(WGR 550) – Dylan Cozens has played center or right wing for the Buffalo Sabres, but never on the left wing. That changed on Friday, as Cozens lined up on the left side for Team Canada on its top line at the IIHF World Championship.
Canada beat Germany, 5-3, in its opening game of the tournament. For 40 minutes of the game, Cozens was, by far, Canada’s best player.
It started just eight seconds into the game when Cozens got in quickly to steal the puck away from defenseman Moritz Seider of the Detroit Red Wings. He quickly passed it to Nicolas Roy of the Vegas Golden Knights, but goalie Philipp Grubauer of the Seattle Kraken made the save.
Just 22 seconds later, Roy set up Cozens for a great chance, but Grubauer was there again. Pierre-Luc Dubois was their center for the game, and scored two goals in the win.
On his first goal, Cozens and Dubois forced a turnover at the Germany blue with relentless pressure.
Dubois’ second goal was on a power play that Cozens started in the left circle. His cross-ice pass found Drake Batherson of the Ottawa Senators, who ripped a shot that went off of Roy and then Dubois before sliding past Grubauer.
During his 2021-22 season with the Winnipeg Jets, Dubois put up a career-high 28 goals.
Cozens played a total of 17:36, and was fast and tough to play against the whole game. Almost every shift he had, he was first in on the forecheck. Seeing him play like that had to put a smile on Don Granato’s face, who is there as an assistant coach with Team USA.
Cozens doesn’t kill penalties, so he didn’t play much in the third period. Canada gave Germany two long 5-on3’s in the period, and the Germans scored on both of them to make the game look closer than it was.
Vegas goaltender Logan Thompson had 18 saves for Canada, while Grubauer stopped 22 pucks.
Henri Jokiharju was supposed to play for the host team Finland, but the Finnish Ice Hockey Federation announced that the Sabres defenseman is out with COVID-19.
Finland did beat Norway, 5-0. Sabres 2011 first-round pick, and now Montreal Canadiens forward Joel Armia had a goal and an assist.
Team USA won its first round game, 4-1, over Latvia. Sabres winger John Hayden played a regular shift, playing 18:30 of ice-time, which is more than Cozens did for Canada.
Rasmus Dahlin and Rasmus Asplund have a Saturday morning game against Austria. It starts at 5:20 a.m. ET on the NHL Network.