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Dog watch: Kozun’s journey to becoming the athlete of the year

By in Sports & Health
U of S Huskies goalie Taran Kozun watches the puck on the stick of a Mount Royal Cougars player on Feb. 2, 2019 at Merlis Belsher Place. THE SHEAF/Piper Woytiuk

Taran Kozun put on his skates for the first time at the age of three, and he was playing hockey by the age of four. Little did he know it was only the beginning of a great career.

Kozun is a third-year Huskie player and the goaltender for the men’s hockey team. On March 25, he was nominated to be the U SPORTS Goaltender and Player of the Year after leading in every goalie category in the conference. On April 1 — and this is no April fool’s joke — he became the first player in U SPORTS history to receive both awards. 

For Kozun, it was a huge honour to claim the titles and to be thought of as the best player.

“I go in every year, hoping to be the best player of my position,” Kozun said. “For everybody to think that I was the best player in the league… It was just crazy to think that they thought that I’m there.”

Soon enough, he claimed another award on May 7 as the sixth Huskie Canada West Athlete of the Year. Kozun says he was shocked when he received the call about the award.

[I was] excited to hear that,” Kozun said. “You know, I got to tell the family and friends about that.”

But hockey is about more than the awards, fame or games for Kozun. Every Saturday when he was younger he and his brothers came together to watch hockey, even pretending to be the players they saw. Kozun remembers that they would go to an outdoor rink, skate around and shoot pucks.

“We just fell in love with the game,” Kozun said. 

These interactions with the game, like those he had with his brothers, only continued to grow. As he met more people and made new friends, the connections and the spirit of competition became more profound for him. That holds true today. 

“It makes the game more fun,” Kozun said. “You’re always competing against somebody you know.”

But being an athlete and a student comes with hardships. One of his challenges is making sure that he has enough time for his classes while being a Huskie player. 

“You’ve got to be able to manage your time well,” Kozun said. “Otherwise, you’re either going to struggle at one or the other, or both.”

This fall, Kozun will be coming back for his fourth year with the Huskies men’s hockey team. When asked about what tips he has for aspiring university hockey players, he says that the University of Saskatchewan is overall a great program and a great university to be in.

“We get treated really well and it’s an exciting place… We get tons of fans over at the games, which always makes a great atmosphere for when you’re playing,” Kozun said. 

“It gets your emotions up and excited to come to the game… We have a great group of guys who are excited to be here, to have our team bonding — we have a lot of fun together.”

Kozun continues to wow the hockey community with his achievements. On May 14, he was nominated for the 2020 Lieutenant Governor Athletic Award along with seven other players from across the country. The winner will be announced on June 25.

“Finding out [about it], it’s pretty cool to just even be in the running against those other great athletes,” Kozun said. “Whatever happens, happens.”

Whatever happens, Taran Kozun will go down as one of the greatest athletes this university has seen. 

J.C. Balicanta Narag | Editor-in-Chief

Photo: Piper Woytiuk

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