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Alley Kats Hold On to Repeat Against the Devil Dollies

QCRG 2-13-16-4943
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

 


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/


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. 


Saucies and Knockouts Advance to 2015 QCRG Championship

Credit: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

Credit: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

QCRG’s first doubleheader of the year saw the Nickel City Knockouts and the Saucies advance to the QCRG Championship with victories against the Alley Kats (200-145) and the Dollies (199-134). For the second straight year the Saucies and KO’s will meet in the Championship and the KO’s will also be looking for their fourth straight QCRG Championship. 

The Alley Kats put up a good fight against the KO’s in the first bout of the night – closing the gap to 40 in the 2nd half before the KO’s pulled away. Falling by 55, the Kats almost halved my prediction of a 109 point spread. Immediately after the end of the bout the Kats bench reminded me of this in the crowd. I was happy to serve as motivation for the Kats – who blocked well, held goats, and kept the penalties down.

Although they didn’t win a game all season, the Kats provided fans with lots of great moments. The final was no different. Down by 60 in the second half Kats jammer Bang GRRang was forced to sit for the rest of the game by the Refs and Medics after two scary hits to the head. An emotional Bang wanted to keep playing. The heart of this team made them fun to watch. They never quit. The bench also seemed to tighten up and become a “team” more as the season progressed. Moves in the final game, like shifting Evil Lyn to pivot, also looked brilliant as her jamming experience increased the Kats ability to open up assists for Kats jammers. Hopefully all of this can carry over to the next year. 

For the KO’s, their blocking ensured that the Kats jammers struggled to gain any momentum. Although they struggled with penalties, the breathing room created by frustrating Kats jammers also allowed for the KO’s to broaden their jammer rotation – featuring rookie Jules Burn for much of the second half. Although you would expect for the KO’s to win by more, they controlled the pace from beginning to end and still should be positioned well going into the Championship. In the long term, if they can develop that 4-5 jammer spot with a rookie jammer like Jules Burn, that will just mean more chances that teams will never see a jam where Brawl, Ivana or Fisty are not on the track. For opposing teams, that is intimidating. 

In the second bout of the doubleheader the Saucies pulled away and dominated in the second half after just a 6 point halftime lead. Penalties and a momentum swing that the Dollies just could not stop broke the bout wide open and saw what was expected to be the closer bout of the night end up with a 65 point spread (I predicted a 13 point win for the Saucies). Missing veteran blockers Heiny and Celery, the Dollies struggled with communication and team blocking in that second half. The Saucies tight jammer rotation and discipline stretched out the lead while jammer penalties handcuffed the Dollies as they tried to get back into the bout with aggressiveness. Dollies jammer Murphy had a big game and helped keep the bout close, but penalties and the Saucies blocking ensured that the Dollies couldn’t build off of it. 

Murphy makes lead jam look so easy!!!!! #RollerDerby #DevilDollies

A video posted by Queen City Roller Girls (@qcrg) on

The Saucies head into the Championship with a tight 1-4 jammer rotation, a blocking core that blocks as a team, and with a roster of experienced coaches and skaters. It will be very hard for the Saucies to upset the reigning champion KO’s, but they are the best positioned to not get rattled and be a threat. They also should have some extra motivation in the form of bragging rights. In the history of QCRG the Saucies won the first four straight championships. After the Dollies won their only championship in 2011, the KO’s have won three straight and will be fighting for their fourth. The Saucies claim to the most home league championships is on the line. 

Championship Prediction 

KO’s v Saucies – 178 / 145

*Superfans – send me your predictions! dylanjamespowell@gmail.com

Doors open at 7pm at Riverworks on Friday and you can find tickets here – http://www.qcrg.net/event/2015-qcrg-cup-championship/

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QCRG 2015 Playoff Preview

Cred

The Queen City Roller Girls 2015 playoffs kick off on Friday night at Riverworks with a double header. The Nickel City Knockouts will take on the Alley Kats in the first game, the Saucies and the Dollies in the second. The fun kicks off at 6pm. Before things kick off I wanted to get out a quick review and get some predictions down. 

Team Reviews and Playoff Predictions

Nickel City Knockouts (5-1) – With only two new skaters this year it was expected that the KO dynasty would continue. Brawl gonna Brawl. Outside of LiBrawlian’s other worldly/not human skills, other KO players have had solid years as well- namely Ivana who has progressed as a jammer/pivot hybrid. These two lead the league in +/-  with Brawl at (+514) and Ivana (+300). Their biggest scares this year, outside of their forfeited bout, were their bouts against the Saucies. They start playoffs against the Kats, but could end up facing the Saucies again in the Finals. The loss of coach Supernova and the length of the season seems to have knocked the KO’s off balance a bit and in games this year the KO’s have hit auto pilot many times only to see penalties build up and opposing teams get back into games. The clear favourites to win the Championship again this year, I also wouldn’t be surprised if they got upset. 

