By Woodard, Dale on December 3, 2019.
Like many hockey players growing up, the World Junior Championship was required viewing over the Christmas holidays for Dylan Cozens.
Now, the third-year forward for the Lethbridge Hurricanes will get a chance to be a part of it.
What’s better, Cozens will have a teammate joining him.
Cozens and Hurricanes defenceman Calen Addison were two of the 31 players named to Canada’s world junior hockey championship selection camp Monday afternoon.
Four goaltenders, 10 defencemen and 17 forwards will battle for spots on Canada’s roster at the selection camp, which runs Dec. 9 to 12 in Oakville, Ont.
As part of the selection process, the camp hopefuls will play two games against a USPORTS team Dec. 11 and 12.
The 2020 world juniors will be in Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic starting Boxing Day.
“It’s pretty exciting stuff,” said Cozens, who won gold with Team Canada at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Edmonton and also served as an alternate captain at the 2019 World Under-18 Hockey Championships. “To be invited to a camp like that to try out for the World Juniors to represent Canada, it’s pretty special. I remember being a kid and watching the World Juniors during Christmas, it was definitely the tournament I watched. So to have the chance to be a part of that is pretty special.”
This year’s camp will be Cozens’ first look at the selection camp, but marks a return for Addison, who attended last year’s selection camp, but didn’t make the final cut.
“Getting the invite last year was cool, but I didn’t make the team so that kind of stung a bit,” said Addison, who was selected in the second round and 53rd overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. “But when you get a second chance, it’s obviously huge and I want to make the most of my opportunity this year, for sure.
“It was huge being able to go last year and just understand what to expect coming into the camp this year and what to expect in the games against the USPORTS All-Stars.”
Selected seventh overall by the Buffalo Sabres at this year’s NHL Draft, Cozens has 18 goals and 40 points in 26 games this season, good for third in league scoring.
Coming into his fourth season with the Hurricanes, Addison has seven goals and 26 points in 27 games and is tied for second among defenceman in scoring, three points behind teammate Alex Cotton.
Addision has represented Canada at both the U-17 and U-18 levels and helped Canada win gold at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He represented Team WHL at the CIBC Canada Russia Series in November where he registered two points, including an overtime winning goal in Saskatoon.
He is joined by fellow defencemen Bowen Byram – a former Lethbridge Val Matteotti bantam AAA Golden Hawk – of the Vancouver Giants, Brandon Schneider of the Brandon Wheat Kings and Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs. Smith is one of three players from last year’s Canadian team.
“It’s the World Junior Team, so it’s the best players in the country,” said Addison. “Every player on there could make the team. It’s like that every year, so it’s going to be awesome competition.”
Cozens joins a list highlighted by Alexis Lafreniere of the Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Quinton Byfield of the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League.
The WHL will also be represented up front by Nolan Foote of the Kelowna Rockets and Peyton Krebs of the Winnipeg Ice.
For Cozens, there will be the familiar face on the blue-line.
“It’s so much nicer to get to go with a teammate,” said Cozens. “We’ve become best friends over the last couple of years. It’s nice to get to do this together and hopefully we can both be on that team and get to go experience that together.”
After last year’s selection camp, Addison was able to offer his teammate some insights.
“He said the camp is super-quick,” said Cozens. “You have a couple of days and they’re already making cuts. You have to go in and be ready to go right away and make a good impression because you could be gone in a couple of days.”
The Hurricanes are in Medicine Hat to take on the Tigers tonight at 7 p.m. and return to the Enmax Centre Wednesday at 7 p.m. when the Everett Silvertips come to town.
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