Portland Winterhawks/Keith Dwiggins

Kozak continues WHL preparation in Manitoba

 

Tyson Kozak was drafted by the Dauphin Kings 13th overall in the 2017 Manitoba Junior Hockey League U-15 Draft. This came after he scored 28 goals and had 29 assists in just 36 games with the Southwest U-15 Cougars in the Winnipeg AAA Hockey League.

The 57 points were 33 more than he scored in the previous season. He was also drafted 121st overall by the Portland Winterhawks in that year.

Kozak moved on to play with the Cougars U-18 team of the Manitoba AAA Hockey League, a team he played 94 games with (including the playoffs). In his first season with that team, he scored 10 goals and had 35 points. He followed that up with an all-star campaign as he tallied 26 goals and 46 assists.

The now 17-year-old, who will turn 18 on December 29, also made his debut with the Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League in 2018-19 and he played in nine games, four of which came in the playoffs.

Ultimately his 72 point season with Southwest was his final in the Manitoba U-18 Hockey League as he earned his spot as a full-time Winterhawk for the 2019-2020 season. It ended up being a very productive rookie season for the young man as he scored 13 times and also added 16 assists.

“I definitely feel that I exceeded what I thought I was going to do with them,” said Kozak. “It was a great year and I had a ton of fun.”

Photo – Portland Winterhawks/Kendra Frankle

Before everything was shut down last year because of the novel coronavirus, the Winterhawks were the class of the WHL. They finished the season with a 45-11-3-4 record as they won more games than any team — they won the U.S. Division by one point over Everett — and they were crowned regular-season champions. In the team’s final game back on March 8, Tyson scored one goal in a 4-1 win against the Victoria Royals.

“We knew we were going to be a good team. With that said, I don’t think we expected to be that good,” offered Kozak.

Dauphin bound:

Kozak was ready to return to Portland for his second season and that will happen; however, he is taking a detour. The WHL previously announced that it had granted temporary transfers to WHL roster players. This meant players on WHL teams were allowed to play at the Junior A, Junior B, or U-18 level until December 20.

Players would then return to their respective teams ahead of the season-opening on January 8, 2021. The league has also announced that the new season will be divisional play only. That means Kozak and the Winterhawks will play alongside Seattle, Everett, Tri-City, and Spokane.

Tyson Kozak (Photo- Brian Liesse)

Now we go back to the start. Because Kozak was drafted by the Dauphin Kings back in 2017, he would be able to join them and that is exactly what he has done. The Souris native arrived in Dauphin earlier this week and was on the ice for his first practice with his new team back on Wednesday.

“Things are going very well. I’m getting to know the guys and everyone has welcomed me with open arms so all is good,” said Kozak.

Dauphin returned to the ice in-game action this Saturday and Sunday when they face the OCN Blizzard in a pair of games at Credit Union Place.

“It’s very exciting to be back preparing for a game. I’ve been on the ice for a while, but it hasn’t been to get ready for a game,” mentioned Kozak. “Everyone seems pretty motivated to get back in game action this weekend and it’s really exciting.”

(Photo credit – Dauphin Kings) Tyson joins the Kings ahead of a busy weekend.

When it comes to Tyson’s expectations with Dauphin, it’s all about winning with his new team. He helped Portland last year to the best record in the WHL. Dauphin enters this weekend’s play with a 3-2 record. OCN; meanwhile, is the only winless team in the Northwest Division at 0-4-1. They trail the Swan Valley Stampeders who are 5-1.

“I just want to play a full 200-foot game. It’s all about the team winning, I just want to have a good year with this team,” ended Kozak. “We have a great group of guys and we’re ready to make some noise moving forward as the team did a couple of times before I got here.”

Five facts about Kozak:

  1. He loves to play golf and baseball in the summer.
  2. His favourite professional sports teams are the Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Blue Jays, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Toronto Raptors, and New England Patriots.
  3. His favourite cheat meal is apple pie.
  4. Country music is his favourite.
  5. He doesn’t really have a pregame ritual, he just has a nap and tapes his stick.

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