Dragons coach Shaw out to restore pride at relegated club

Article from The Leader newspaper



Dragons coach Shaw out to restore pride at relegated club

Deeside Dragons coach Gary Shaw has demanded ‘focus, discipline and hard work’ from his players next season.


The Flintshire club endured a woeful 2017/18 campaign, with 33 losses from 35 league games culminating in relegation from the Moralee Conference.  The departure of player-coach Scott McKenzie early in the season was keenly-felt as form nosedived and a succession of demoralising heavy losses ensued.
Shaw, who has been involved with the club as a player and coach since its formation in 1973, was installed as interim head coach in January and has now taken on the role permanently.


“When I first came in at the start of the year it was all about stabilising the club, which was in a mess” he said. “I’ve played the game for a long time, from the age of 16 to 43, and have worked in junior coaching and on the Elite Under 18s pathway too. But even at the time I knew it was a big ask to turn things around. It was just a matter of trying to give the lads some direction and guiding them through to the end of the season.”



 “There were so many problems at the start. We didn’t have a strong enough goalkeeper at the time and there was a lack of leadership after Scott left.  There were times when we just couldn’t compete with the likes of Sheffield, Hull and Telford who were paying players with vast experience and we lost heavily.”

“Discipline was awful too. We played about 50 percent of our time on the ice last season with four men, three sometimes – it was ridiculous and it just wasn’t working at all.  It was tough going right until the end of the season, but I think that gradually we saw some small improvements after we got them playing as a team and on the same page. 
There was no way it was going to be a quick fix, but there were times were we played some decent stuff.”
Shaw has now outlined his ambitions to lead a promotion charge out of the Laidler Conference North next term.  Assisted by player-coach Marc Lovell and netminder coach Matthew Compton, Shaw insists this summer’s recruitment process will be rigorous and will look to strike a balance between experience, quality and youth.


He added: “It’s time to wipe everything clear this season and put a bit of pride back into our play.  We need a roster of 25 players, I think, so that we’ve got options to play three-and-a-half lines in each game.  Ideally five of those players will be youth players who can come in alongside the seniors and improve with game time.”


“I want team players who can work well as a unit and are not interested in playing as individuals by going coast to coast and beating four players before taking a shot on themselves.  The squad needs to buy-in to the way I want them to play with an emphasis on moving the puck around because if we’re controlling possession then the opposition can’t hurt us and we can be more of a threat ourselves.”


“So, although we’re dropping a division, I want the players to retain the intensity of the Conference pace and play with a high tempo not just for 20 minute periods but for the full 60 minutes every week.”


The Dragons will be holding open trials for players wanting to be part of the 2018/19 team. Sessions will take place at Deeside Leisure Centre on Wednesday, July 4 and July 11.


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