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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/

 


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


Lake Effect Furies Announce 2016 Rosters; 4th Annual “We All Brawl” Expo A Success

Credit: CK Photographic Systems (Chris Kalisiak)

Rosi vs. Bricks. 4th Annual “We All Brawl” Expo 2015. Credit: CK Photographic Systems (Chris Kalisiak)

The Queen City Roller Girls 10th anniversary season unofficially kicked off with a bang last Saturday at Buffalo Riverworks with the 4th Annual “We All Brawl” Expo Bout. A mix of rookies, home league skaters and Lake Effect Furies – the bout is always a great coming out party for new skaters and a great experience for skaters who get to test their comfort zones and skate with people they have never played with before. 

I was lucky enough to get to coach Team Black in the Expo bout, but unlucky to be up against longtime league veteran Vajenna Warrior as my counterpart on Team White. After a see saw bout that saw many lead changes Team White pulled away in the last 5 minutes to skate to a 194-161 victory. Fans at Riverworks had lots to cheer about. This bout was the first time fans of the league saw rookie skaters Rosi, MegaLO-MEINia, Chet UpStandUp, Double Baryl, McCreadie, May Bringdowndahouse, Percipahatin and Raspoutine. Rosi led the charge for Team Black – putting up a 35-o jam in the second half to keep the bout close. MegaLO also impressed using a hard hitting and aggressive jamming style up against Team White’s size advantage in the blocking core. For Team White, rookie jammers Double Baryl and McCreadie also had stand out games and looked solid up against league veterans. 

The central focus of the bout quickly became Team White blocker and Furies skater Bricks Hit-House. A rookie transfer last season, Bricks is coming into her own entering her 2nd season with the Furies and is poised for a massive year. Her blocking wore down Team Black jammers and although she ran up 4 penalties in the first half she was able to adjust in the 2nd and play clean. Blocking alongside veterans Lip Service, Wrecks Kitten and Midnyt Maniac the Team White blocking core was too much for Team Black. 

The next Expo bout will take place on Saturday November 28th at Riverworks. You can find tickets and ticket packages at http://www.qcrg.net/tickets/

Following the Expo Bout rosters for the 2016 Lake Effect Furies have been announced. After a year without a B Team the Furies have announced a return to their A/B set up. Their B Team will be anchored by three Furies veterans and alternatives last year – Celery Stalk-HER, Wrecks Kitten and Her Heiny Grainger – while also featuring 5 Queen’s Court skaters from last year. The full roster is – Brutali-Tease, Celery STALK-her, Chet UpStandUp, Chickadeemolish, Double Baryl, HerHeiny Grainger, Jules Burn, June CleaveHer, May Bringdowndahouse, McCreadie, Molly Malign, NicNugget, SlamUWell Jackson, Wailing Wench, Wrecks Kitten.

Coached by Librawlian and Vile Love It the focus for the B Team this year will be increasing internal competition and pushing the A team forward. From Coach Librawlian, “Cultivating a strong B Team is essential to the Furies continued growth and competitiveness within the WFTDA. Having a solid B Team, means that the Furies will become a more internally competitive team as skaters are moved between the B Team and Furies. Thus allowing the Furies to be more competitive externally. We plan to transform every member of the B Team’s game. There’s a lot of potential and excitement within the ranks, and it will be a matter of people rising to the challenges set before them.” 

The A Team returns this year with two new faces – Niagara Roller Girls transfer Dana Scullkrusher and Queen’s Court graduate Rosi. Dana becomes the third Canuck on the team and the third transfer from NRG in the last two years (joining Ashes t’Ashes and Murphy). Longtime veteran B’Kini Whacks is taking the year off, and three alternates have shifted to the B Team, but outside of that the Furies core returns as a whole. Captain Tabrina Schreier is excited to get started on the 2016 season, “The Furies are looking to return with most of our core. We have added a couple new faces who will strengthen us and we’re going to have to fight for every ranking point this year to get back into D1. We had a couple of weeks off to heal physically and mentally prepare. Now we work to tighten up our defense and improve our offense. Personally I can’t wait to see how we do this season because we improve every time we practice, watch game footage or just hang out together.” 

With two solid travel teams, three competitive home leagues, a Queen’s Court that is graduating skaters direct to the Furies and a solid Jr. program fans have lots of to cheer for in this 2016 season. With 30 more bouts to come this season, fans also get to look forward to a finished Riverworks facility with a 27′ scoreboard for games, an open mezzanine, and an overall amazing atmosphere for women’s flat track roller derby. Let’s Roll Buffalo! 


