300 point hero Sharna Godfrey in action for the Sydney Sirens. (Photo: Pic by Wulos/Sydney Sirens Facebook)

The Australian Women’s Ice Hockey League (AWIHL) has officially been run and done with the Sydney Sirens taking out the Joan McKowen Trophy for the third time in what was a thrilling end to an amazing season.

Amid all the celebrations of their historic back-to-back win, the league itself was filled with so many highlights across the gruelling 34 regular and finals season games.

We saw the journey of veteran players hanging up their skates, fresh players to the AWIHL, and rising stars lighting up the ice as fans and supporters got a taste of the future.

The Inner Sanctum looks back at the 2022/23 season and gives five highlights from what was an amazing five months of ice hockey.

Sera Dogramaci in action for the Sydney Sirens in the AWIHL Final. (Photo: Phil Taylor Photographic)

Sera Dogramaci goes out in style

Sitting at the top of the list of highlights is none other than outgoing Sydney Sirens goaltender Sera Dogramaci. The veteran has had a stellar career in the AWIHL and the Türkiye national team, with the 2022/23 season being her final one for top-level ice hockey in Australia, and after ticking over 100 games played it was win or go home for the stalwart.

Dogramaci helped guide the Sirens to their first back-to-back championship giving up only three goals across the AWIHL Finals series turning back the clock to sail off into the sunset as an AWIHL champion.

300 of the best

Three-time AWIHL champion and Australian superstar Sharna Godfrey was once again an important player as the Sydney Sirens took home the championship. While the 35-year-old had another fantastic season, a highlight was seeing Godfrey notch up point 300 across her AWIHL career during the month of February.

Godfrey doesn’t look like slowing down either continuing to star for the Sirens and the Australian national team. Next on the list will be reaching the 350-point mark and if history is any indication it should be more than achievable.

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Stars continue to rise for AWIHL youngsters

The AWIHL is filled with young stars that continue to rise and the 2022/23 season was no different as each team rolled out players onto the ice that took the league by storm. From Madison Smith in goal for the Adelaide Adrenaline, Katrina Rapchuk at the Brisbane Lightning, or Molly Lukowiak for the Perth Inferno there is no shortage of ice hockey talent coming through the ranks.

The U18 Australian national team took home gold at the Division I-B World Championships highlighting the on-ice quality in the AWIHL.

Lucy York was an early highlight for the season as the 16-year-old scored her maiden AWIHL goal for the Sydney Sirens and quickly became a prospect to watch for future national teams.

Fresh faces bring new life

The AWIHL also had some new arrivals for the 2022/23 season who instantly made an impact on the ice for their respective clubs. Danielle Butler (Melbourne Ice) and Stephanie Newmark (Sydney Sirens) are the two standouts when it comes to players that are new to the national competition.

Both were key to their teams making it to the AWIHL Final where the Ice and Sirens battled it out for the ultimate crown.

With the AWIHL coming out of the COVID disruption, it will continue to attract interest from new players both locally and abroad as the quality on the ice continues to rise.

Perth Inferno players wearing their Stick it to Cancer themed jerseys. (Photo: Cassandra Edwards/Perth Inferno Facebook)

All for a good cause

When thinking about the highs for the AWIHL season it’s not always what happens on the ice that will make a list of highlights, sometimes it will come in the form of off-ice causes that a league or club support.

Perth Inferno held their first ever Stick it to Cancer event when they faced the Adelaide Rush back in February. For the occasion, special themed jerseys were made and worn by the players which were then auctioned off raising over $1700 for Cancer Council WA. It was a great success and worthy enough for this top five.

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