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Deeside Dragons raring to go for new season

And they have been boosted by arrival of Widnes Wild ace Shaun Dippnall

Deeside Dragons celebrate their golden goal winner against Widnes Wild which secured their survival(Image: Peter Sheffield)

Deeside Dragons get their campaign under way this weekend with player-coach Scott McKenzie insisting they have nothing to fear.

And the Dragons will go into their opening double-header buoyed by an exciting new signing.

McKenzie’s men travel to last season’s runners-up Billingham Stars on Saturday (5.30pm face-off) before welcoming defending champions Solway Sharks to the Deeside Ice Rink on Sunday (5.45pm face-off).

And the Dragons have pushed a through a deal for Widnes Wild captain Shaun Dippnall.

Dippnall forged a ferocious partnership with McKenzie when the latter was in charge of Widnes.

And he has been signed in time to take on Billingham and Solway in their NIHL North One openers.

Mckenzie said: "When I knew Dippy wanted to come to Deeside to play for the Dragons I was over the moon.

"He is one of my good friends but that's not the reason we want him here. Dippy makes smart plays, is great on the puck, reads the game very well and fits in perfectly with what we are building here in Deeside."

"He will add another dimension to our powerplay but overall, Dippy makes us a better and that's the bottom line."

Dippnall joins the Dragons after four seasons with the Wild, for whom he racked up an impressive 58 goals and 138 assists to become the club's all-time top points scorer.

Dippnall said: "I am really excited to be signing for the Dragons, I knew quite a few of the guys already, which makes the transition from Widnes a little bit smoother.

"I had started to fall out of love with hockey a little bit over the back end of last season. During the off-season I usually really get the itch to play again but this year I didn't really have that.

"So the new challenge with a new team against stronger opposition was really appealing to me. This league is going to be stronger than ever especially with the EPL being no more. All the teams look to be strong so I am really looking forward to the challenge our team has ahead of us."

The new-look, 10-team Moralee Conference this season includes three sides from the disbanded English Premier League.

But the Dragons will be confident after a superb end to last season saw them secure their survival with an unforgettable win over Widnes in the big relegation-promotion decider.

“It’s two pretty good teams to start us off,” said McKenzie.

“But we’ve had a good pre-season, I’m happy with the way the team is looking, and we’ve got a really big signing coming, which we’re all pretty excited about.

“Three teams have dropped down from the EPL and that’s only going to make a tough league even tougher.

“But we’ve got a lot of depth and I’m really happy with how the team is shaping up. We learned a lot from last year and the guys are fearless now.

“They know what it takes to compete in this league, we’re a year more experienced, and we’re ready to go.”

The Dragons wrapped up their pre-season preparations with 5-4 and 10-4 victories in their double-header with Altrincham Aces last weekend.

Returning fans’ favourite Chris Jones hit hat-tricks in both matches.

The Dragons are also fielding a team in the NIHL North Two Laidler Conference this season.

They host Sheffield Senators on Saturday (5.30pm face-off) before travelling to Telford Tigers on Sunday (6pm face-off).

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