Whitehorse hockey star Dylan Cozens has made history.

The 18-year-old forward was selected seventh overall in the NHL entry draft Friday by the Buffalo Sabres, becoming the highest drafted player from Canada’s territories.

Cozens was selected at the draft in Vancouver, where he was accompanied by his family.

“It’s definitely very surreal, and just all the thoughts growing up about this moment and knowing that it only happens once, and I just want to enjoy it as much as I could,” he told reporters shortly after he was drafted.

Cozens became the first person born in the Yukon to be drafted in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft, on Friday night in Vancouver. 1:10

Among those who called Cozens was Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel.

“He congratulated me and told me to embrace the moment because it flies by,” Cozens said.

Cozens has spent the last two seasons playing for the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the Western Hockey League, scoring 84 points in 68 games last year.

He grew up in Whitehorse and still calls the Yukon capital home, representing the territory at the 2015 Canada Winter Games.

Cozens is used to making history when it comes to hockey in the territory — he is the first Whitehorse-born hockey player to be selected in the first round of the WHL bantam draft, and the only Yukoner to be named Western Hockey League rookie of the year. As well, no other Yukoner has played for Team Canada, and done so as an alternate captain.

Cozens, left, with his father, Mike Cozens, in Whitehorse this spring. While Mike Cozens is a longtime Chicago Blackhawks fans, both father and son told CBC News before draft day that they have no preference which NHL team selects him. (George Maratos/CBC)

Cozens grew up shooting pucks with his family in the backyard of their Whitehorse home. At the age of 14, he moved to British Columbia to further his hockey career.

He credited his parents with helping him reach this point.

“They sacrificed so much for me to get to this point, letting me move away at 14 years old,” he said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”

His parents, Mike Cozens and Sue Bogle, said they couldn’t be prouder of their son.

“It’s a bit surreal,” Mike Cozens told CBC News.

“I’m lost for words. Seems like only yesterday he was my little guy playing on the backyard rink.”





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