Author: Kathy Lisborg (Vile Love It)
The Queen City Roller Girls hit the track at Buffalo Riverworks last month, kicking off their tenth season with a set of Exposition Games showcasing all levels of players from their freshest rookie to their most seasoned veteran.
QCRG shook the snow globe between seasons and due to the retirement of many veteran players, redrafted all players to new home teams. For this season, due to the reduced number of players, they had to temporarily retire the team name Nickel City Knockouts. There were only enough players for three home teams: the Alley Kats, Devil Dollies, and Suicidal Saucies.
However, they did add two new travel teams to the mix. In addition to the Lake Effect Furies, QCRG has added a B team (name to be announced soon), which is a farm team for the Furies and a fresh skater team: The Queen’s Court.
The B team is a crew of veteran and talented rookie skaters who will be playing against other local B teams. Rochester, Toronto, Tri-City (Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario), and Ithaca, among others all include B teams on their rosters. It is a way for rising skaters to break their wheels in playing at a higher competitive level and train to move onto their league’s All-Star Team.
The Furies will be also be joining the B Team in a couple of mash-up games. It will be a 50/50 split: half of the Furies and B team against the other half of the Furies and B team. They will surely be exciting and close games.
The Furies had a stellar 2015 season capping it off with their first trip to the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) Division 1 Playoffs in Omaha, Nebraska. The Furies rose from 9th seed to 8th place in Omaha.
They entered the tournament ranked 32nd in the world, but after a bruising loss to the Gotham Girls Roller Derby (who were, at the time, ranked #1 in the world) as well as losses to Helsinki Roller Derby (from Sweden) and No Coast Derby Girls (from Lincoln, NE), they fell to 44th.
But just like a team can overcome a 60+ point gap in a game, teams can easily rise 12 ranking points after one good game. How and if they rise back into Division 1 will depend a great deal on what teams the Furies play in the 2016 season.
The rankings system in the WFTDA is a complicated one at best. Each team is weighted and each game is weighted. A team can lose a game to a higher ranked team but if they beat the “spread” they can earn more ranking points than the winning team. So, it’s not just about winning, or winning by a certain number of points, it’s also about playing the right team.
The Furies will likely be looking to play Toronto again. And Toronto is surely itching for a rematch.
The Furies beat Toronto in the final minutes of both teams’ first game of October’s D1 WFTDA Playoffs. Before that, Toronto had won in every other match up since 2010.
Another Furies rivalry you might see on the Riverworks track is Tri-City Roller Derby (Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario). Currently they are ranked #49 and have won the last two match-ups between the two teams.
In addition to the Furies and the B Team, the Queens Court will be hosting games at Riverworks as well as traveling some this year. The Queens Court is made up of some first year rookies and fresh, un-drafted skaters. These are the future QCRG stars. Every year QCRG attends the Fresh & Furious Tournament hosted by the Greater Toronto Roller Derby. Last year the Court was the only U.S. team to play and took home 4th place.
At the home team level, after the redrafting, you will see some skaters sporting their “regular” team jersey. Others wound up on their old team but many will be in unfamiliar colors. But switching teams or trading players isn’t new to any sport. It might take a minute or two for long-time fans to figure things out, but the game play will be just as intense. Here’s hoping that the games will be close and exciting.
This year’s Devil Dollie coach Senior Wiener picked a host of rookies and second year skaters for his team. Many of the rookies have had a solid year playing with the Court team and hardly play like first year skaters and some of those Dollies are also doing double duty as B Team players. The team will be anchored by veteran Lip Service who returned to the Dollies after spending a season on the Alley Kats.
The 2016 Alley Kats continue to be coached by Shock-Her. They retained a core group of 2015 Kats and added several veterans from the other teams to their roster. They are clearly the most experienced team of the three home teams. However they did lose stellar jammer Insinerator (who is only playing for the Lake Effect Furies this season). In previous seasons the Kats have struggled to keep it together during games so this will be the season to watch them. Will the depth of the veteran players make the difference?
The Suicidal Saucies are the team with the biggest mix of players. With four players going into their 6th season, several others with 3 or 4 years experience, in addition to 3 rookies skaters, the Saucies are the most diverse team. Coach Roxanne Debris chose skaters from every 2015 home team and managed to nab rookie jammer Rosi who also joined the Lake Effect Furies this season. Her talent and determination is clear the moment she sets skates on the track.
The games this year will be held on Fridays, Saturday nights, Saturday afternoons, Sunday afternoons and Wednesday evenings. Riverworks has developed quite a following and they hope to continue to draw big crowds to watch the action on the track.
The official start to the home season will be Saturday, January 9 (2 p.m. whistle) between the Suicidal Saucies and the Devil Dollies.
Dollies v Saucies Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)
Murphy v Bonnie Thunders (Regularman)