. After not drafting any skaters in the 2015 season though, this influx of new skaters and a new coach may upset that balance. 

If the Saucies are going to reclaim former glory this year they will need a big year from their rookies and also from Flame Throwher. The Saucies don’t have the jammer rotation depth that a team like the Dollies do, and they will need Flame Throwher and Rosi to contribute right away. Both looked very strong in expo bouts, and Rosi was also named to the Furies – one of only two Furies skating in the home leagues – so all signs point to them being up to the challenge. How much inexperience and rust will play into this bout, and the season, will be key though. 

The blocking core for the Saucies looks very solid and stacked with veterans. Wailing Wench, Her Heiny Granger and Chet UpStandUp have been picked for the Travel B Team and every skater will feel unease lining up against Beatrix Boom. Those Saucies that are still around know that solid positional blocking is the key and I expect this group to carry on the tradition left by skaters like Head Huntress and B’kini Whacks if they want to win. 

Alley Kats vs Devil Dollies – Wednesday January 13th 7pm @ Riverworks

The Kats bring back the most skaters from last year with 9, and also are the only home team returning with the same coach with Shock-Her. Their one rookie, Ana Killingspree, is one of the home leagues biggest wild cards this year. Transferring from Mad Rollin’ Derby in Madison, WI, AK is also credited with playing a central role in spreading roller derby to Denmark. She looked very solid in the Expo bouts she played in and the Kats will have to rely on her and also Ashes t’ Ashes – the other Furies home league skater – if they want to get into the win column in 2016. 

The Kats looked poised to win in 2015 but came up short. The continuity of their roster may turn out to be an advantage, especially at the beginning of this season, since so many skaters are familiar with the team, the coach and the style of play. Like the Saucies they have a shorter jammer rotation, so they will have to get creative if at any point they start to struggle. You get the feeling that this same crew will struggle with penalties like they did last year, but this might be less of an issue as other teams struggle to catch up and find their own rhythm. Winning earlier in the season will be a priority for this team as they look to shake off a couple winless years. 

The Kats also get the advantage of a Dollies team that will be playing two bouts in a week and if they are doing their homework right they should be able to get a good read on the teams strengths and weaknesses this Saturday. Mama Chops will be torn, but the Kats also have the advantage in every game as fans have always rallied to try and push them on to a win. New year, New Alley Kats? Time will tell. 


Buffalo Bills… The Most Misbehaved Fans Ever?

BillsgamedayFrom time to time, dramatic stories emerge of some horrific happening surrounding a sporting event. At Dodger Stadium, a fan wearing San Francisco Giants gear is attacked and maimed. In Europe, soccer hooliganism is legendary and infamous, and even today, stadiums are designed to cordon off “away” fans from the home team supporters.

Yet right here, in Buffalo, the community known as “The City of Good Neighbors” is getting yet another black eye, as awful video taken in the parking lot of Ralph Wilson Stadium this past Sunday, has hit several sport media blogs and has gone viral.

The video depicts a fan, dressed in Bills garb, literally setting himself on fire, while nearby people, almost all male, all wearing Bills gear, and almost all holding a cup in their hands, presumably containing alcohol, cheer the nitwit on.

Thing is, this is not the first time this sort of thing has happened at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Occurrences of fan misbehavior, with alcohol and even drug use fueling the bad acts, has become all too common on game day Sundays in Orchard Park. And it has even resulted in death.
In 2012, a drunken fan was ejected from Ralph Wilson Stadium at a night game in November. From the parking lot, he texted his brother and friends as to the post game meet up spot. Nobody heard from him again and his body was found the next day, face down in a shallow stream a half mile from the stadium.

Then in 2014, another fan decided to slide down the bannister along the upper deck of the sideline balcony. He slipped and fell more than 30 feet, severely injuring another fan who had the misfortune of being in exactly in the wrong spot when the individual hit the ground.

It gets worse. Throughout the season, the public has been deluged with stories in the sports media, most with accompanying videos, of the mayhem happening around Ralph Wilson Stadium; fans dropping off an RV and smashing a table. A couple having sex. Men binge drinking out of long funnels. A bat spin contest involving another drunk fan gone horribly wrong. And each time a video like this goes internet viral, it casts the entire community of Buffalo and Erie County in a horrible light on the national stage.

