Cozens reflects on first career goal

Buffalo Sabres

Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens, left, celebrates his goal with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen (55) during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – It’s the moment every hockey player dreams about, scoring their first NHL goal. Dylan Cozens accomplished that feat on Friday against the Capitals, sending one to the back of the net for the first time since joining the Sabres.

“Obviously a lot of excitement,” Cozens said. “It’s something I’ve dreamed about my whole life. To finally put one in the back of the net, it’s exciting.”

Cozens scored just beyond the halfway mark of the second period. He stole the puck from a Capitals player in the neutral zone, then took it the rest of the way before shooting it past goaltender Vitek Vanecek.

“I saw a couple of other guys coming down,” Cozens said. “I saw them as options to pass to and then I just took one quick look at the net, saw my spot and just kind of let it go.”

From there it was time to celebrate.

“I don’t remember too much, kind of blacked out a bit, but it found its way in,” Cozens said.

Coach Ralph Krueger called it a “Grade-A goal.” It was a special moment for the young man, and one that his teammates loved to see as well.

“They were great,” Cozens said. “They were obviously all happy for me. They’ve been there too so they know how it feels. They were excited for me, but at the same time it’s still the middle of the game, tie game, we’ve still got a job to do. Excited, but we’ve got to get back to it.”

“The whole bench really was ecstatic,” Krueger said. “It’s a special moment when you see somebody with that skillset and that future with the Buffalo Sabres, you know that’s a historic moment and he couldn’t stop smiling the rest of the game.”

“It’s always great to see a young guy score his first goal or anybody score their first goal in this league no matter who they are,” teammate Eric Staal said. “Obviously Dylan is going to be a very good player for a very long time in this league. To see the joy on his face and the excitement there, obviously a big goal at the time. Great play by him, hopefully he continues to make strides and take steps. He’s learning every day and it was fun to see him get the one.”

His first phone call after the game? A no-brainer.

“Definitely my parents, that’s an easy one,” Cozens said.

The Sabres fell 4-3 in shootouts. Now they get ready for a Sunday matchup with the Capitals at 3 p.m.

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