Lake Effect Furies Skate Away From Omaha With 8th Seed

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

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

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

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

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

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


Furies Hammered by Gotham, Up Against Home Squad No Coast Next

Credit: Bill Ingraf (Regularman)

Credit: Bill Ingraf (Regularman)

Moral victories are usually scoffed at by fans. You win or you lose. The canyon that exists between Queen City Roller Girl’s “Lake Effect Furies” and the Gotham Roller Girls Derby is big enough that you can actually justify stuffing some moral victories into it though. Gotham has not lost since 2010. They have won 4 straight WFTDA Championships, they are a dynasty and the best roller derby team in the world. Seeing them play in person is a dream of all derby skaters, playing against them is an exclusive opportunity, and beating them is currently beyond comprehension. This was the backdrop to the Furies 590-29 loss on Friday night in Omaha. It sounds horrible, but let me provide even more perspective. 

In playoff tournament play no one has scored more than 25 points against Gotham in their initial tournament bout since Mad Rollin’ scored 70 against them in 2008. Providence 25 and 14 in 2009 and ’10, Dutchland 0 in 2011, Carolina 8 in ’12, Oklahoma 21 in ’13, Kansas 17 last year. THAT is a huge moral victory. 

There were more moral victories beyond that though; the Furies blockers and jammers had brief moments were they were able to hold Gotham blockers and break their packs, skaters and coaches got a huge dose of experience, Guy was successful with an official review against Gotham, and rookie jammer Murphy got lead and scored points on Bonnie Thunders. How good is Bonnie Thunders? She scored 297 points in this bout alone.

The Furies were not playing for the score board at all, running their rotation straight up and ensuring that their skaters would be rested for their next bout as they moved to the consolation bracket. No one got hurt, the skaters had fun, and they all got the chance to do what only a fraction of skaters worldwide get the chance to do by playing Gotham. 

Up next, the Furies will take on the home tournament team No Coast from Lincoln, Nebraska. No Coast lost 200-192 to 7th seed Helsinki in their initial bout in another tournament game that came down to the last jam. Moving to the consolation bracket, No Coast beat Chicago’s Windy City 300-88 this morning in order to advance to play the Furies. No Coast and the Furies have never played against each other and although the Furies are the higher seed, No Coast is a much more experienced league with a history that stretches back to 2006. No Coast finished 7th last year in their D1 bracket and 10th in their bracket in 2013. Last year they managed to sneak out two very close wins to grab that 7th seed after coming in at 9th – upsetting Oklahoma and Wasatch by 4 and 3 points respectively. They have experience and the home crowd on their side. 

These two teams share a lot of similarities – especially when it comes to the size of their blocking cores and their blocking styles. Beyond that, No Coast has an edge with a more rounded out jammer rotation and they also tend to play cleaner than the Furies do. That said, No Coast will also be playing their second bout of the day, will be going up against a refreshed Furies squad and the Furies have shaken out the nerves from their first game curse. Both teams jammers are going to have to be creative with this big blocking walls as pushing them will be extremely tough. No Coast gambled a lot in their first bout against Helsinki with star passes with mixed results. It will be interesting to see if they return to this strategy when they do not get lead jam status. 

No pressure on Furies jammer InSINerator, but how Sin plays for the rest of the tournament will largely decide how the Furies do. Top jammer Librawlian will be that consistent 1st option that makes the Furies a threat, but how Sin plays usually decides close bouts. Her 2nd half against Toronto was solid, and she managed 2 leads (most) and 12 points (tied with Brawl) against Gotham. If Sin and Brawl are on – they have a very good chance the rest of the way out. If they start to struggle with penalties and blockers panic in the chaos, they will be in tough. 3-4 jammers Low Hits Griffin and rookie Murphy can spell off Brawl and Sin and have had their moments so far in the tournament – but the Furies will depend on those two to take the lions share of jams. The Furies need to capitalize on their endurance, come out with a fast and strong start, and never let up. Play clean, play focused, and play for a full 60 minutes and the Furies will have a shot at moving on to fight for the 5th seed. 

