Landon Cowper: Making Kelowna Home
After watching fellow Whitehorse, YT resident Dylan Cozens play for the Lethbridge Hurricanes and work his way to becoming the seventh overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, Landon Cowper knew he wanted to follow in Cozens’s footsteps and play in the Western Hockey League.
“I grew up with Dylan’s younger brother, Luke, and we all got to watch him go through the WHL and be drafted into the NHL by Buffalo,” said Cowper in a phone interview with kelownarockets.com recently. “It was inspiring to all of us to see him do it, that’s who we want to be eventually.”
Just like Dylan, Cowper left Whitehorse to play in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League. Cowper’s journey took him to Kelowna, where he has played for the Pursuit of Excellence/RINK Hockey Academy since the 2019-20 season. The Cowper family ended up liking the Okanagan so much that they’ve now made it their second home.
“I moved here when I was 13 and billeted for my first two years, then my parents decided to move down here and we now live in Lake Country. It’s a lot easier of a transition for me, just because I get to stay in the city and live with my family. My dad still works up north the majority of the time, and I still go back home to visit.”
The 2021 WHL Prospects Draft was pushed back to December instead of May due to Covid-19. During the draft, the left-shot defenceman was selected in the fourth round (No. 69) by the Prince Albert Raiders. At the time the the 15-year-old had recorded five assists in 13 games with RINK’s U-18 team. By the end of the season, Cowper posted 13 points (1G, 12A) through 34 games.
He returned to RINK for his 16-year-old season during the 2022-23 campaign. On January 10, 2023, the WHL’s trade deadline, Cowper’s WHL playing rights were dealt to the Rockets from the Raiders in exchange for a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2025 WHL Prospects Draft. At the time the 16-year-old had appeared in 18 games for RINK’s U18 team, posting 16 points (1G, 15A) and 18 penalty minutes.
Exactly one month later, on February 10, Cowper signed a WHL Scholarship & Development Agreement and made his WHL debut that night against the Prince George Cougars, recording an assist.
In the end, Cowper appeared in seven games as a 16-year-old affiliate for the Rockets and was with the team for their playoff appearance. He said that while it was nerve-racking at times, he was able to learn from the team which has helped his development in the long run.
“I was definitely nervous playing as an affiliate, as a kid going through all of that would be. It was unreal though, all of the boys were awesome to me and I learned a lot, especially from the defencemen and the older guys.
“Specifically I learned a lot from Jackson DeSouza and Caden Price, both great d-men who are great in their own ways. Souz was great in terms of leadership, maturity and in the locker room he’s a great guy all around. On the ice he’s great on the defensive side of the puck, he blocks as many shots as they need him to and he’s great defending the puck. Price is great offensively and I’m very happy that I can learn from him in that category.”
With RINK, Cowper wrapped up the season with 22 points (2G, 20A) and 40 penalty minutes over 29 games. Known as a defenceman with an offensive upside, he talked about the challenges of this past season with his club team and how he’s willing to adapt his game to make the jump to the WHL.
“I do think I kind of got away from my offensive side of the puck for a little while playing U18 hockey last season, I’m glad I got back in with it towards the end of the year.
“I’m a team player and I’ll play wherever the Rockets want me to. I would obviously love to go back to my offensive game eventually once I’m trusted more and more and get put into those situations.”
Cowper has spent the offseason preparing to try and make a push for a roster spot with his adoptive hometown’s team.
“I’m excited but I’m definitely still very nervous, I didn’t get to go to Prince Albert’s camp last year so I don’t fully know what training camp is all about. I do hope that my on and off-ice abilities can help secure me a spot with the Rockets this season.
“I’ve been working on everything this summer, it’s just continuing to try and round out my game in order to jump up to the Western Hockey League for this season. The goal is to be able to play as many games as they want me to and put me as much as they can.”
Don’t miss a minute of the action this season with season tickets. Learn more about Rockets 2023-24 season tickets here.