Buffalo’s Lake Effect Furies Win Big At Toronto’s Quad City Chaos Tournament

In the span of 9 hours the Lake Effect Furies took 6 months of preparation and turned it into serious results beating Tri City Thunder 209-71 and Toronto Roller Derby All Stars 257-96. Those results, paired with their 406-52 win over Roc City earlier this month, will propel this team back into Division 1 Playoff territory and perhaps their highest ranking ever. This was the best weekend, of the best month, in the history of the team with each game setting new club records for WFTDA scores 462, 544 and 556. The Furies have been simply dominant. 

They got off to shaky starts in both of their bouts, giving up a powerjam 3 jams in against Tri and allowing Toronto to get out to a 14-0 lead off of a powerjam, but in each game they rebounded quickly and no opposing runs were long enough, or intense enough, to really swing momentum. Part of the reason for this turn around is the commitment to discipline within the blocking core this year with drastic penalty reductions across the board, better communication, and overall tighter blocking and reforming. The other reason is the new depth in the jammer rotation and less of a need for offensive blocking which the Furies, and many other teams, typically struggle to do without committing penalties.

Against Tri City, transfer and Furies rookie jammer Dana Scullcrusher had a break out first half going 4/5 on leads and 44/3 carrying the team with an +8.2 per jam score. Tri City countered with their own rookie transfer, Janegerous, who scored 26 of their 35 first half points  on her first four jams. The Furies adjusted though and held her to just 12 points for the rest of the bout. In the 2nd half each team's main jammers took over with Librawlian going 9/9 for a perfect lead jam percentage and 51/4 while Tri City's Crazy Squirrel managed 3/5 leads in the 2nd half and 17 of her team's 36 points. Like their bout against Roc City, the majority of Tri City's points came on power jams with the Furies giving up 38 points with their jammers in the box. If the jamming rotation can commit to discipline like the blocking core has so far this season, that will make this team that much more dangerous. The Furies gave up 5 jammer penalties to Tri City's 1. 

The Furies managed those penalties and built their leads off of massive shut out runs – closing the 1st half and opening the 2nd on an 81-0 run and finishing the bout on a 44-0 run holding Tri City scoreless for long stretches. In total they only gave up two double digit jams in this bout, 11 and 10 points, both on power jams. With a 69% lead jam percentage there was simply no doors left open for Tri City to get back into this game. Although the Furies historically struggle to open tournaments, including a 12 point upset loss to Tri City to open the Beaver Fever tournament in May 2015, this certainly wasn't the case this year at Quad City Chaos. They soundly beat the 51 ranked Tri City from beginning to end taking a 544 WFTDA score away from the bout and only giving them 188 (their averages coming in were 333 and 325). 

Closing the game on a run helped the Furies mentally as they prepared for their bout against Toronto Roller Derby All Stars (ToRD). 42nd ranked ToRD opened the tournament in the morning handing unranked Roller Derby Quebec a 212-97 loss, but they were hobbling into their headlining bout at 7pm against the Furies. They lost their main jammer Mad Megz to a concussion before the tournament, were missing veteran transfer blocker Booty Quake to injury, and lost veteran blocker Mia Culprit to an inadvertent eye poke and a scratched cornea during their warm up against Quebec. In front of their home crowd ToRD hopped out to a quick 14-0 lead off a power jam, but that lead would quickly evaporate and the Furies pushed the score to 124-31 at half. ToRD had a stronger second half, putting up 65 points, but they couldn't contain the Furies offense who also put up 133 in the 2nd half.

Like in the Tri City game, the Furies opened and closed the first and second half on a massive 82-0 run to pull away from their competition; holding ToRD scoreless through 11 straight jams. The Furies gave up 5 powerjams in that 2nd half but their blockers did an amazing job of denying any momentum and actually held ToRD to 0 points on one of those powerjams that went a full 2 minutes. Jammers also did a great job of salvaging powerjams, with a tie or winning jams on three out of the 7 powerjams they gave up in this bout. Cashing in on powerjams and powerstarts was the key for the Furies in this bout and after getting outmaneuvered on powerstarts by not grabbing goats and allowing opposing teams to grab front line against Tri and ToRD, the Furies blockers made sure to grab front line and delivered perfect pinches to release their jammers quickly. 

In the first bout Tri City's blockers struggled with Dana Scullcrusher, and throughout the weekend they struggled with smaller jammers who could stretch them diagonally and find holes – they were almost upset by a very small Roller Derby Quebec team. Against Toronto the Furies were able to stretch packs out North-Southstyle, and jammers that could dig in and push excelled with Furies jammer Murphy having a bounce back game doing just that. ToRD's aggressive blocking, especially in the 2nd half, was able to force the Furies to play out of character and forced them to take more penalties than normal, but overall the shift from focusing on not taking penalties, to then also being able to take penalties and still be effective is moving forward from last year.

