c/o Western Hockey League (WHL)
It hasn't even been two (2) full seasons yet but Lethbridge Hurricanes star centre Dylan Cozens (Whitehorse, Yukon) has a certain quality to him. Beyond his talent - more than one (1) National Hockey League (NHL) scout sees a bit of Ryan Getzlaf in him - the buzz around Cozens stems from his tendancy to be the centrepiece of a success story, to say nothing of his own personal background story.
Last season, Cozens won the Jim PIggott Memorial Trophy as the WHL Rookie of the Year and was nominated for the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) award. This season's fireworks started before it even began, at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. Cozens scored the game-tying goal in a dramatic finish against the United States as time expired. Team Canada eventually won that semi-final in overtime on a goal from Josh Williams (Langley, BC) and later beat Sweden for the gold medal.
Cozens' goal was controversial - there was literally no time left on the clock and no video review was in effect to verify it - but whatever the circumstances, it didn't take away from the clutch performance by Cozens and his team. An example of Cozens being there when good things happen.
Cozens' background story in notable too. He grew up in Whitehorse, the eldest of three (3) boys born to his father, Mike and mother, Sue. Mike is a judge and Sue is a lawyer. It goes without saying that education and a general sense of doing one's best were a central core to his upbringing.
But as wonderful as growing up in that unique environment in God's country was, it put Cozens at a hockey crossroads a few years ago. When it became obvious that their son had elite hockey potential, it became equally apparent he would likely have to move to experience better competition. He moved to two (2) hockey academies in BC and was eventually taken by the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the first round of the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft. A 12-game, eight (8) point cameo during the playoffs two (2) years ago foretold the type of player that the Hurricanes had. Shortly after joining the Hurricanes, he was one (1) of Team Canada Red's best players during the 2017 World U17 Hockey Challenge and helped his team to a silver medal.
Aside from the vital experience at the U17 and U18 levels, and not having yet turned 18, Cozens has already player 28 WHL playoff games (21 points) and passed the 100-point mark for his career before he even played 90 games.
For now, Cozens puts talk about the NHL Draft in its own mental box and is trying to focus on helping the Hurricanes not enter the post-season on a swoon as they did last year, before they bowed out to the eventual WHL champions, Swift Current Broncos.
"It's important that we focus on finishing strong because last season we didn't play very well our last 10 games or so," he said.
And of the NHL Draft?
"I just have to play my own game and try to get better," Cozens said. "It's really about blocking out the things I can't control."