Ask Clarke MacArthur, Colin Fraser or Stephen Dixon what their role on Canada’s National Junior Team is, and they’ll say it’s to provide a spark. Unlike their role on past teams, they will probably not lead Team Canada in scoring during the 2005 World Junior Championship, “and they’re okay with that”
According to Fraser, the MacArthur, Fraser, Dixon line plays the role of an energy line. “We’re totally just an energy type line, just trying to grind it out, and provide energy for the rest of the guys,” said Fraser.
This new role is unfamiliar territory for the three players. Fraser is currently the captain of the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels. He also led the team in scoring during the 2003-2004 season. MacArthur is an alternate captain with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers, and finished the 2003-2004 season with a team-high 35 goals.
According to MacArthur, one of the line’s main concerns is defence. “We’re stressing that our line doesn’t get scored on,” he said.
The third member of the line, Dixon, is a veteran of the tournament. He played with Team Canada during 2004 World Junior Championship in Finland. However, this year he has had to adjust to a new role as well.
Dixon, a member of the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, is an alternate captain and finished third in overall team scoring after the 2003-2004 season.
“It’s definitely a change, but it’s a good change. We just try to go out and work hard, try to cycle on their D (defence) and keep the puck deep in their end,” Dixon said.
During Saturday’s game against Slovakia, the line came through with the spark needed to shut down the possibility of a Team Slovakia comeback late in the game. MacArthur came up with two goals in the closing minutes of the third period to put Canada up 7-3, and end Slovakia’s hopes for victory.
“A lot of people talk about roles on the team, and that’s fine,” said MacArthur, “I’m just happy to be on the team. Our job is to kill penalties, so any scoring is a bonus for us.”
Fraser, who was credited with an assist on MacArthur’s first goal, said the line’s play late in the period was not something that changes their role on the team.
“I don’t think we took on a different role. I think we played the same role, we just kind of got rewarded for what we did,” he said, “We had chances earlier in the game that we didn’t finish.”
Dixon agreed that scoring is not the line’s main function, but it is nice to see. “It’s definitely a plus. It’s not our main job. We’re mostly here to work hard and take care of our own end,” he said.
The hard work of this line has not gone unnoticed. Team Canada coach Brent Sutter said the line has played very well at both ends of the ice.
“Everyone has roles on the team, and each guy knows what his role is,” he said, “I think they’ve played very well and I think they’ll continue to do so. We’re focusing on playing a two-way game and those players are doing that.”
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