Whitehorse’s Dylan Cozens addresses the media after being selected seventh overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the first round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft on June 21 in Vancouver. Cozens participated in The Sabres annual preseason Prospects Challenge in Buffalo, New York, from Sept. 6 to 9. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)

Dylan Cozens impresses at Buffalo Sabres Prospects Challenge

The tournament featured prospects from the New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins

The Buffalo Sabres hosted its annual preseason Prospects Challenge in Buffalo, New York, from Sept. 6 to 9 with the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils also taking part.

The event, held at the Harborcenter, was the first time the Sabres organization and fans got to see Whitehorse’s Dylan Cozens compete against other NHL franchises.

Cozens was left off Buffalo’s initial roster for the event as he is recovering from thumb surgery following an injury at development camp earlier this summer, but ultimately played in two games and picked up three points.

Cozens finished the weekend tied for second on the team in goals and tied for fourth in points.

Training camp for the Sabres starts on Sept. 12 and runs until Sept. 28.

General Manager Jason Botterill made it clear at the NHL Draft in June he doesn’t expect any of the team’s 2019 draft picks, including Cozens, to make the big club out of training camp.

In the event Cozens is sent down, he’ll be reporting to the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes where he has played his entire CHL career.

Sabres defeat Devils 6-4

Buffalo jumped out to an early lead against the New Jersey Devils on Sept. 6 when Kyle Olson scored just 30 seconds into the first period.

The Sabres struck twice more in the first, with goals from Victor Olofsson and Andrew Oglevie making it 3-0 after 20 minutes.

Things kept rolling for the Sabres in the second as Arttu Ruotsalainen scored early to make it 4-0.

Cozens then scored a power-play goal at 13:19 of the second period, assisted by Henri Jokiharju, to make it 5-0.

Cozens took a pass near the top of the right faceoff circle and stepped around the Devils winger, shielding the puck with his leg, before ripping a wrist shot high past the New Jersey goaltender.

Buffalo’s William Borgen scored to make it 6-0, but New Jersey’s first-overall pick Jack Hughes got one late on the powerplay to make it 6-1 after 40 minutes.

In the third period, the Sabres prospects let off the gas, conceding three goals to New Jersey but ultimately held on for a 6-4 win.

Cozens picked up three minor penalties in the game – a hooking penalty in the second and penalties for roughing and interference in the third.

After the game, Cozens told the media he was glad to be on the ice and that the atmosphere from the hometown crowd lived up to expectations.

“It was good to just get my legs under me,” said Cozens. “I was told there was going to be lots of fans out here tonight and it was completely packed; that’s awesome to see for a tournament like this.”

Buffalo beats Boston 4-3

The Buffalo Sabres and the Boston Bruins took to the ice on Sept. 7 with the Sabres again jumping out to an early lead.

This time, Rasmus Asplund scored just over five minutes into the first period to give Buffalo a 1-0 lead.

In the second period, Oskar Steen tied things up for Boston near the middle of the frame before Buffalo exploded for three goals in four minutes.

Olofsson scored first at 12:23, followed by Matej Pekar at 13:33 and Pekar again at 16:22.

In the third period, Steen scored to cut the lead to two before Samuel Asselin clawed the Bruins back to within one at 15:59.

Cozens did not play in the game.

Penguins win 6-4 over Sabres

The Pittsburgh Penguins handed the Sabres prospects a 6-4 defeat in the final game of the Prospects Challenge on Sept. 9, although Cozens had a goal and an assist in the loss.

After an opening period that included 23 shots on target but no goals, the floodgates opened in the second as the two teams combined for six goals.

Pittsburgh struck first with a shorthanded goal from Sam Lefferty.

Anthony Angello then added two for the Pens, making it 3-0, before Jordy Bellerive made it 4-0 with a power play goal at 9:05.

Brett Murray scored a powerplay goal assisted by Jokiharju and Cozens at 18:05 before Cozens scored at the end of the period to make it 4-2 after 40 minutes.

Cozens fought for position in front of the net and managed to deflect a point shot with just 1.3 seconds remaining on the clock.

In the third period, Asplund scored a pair to tie it up 4-4 before Nathan Legare scored the winner for Pittsburgh at 3:57.

The Penguins added an empty net goal in the final minute to make it 6-4.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com