Support from the North: Proud parents ready to cheer on son at world hockey juniors

·3 min read

Mike Cozens says his son has come a long way from the little kid in the kitchen with a hockey stick looking to play in their backyard rink in Whitehorse.

"It's hard to find words to describe what has really happened. Time flies," he said alongside his wife Sue Bogle from their home in Yukon's capital.

Their son, Dylan Cozens, will take to the ice in Edmonton on Boxing Day with Team Canada's world junior hockey team as it looks to defend its gold medal from last year's tournament in the Czech Republic. Dylan was announced alternative captain on Dec. 18.

Dylan was a member of that team as well, scoring twice and adding seven assists, with one of those goals coming during the 4-3 gold medal game against Russia.

"We had the privilege last year of going to the Czech Republic and watching Team Canada play and win gold. And it was just an incredible experience," Bogle said.

"Obviously, we'd love to be there in Edmonton. But at the same time, we know what that feeling is like … having been able to be there last year, and it's just amazing to be able to watch on TV and know what those boys are going through and experience the excitement even from our own living room."

Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press
Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press

She said it's been a long road for her son and the rest of the players, many of whom hadn't played a competitive game since the spring before Wednesday night's exhibition game against Russia. Canada won 1-0.

"It's been an interesting time for the boys," she said.

They had to quarantine in their Edmonton hotel for 14-days. But she said Dylan's spirits are good and he's excited to get back on the ice.

The pressure to win can weigh heavily on any athlete, especially when it comes to hockey in Canada.

But the parents say it's important to remember they are just teenagers.

"I think we need to remember that these are teenage boys and sometimes they get criticized or they get held up to a standard of professional athletes in their 20s and 30s and they're still kids," Cozens said.

George Maratos/CBC
George Maratos/CBC

He said there are no easy games and there are great players on every team. Plus, as has happened in the past, something unexpected can take place.

That's already the case with Team Canada. Before the tournament's round-robin games began, the team was already down its captain.

Kirby Dach will miss the world junior hockey championship after suffering a wrist injury during the exhibition game against Russia Wednesday night.

Cozens says Dach is a good friend of Dylan's and a great leader, so it puts a bit of a downer on things heading into the tournament.

Despite the setback, the family knows Dylan and the rest of the team has the country's support.

"We always feel the support from the Yukon and the North for Dylan and it's just great to see," Bogle said.

"I know he always feels it and it really helps him through all that stress and ups and downs."