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Shorthanded or otherwise, Dixon lights the lamp for the Express

The Coquitlam Express’ Mateo Dixon has proven this BC Hockey League season that he can turn an opposition’s powerplay advantage into a disadvantage.

The 20-year-old forward from Toronto leads the BCHL in shorthanded goals, as of March 25, with four. Dixon also lights the lamp in other situations. He leads the Express with 23 goals and is third on the squad with five powerplay markers.

“I can say it is definitely fun to score, whether shorthanded or not,” said Dixon. “However, producing while shorthanded has its own exciting component, as the other team has a temporary advantage. It creates a great momentum shift, giving us a positive boost, and I think all the boys enjoy it when our team is able to produce while killing penalties, no matter who does it.”

The fact that Dixon sees time on the penalty kill is an indication of the development of his game and the trust the Express coaching staff has in him.

“When we traded for Mateo, he came in as someone who knew how to score but didn’t defend very well,” said Coquitlam chief operations officer and general manager Tali Campbell. “Over the course of last season, he worked hard at that part of his game and then into the offseason. (He) has really become an all-around complete player.”

Hard work leads to Dixon’s offensive production

Dixon is second on the team in scoring, as of this writing, with 48 points in 53 games. Tyler Kopff leads the team with 50 points. However, numbers only tell part of Dixon’s story.

“You won’t find anyone else who works as hard as Mateo to perfect themselves,” explained Campbell. “He is always the hardest working guy on the ice and in the gym and takes care of his body. As he mentions, having (Type 1 Diabetes) made him look after his diet more, which has made him a better athlete overall. In terms of his game, he has a wicked shot, is incredibly smart, and is the fastest skater.”

Last season, Dixon displayed signs of his offensive potential. The 5-foot-10, 185-pounder had 11 goals and 22 points in 32 games for the Express. While developing an all-around game this season, Dixon improved upon his offensive output – 23 goals, 25 assists for 48 points in 53 games.

“I think there are various reasons why I have been able to produce this year,” he said. “One of them is being able to express my skills and match them with opportunities, using specific opportunities to best showcase my skills and ultimately create offense from them. I also believe that my speed plays an important role in creating offense and putting up numbers, as it helps to open up the ice and make strategic decisions.”

Before coming to the BCHL last season, Dixon spent time in three other junior leagues. This included playing for the Toronto Patriots of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, the Elmira (NY) Junior Enforcers of the United States Premier Hockey League, and the Jersey Hitmen of the National Collegiate Development Conference.

Dixon brings his game to the BCHL

“There are various (things) that attracted me to becoming a player in the BCHL,” explained Dixon. “Mainly, because it is the best junior A league in the country, which made my pursuit to play here a no-brainer. It is located in the most beautiful province in Canada, with the highest number of (NCAA) commitments and the best hockey. It’s as simple as that.”

Dixon started the 2021-22 campaign with the Jersey Hitmen before jumping to the Nanaimo Clippers. After two games on Vancouver Island, he was traded to Coquitlam.

“Playing for three different teams last season was definitely a cool experience,” expressed Dixon. “One might think that it is undesirable to do so, (but) I believe there was a lot I gained from it. It was very interesting, with many different people to meet and cultures to learn from. Although it wasn’t the easiest thing and was a chaotic process, it was something I appreciate and definitely grew from. The relationships I made, the players I met, and the coaches who taught me all contributed something to me or my game, so I am thankful for that.”

Dixon is also thankful for the season and a half he has worn an Express jersey.  He calls it amazing and an absolute privilege.

“The inclusive environment, along with the tight-knit relationships within this group, (is) incredible,” said Dixon. “At the same time, it is a professional organization that has your development and growth in mind, not just as a player but also as a person.”

Next season Dixon hopes to be studying and playing in the post-secondary ranks. He is interested in studying neurobiology or something related to human performance and exercise science.

“I aim to play at the highest level of my capability and see what is possible for me in the sport by attempting to realize my potential, wherever that may be,” added Dixon.