Sheffield Steelers' assistant coach Jerry Andersson believes his team has fallen behind double-winners Cardiff Devils because they couldn't compete with their passing speed.
The Swede, talking in the wake of his side's 3-1 defeat in Sunday's Play Off final also said his side had nobody of the quality of Joey Martin, Devils' 29 year old Canadian centre.
Andersson said he was disappointed at losing, but acknowledged the Welsh were the best side in the Elite League.
He said that, on their day, Steelers were capable of beating the Devils.
But their rivals had deservedly won the League and the Play Offs.
"They are very compact team, they are good at everything" he said.
Asked by The Star which specific areas Steelers needed to work on to bridge the quality gap, he replied: "To pass and take pass at a little higher speed.
"They are very good at passing the puck and taking the pass.
"Also they have top players like Joey Martin, there is no one on his level in the League.
"If I look at the hockey team, they are very good creating a good passing game."
Andersson said the team had chalked up some accomplishments - finishing ahead of Nottingham Panthers and Belfast Giants in the League and representing the country in the Continental Cup Finals.
"From all what has happened this season, with players and injuries, its not so bad" he said.
"But now it feels a little empty. We wanted to be on the ice celebrating with the fantastic fans."
Meanwhile outgoing Zack Fitzgerald has thanked Steelers fans for their support.
“How do I even begin to thank you all for the amazing support, I can’t” he tweeted. “My wife and I appreciate it so much. We will weigh our options and inform everyone at a later time.”