Among the star players for the Sydney Sirens, Remi Harvey holds a pioneering place. Having enjoyed all three championships in franchise history, first suiting up as a Siren in her pre-teens, she would evolve into a defensive stalwart, enjoying over 150 appearances. Running parallel to the journey in Sydney involved the thrill of wearing the colors for the Australian national team. Currently balancing a coaching career while remaining an integral component of the Sirens’ defensive corps, her acumen and competitive background also serve her well in a coaching role with the Under-18 nationals.
Having started to skate around the age of five, the experience grew into a highly enjoyable weekend activity with her parents. Serendipitously, Harvey’s parents, both former ice hockey players, first met at the rink. Growing up with interest in singing and dancing, both anticipated the next step for Harvey would involve figure skating. Upon seeing her first ice hockey match, it triggered a desire to grace the ice.
Considering that a professional hockey league for women had not yet taken shape down under, Harvey found her first heroes in the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL). Founded in 2000, the top level league plays for the N Newman Reid Trophy. Worth noting, the Newcastle Northstars have won the most championships, enjoying six.
When Harvey was 11 years young, the founding of the Australian Women’s Ice Hockey League (AWIHL) in 2005 only furthered her interest. Along with Amelia Matheson, the two have enjoyed every Sirens season in franchise history. Also discovering that Australia iced a national women’s team, nicknamed the Mighty Jills, she discovered a new group of role models, aspiring to emulate their heroics.
Such luminaries included the likes of Rylie Padjen, Kaylee White and Amelia Matherson. Calling this tremendous trio teammates on the Australian national team, all three have excelled in the AWIHL. A long-time team captain for Australia, Padjen wears the jersey of the Melbourne Ice. Originally an inline player, White successfully transitioned to the ice, winning the Joan McKowan Trophy (awarded to the AWHIL playoff champion) in 2017. Also part of the 2017 championship roster, Matherson served as Sirens captain in 2016. As a side note, Matherson is now the head coach of the Newcastle North Stars in the East Coast Super League.
“When I first started hockey, I looked up to the local men that played in the AIHL. A lot of them coached me at the development training so I loved that I could go and watch them play. When I got exposed to women’s ice hockey, I was about 10.
I found out girls could go in and play for Australia. I thought that was just the best thing anyone could ever do. I looked up to Australian team players Rylie Padjen (now Ellis), Kaylee White (now Russell) and Amelia Matherson. It is sort of funny now, because I have now played with all three of those players. Yet, as a teenager, I saw them playing for Australia and that is what I desperately wanted to do!”
With five teams in the AWIHL (Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney), parity provides fans and players alike with numerous championship possibilities. Although Melbourne, awarded the Stephanie Boxall Trophy, for finishing first overall in the league standings, entered the postseason as favorites, a highly talented Sirens squad were not to be taken lightly.
Led by team captain Sarah Edney, one of two Canadian captains in the AWIHL during the 2022-23 season, the Sirens emerged victorious in the semi-finals. Helping her own cause, Edney scored twice in a 4-1 win versus Brisbane.
Facing off versus the Melbourne Ice at the O’Brien Ice House, Linda Bjorling scored twice while Sera Dogramaci, one of the AWIHL’s most iconic goaltenders, faced 17 shots in a 5-2 win. With the Sirens having never relinquished the lead, it marked one of the Sirens most dominant playoff performances.
“Winning the Joan McKowan Trophy was such an awesome feeling. We really had to come together as a team over the past season and had a lot of highs and lows as a team. We knew we had to ability to win, we just had to execute. We went into the grand final really focused and just played hard and smart the whole game. It was just so great to be part of.”
Of all the experiences in the Sirens paraphernalia, the first championship remains highly poignant for Harvey. Reaching the plateau in 2017, the triumph was much more satisfying as the club also enjoyed the regular season crown.
Facing off versus the Brisbane Goannas in the Finals, the Sirens battled back from a 2-0 deficit as Sharnita Crompton scored twice, providing the heroics in regulation. A 3-3 deadlock after overtime required a shootout to decide a champion. Playing on home ice at Canterbury Rink, Canadian blueliner Erin Beaver scored in the shootout, while Dogramaci denied all three Goannas skaters, an historic championship that remains a seminal moment for Harvey.