You can watch the game live at wftda.tv at 8pm/EST 


Lake Effect Furies Beat CN Power in Thriller, On to Play Gotham

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“The Battle of the QEW” lived up it expectations. The Lake Effect Furies pulled off a 3 point 232-229 win on the final jam of the game to upset Toronto Roller Derby’s CN Power and move on to face Gotham Girls Roller Derby tonight at 7pm/EST. The game was the Furies first sanctioned win over Toronto ever – a team that had frustrated them previously and they had been 0-3 against. This was the Furies first ever appearance and bout in Division 1 Playoffs, the highest level of international women’s flat track roller derby, and the biggest game in the lives of any of their skaters. This is a huge win for women’s sport in Buffalo.

The Furies had to fight to get back into the game and win after trailing 133-97 at half. Struggling with 8 jammer penalties and 21 overall, to Toronto’s 6 and 20, the Furies traded leads for most of the half but allowed CN Power to finish the half on a run by giving up consecutive jammer penalties. Starting the 2nd half on a power jam, CN Power was able to spread the lead 152-97. The Furies kept chipping away at that lead, tightened up their blocking, and managed to outlast a CN Power team that was missing core veterans and struggled to match their endurance. The Furies were led by a strong second half from jammer InSINerator and an absolutely stunning full game effort by Librawlian – who scored 158 of the teams 232 points. The Furies gave up an advantage in lead jam % (19-13), took more jammer penalties (17-16) and took one more penalty than CN Power (49-48). The blockers refocused in the 2nd half, coaches made great use of the clock, and other skaters stepped up – but the Furies would have had no chance in this bout without the outstanding game from their lead jammer Brawl.

The “things to watch” from my bout preview held up, but in different ways then I thought they might. The Furies took more penalties, but it was the back breaking foul outs for CN Power’s Misery Mae and Mad Megz that hard the larger effect. The Furies ended with 2 skaters with 6 penalties and took 9 hit out of play and 8 forearms (which they must work on), but heavily penalized skaters found a way to stay in the game. That was a difference maker. CN Power’s blocking style was much better at holding Furies jammers then I thought they would be, even without veteran Santa Muerte. Transfer skater Onyeka Igwe did an amazing job of filling those shoes and sitting on Furies jammers. The Furies blockers struggled holding CN Power in that first half, but tightened up in that 2nd half to give their jammers the lead % for the half. It was less an adjustment and more getting back to their core plans – but without that change they lose this game. Panty passes were not as used much as I thought they would, and Toronto failed to capitalized on one failed panty pass by the Furies. Toronto was right to not stress panty passes and instead focus on transitioning to offense – but a well timed pass in the 2nd half could have helped them push back against the Furies momentum. CN Power blockers did exactly what they wanted to do with drawbacks and without the endurance of Furies jammers this would have broken the team. I guess those off skates and ridiculously intense warm ups paid off eh Guy!?!

The win ensures that the Furies can leave Omaha no lower than 8th, 1 spot above where they came in. Next up they take on Gotham Girls Roller Derby – who haven’t lost a bout since 2010 and who haven’t had anyone come within 100 points this year. They come into this Omaha tournament the 4 time reigning WFTDA Champions and the best roller derby team in the world. I could stress the unpredictability of all sport – but a win against Gotham would be something similar to the Angola Men’s Basketball team beating the US Men’s Basketball team. Instead, the bout is good experience for a team looking to find their footing and cement themselves in D1, and is also an amazing experience for skaters who may not have been able to play against Gotham in their derby career otherwise. That bout plays at 7pm EST and can be streamed at wftda.tv.

Furies fans and QCRG league members rightly lost their damn minds over the win and the chance to play Gotham.

 

Furies Skater Wrecks Kitten Capturing A Moment Pre Bout

Ready. #lakeeffectfuries #fivestrong #oneteam #wftdaplayoffs

A photo posted by Corinne Eberwine (@rinniecaroo) on

 


QCRG D1 Preview: The Battle of the QEW, Furies to Take on Toronto’s CN Power

Credit: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

Credit: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

The Battle of the QEW conjures up various different sports images in my mind; Leaf killing goalies in Hasek and Ryan Miller, the ’99 playoffs, Joffrey Lupul’s flippant dismissal of Buffalo, and also the battle over resources that has seen Toronto pitted against Buffalo in sports market reach and development – i.e. the future of the NFL. That battle has also had a flip side of cooperation though, namely the relationship between the Toronto Blue Jays and their farm team the Buffalo Bisons. 99 miles separating the cities, this supposed “Battle” has a lot of grey – ask any Leafs fan who would rather pay for tickets to watch games at First Niagara.

