Oct 6, 2022

By Suzie Cool


“No, I really wasn't,” stated Rochester Americans head coach Seth Appert when asked if newcomer Tyson Kozak’s performances at Buffalo Sabres Development Camp and Prospects Challenge were unexpected. “Our coaching staff started seeing it last year at rookie camp and then again this summer at Prospects Challenge.”


In the first game of the 2022 Prospects Challenge, Kozak began to shine immediately with his first of two multi-goal performances in the annual fall event and, to be honest, he really didn’t look like he was a seventh-round selection in the 2021 NHL Draft. Instead, with the performances the Amerks rookie put up last month you’d think Kozak might’ve went in the top three rounds.


“Coming into the Prospects Challenge, I didn't really get the full experience my first time,” explained Kozak when asked what his offseason showings proved to himself about his game. “I kind of just took it day by day, tried not to get too ahead of myself and just tried to play the best I could in practice and in the games and it worked out.”


Kozak went on to tally four goals in three games, one of them coming shorthanded, and this was more than enough ammunition for the Amerks bench boss to get really excited about coaching Kozak going into the 2022-23 campaign.


“I do believe that Tyson is one of those players that he looks better to a coach than to scouts and fans because he isn't always this flashy, but he's got hard skill, he's got transferable skill, he has skills that are going to allow him to become a great pro and to push towards the National Hockey League.”


Appert continued with, “Our coaching staff had a real strong belief in him right away and that is only continued to grow as we get more time with him.”


The praise that followed Prospects Challenge has continued in Amerks Training Camp, and for Kozak it’s surreal to hear such unbelievable feedback from his new coaching staff.


“It was kind of surreal to hear all that feedback from guys like them. So, it felt really good to get that kind of recognition and it definitely makes the transition from junior to pro a lot easier. Having the coaching staff and all the guys here, they're very welcoming.”


After being drafted last summer, Kozak went on to complete his third full season with the Portland Winterhawks (WHL), tallying 69 points on 32 goals and 37 assists. Kozak spent much of the 2021-22 campaign playing the role as a top-line center while appearing in 66 games and transforming his game to being more of an “offensive-minded” forward rather than defensive.


Kozak signed his three-year, entry-level contract with Buffalo on August 19, 2022, and is looking to take his first year in the pros one day at a time.


“Just take it day by day,” explained Kozak when asked what he’s expecting from himself in his first season in the pros. “I’m going to put my best foot forward each day in practice and each game. If I have a bad game, not get down on myself. Just keep working and keep going

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