Saucies (4-2) – The Saucies drafted no new players this year and did a great job of internally developing skaters. Moving June Cleaveher to jammer and the emergence of Hot Damnsel has been great and allowed the Saucies to stack the deck by moving Bikini Whacks to split time between jamming and blocking. Bikiki, Gibby S’More, Huntress and Beatrix Boom make a very intimidating blocker line up and this team has the continuity and familiarity to block strategically and keep their blocking core tight. Injuries saw them give up more points this year than they would like, and for some reason they struggle matched up against the Alley Kats, but this team is still very well coached and a “team.” Their ability to close out bouts and play disciplined derby should always keep them competitive. Miss Fire is also still a powerhouse in this league and finishes with the second most jammer points behind only Brawl. The Saucies face the Dollies in the first round and although the Dollies have more depth in their jammer rotation, the Saucies experience, coaching and blocking should get them back to the final if they can stay healthy. 

Devil Dollies (3-3) – With the most amount of new skaters in the league, a new coach, and a new captain, the Dollies were a blank slate this year. Integrating everyone into this roster has been tough – especially when the Dollies have so many jammers in their rotation. However, the Dollies have closed the gap between themselves and the Saucies over the span of this year and could seriously threaten to get into the Finals. With the most amount of Furies on their roster, the team has the talent to pull together an upset. Blockers Chick, Celery and Heiny have also tightened the teams blocking core by playing more disciplined and positional derby and using more face up blocking and three walls. The Dollies give up size in their blocking core, but they are agile and if they can continue to raise their on track IQ and improve their communication they will find harmony between their jammers and blockers. One carry over from previous years is the mental block that seems to come in close games. The Dollies will need to kill that if they are going to pull off a close victory against the Saucies. Look to Vanilla Creamz – ultimate badass aka Imperator Furiosa – to lead the way.

Alley Kats (0-6) – The Kats gave fans two of the most exciting bouts this season with close loses to the Saucies. The underdogs stay the underdogs though with another winless season. Discipline, individual blocking and a thin jammer rotation make it hard for the Kats to stay competitive over the span of a full bout. They are developing skaters though – Karsmashian, NicNugget, Buenas Nalgas and more have all progressed this year. This fun to watch team will eventually get back into the win column, but it will take a miracle to do it in this years playoffs. Maybe as a consolation Sin can give us another unreal apex jump like the one below?

Credit: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

Credit: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

Predictions

Saucies v Dollies – 181 / 168

KO’s v Kats – 211 / 102

KO’s v Saucies – 178 / 145

*Superfans – send me your predictions! dylanjamespowell@gmail.com

Into the Future

I hope to see a return of the B travel team – another avenue for skaters to develop and also a middle place of commitment for skilled skaters who may need to take a year or two to focus on life.

The Queen’s Court skaters from this year look like a great bunch, and the Jr’s are cycling up their first ever skater with Veggy Cowgirl. I’d keep my eyes peeled for Mae, McCreadie and Rosie from Queen’s Court.

Next year a completed Riverworks will see a return of the fan base. The leaky roof, the birds, the cold – will all be a distant memory. Something hardcore fans will tell newbies about – how they have it so much better these days. (FYI: I will be giving these lectures from the mezzanine next year).

I would love to see the home league move to a double knockout format after the first six home bouts of the year. This keeps the schedule longer, but ensures that every single bout counts. Make it so!

Last but not least, I see the Lake Effect Furies beating Ohio at Riverworks next year. Book it.


Knockouts Push Win Streak to 20 Games

Credit: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

Credit: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

The Nickel City Knockouts reached a new milestone in QCRG home league domination with their 20th straight win on Friday night at Riverworks. Beating the Alley Kats 193-51, the Knockouts led from the second jam til the end and played a solid and complete game. The loss for the Kats keeps them winless since January 2012. 

Although the score wouldn’t suggest it, the game had a lot of back and forth strategy. The Kats started the game with a sneaky last minute switch subbing Karsmashian in to jam and moving InSINerator up to block. The Kats coach Shock-Her is known for plays like this and it paid off as the Kats grabbed lead. The Kats also matched Sin up against LiBrawlian almost exclusively, trying to limit the amount of damage Brawl could do in the game. That jammer battle ended with Brawl grabbing 9 out of 12 leads and 37/14 points. That is a spread you can live with against Brawl and was another solid strategy from the Kats.

