All 20 players attending this week’s Prospect Development Camp have a unique story on how they got here.
Goalie Mike Lee's story goes from a small town in northern Minnesota to the Valley of the Sun, with a stop in Fargo, N.D. along the way.
Lee, a native of Roseau, Minn., was chosen by the Coyotes in the third round of last month’s NHL Entry Draft as the 91st overall pick. He spent last season stopping pucks for the USHL’s Fargo Force, winning 26 games with a 2.40 goals-against average and three shutouts. During the playoffs he went 7-3 with a 2.64 GAA.
|Goalie Mike Lee answers questions after Wednesday's workout at the Desert Schools Coyotes Center in Peoria. |
Lee’s beginnings in Roseau are interesting because, despite the town’s small size, it’s a place where hockey is king.
“It’s a small community that’s turned out so many great players," Lee said after Wednesday's workout at the Desert Schools Coyotes Center in Peoria. "It’s just an honor to come from there.”
Most notably, the Broten family hails from Roseau.
Lee spent three years playing high school hockey, winning the state championship as a sophomore. After his junior year of high school, he decided, after much deliberation, to play junior hockey for Fargo.
“It was tough," Lee said. "It was a big decision, and so far it’s the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life. To go, and leave home and leave our high school hockey-crazy town and go play juniors. It was a tough decision. But right now, looking back, it was definitely the right one.”
Despite being homesick at times, Lee said he enjoyed his tenure in the USHL.
“It was awesome," Lee said. "I loved it. Getting into a long season like that, a little more comparable to a pro hockey schedule. It’s just fun to play hockey all year round, get into a rhythm and play some games. It was a new experience for me.”
Lee will attend St. Cloud State University in the fall and play hockey there. But first, he’s starting his professional journey this week, in Arizona, in the middle of the summer.
“It was something that kind of hit me yesterday, walking out of the airport," Lee said. "I thought, ‘we’re not in Minnesota anymore.’ It’s good to come down here in the heart of the summer, get to ice skate. All in good fun.”