Are Buffalo fans the worst fans in the NFL when it comes to proper conduct? More on that in a bit.

But to understand the very DNA of the Bills stadium, one has to go all the way back to 1973, when a shiny new stadium then named Rich Stadium opened its doors for the very first time. From 1960 to 1972, the Bills played in a crumbling and decrepit stadium on the city’s east side. Back then, urban flight to the suburbs was in full gear, the neighborhood surrounding “The Old Rockpile” was not safe, especially with race riots going on during a very unstable societal era in our history. So when fans went out to Orchard Park for the very first time in 1973, it was a little slice of heaven.

There was a bright and new stadium in an upscale suburb, surrounded by hundreds of acres of asphalt, where people could come and bring their grills and coolers and safely tailgate and soak in the game day experience.

Tailgate they did, and then came the alcohol. Hard to believe in the era we live in today, that fans could actually carry coolers into the stadium back then. Beer, flasks, hard liquor. It all became an essential part of a day (or night) at a Bills game.

That first night game occurred in 1974, Buffalo’s debut on ABC’s Monday Night Football. The spectacle soon turned ugly, with one fan attempting to do a high wire act across the cable holding up an end zone net. There were multiple cases of fans running onto the field, and back then TV cameras lapped up such scenes, providing said hooligans their 30 seconds of fame. Dozens of fan fights broke in the stands, with green jacketed security people overwhelmed just trying to keep up. Buffalo’s national TV debut on ABC’s wildly popular Monday night show was an embarrassing one, with commentators “Dandy” Don Meredith and Howard Cosell rebuking the Buffalo fans for their poor conduct. The appalling scenes playing out that night even made it to a story in Sports Illustrated.

The in stadium violence went on an on. For decades. Bills management beefed up security, but did little to actually stem fan violence and stop miscreant fans from entering the stadium until just the past few years. Part of the charm of attending a Bills game was not only watching the action on the field, but the fights in the stands. You could set your watch to the inevitability that several melees would take place, especially in the end zone directly underneath the Bills scoreboard.

So back to the main question – are the Bills fans the worst in the NFL when it comes to fan conduct?

This is a very much subjective analysis, culled from our multiple visits to all 31 stadiums in the league, and additionally, games attended at almost 50 separate FBS division 1 college football venues. But based on those experiences, the answer has to be a definitive “Yes”.

Simply put, this sort of despicable behavior does not occur with regularity at any other NFL venue. Not in Philadelphia or Oakland, two cities most noted for their rabid fans and hostility to fans of visiting teams. At the Linc in Philly, tailgating involving open beverage containers and grills is limited to one section of the parking lots. Patrolling and controlling any bad behavior becomes much easier with a smaller footprint. Over in Oakland, several losing seasons has turned “The Black Hole” into a pretty docile place.

Looking at teams noted for their robust tailgate scene – in Green Bay, it seems like the entire state of Wisconsin descends on the small town on football Sundays. There is spirit and camaraderie in the air, fans and even kids are having fun, visitors are warmly welcomed. The entire streetscape feels more like an American Legion summer picnic. Same in Kansas City, where their newly refurbished stadium sits amidst a sea of parking, and the local folks are having fun in a well behaved manor.

Over at Houston’s NRG Stadium, the team actually has a kids area with bounce houses, other rides and a play area to make the tailgate scene family friendly. Guest relations associates with the Texans front office ride around the lots in golf carts, delivering prizes to the best decorated vehicles. Radio stations broadcast from outside the stadium gates. The entire set up is geared towards family fun.