The KO’s countered with their own moves though, giving Brawl double duty to block when the Kats would put out Bang GRRang to jam. Multiple times the smaller jammer would have just Brawl to beat only to be hit, held, and recycled back into the pack. The Kats, without Evil-Lyn and Crown Victoria, were forced to try and make up points with Karsmashian, and rookie jammers Buenas Nalgas and McNugget. Karsmashian had a great game, and Buenas and McNugget gave great effort, but they couldn’t match the KO’s power jamming style. 

For the KO’s, Toots followed up on her strong game against the Saucies and Bear Lee Legal had a break out game. Power jammers Ivana LeiHerOut and Abercrombie and Fists also ate up the Kats blockers. The Kats as a whole did a much better job of tighter blocking and cutting down on penalties, but the KO’s jammers were just too much. 

Stat of the Night: I love giving praise and featuring jammers who have break out games. It was Bang GRRang vs the Saucies earlier in the season and in this bout it was Bear Lee Legal against the Kats. Since joining the KO’s in 2013, Bear only had 8 jams for 16 points. In this game alone Bear went for 35 points on 7 jams. She was a net +19 on the jam line even though she was only 3/7 on leads. The feature photo is of Bear as she “waves” to her teammates while they cheer her on.

Crowd Assist: It was really tough to pick the feature photo for this bout because Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems) got so many great shots. You get two more below – one of Karsmashian jamming against Brawl and another the end result of a huge Lip Service hit on Lil Orphan Angry. I encourage fans to always check out the albums Chris puts up after every bout

Credit: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

Credit: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

Credit: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

Credit: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

 


Nickel City Knockouts Look to Push Win Streak to 20 Against the Alley Kats

Credit: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

Credit: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

Since losing to the Devil Dollies by 19 in the QCRG Championship in 2011, the Nickel City Knockouts have not lost a home league game. That’s three straight championships, massive point differentials, and only one game in that stretch where anyone has come within 20 points. That is pure domination.

The Alley Kats on the other hand, haven’t won a game since January of 2012. The team comes out on the track to Drake’s “Started from the Bottom” – and although they have played closer games this year, they are still kinda at the bottom. The playoff matchups are already set and this means at least two more games against the KO’s and one home league bout against the Saucies. Full disclosure: I am a huge Kat fan and I love this underdog team that doesn’t quit – but getting a win this season is going to be tough. The Kats are going to have to steal a game. If they play a complete game, play with discipline, and get lucky with some injuries and/or penalty trouble for opposing teams they can do it. They will have the crowd support if they get the chance to swing momentum.

Hardcore fans shouldn’t hesitate to represent and cheer for their teams – QCRG has been scouring the crowd and moving fans up to front row seats all season. If you are looking to bring props though, leave the cat litter at home. Roller Derby and actual cat litter would be a disaster.

Doors open at Riverworks (359 Ganson St. Buffalo) at 7pm and the bout starts at 7:30. Front row seating is $20, general admission is $15 and kids under 12 are $10 (at the door only). You can purchase tickets at http://www.qcrg.net/event/nickel-city-knockouts-vs-alley-kats-3/

Storylines to Watch

The Litter Box: The Alley Kats are so known for their penalties that the penalty box is now referred to as a the “litter box.” If they tighten up their blocking, communicate and run some three walls they will cut down on a lot of those penalties. Just like your favourite cat in real life though, these Kats struggle with the “rules.” Maybe next year they should change their logo to include a circle “A.”

Jammer Battles: LiBrawlian and InSINerator are the two most dominate jammers in the league and watching them go head to head is always fun. Sin has improved so much over the span of a year and has really closed the gap on this match up. I am also going to be watching for smaller jammers Bang GRRang and Toots McGee in this bout. Toots is coming off of her best bout of the season and Bang GRRang had a great game earlier in the season against the Saucies. 

Evil-Lyn Cognito: Evil-lyn, who plays for the Kats, is the QCRG featured skater of the month. Children of the 80’s should appreciate that the derby name is a He-Man reference. Less a “storyline” – more another reason why the Alley Kats are pretty much the coolest team in the league (even if they don’t win). For those who need a refresher – here is a youtube video for “50 Things about Evil-Lyn Cognito”

*If someone shows up in full Skeletor (or any other He-Man costume) I will ensure you get a front row seat. 

Credit: Galia

Credit: Galia




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