Hosting the AWIHL Finals this season will be the third seeded North Star Sirens with the event being staged at Newcastle’s Hunter Ice Skating Stadium. Andrew Hewitt looks at the Sirens chances.
Regular season form :: The 2012/13 AWIHL season has come with mixed results for the North Star Sirens who as well as falling to the Brisbane Goannas in a weekend that shocked the majority of the Australian Ice Hockey public showed some positives with strong results against higher rated teams.
The Sirens started the season strongly with two comfortable wins in Brisbane followed by a narrow loss at home to Adelaide however went on a six game slide which put a sever dint in their title aspirations.
In those six games, the Sirens scored just nine times and conceded a whopping forty-four; more than the Ice and Adrenaline had conceded for the whole season. That slide also included their 7-3 loss to the Goannas and an embarrassing 13-0 shutout loss on their trip to Melbourne.
Route to AWIHL Grand Final :: Despite it not being the route that they would have preferred, the Sirens will have faith in knowing that with a home crowd behind them they can perform to their highest potential.
As the third seed, the Sirens will face the Brisbane Goannas in the Second Semi Final. Last time these two teams met it resulted in one of the most epic shootouts in AWIHL history with the Sirens taking the honours.
If they are able to find some of their early season form, the Sirens should be able to move past the Goannas and progress to the Qualifying Final where they will face either the Ice or Adrenaline.
As I have predicted, the Sirens opposition will be the Adelaide Adrenaline which should be a very tight contest. If the Sirens are able to break down the Steranko/Kavanagh combination, they may find themselves in the Gold Medal Game and in a Final anything can happen.
Key Players :: Although her team conceded 70 goals over the regular AWIHL season, one of the keys to the Sirens success will be goaltender Sera Dogramaci.
When you think of the Sirens, you automatically think of Dogramaci. The iconic netminder made a staggering 376 saves in the 2012/13 season and finished with a handy save percentage of .843.
If Sera can keep the puck out of the net, they will still need someone to put it in at the other end.
Sharna Godfrey is obviously the go to player for the Sirens who finished the regular season with 16 goals and 3 assists however other players on the Sirens’ roster have the ability to change a game if they perform to their potential.
Anna Ruut has been one of the players that have impressed Sirens fans this season and if the home side is going to get up, Ruut must show up.
Why will they win :: Home town advantage. A lot of modern-day sporting pundits look past the home crowd advantage and often are proven wrong in their predictions.
Home ice advantage is crucial in a Final and in the AWIHL Finals it is essential to have all the support you can get. If the key players turn up along with the home crowd fans anything can happen and the Sirens stand just as much chance as any other side to lift the Joan McKowen Memorial Trophy.
Where they will struggle :: The North Star Sirens will struggle to put the puck in the back of the net. Scoring only twice in their last home stand will haunt the Sirens along with knowing that they haven’t been able to find their way past defences like they have in previous seasons.
Prediction :: The North Star Sirens will make it through their Semi Final accommodating for the Brisbane Goannas relatively easily. However, hey may spend all their cookies worrying about that game and forget that they have to turn it around and pull out the performance of their season in the Qualifying Final.
If they falter at this hurdle it will be tough to get back up and take on a Goannas side looking to complete a Cinderella story by capturing the Bronze. It may be tough to get back up but this AWIHL fan thinks a medal os well within the Sirens’ targets.
By Andrew Hewitt
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