Chickadeemolish, along with Subzero Sirens skaters Double Barryl, was recently added to the charter and played in the 2nd bout against ToRD, her first ever in a Furies jersey. She did an amazing job and looked right at home within the blocking core. Both the blocking core and the jammer rotation have more depth than they did last year and both make this team more dynamic and dangerous. Head Huntress, who has been out since before playoffs, is set to return soon and both rotation jammer Miss Fire and rookie Rosi missed this weekend as well. This team is very deep. 

Furies jammer Librawlian won tournament MVP Jammer going 238/53 for the tournament, a +185 on the weekend with a 28/37 lead for a lead jam percentage of 75%, a positive per jam of 5 and 51% of the team's total points. Sin followed 2nd with 127 points and a 67 lead percentage. Blockers Bricks Hit House and Tabrina Schreier had to be in the running for the blocker MVP as Bricks dominated the lines delivering crushing hits and holding jammers for long stretches and Tabrina delivered well timed offense throughout both games.

Both ToRD and Tri City are in rebuild years with massive roster overhaul, but it is still impressive that the Furies managed such dominating wins against one team that upset them last year (Tri  City) and another that took them down to the final jam of a playoff game (Toronto). The footage still shows lots to work on though. The Furies are seeing a lot more star passes and stashes against this level of competition and the times they were able to swallow pivots on star passes they were very effective. They need to see more of that, more staying upright and in bounds while hitting, and a lot more discipline in the jammer rotation especially when they have powerjams. Of the 219 points scored against the Furies so far this season, across 3 games,128 of them have been given up on powerjams. Rookie transfer Dana Scullcrusher playing penalty free in these two bouts is deserving of praise and played a large role in her effectiveness this weekend, especially in her first half against Tri City. 

Photo By Joe Mac

The WFTDA Scoreboard 

The Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) ranks teams based upon a weighted scoring system that is averaged out from teams' scores over the previous 12 months. Coming into this weekend the Furies were ranked 47th with an average score of 333, Tri City ranked 51st with an average score of 325 and ToRD ranked 42nd with an average score of 342. Only 17 average points separated these teams. The weights awarded to these teams were 2.43 for Tri City, 2.48 for Queen City and 2.55 for ToRD. The WFTDA score system is the percentage of total points in a bout, to the power of 3, times the weight of the team you are playing against times 100. The goal for each team, to move up in the rankings, is to achieve a score over your average and to give your opponent a score below theirs (especially if they are near or ahead of you).

In their first bout the Furies managed 74.64% of the total points which equals 2.239 to the power of 3. 2.239 x 2.43 = 544 while the Furies only gave up .761 x 2.48 = 188 points. 211 over their average, 137 below for their opponent. In their second bout the Furies managed 72.80% of the total points which equals 2.184 to the power of 3. 2.184 x 2.55 = 556 points while the Furies gave up .816 x 2.48 = 202. 223 over their average, 140 below for their opponent. 

All of this math can be confusing but it is extremely important for understanding the competitiveness of this level of roller derby and just how important point denial in every single jam is. A 4-0 jam provides a team with 100% of the total points. If a jammer misses a call off or goes long for a score of 8-4 they are still +4 for the jam but their total point percentage dips to 66%. With the Furies giving up so few points outside of jammer penalties this speaks to just how important it is for their jammer rotation to play cleanly. Win-Loss records are not paramount in WFTDA and every single point you give up has an impact. 

For the month of March the Furies have three straight club record WFTDA scores back to back to back – 462, 544 and 556 for a total of 1,572. For the month of March their average is 524, a full 191 over their current average. That number is extremely impressive. For perspective if they could average that over a full calendar year that would currently place them in 14th in the world. Given the weight of the teams remaining on their schedule that will be largely impossible, but this will give them a massive jump and could potentially place them at 29th in the world (their highest ranking ever) when next months WFTDA rankings are released. Barring a massive collapse or extreme competition leap frogging them, this month's effort should solidify their return to D1 playoffs and gives the team and coaches breathing room to rest skaters with nagging injuries, work in skaters returning from injury, offset any schedule conflicts and also develop some of the bottom end of their roster. Coaches may also want to keep their foot on the gas though to target the 28th spot in the rankings as it is the final 7th seed playoff position and it would save the Furies a second round match up against a 1 seed like they experienced last year coming into and winning the 8-9 seed match up. Time will tell.  

The Furies next bout is an unsanctioned bout against Orangeville Misfit Militia at Buffalo Riverworks on April 1st. It is a double header with the Saucies and Alley Kats facing off that night as well. You can find tickets at qcrg.net/tickets

Crowd Assists 

Enough boring math. It wasn't just me screaming about how great the Furies looked this weekend. Trackside the Furies "eyebrow game" was all the rage, but thanks to the Layer9/WFTDA.tv stream this weekend lots of people got to cheer on or get their first look at the Furies online as well. Some of the best responses are below.