Dylan Cozens was selected seventh overall by the Buffalo Sabres at the NHL draft on Friday, making him the first Yukon product to be picked in the opening round.
The six-foot-three centre from Whitehorse spent the last two full seasons playing for the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the Western Hockey League.
WATCH | Cozens became 1st person born in Yukon to be drafted in 1st round
After putting up 53 points as a rookie in the WHL, Cozens recorded 34 goals and 50 assists in 68 games in 2018-19.
The 18-year-old, who learned the game on a backyard rink that often stayed frozen from November to March, left home at 14 to pursue his hockey dream after running out of places to play in the territory.
The final straw came when he broke his leg in a game against men twice his age and double his size in a recreational league.
“We’re like, ‘This isn’t real hockey. We’ve got to get out of here,”‘ Cozens said this month of the conversations he had with his family following the injury. “‘I want to play in the NHL, and it’s not going to happen if I stay up here much longer.'”