Cozens scores in WHL debut

Whitehorse’s Dylan Cozens admits “it was not one of my nicest goals,” but it’s one he’ll remember for a long time.

Whitehorse’s Dylan Cozens admits “it was not one of my nicest goals,” but it’s one he’ll remember for a long time.

Cozens made his presence known with a goal in his first regular season game in the Western Hockey League on Sunday in Lethbridge.

Playing for the home team Hurricanes, the 15-year-old forward scored a power play goal with 4.7 seconds left in regulation in his team’s 5-3 loss to the Saskatoon Blades.

“We didn’t end up winning the game, but it still felt nice to get a goal in my first game,” said Cozens. “Once you get that first one you know they’ll keep coming, so I’m definitely relieved.”

The late-game goal came when teammate Egor Babenko drove to the net and a rebound landed on the back of the sprawled Blades goalie where Cozens knocked it in.

Cozens, who was selected first-round by the Hurricanes in the WHL’s bantam draft in May, got called up for the game while he was in nearby Calgary playing a showcase with his Yale Hockey Academy team.

“The first shift I was a little bit nervous, but once I got that one out of the way I just kept playing my game and I think I played pretty good out there,” said Cozens.

As an underage player, Cozens is eligible to play up to five regular season games for the Hurricanes in the major junior league. He can also join the roster full time once his final U16 season is complete and after he turns 16 in February.

“I thought he played really well,” Hurricanes head coach Brent Kisio told the Lethbridge Herald. “I think a lot of the times he was on the ice the puck was around the net. He had a couple of opportunities. So I think for a first game he did a great job for us.”

Cozens, who is the first Yukon-born player ever to be selected first-round in the WHL bantam draft, also logged an assist in a preseason Hurricanes game on Sept. 2.

He certainly is no stranger to racking up points. Cozens currently leads his midget prep team at Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., with 20 points in 11 games so far this season. He is also third in points — second in goals — in the midget prep division for the Canadian Sports School Hockey League, in which Yale is fifth out of 15 teams in their division.

The Hurricanes are coming off the team’s most successful season in years. Lethbridge captured its first division title since 1997 and made the playoffs for the first time in seven years before losing to the Regina Pats in the first round.

Cozen might be added to the Hurricanes roster again for a road trip to Washington and Oregon this weekend.

“They have a few forwards who are injured right now so they needed another one,” said Cozens.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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