U-17 Worlds “great experience” for Wildcats Mann-Dixon, Tower

John Decoste
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While the final result for Team Atlantic was a bit disappointing – they finished eighth with a 1-4 record at the 2014 World U-17 Hockey Challenge in Cape Breton – there there wasn’t too much that could have dimmed the enthusiasm of Blade Mann-Dixon and Colby Tower.

The two Valley Junior A Wildcats on the Team Atlantic roster saw action in several of the games. Team Atlantic was competitive at the tournament, going 1-3 in the round robin, losing 5-1 to Ontario Dec. 30 and 9-1 on Dec. 31 to the eventual gold medalists from the U.S. They defeated Germany 4-3 on Jan. 1 and lost 5-3 to Russia on Jan. 2.

Team Atlantic played off for seventh-place on Jan. 4 in Port Hawkesbury and dropped a close 3-2 decision to the Czech Republic.

Read more about the Wildcats' pair's performance in the games here.

Mann-Dixon saw action in three of his team’s five games, including the win over Germany and the losses to Ontario and Russia. He allowed 13 goals in the three games, and stopped 94 of the 107 shots he faced.

Tower had one assist in five games and was also assessed three minor penalties.

This was the final year for Team Atlantic under the current configuration. Starting next year, the Canadian teams in the tournament will be made up differently.

“It was something special, knowing we were part of the last Team Atlantic,” said Tower, who grew up in Troy, Cape Breton. “It was a great experience.”

The level of the competition was stiff, Tower said.

“The European teams were fast and strong. So were the other Canadian teams,” and the Americans won the gold medal. Overall, he added, “it was good hockey.”

Prior to the tournament, the Cape Breton native had said he thought it would be special to be part of the tournament as it was being played in Sydney.

“It was extra special,” he said. “There were people in the stands that I knew were there for me.”

As an added thrill, he got to play the seventh-place game in Port Hawkesbury, even closer to home.

Asked for a highlight, Tower said, “getting ready, and putting on the Canadian jersey. I played with a lot of pride.”

Mann-Dixon echoed Tower’s sentiments on the Team Atlantic performance.

“We held our own and worked hard. It was a really good experience,” he said.

 “It wasn’t necessarily the outcome we wanted, but it’s still good.”

Mann-Dixon acknowledged the tournament was “for the most part what I expected” going in. As for a highlight, he replied, “the game we won,” in which he was the winning goalie.

This was the last year both Mann-Dixon and Tower were eligible for U-17. Mann-Dixon termed the experience as “something we likely wouldn’t get anywhere else,” although he added he is looking forward to hopefully attending the national U-18 training camp this coming summer. 

Organizations: World U-17 Hockey Challenge

Geographic location: Cape Breton, Ontario, Russia Port Hawkesbury Colby Tower U.S. Czech Republic Germany Troy Sydney

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