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Sports archive for February 13, 2014

Cozens, Anderson skate onto WHL radar

Whitehorse is home to two of western Canada’s top hockey prospects, according to rankings published by Western Elite Hockey Prospects.

By Marcel Vander Wier on February 13, 2014 at 2:56 pm

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NO. 47 – Centre Bryce Anderson, 12, has six goals and 19 assists in 30 games with the Norcope Bantam A Mustangs this season. He is playing up an age group (left). NO. 2 – Forward Dylan Cozens, 13, has eight goals and five assists after 12 games with the Norcope Bantam A Mustangs this season. He has missed time with an injury. Photos courtesy GERRY PERRIER

Whitehorse is home to two of western Canada’s top hockey prospects, according to rankings published by Western Elite Hockey Prospects.

Dylan Cozens was ranked second, and Bryce Anderson was 47th on the list of 2001-born hockey players.

The website has been compiling rankings for young hockey prospects for the past five years, using their scouting staff and a network of Western Hockey League head scouts.

The two Norcope Bantam A Mustangs players were informed of the news following a team practice last week.

Cozens, who just turned 13 on Sunday, said he was surprised and inspired by how high he was ranked.

While the high-scoring right-winger has been ranked before when playing spring hockey, this time is different. This particular list has him ranked against top prospects from Whitehorse to Winnipeg.

“I want to work harder and push myself to get that top spot,” Cozens said in an interview with the Star at Better Bodies Whitehorse yesterday.

Both Cozens and Anderson still have two years of hockey before they become eligible for the WHL bantam draft.

Anderson, 12, also said he was surprised by his ranking, guessing he would be closer to 80. He too vowed to continue working hard.

The two youngsters are good friends off the ice, and linemates on it.

Anderson was Cozens’s centreman last fall when the duo led the Peewee A Mustangs to their first tournament championship of the season in Richmond, B.C.

Cozens scored 21 goals in that October tournament, with Anderson assisting on more than half of them. Not long after that showcase, the talented duo made the jump to the Bantam A Mustangs, led by head coach Martin Lawrie.

The coach said having the two Whitehorse-born players included in the rankings is a major deal.

“I think it’s something that definitely gets the kids on the radar,” Lawrie said yesterday.

“Most of these WHL teams are doing all they can to find somebody no one else is looking at. Quite often, these high-ranked kids are pretty easy to pick out.”

Lawrie said in the last two years, the only Yukon name included in the rankings was Jonas Leas, a 1999-born player.

The coach said he is glad to see a couple of Whitehorse players get their due.

Once a player is ranked, a lot of movement among the top prospects is unusual, Lawrie said.

“You look where Dylan’s ranked, he’s ranked where you’ve seen Jordy Bellerive, and Jansen Harkins before that,” 

Lawrie said. “This top handful, they’re usually pretty accurate with them.”

Bellerive is widely expected to go number one in this year’s WHL draft, while Harkins went second to the Prince George Cougars last year.

Cozens has watched the majority of this hockey season from the stands with his right leg in a cast after breaking his tibia and fibula in a rec hockey league game – an injury similar to the one incurred by Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos.

He recently laced up the skates again in practice and is hoping to return in time for provincials next month.

Cozens and Anderson have been playing against older players for the majority of their young careers, and this year has been no different.

The Bantam A Mustangs have recently returned to rec league play after taking some time to sort out insurance issues.

“They’ve always been the youngest guys, yet huge contributors,” Lawrie said.

The coach described Cozens as a “pure goalscorer,” armed with strength, skating ability and a nose for the net.

“When he throws things at the net, they go in,” Lawrie said. “Pucks go into the net for Dylan.”

Anderson, who turns 13 in March, is highly touted as a “200-foot hockey player” with a high hockey IQ.

“He can play in all situations,” Lawrie said. “He’s a very, very complete hockey player on both ends of the ice.”

Cozens, who attends classes at Whitehorse Elementary, is the oldest of three sons born to Mike Cozens and Sue Bogle.

Anderson, a Hidden Valley student, is the youngest of four for Blaine and Susan Anderson.

Both sets of parents said their boys’ talent is thanks to coaches such as Lawrie and off-ice trainers like Jakub Girousek.

Mike Cozens and Blaine Anderson also expressed thanks to the Whitehorse Minor Hockey Association for allowing their sons to play in divisions outside of their age group.

For the past two years, the two players have also competed in Alberta spring hockey for the Northern Alberta All-Stars X-Men and now Team Alberta, a team guided by Steve Serdachny, a skating and skills coach with the Edmonton Oilers.

Cozens and Anderson have been standout contributors against competitors of their own age group.

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