Buffalo’s Lake Effect Furies have been a study of consistency and continuity, steadily moving up the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association rankings and making four straight Playoff appearances from 2013 to 2016. Repeat Division 2 Playoff appearances in 2013 and 2014 pushed them up to Division 1 Playoffs in 2015 and with a strong regular season in 2016 the Furies secured another Division 1 invite. In September 2016, they entered a Playoff in Vancouver as a 9 seed and left as a 6 seed.
The team’s steady rise rests largely upon this continuity; 7 skaters from 2013 remain on the roster and 9 from 2014. Veterans Tuesday Hula and Tabrina Schreier have been with the team since its inception in 2008 and are nearing 80 sanctioned bouts. Longevity in a contact sport like roller derby is elusive, but the Lake Effect Furies have built a core that returns year after year, hungry to represent Buffalo on an international stage.
Entering the 2017 season the roster remains largely the same. While the jammer rotation is down one with Miss Fire taking a leave, it has also been bolstered by the two new faces on the team – Crazy Squirrel (formerly of Tri City Roller Derby) and GO! (formerly of Roc City Roller Derby). These transfers give the team the most depth they have ever had on the jam line and present the team with a handful of good problems. All are formerly top rotation options and they will need to find a rhythm in a more balanced and spread out bench. Combined, Co-Librawlian, in addition to InSINerator and Crazy Squirrel, enter 2017 with a combined 442 jams at WFTDA Playoffs and 2,365 points scored. Rounding out the jammer rotation, the Furies also return the youth crew with second year jammers Rosi and Dana Scullcrusher, giving a glimpse into the future.
The blocking core is down one with veteran Ivana LeiHerOut transferring to Pikes Peak Derby Dames. However, they gained back three blockers who missed Playoffs and large stretches of 2016 due to injury in Head Huntress, Blackrock Bruiser and Low Hits Griffin. With a deep jammer rotation, the focus and pressure shifts to the defense to lock down and capitalize and entering the 2017 with everyone healthy and on skates will go a long way toward that goal. Veteran Pepper Stix has also picked up the Co-Captaincy in the blocking core this year.
Aside from this solid roster, the Furies kick off 2017 in a much better position than they did in 2016, sitting at their highest rank ever at 27th. After a tough loss to #1 ranked Gotham at D1 Playoffs in 2015, the Furies entered the 2016 season with a hill to climb in 47th. They battled their way back to 36th, but the fact they were under ranked made finding opponents hard. Last year their average opponent rank through 10 regular season games was 60th, this year however, their position has them facing a current average opponent rank of 30th. For Furies fans, this will mean more competitive home games and the most skilled and exciting roller derby ever played in Buffalo.
The season kicks off on March 25th at Riverworks against 19th ranked Montreal Roller Derby, who are fresh off of their first ever appearance at WFTDA Championships. This early season bout will be the Furies toughest of the regular season, and the early season adversity will test their ability to make adjustments and work in new and returning skaters.
The Furies will have a month before they regroup and host familiar foes Steel City from Pittsburgh, with Steel City looking to avenge a 2016 home loss against the Furies and for a repeat of their thrilling last jam victory against the Furies in 2015 at Riverworks.
May will bring two tough opponents in 26th ranked Boston Roller Derby and 36th ranked Ohio Roller Derby. Currently back to back in the rankings, this will be the first time East Coast WFTDA heavyweights QCRG and Boston will clash, while the Furies will renew their long-time rivalry with Ohio in search of their first win against the team from Columbus. With fewer than 2 months across 4 home games, the Furies will have to learn and make adjustments on the fly, resetting after each opponent to push through a schedule without any weak spots. With 1 fewer Coach this year, long time Coach Andy retired after the 2016 season, the Furies will have to make the most of their practices and training and flex their experience on the track against younger opponents.
Part of the 2016 success for the Furies was the result of their strong fan support which saw ticket sales and fundraisers spike to help cover their growing travel costs. With a potential playoff location in Malmo, Sweden in 2017, they will need that strong support from their hometown fans again. Their schedule is tough and their all time collective record against their opponents this year is just 1-7. That said, the Furies have gotten better every single year in their team history and the optimism that surrounds this team is real. With a revamped Playoff structure, the Furies know they need to push into a better seed to reach a new high water mark in 2017. The groundwork has been laid through years of hard work and determination and now they have to go out and prove it on the track. Furies! One Team!
You can always find tickets at http://www.qcrg.net/tickets/
~Written by Vile LoveIt
~Edited by Sigourney Cleaver