Dylan Cozens (6-foot-3, 180 pounds), No. 5 in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings of North American skaters eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver on June 21-22, is writing a monthly diary this season for NHL.com leading up to the draft. The 18-year-old forward had 84 points (34 goals, 50 assists) in 68 regular-season games in his second season with Lethbridge of the Western Hockey League. He had eight points (four goals, four assists) in seven WHL playoff games. Cozens is an alternate captain for Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Under-18 Championship in Sweden (April 18-28).
Hello ice hockey fans:
I'm very excited to be participating for Canada at the World Under-18 Championship in Sweden. It's going to be another great experience and opportunity to represent my country while going to Europe.
I was named an alternate captain and it'll be a huge honor to wear a letter for my country. I'm super excited for that and I hope to lead well. Leadership to me is the type of person you are on and off the ice. The character you have and how you carry yourself is a big thing. It's a player who puts his team before himself and isn't afraid to speak up in the locker room and just lead by example and is professional.
There's a ton of talented players here and the practices have gone well. Everyone is super-skilled and it's going to be fun to be part of this and play against all the other top players in the world in our age group. We're all excited for it.
It's an important tournament for us, personally, and for our country. It's the last opportunity we really get to show the scouts what we could do before the NHL Draft, but you just have to focus on playing for the team and try to make the most of it, personally. The biggest thing is putting the team first and that'll help everyone out in the end.
It was a tough way to end the season in Lethbridge in the WHL playoffs. We lost to Calgary in the first round in seven tough games. We had a good start, winning the opening two games. We came out hard and played well at home and then we went to [Scotiabank] Saddledome and lost both games. We didn't expect to lose those games and I think that's where we kind of got caught off guard.
That's when Calgary began to gain more confidence and began playing really well. We were battling hard, but they won Game 5 and we were down in the series 3-2. We had to go to their rink and win Game 6 to stay alive and we did, scoring with 33 seconds left to tie it (on a goal by Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman prospect Calen Addison) and then winning it in overtime (on a goal by Taylor Ross) to keep our season alive. We had to play Game 7 of the series at nearby Nicholas Sheran Arena in Lethbridge.
The men's curling championship was being held on our actual home ice at ENMAX Centre in Lethbridge at the time, so that's why we had to move the game to Sheran Arena. The curling championship was already scheduled well in advance. It was a smaller rink which wasn't ideal, but we had to adapt. You can't make excuses about that, and Calgary played well in winning 4-2 (including an empty-net goal with 19 seconds remaining). The Hitmen played a hard series, and it was disappointing for us to have our season end like that with the team we had.
Personally, I'm happy with the way the season went for me. There were some bumps in the road where I wasn't scoring a lot, but that happens to almost everyone, and it's just a part of the process. You can't worry about it if you're scoring or not scoring. You have to keep playing, remain even keel and I was pretty happy with how I handled myself this year with all the pressure with this being my draft year. I think I adapted well, stepped on the ice and played my game. I'm happy with the way the year went in Lethbridge and look forward to next season.
Until next month, thanks for reading!