Dylan Cozens celebrates after scoring Canada’s first goal during the 2020 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship gold medal match between Canada and Russia in Ostrava, Czech Republic on Jan. 5. (Petr David Josek/CP)

Dylan Cozens named WHL Eastern Conference Player of the Year

The 19-year-old forward had 85 points in 51 games for the Lethbridge Hurricanes

It’s been a busy start to 2020 for Whitehorse’s Dylan Cozens.

After winning gold with Team Canada at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic back in January, the Buffalo Sabres first-round pick continued his strong play for the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Cozens was leading his team in scoring when the WHL season was scrapped, finishing with 38 goals and 47 assists for 85 total points in 51 regular season games. The Whitehorse product also led the Hurricanes in game-winning goals with six and short-handed goals with four.

His impressive play meant a number of personal accolades being received this month. Cozens was named to the WHL Eastern Conference First All-Star Team on April 7, recognized as the Hurricanes most valuable player with the Harry Ingarfield Memorial Award on April 19, and finally named the WHL Eastern Conference Player of the Year on April 21.

As the player of the year for the east, he is now a finalist for the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy given to the WHL’s Player of the Year — something Cozens said is special.

“It means a lot. There are lots of good players in the league this year (so) to be one of the nominees for that, it’s a huge award,” Cozens said. “Adam Beckman (the WHL Western Conference Player of the Year) had an unbelievable year with the amount of points he produced. … I’ll be happy for him if he wins — he’s one of my friends — but at the end of the day, I’m just grateful to be a nominee.”

Success for Cozens came early this season, earning multiple pre-season appearances for the Buffalo Sabres after impressing many with a strong showing at training camp. The 19-year-old said he tried to take what he learned from the NHL competition back to juniors.

“Those pre-season games that I got in the NHL this year just really showed the speed of the game and how quick the NHL is,” Cozens said. “One of my main goals was to just always keep that NHL speed — that NHL intensity — and make everyone else in the WHL play up to my level. I think I did a good job with that this year, but those games were definitely good for me and helped show me what I had to prepare for.”

While he had hoped to make the big club out of camp, Cozens said a year in junior opened the door for some different opportunities.

“It was disappointing to get sent down, but it is what it is and you’ve got to make the best out of it,” Cozens said. “It gave me a chance to represent Canada at the World Juniors and helped me develop a bigger leadership role on the Hurricanes. I just took every day as training and getting ready for training camp in Buffalo next year.”

Cozens, like everyone else, has a lot more down time than he anticipated this off-season, but is benefiting from being back at home.

“I’m still getting lots of training in with Northern Strength Academy and I was on my backyard rink until about a week ago,” Cozens said. “I’ve been doing good, getting out fishing and stuff, so it hasn’t been too bad.”

While most players are stuck training alone, Cozens has the advantage of being able to access his trainer one-on-one.

“I get to go and work out in a gym with my trainer, so I have a big advantage there,” he said. “Obviously my goal is to be in Buffalo. I want to be there. I feel like after I have a big summer here that I’ll be ready to make the jump.”

With COVID-19 casting a shadow over all sports this spring, the Yukoner said the first impact he felt from the virus came from an unlikely source.

“It ended up affecting us in terms of getting sticks,” Cozens said. “We couldn’t get any of our sticks, so we were running out. We thought it was pretty crazy it was affecting us all the way from (China).”

Cozens said he and his teammates didn’t give much thought to the season being delayed or cancelled, until the major announcements started coming thick and fast.

The NHL suspended its season, followed shortly by the CHL. Cozens said he and his teammates were told to stick around Lethbridge for a few days, in case there was a quick solution.

When that was no longer a possibility, the players were sent home and a few days later the season was officially cancelled.

“After they sent us home, it was very disappointing obviously, but it was expected,” Cozens said. “We were hoping for the best, but at the end of the day there is a bigger picture here and there are bigger problems going on.”

Although disappointed not to have a chance to try to win a Memorial Cup this year — “We thought we had a good chance of making a long run,” Cozens said — the silver lining was he did get to compete at the World Juniors.

“I’ve got to be grateful for some things I got in, like World Juniors,” Cozens said. “A month or two earlier and that could maybe not have happened.”

Cozens continues his preparation for Sabres training camp in the fall, but said he has still found some time to get out fishing — primarily for lake trout.

“They’ve been alright,” he said about the fish. “A couple dead days though.”

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

Dylan CozensNHLWHL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Submitted
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes

adsf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Feb. 26, 2021

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read