A new, and nuanced, chapter will be written in this story this coming weekend in Omaha, Nebraska as the Queen City Roller Girls “Lake Effect Furies” will take on Toronto Roller Derby’s “CN Power.” The initial bout for each team in their Division 1 playoff bracket, the game won’t involve the QEW, but it will be an extremely important and competitive game. If the Furies win, they cannot leave Omaha any lower than the 8th Seed (they come in at 9). If CN Power wins, they ensure they at least come out with their seeding and they shore up their position in a season that has seen them drop slightly in WFTDA rankings from 28 to 32nd. CN Power has more to lose, but the Furies are also feeling pressure to exorcize the demons of poor past D2 playoff showings and to continue their climb (from 36 to 33rd this year). Neither team is able to look past this bout, and it may be one of the closest and most competitive bouts of the weekend and of all D1 playoffs.

For those who don’t follow women’s flat track roller derby, one of the most cherished and celebrated things about the sport is the level of sportswomanship. “Battle” between these two teams – who have historically had a close relationship scrimmaging and supporting each other – may be off the mark, but the pressure and competitiveness will still be cranked up to 10.

The bout, and all of the Furies bouts this weekend, can be streamed online at wftda.tv. You can also follow updates on the hashtags #qcrg #wftdaplayoffs and #talk2wftda.

Things to Watch

Experience: Leading into Playoffs CN Power held a massive edge in experience. The team made D1 playoffs in 2013 and ’14, while this is the Furies first D1 appearance after two straight D2 playoff appearances. Both teams have blocking cores anchored by veteran skaters; Tabrina Schreier, Tuesday Hula, Vajenna and Pepper Stix for the Furies and Santa Muerte, Ames to Kill, Renny Rumble and Nasher the Smasher for CN Power. Those remaining vets for CN Power have an advantage in that they have lived through squeaking out close wins in D1 playoffs – a 6 points win against Boston in 2013 and a 14 point win against Steel City in 2014. However, as Playoffs have drawn closer the experience advantage has levelled off as jammer Smoka Cola and blocker Biggley Smallz are out with injuries and co-Captian Scarcasm has moved to Nunavut. CN Power has shored up their roster by adding 5 skaters to their charter – LexiCon, Beaver Mansbridge, Sleeper Hold, Onyeka Inge and Monster Muffin. None of those skaters have any playoff experience and some may not have any CN Power experience. Historically the Furies have struggled with jitters and nerves in their first bouts in tournaments and playoffs, but it is likely that some skaters over on the CN Power bench will be feeling this even more than they are. Outside of all of this, the Omaha tournament will be held on sport court – a more grippy and distinct flooring that is drastically different from what CN Power is used to and which some of their skaters may have never skated on before. If things start to swing with momentum for either team look, for those core blockers to calm down their teams and regroup. Whoever can do that more effectively may decide who wins.

Penalties: The level of referee scrutiny increases in playoffs and that will be tough for these teams who can get very penalty heavy. Both teams played Ohio this year, in Ohio, and the penalty splits were eerily similar 49/32 for TORD and 48/30 for QCRG. 5 on 5 these are very strong teams, but both are capable of losing games because of penalty trouble. Penalties are still one of the biggest determents of these playoffs with 24/33 bouts in D2 playoffs seeing the least penalized team winning a bout and 37/51 D1 bouts reading the same thus far. That is a combined 61/84 so far this playoffs – 73% of games seeing the least penalized team winning. Many of those games get determined by a just a few penalties. Whoever can play cleaner gives their team a significant chance to win.

Blocking Styles: These teams have two very different and distinct blocking styles. The Furies blocking core has much more size and they will look to sit on Toronto’s jammers, while trying to close off the lines and any holes that CN Power’s smaller jammers can work through. For CN Power, they have a smaller and faster blocking core that is better at recycling fast, drawing back jammers and transitioning. They will struggle to hold Furies jammers Librawlian and InSINerator who have the size and power to disrupt their cycle and all Furies jammers have the strength to push CN Power’s pack. Both teams practice against blocking styles which are very tough for their jammers, but which won’t particularly prepare them for the other teams style. Whichever team can make in game adjustments the quickest will give themselves an advantage. If CN Power jammers are struggling their blocking core will have to use that quickness to transition to offense very fast to release jammers. If the Furies are struggling to close off small holes they will have to find ways to tighten up without giving up room on the lines – where CN Power jammers thrive. I think the Furies have a small advantage here as Brawl and Sin’s size and speed will give them a boost that should also give the Furies a small lead in lead jammer %. However, I don’t see the Furies holding CN Power jammers for long. I expect a lot of close 4-0 jams. The Furies blocking core has great momentum as their walls have consistently tightened throughout this year and there is a high level of cohesion right now, still, the experience and skill that exists in CN Power’s blocking core is serious and there won’t be any easy jams for Furies jammers.

