A Whitehorse teen with what his dad calls a "relentless determination" to succeed, heads to Lethbridge, Alta., next week to begin his first full season in the Western Hockey League.
Dylan Cozens was the first Yukon-born player drafted in the first round of the WHL bantam draft. The 16-year-old was a stand-out player for the Lethbridge Hurricanes during their playoff run last spring, but he didn't play a full season with the team due to being underage for most of the season.
He became a fan favourite after scoring the tying goal in game 7 of the second-round with 2:43 left in the game. The Hurricanes went on to win the round with an overtime goal.
Overall Cozens had three goals and five assists in 12 playoff games.
Cozens was invited to a Hockey Canada camp this summer which could lead to him playing for Canada at the under-17 world championship this November.
That will depend in part on how he plays after the Hurricane's season starts in September.
Cozens says his plan for this season with the Hurricanes is to focus on his game.
"A couple guys talked to me and they told me in their rookie seasons, they started worrying too much about coaches and ice-time and stuff," he said.
"So that helps me a lot and to just know not to worry about that, and just always be focusing on the end goal and just keep working as hard as a I can, playing my best."
The end goal, he said, is the NHL, just like for every other player.
Dylan's dad, Mike Cozens, said his son was skating at three and playing hockey at five.
Mike said Dylan was competitive from the moment he went out on the ice with a stick and has never let up.
His desire to do better was one of the reasons Dylan approached his parents at age 14 with a request to move south for the hockey season where he could play with youngsters his own age and skill level.
Dylan's mom, Sue Bogle, said it was an act of faith for her to let him go.
"At the end of the day, I just felt it was something he was passionate about, and I didn't want us to have regrets, if it doesn't work out, we can always bring him home," she said.
"But it just seemed it was the right thing to do after really a lot of soul searching, and you know I haven't regretted it at all," said Bogle.
Mike said motivation has not been an issue for his son, but moving away has honed his self-reliance.
"With the decision to move, he realized we're not the ones to push, we can't push him, he's got to push himself and make those decisions and that's been a big maturing step for him," said Cozens.