DEESIDE DRAGONS have paid the price for a largely undisciplined season according to the head coach, Gary Shaw.

Twelve regular wins and a single overtime victory led the Dragons to sixth in this year's NIHL Laidler Conference, well adrift of the play-off places.

But despite this being an improvement on last season’s seventh place finish, Shaw is unhappy with his side’s lack of discipline at times over the season.

Over the course of their 28 games, the Dragons have incurred a league high of 742 penalty minutes, which he believes have cost his side a spot in the top four.

The Dragons boss said: “I was disappointed we didn’t make the play-offs because that was our goal at the start of the season, and we didn’t make it.

“We played some really good hockey at times, but to make that top four we need to be more consistent and need to stay out of the penalty box.

“Penalties have killed us this season. They’ve left us constantly playing catch up and trying to regain the momentum that we lose when a player gets a penalty.

“I think something like nearly 40 (out of 128) of the goals we’ve conceded this season have come when we have been shorthanded.

“Reducing those penalties would mean we concede fewer goals, and that could have been enough to fire us up the table.”

Last year, the Dragons bosses were keen on making improvements defensively, but the team have averaged nearly 30 penalty minutes per game this season which leaves them more vulnerable to conceding.

However, Deeside arguably enjoyed their finest results of the season in the final weekend as the Flintshire club enjoyed stunning wins over title-chasing Altrincham Aces and Widnes Wild.

In each of those games, the Dragons only recorded 16 penalty minutes, and Shaw believes similar performances and temperament across a whole season could have had Deeside amongst the sides in the race for the league title.

He added: “These last two games have been the high point of our season, and if we’d have played like this all season we would have been right up there challenging for the title.

“We played some really good hockey in both games, and only had a 16 penalty minutes in each game.

“The players have to learn instead of keeping on making the same mistakes, although it doesn’t help that some of the junior referees in our league are still learning their trade.

“A lot of our penalties come from players opening their mouths, but the players have to realise that the referees are there to do a job and they just need to take their decisions.

“The defensive unit is a bit stronger than it was last year, but they’re still conceding a lot of penalties with Karl Bacon getting over 100 penalty minutes alone.

“It’s all a learning curve for the players, though. We will continue to work with them, and they’ll keep learning, and we’ll go again next season.

“Bradford (Bulldogs) are the only team we didn’t beat this season, and even there we ran them really close and only lost a couple of games by the odd goal.

“So, we have a solid basis to build from, especially with young players like Charlie (Spridgeon), James (Shaw), and Billy (Perks) really making themselves an integral part of the side.”