Mann-Dixon, Tower 'thrilled' to play at U-17 worlds

John Decoste
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Colby Tower, left, the leading scorer for the Valley Wildcats so far this season, and teammate Blade Mann-Dixon, top goalie for the Kentville squad, will be competing for Team Atlantic at the upcoming U-17 world hockey championships in Kentville beginning Dec. 26. – Jennifer Hoegg, www.kingscountynews.ca

 

Blade Mann-Dixon has battled through injuries so far this season, but the Valley Junior A Wildcats' goalie can’t think of too many better cures than the chance to play at the U-17 World Championships, starting this week in Cape Breton.

Mann-Dixon and Wildcats’ teammate Colby Tower found out earlier this month they had both made the Team Atlantic roster for the upcoming world championships.

The two 16-year-olds are both in their first year with the Wildcats after having been teammates with the NSMMHL Cape Breton West Islanders. They are among nine Nova Scotians named to the Atlantic team.

“It feels great, kind of surreal actually,” Mann-Dixon said during a Dec. 17 practice.

As for the shoulder injury that has kept him out of the Wildcats’ line-up for the past couple of weeks, he said, “it’s getting better, but I wouldn’t miss this tournament.”

Mann-Dixon confirmed there had been tryouts for Team Atlantic, but he didn’t attend.

“It was really a scouting thing. They invite certain people to camp.” He officially found out “three or four weeks ago” that he had been chosen to the team.

Mann-Dixon, an Antigonish native, was looking forward to getting to face international opponents like Russia and the Czech Republic, as well as the U.S. and the other teams from across Canada.

Team Atlantic leaves for Sydney Dec. 26.

“I’m looking forward to it, looking forward to playing, and I’ll be able to play here again when I get back,” he said.

Tower started out with the provincial U-16 program, then went through the tryout process for Team Atlantic.

“Team Atlantic staff were there watching (the U-16 team), and picked who they wanted for a spring camp,” he said.

As for making the team, “it’s unbelievable,” said the Troy, Cape Breton native, “especially where the tournament is being played in Cape Breton.”

He added, “anytime you get to put on a Canada jersey, it’s pretty special.”

Asked if he had any goals for the tournament, Tower said, “just play my game, do whatever the coach says and see what happens.”

The Wildcats’ leading scorer to this point in the season, Tower said he is enjoying his time with the Kentville team.

“It’s been a great choice for me to come here. It’s a really great development program.”

Having Mann-Dixon as a teammate, Tower said, is a benefit.

“Blade and I have known each other for three or four years now,” and are former midget teammates. “We’re billeted together, and when I found out we were going to be teammates again (with Team Atlantic), it was great.”

Organizations: Wildcats, Team Atlantic, NSMMHL Cape Breton West Islanders

Geographic location: Cape Breton, Canada, Antigonish Russia Czech Republic U.S. Sydney Troy

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