RED DEER – Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Dylan Cozens was named the winner of the 2017-18 Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy as the Western Hockey League Rookie of the Year on Wednesday, May 2.
He was also named the WHL Rookie of the Month for April 2018 earlier in the day.
Cozens appeared in three regular-season games during the 2016-17 WHL regular season and followed that up with three goals and five assists in 12 playoff games as a 15-year-old.
Cozens played in 57 games with the Hurricanes during the 2017-18 WHL regular season, overcoming a shoulder injury during mid-season, and recorded 53 points (22G-31A), including eight power-play goals, one short-handed goal, and four game-winning goals.
During the Hurricanes run to the Eastern Conference Final, Cozens scored seven goals and added six assists in 16 playoff games.
The 6-foot-3, 177-pound product of Whitehorse, Yukon was originally selected 19th overall by the Hurricanes in the first round of the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft.
Cozens says it’s obviously very exciting to be named Rookie of the Year.
“There were a lot of great players to choose from so it’s a great honour for me,” Cozens said.
As for the main reason behind his success this season, Cozens attributes it to the opportunities given to him by the Hurricanes coaching staff.
“Some guys as rookies don’t ever get an opportunity to show what they can do. In Lethbridge I got all the opportunity I needed to show that I could make a difference, and I’m very happy and grateful for that.”
In the Canadian Hockey League, it’s not uncommon for young players to take a while to grasp the pace of play, and style of game, so why was it Cozens appeared so comfortable on the ice this year?
“When I’m playing hockey I’m comfortable,” he continued. “It’s the same game I’ve been playing my whole life, obviously last year I got a taste of playoff hockey and it helped this season.”
Hurricanes General Manager Peter Anholt raved about Cozens when asked, but mostly about his character.
“First of all, it’s his personality and the type of person he is. He’s got no sense of entitlement whatsoever, he just comes to the play, earns everything he gets but he’s such a special player too,” Anholt stated.
He also broke down what makes Cozens so dangerous on the ice.
“He’s got fantastic skill, he sees the ice good, his hockey sense is good, and he loves to play the game,” Anholt continued. “He’s one of the last guys on the ice on any given day, and you have the chase him off the ice to get him to leave.”
Anholt called Cozens a special player, who showed it as a 15-year-old when he joined the Hurricanes in the playoffs [in 2016-17] and he continues to do it.
So just how important is Cozens to the Hurricanes moving forward?
“Big. We’re fortunate that we have a pretty good group coming back. Cozens, Bellerive, Barlage and Addison, those guys continue to be the cornerstones of our franchise and he’s a big part of that.