Deeside Dragons were presented with the Laidler Conference trophy after an emotionally charged clash with rivals Widnes Wild on Saturday night.
The Dragons claimed a 3-1 success over the visiting Wild in a game that was cut short after Widnes coach Scott McKenzie refused to send his players back out on to the ice following a brawl between the two sides.
That decision resulted in the forfeiture of the game meaning the Dragons could begin their title celebrations early in front of a 700-strong crowd at the Deeside Ice Rink.
But despite Widnes departing the ice early in the second period, Dragons head coach Lol Paul insists that it didn’t dampen the celebratory mood for the league champions.
“It was amazing to finally lift the trophy after the season we have had and I was soaked by the guys, which is customary,” said Paul.
“Widnes leaving the ice was a bit of a shock to me to be honest and I’m a little disappointed in Widnes and Scott McKenzie for it.
“We just didn’t want them to spoil our party, which they didn’t. We were able to crack open the champagne and forget all about it pretty quickly.
“They didn’t want to hang around, though. They had a short bench, a game the next day and I think they were looking for excuses.
“But they brought 100 fans or so down and I think they let them down by not coming back out onto the ice. Those fans paid money to see their team play.
“I have heard all this before, though. Scott wanted to keep his team fresh for the next day.
“It is a local derby game and my guys were up for it and playing hard but I think that Widnes just couldn’t hack it.”
Following the decision to take their players off the ice, a Widnes Wild club statement read: "Tonight (Saturday) head coach, Scott McKenzie, made the decision to withdraw the Widnes Wild from the game against the Deeside Dragons, as he felt that his players would be at risk of serious injury had they continued to play the game.”
The statement added: “Lee Kemp has been taken to hospital with a serious head injury and we will post an update on his condition when he has been fully assessed by the doctors at the hospital.
“Greg Ruxton has also suffered a serious injury and is unlikely to play again this season.”
Paul and his Dragons side now turn their attentions to next months play-offs where they will meet Blackburn Eagles in the first semi-final.
The Dragons head coach reserved praise for the way his squad have stuck together this season following the withdrawal of financial backing from Red Hockey and believes play-off success would be the icing on the cake.
“We couldn’t have achieved what we have done this season if it wasn’t for Red Hockey,” said Paul.
“They left in January after they couldn’t come to an agreement with Flintshire Council on the best way forward but their money allowed me to sign the likes of Adrian Palak and Filip Supa, who have both been massive for us.
“But the team have stayed together throughout everything and we have kept on winning and got the job done.
“Success in the play-offs would be the perfect ending.”