Panty Passes/Drawbacks: To hammer on some finer point strategy that could decide the bout – watch for panty passes and drawbacks. Panty passes, the removal of the jammer helmet cover to fake or pass to the pivot, is a very popular trend in WFTDA and a main jammer strategy for CN Power when their jammers do not have lead. The strategy is not without its risks though, and their new inexperienced jammer line up could have this backfire. Procedural penalties, dropped helmet covers, and the overall chaos that can come from focusing on passes instead of offense, can have a disruptive effect that far outweighs the moves potential. On top of this, drawing opposing jammers back after hitting them out is central to CN Power’s defensive strategies. They are smaller and fast, but they hit deceptively hard, and drawing back opposing jammers slows their momentum while exhausting them. If CN Power gets stuck taking the front line, as I think they will as they will give up the majority of lead jams, it may be harder for CN Power to effectively draw back Furies jammers around Furies blockers. If the Furies blocking core can sit on CN Power jammers and also effectively disrupt drawbacks they will help cut down on their jammers track cut penalties, scatter CN Power’s blockers and save their jammers energy. 

Prediction: Furies 175 – CN Power 162. This could go either way, but I think the Furies take this “Battle of the QEW” and beat CN Power by a very slim margin. 


QCRG: Furies 30 Days Out From Omaha, League Looks to Recruit and Grow

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While Division 1 WFTDA Playoffs begin this weekend in Tucson, AZ, the Lake Effect Furies are still 30 days from their first ever Division 1 appearance in Omaha, NB. Watching Division 2 playoffs so far, which began two weeks ago, the Furies should be mindful of the higher level of scrutiny from the refs in playoffs. With 2 playoff tournaments completed, the team with fewer penalties has won 24 of 33 bouts (1 bout had a tie in total penalties). The Furies have struggled with penalties all year and are frequently the most penalized team, even in wins. With a higher level of competition and scrutiny, they will need to tighten up their discipline on the track.

All of this extra time to train and prepare is definitely a luxury for this team though and has provided ample time for skaters to rest injuries, work on conditioning, and scout potential opponents. Their first opponent in Omaha will be a familiar foe in Toronto Roller Derby’s CN Power. CN are a perennial D1 team – but they are stumbling into playoffs after a season with large roster turn over and two of their core players, BiggleySmallz and jammer Smoka Cola will be out with injuries. They have brought up 4 B Team skaters to fill the void and round out their tournament roster, which should help with their depth, but the advantage they held in tournament experience is slipping away as their roster is rounded out more and more by skaters who will also be skating in their first ever D1 Playoff.

A year of first for the Furies, the Furies also finally have their first sponsored skater as Juice Wheels has sponsored Furies vet Pepper Stix. As a jammer turned blocker, Pepper represents the best of QCRG and the best of a derby generation that has lived through different rule sets to thrive. Her communication skills, high track IQ and overall positive attitude make her an integral part of this team and a great choice for Juice Wheels. I expect some more sponsorships to follow after this teams first D1 playoff.

While the Furies are still preparing for D1 Playoffs, the league is quietly restructuring and preparing for the upcoming 2016 home league season. Active recruitment call outs are out for new skaters (fresh meat) for both the home adult league and the Jr. League. The adult league is hosting a boot camp for new skaters on Sunday September 13th at Rainbow Rink in Tonawanda and the Jr. league is currently recruiting for girls aged 10-17. You can always find more information about the leagues on their sites – the QCRG Jr. League and QCRG.

Even though it seems like a quiet offseason, the Queen’s Court has still been practicing and scrimmaged recently to a 101-90 win over a mix team from Niagara Roller Girls, and the Furies exorcized some demons in a scrimmage against Tri-City who upset them earlier this year at Beaver Fever. League practices start back up this month and fans and skaters alike should be excited for the 2016 season at Riverworks. For those who can’t wait – a short clip below from the Furies v Tri City scrimmage. Furies blockers do a great job of swallowing Tri City jammer Crazy Squirrel on the back line, while Murphy pushes the pack forward and blocker Midnight comes up to make an assist and release her. Filmed from the mezzanine – which feels so damn good to watch bouts from!

Midnight with the sweet assist for Crista. Felt so good to watch derby again today. #qcrg

A video posted by Dylan Powell (@dylanxpowell) on




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