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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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credit: Rene T. van Ee

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

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

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


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/


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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