Life as a rising NHL star can be intense. Between training and travelling, finding serenity and solace is essential. For Buffalo Sabres centre Dylan Cozens, spending summers staying active outdoors in his hometown of Whitehorse, Yukon is the ideal way to unplug and recharge.
Dylan’s Yukon upbringing is an iconic tale of endless hours spent on outdoor rinks with friends and in the backyard taking shots on the net with his dad. The warm, tightly knit Whitehorse community has been rooting for Dylan from day one, a support system he appreciates. Dubbed “the workhorse from Whitehorse” by commentators, Dylan’s proud of his roots.
“I’m very grateful for everything the community’s done for me. So, I want to show young, up-and-coming hockey players in the Yukon that it’s possible to make it when you’re from a small town.”
Photo credit: Buffalo Sabres.
Growing up in the quaint community, surrounded by remarkable terrain and thrilling adventure was enriching for Dylan. “My childhood revolved around being outdoors, fishing and hunting; and my life there still does. Every time I go back home, I try to get outside as much as possible.”
While he appreciates city life, Dylan’s heart remains in the vast and rugged Yukon landscape. “I don’t quite get to have the same experiences out east. So, I always appreciate going home and just getting out into the mountains with my family.”
Over the years, Dylan, his parents and siblings have bonded and built memories against the captivating backdrop of the Yukon wilderness. The shimmering waters of Kathleen Lake, set against the jaw-dropping Kluane mountain range is a go-to destination. “We try to get out to Kathleen Lake every summer; it’s a great spot for hiking, fishing and to simply appreciate the outdoors and nature.”
Whitehorse residents may be accustomed to having spaces like Kathleen Lake just a short drive from the city. Yet, for some of his fellow NHLers, there’s an element of mystery to Dylan’s upbringing and hometown.
“I get a lot of questions; some of the players think the Yukon is just a barren land of ice. They’re all pretty curious to see what it’s like for me up north. And some of them want to come up and get outdoors, too.”
Dylan thinks his peers would benefit from satisfying that sense of wonder with a visit to his home territory as a break from the hockey hustle and digital distractions. The 20-year-old appreciates the peaceful pause from the stress and pressure. “It’s an escape; there’s so much happening on social media. Our phones are such a big part of our lives nowadays. When you go up to the Yukon, you can get away from everything. This is especially good for kids my age. It’s what I love about going home. I get out there in the wilderness, in the mountains, with no service. I just enjoy what’s around me.”