Sera Dogramaci in action for the Sydney Sirens during the 2022/23 season. (Photo: Phil Taylor Photographic/Sydney Sirens Facebook; Design: Will Cuckson)

Sera Dogramaci has been a stalwart for the Sydney Sirens for over a decade and in a recent trip to Victoria to face the Melbourne Ice played game 100 in what has been a stellar Australian Women’s Ice Hockey League career.

At 39 years old Dogramaci will be calling time on her AWIHL journey after the 2023 season having tasted success at every level of her ice hockey career. Starting out with the Sydney Heat in the East Coast Super League, Dogramaci’s journey has taken her to many different corners of the ice hockey world.

Inspiring future generations with her on-ice talent to giving back to the local ice hockey community through coaching and mentoring, Dogramaci has been a pillar of the sport in Australia.

“It’s been an honour and a privilege to be able to play this long in this league,” Dogramaci told The Inner Sanctum.

“We normally split between the two main goalies, which means six to seven games per season. There were two seasons early on where I was the only Sirens goalie, playing all 14 games, which helped me reach the milestone faster.

“There are a handful of players who have already surpassed 150 games, so for a goalie to reach 100 is quite a feat. I’m incredibly grateful for the support I’ve had around me to get me to this point, including physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially.

“It hasn’t been easy, but I hope other goalies are in a position to reach 100 career games as well.”

From lifting the Joan McKowen Trophy as AWIHL Champion to Gold Medal winner at Division II Group B Qualification for Turkey at a tournament held in Hong Kong, these are just a snippet of honours Dogramaci has amassed over her career.

If there was a message the Sirens goalie would send to herself as a first gamer, even at the veteran age of 39, Dogramaci is still learning and continuing to build good habits.

“I’d like to do the reverse and have 100 games me tell one thing to first game me,” Dogramaci said.

“Which is, “be where your feet are”, it’s been my mantra for this season, knowing it’s my last, and to make sure I embrace every moment.

“I actually started journaling for the first time this season to capture the moments in writing. I’d love to have done that in 2009 so I could go back and see the difference between now and then.

“Certainly, my mental game in 2009 needed work, where it was often hard to remember my reason for playing and to find my fun, but these days I’ve become much better at letting go and resetting when I need to.

“In 2009, I had no expectations or idea where I would end up, but I am proud of what I’ve achieved in my career, not just for me but for female goalies across Australia.”

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While Dogramaci’s career is coming to an end there is still one piece of business left to take care of, and that’s guiding the Sirens to another Championship in what would be back-to-back titles.

There has been no bigger test for the Sirens outfit than their recent trip to Melbourne to face the league-leading Ice on their home rink in front of a healthy crowd.

The Sirens were able to split the weekend 1-1 and grab not only important points on the road against another contender but boost the confidence levels amongst the group as we head towards AWIHL Playoffs.

“It’s always our aim to split the weekend while on the road, so we were happy we came away with some points,” Dogramaci continued.

“Seems to be a theme this season with OT [overtime] wins on Sundays while away. We battled hard the entire weekend until the final whistle, and the Sirens hockey that is the core of our team play is starting to shine through. We’re in a good spot on the road to finals.”

Dogramaci was in stellar form again and came up big when the Sirens needed her the most, battling back from an early blunder to hold out a strong offensive Ice team.

Backing up and playing both games across the weekend fixture Dogramaci guided the Sirens to a much-needed Sunday victory. Shutting the door in the crucial stages making sure the game went into overtime where captain Sarah Edney then scored the game-winner for the Sirens.

“Getting wins is always a nice feeling,” Dogramaci said.

“Aside from my blunder in the first period to kick off the scoring, I came up with all the saves until the third period when the battle between both teams was truly on. You could see how hungry both teams were, giving it everything in the tank right until the end.

“It would have been nice to win in regulation to grab three points, but a win is a win and I’m glad we got there in the end.”

Sera Dogramaci marks Game 100 in the AWIHL. (Image: Sydney Sirens Facebook)

The Sirens look forward to a home stand against the Perth Inferno on February 11 and 12 which will round out their regular season schedule. They will then play the waiting game until playoffs start in mid-March.

While it might not be the most ideal preparation heading into a playoff series defending your Championship crown, for Dogramaci it’s about injury management and making sure she is ready for that first playoff matchup.

“I’ve spent most of this season managing injuries so that’s been tough trying to minimise my ice time. On the plus side, at least my body is getting the rest it needs to heal.” Dogramaci continued.

“I have a goalie-specific strength and conditioning coach who keeps me physically ready to perform. I’m part of a global goalie group which has been wonderful with all the support we give and receive from each other, and I have a handful of goalie coaches I can call upon to help me through the technical, tactical, and mental aspects of my game.

“This month has also been full of coaching commitments, so through that, I stay on top of the latest and best practices that I try to embed into my own training. I’m very lucky with what I have access to.”

From a team perspective heading into the home series against the Inferno a focus for the group will be trying to get those wins in regulation time and fine-tuning the Sirens on ice systems.

More shots on goal is another area the Sirens can improve on and will no doubt help Dogramaci between the pipes at the opposite end of the ice.

“Let’s start winning in regulation,” Dogramaci said.

“For the team overall, there are some things we still need to tweak in our systems, and for sure we need to take more shots on goal. We know what we need to do, so we just need to keep working on it and execute [it] in games.

“For me personally, it’s the injury management side of things, because if I don’t look after myself, then I can’t do my part for the team.”

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