The way things are going, Alberta minor hockey clubs will be drafting more Yukon players in the future to boost their teams’ performance.
Two 11-year-olds out of the Whitehorse Minor Hockey Association helped the Edmonton Mercurys win silver at the Stampede Challenge AAA Hockey Tournament in Calgary the weekend of June 22-24.
Whitehorse forwards Dylan Cozens and Bryce Anderson played for the Mercurys in the 2001 Gold division and were instrumental in getting the team to the final.
“It was fun (playing with Anderson),” said Cozens. “Sometimes we were and sometimes we weren’t (on the same line).”
In a 7-6 semifinal win over the SAS Rebels, Cozens and Anderson were at the vanguard of a comeback in the dying minutes of the game.
Down 6-4 with less than three minutes to play in regulation, Cozens scored to move the Mercurys within one. He was assisted by Anderson on the goal. Cozens then assisted the tying goal with just 1:02 left on the clock.
After a fruitless overtime, Anderson scored in the shootout to secure the win. Anderson also scored in the first period, assisted by Cozens, who finished with two goals and three assists in the game.
“It went to a shootout, so it was pretty exciting, and we came back in the last two minutes to tie it,” said Cozens. “I don’t remember my goal, but I can remember the one I assisted. I was coming down the ice and it was a 2-on-1 for us and I passed to (Xavier Haro) and he scored.”
Cozens led the tournament in points with 14 goals and 10 assists for 24 points in total – eight more than the second-place points scorer.
Anderson finished the tournament with three goals and three assists, and was the fourth highest points producer on the Mercurys.
The Mercurys went on to lose 12-4 to the Alberta Roughnecks in the final.
The Stampede Challenge was the second time within a month both players helped an Alberta team win hardware.
At the start of June they helped Edmonton’s Northern Alberta All-Stars spring team, the XMen, win gold at the Top Guns AAA Tournament in Canmore, Alta.
There too, Cozens led the tournament in points and was named a tournament All-Star. He scored 13 goals and finished with 22 points.
He was also named a “Top Gun” in a 10-4 win over the Edmonton Mercurys in the round-robin. In the game, Cozens scored four goals and had two assists.
Anderson finished the Top Gun tournament with two goals and six assists ending seventh overall in points. He was also named a “Top Gun” in a game.
Cozens and Anderson also travelled with the XMen to the B.C. Challenge Cup over the May long weekend in Burnaby. The team took fourth after losing to the eventual gold-medal winning team in the semifinal.
“They certainly make a difference – there’s no question about it,” said Cozens’ father Mike. “Our kids have had the benefit of some great training and extra training and skill development up here (in Whitehorse). It’s showing that it can make a difference on the Outside.”
Both Yukoners played up an age group with the Whitehorse Peewee A Mustangs rep team this past season.
Playing in an older age group really improved their skills, as did the hard-driving Mustangs coach Jake Jirousek, said Anderson in a recent interview with the News.
“He pushes you hard, no matter what your skill level is,” he said of Jirousek.
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