Equally memorable is the opportunity for Harvey’s coaching background to intertwine with her playing career as a Siren. Belonging to the coaching staff of the Australian Under-18 National Team, many of the players that Harvey mentored and instructed graduated to the AWIHL. Adding to the feeling of achievement, having instilled confidence and cultivated the skill set for a new generation of players, several have also become Sirens teammates.
“I played for the Sirens since the AWIHL first started (before there was an age limit, so I was only 11 when I started with the Sirens!) meaning that I basically grew up with that team, so I have a lot of awesome moments. Yet, the moment that sticks in my head is winning gold for the first time ever for the Sirens in 2017, after 10 minutes of OT and a shootout. It was such a long time coming and we did it in our home rink too. Awesome memory.
Some other good memories are just times that I have got to play with some of the girls that I coach. Being able to be D partners with Lily Roberts, Gabby Arps and Sam Payne and being on the ice the other U18 girls. All girls that I have taken to Worlds for U18’s is pretty special.”
Akin to many other stars of the AWIHL, Harvey’s hockey odyssey involved wearing the colours of the National Team. Currently one of the veteran skaters for Australia, also known as The Mighty Jills, the return to international play after a hiatus attributed to pandemic woes proved rejuvenating.
Participation at IIHF events in 2022 and 2023 saw Harvey grace the ice in a pair of very unique locations. From Zagreb, Croatia in 2022, followed by Cape Town, South Africa, one year later, both saw Harvey and her teammates emerge with the silver at the Division II, Group B, Women’s World Championship.
While the outcome furthers the drive for gold in 2024, aspiring for promotion to Group A, the opportunity to represent Australia held dual impact. Rekindling memories of her debut with the national team nearly a decade ago, Harvey’s growth into a leadership role runs parallel to the national team’s evolution.
“The first time I played for Australia was surreal. It was a massive goal of mine, so making the team for the first time just showed that my hard work was paying off. I actually cried when I was presented my Australian jersey for the first time; happy tears of course!
It is now awesome to be a senior on the team and to play with a new group of awesome girls each year. It was great to get back to the World Championships after the COVID shutdown too, in Croatia and South Africa. It is just such a fun time being away with a bunch of awesome hockey players and people. We are all basically family.”
Balancing playing career with national team commitments, Harvey’s love of the game extends into a coaching role. From the outset, she has established herself as a coaching mainstay with the Sydney Bears organization.
Serendipitously, Harvey’s foray into coaching allowed for another international milestone in 2023. In addition to skating for the national team in South Africa, the month of January saw Harvey travel to Dumfries, Scotland.
Belonging to the coaching staff of the Australian U18 National Team, an exciting brush with history occurred. Capturing the gold medal at the 2023 IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds, Division II, Group A competition, Australia achieved the feat on a day filled with national pride.
Prevailing versus Latvia by a 3-2 mark on January 26, also known as Australia Day, Courtney Mahoney scored twice, while Ella Holub logged the game winning tally in a golden finish. Worth noting, team captain Molly Lukowiak already skates in the AWIHL, holding a place on the Perth Inferno roster.
As the Green and Gold previously finished with the bronze medal at the 2022 edition of the tournament, the leap onto the top of the podium this year certainly impressed Harvey. Having dedicated so many years to the growth of the game, the majesty of this golden event provides more than a degree of reward.
Finding inspiration in the collaborative efforts of the players to reach the summit, there also holds momentum. Named as Australia’s head coach for the youth 3-on-3 team, Harvey will look towards a podium finish at the 2024 Winter Youth Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.
“It is really special coaching so many young girls with so much potential. I think every year, the girls surprise themselves with what they end up achieving. Therefore, I think my favorite part is just seeing them all come together and achieving some pretty awesome stuff. Winning the tournament this year, beating some pretty big hockey nations such as Latvia and Netherlands is so crazy. I am just so proud of them.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”