In urban settings, the tailgating is more muted and subdued, just due to lack of large surface parking infrastructure. In places such as New Orleans, Seattle, Indianapolis and Detroit, people tailgate. But fans can also enjoy pre and post game at one of the many bars and bistros offering game day pub fare and drinks specials, or gather in a public area for live music and entertainment. At the Eastern Market near Detroit’s Ford Field, thousands of tailgaters gather amidst old historic buildings and warehouses. It’s an ocean of fun. Nobody is belly flopping off of roofs, nobody is engaging in a sexual act, nobody is imbibing from a funnel, and certainly, nobody is lighting himself on fire.
Well, it looks like Buffalo citizens have had enough, and are demanding that something be done. Social media threads, and responses to news articles about the situation, have been jam packed with people’s own stories of their experiences with violent and boorish behavior. The refrain is very similar – fans who gave up going to games years ago because a few miscreants ruined the experience for everybody, tales of drunkenness and vomit, many saying they would never expose children to such a spectacle.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has taken notice. Poloncarz was handily re-elected to his job this past November, and the county he runs is the owner of the stadium and landlord to the Bills. An avid writer on social media, Poloncarz yesterday commented, “Everyone has a role in making the ‪#‎Bills‬ game day experience a great one for all. We are better than what we’ve seen recently.” Speaking to the media, Poloncarz promised action, even if to bring the New York State Police in and to possibly step up patrolling of private lots. He minced no words, calling this sort of behavior “the laughing stock of idiocy”.

But will that be enough? Many of those in Buffalo who attend the games and enjoy tailgating in a respectful manor are now expressing fear that the team might take the extreme step of shutting down tailgating altogether. Many private lots surrounding the stadium do offer tailgating venues, however, and closing down tailgates on those private lands would require ordinance changes by the Orchard Park Town Board.

And there is some pushback. One obscure blogger penned “an open letter to Mark Poloncarz” defending the behavior and spectacle Buffalo Bills patrons all been witness to, and suggesting that Poloncarz come join his tailgate and have a beer. Incredibly, this knucklehead said that he doesn’t take his young children to the games, but if he did, and he happened across two people having sex right in front of him and his kids, he would simply turn the other way. Wow. Just wow.

In the end, there are no easy answers or solutions to this problem. Except that law enforcement and team management has to take more stringent matters to crack down on the small number of people who make things miserable for everybody. If it means expelling fans from stadium property, from doing random breathalyzers at the gates to anyone even carrying a container of alcohol, to doubling and even tripling the number of ushers and security at every section, then so be it.

The Buffalo Bills will be entering year four of a ten year lease with Erie County to play at Ralph Wilson Stadium, and there has already been significant discussion and community debate on the long term home of the Bills – whether it be a new stadium downtown or a complete overhaul of the current home, to another option elsewhere. As a community Buffalo has one generational opportunity to get this right. Poloncarz has taken a wise approach about moving slowly, mindful of the community’s financial situation and lack of political will to publicly fund an expensive new stadium. Bills owner Terry Pegula has indicated that at the appropriate time the organization will make plans for its future home, but there is no immediate rush to do so.

Whatever the outcome of this debate, implementing a place of safety, positive fan spirit, a collegial atmosphere, and a center of community pride, rather than community shame and embarrassment, now becomes part of this discussion. The people of Buffalo deserve better. They are a proud community and Buffalo and Erie County is a great place to call home, and it’s getting better by the day. And the overwhelming sentiment in Buffalo today amongst fans is that enough is enough. Bills Nation and Bills Mafia are ready to take back their game day. Stay tuned.

Artvoice sportswriters Andrew Kulyk and Peter Farrell have traveled to all 31 NFL stadiums as part of their Ultimate Sports Road Trip project which has taken them to hundreds of different sporting events at venues throughout North America and Europe. Find their web site at www.thesportsroadtrip.com


QCRG to Close off 2015 with Charity Bout for the Family Justice Center

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The Queen City Roller Girls will cap off 2015 with a Charity Bout for the Family Justice Center. The Family Justice Center covers Western New York and provides vital and free services for domestic violence victims and their children through an extensive collaboration with 13 partner agencies, all located at one secured, comfortable location, where victims can get all the services they need to safely escape abuse. You can see a PSA for the Family Justice Center here.

Doors will open at 6:30pm on Wednesday December 16th at Riverworks with first whistle at 7pm. The league has also announced a BOGO/Two-Fer deal for fans who purchase tickets online. The bout will have a holiday theme and we have heard rumours of Santa and Mrs. Clause making an appearance! 

League Executive Director Cathy Pedro-Garrison is happy to cap off the year supporting an organization that provides such important services in our community, “The Family Justice Center relies on support to operate and we are more than happy to do what we can to support their mission. Breaking the cycle of domestic violence and removing barriers to access are so important and the Family Justice Center is at the front line of fighting for a community where safety is respected as a basic human right.” 

You can find tickets and ticket packages at http://www.qcrg.net/tickets/.



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