Sydney Sirens celebrate winning the Joan McKowen Trophy to be crowned AWIHL Champions. (Photo: Phil Taylor Photographic/AWIHL Facebook; Design: Will Cuckson)

It took 1,142 days, state lockdowns, and a pandemic but the Sydney Sirens are once again Australian Women’s Ice Hockey League champions after defeating the Melbourne Ice 5-2 to claim their third Joan McKowen Trophy.

In a four-goal opening period burst the Sirens were able to get the jump on the Ice to hold a commanding lead, one which they wouldn’t relinquish for the remainder of the contest in front of a packed O’Brien Icehouse Arena.

In a historic moment for the Sirens who claimed back-to-back AWIHL titles for the first time in the club’s history, it now solidifies the Sydney outfit as one of the benchmark teams of the modern era.

Sera Dogramaci celebrates winning the Joan McKowen Trophy in her fin AWIHL game. (Photo: Phil Taylor Photographic)

“It’s a good feeling and a tough thing to achieve so it’s a great accomplishment for the girls, really happy for them and great to see their hard work pay off,” Sirens head coach Jayden Ryan told The Inner Sanctum.

Coming off a three-game win streak heading into the finals, the Sirens hadn’t played competitive ice hockey for a month. Finishing second on the standings after the completion of the regular season, the Sirens found themselves pitted against a Brisbane Lightning outfit that was looking to cause an AWIHL Finals semi-final upset.

However, after working through some off-the-ice hiccups prior to arrival, the Sirens were ready to fire on all cylinders once the first puck dropped defeating the Lightning 4-1 to advance to the Sunday final.

“Given the preparation, we put into [the] lead up for finals and [the] majority of the team healthy we were in a good spot,” Ryan continued.

“We had some flight delays before Saturday’s game, but I’d have to say yes given the result, we took it one game at a time, and everyone played their part.”

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In a first period that shocked many onlookers, the Sirens flexed their offensive muscles and jumped out to an early lead against the Ice in the AWIHL Final. Goals from Sharna Godfrey, Sarah Edney, Linda Bjorling, and Ebony Brunt gave the defending champions breathing room they wouldn’t give up after the first period.

With 40 minutes remaining in the contest, the Ice were always going to make a charge to try and reel in the three-goal buffer the Sirens had built after the opening period. However, holding their nerve, the Sirens were able to stick to the plan and grind out the result.

“The team were great at adjusting to what Melbourne were trying to do to get back into the game and what us as coaches were asking them to do,” Ryan said.

“We just needed to be prepared to play our game and stick to our systems.”

Heading into the final weekend of the season a lot of talk surrounded the retirement of Sirens’ goaltender Sera Dogramaci, the 39-year-old would be hanging up the pads after a decade of playing at the top level.

Dogramaci would turn back the clock across the two games, stopping 59 of 62 shots faced, and made clutch saves down the stretch. It was the perfect send-off for Dogramaci who has been a stalwart for Australian and Turkish ice hockey across a decorated career.

“[It’s] very important for the veterans that have played with her for a long time,” Ryan said.

“To help her achieve her personal goals given how much she’s done for Sirens and [the] ice hockey community over the years.”

A second championship for Ryan as head coach following on from the 2020 season and a third as part of the overall coaching system, it is always a special moment to guide a team to the summit to be crowned champions.

“This opportunity and achievement will be up there for a while,” Ryan said.

“Always great to win championships whether it’s as a player or coach and the bonds you make as a team.”

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