Dylan Frank, who was picked up by the Junior A Wildcats last week, debuted between the pipes in a game against his former team, the Pictou County Crushers. – Brandon Campbell photo
The injury bug has hit the Valley junior A Wildcats’ goalies.
After trading veteran Jeff Arkin earlier in the season, the Wildcats picked up Bobby Palzer as a backup for 16-year-old rookie Blade Mann-Dixon, the top pick in the 2013 MHL draft, who had earned the team’s number-one goalie position.
Mann-Dixon was recently sidelined for a second time this season with a separated shoulder. Head coach Nick Greenough confirmed Dec. 13 that Mann-Dixon is likely to be out for another week.
“This is the second time Blade has been injured this season,” he said. “We know it’s important, and we don’t want to rush him.”
After his recovery, Mann-Dixon and teammate Colby Tower will be playing for Team Atlantic at the U-17 World Championships, starting Dec. 26 in Sydney.
Greenough termed the chance to play at the worlds “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for the two players.
Enter Palzer, an 18-year-old New Jersey native who formerly played for the Philadelphia Revolution in the Eastern Junior League in the U.S.
Greenough explained Palzer “was at a Moncton Wildcats tryout. Their general manager contacted me about him, and we picked him up.”
Palzer had stepped right in, compiling a 2-2 record and a 2.12 goals against average in five games, but he suffered a knee injury in the Dec. 7 game in Miramichi. Greenough said that he is likely to be out “anywhere from a week to as many as four.”
Scrambling to find another replacement, Greenough signed Dylan Frank, a former Pictou County Crushers’ player currently attending St. F.X. and serving as the third goalie for the X-men.
Frank, a 20-year-old, becomes the sixth goalie used by the Wildcats’ this season, along with Mann-Dixon, Arkin (traded), Max Feener (released), midget call-up Mike Pettet (currently sidelined with a concussion) and Palzer.
Frank made his Wildcats’ debut Dec. 12, and according to Greenough, “played well” in a 5-3 loss to first-place Pictou County.
The game was tied 3-3 nine minutes into the third period before Pictou County struck for a pair of late goals, one of them on a five-on-three power play.
Greenough said the Wildcats “lucked in that Dylan was available.” He added that once Mann-Dixon returns following the U-17s and Palzer is back in action, “we’ll have three capable goalies who can play in this league.”