Oil Capitals blueliner Justin Lee has made a big decision on his hockey future and will be committing to the University of Denver Pioneers Division 1 men’s hockey team in the not-too-distant future.
“I’m so excited to have gotten a scholarship, it’s what I’ve been working towards and I’m thrilled about it,” Lee said. “Playing Division 1 hockey has been a dream of mine and I’m very fortunate. Words can’t describe how excited I am.”
Lee says the recruiting process went very well, adding that he travelled to Colorado recently to check out the campus and program, coming away impressed.
“It was just a great fit for me and Denver has a great program.”
He credited the Oil Capitals organization for their belief in him as a hockey player, thanking the organization from top to bottom for all they’ve done for him since he joined the team this past off-season.
“The season with the Oil Caps so far has helped me so much. All the support from everyone has been really helpful and great.”
Troy Leslie, head coach and GM of the Oil Capitals, says the organization couldn’t be happier for him.
“We’re really excited and very proud of him. With his approach to the game and how hard he works at it and how motivated he is to get better, I think he’s got a very good future ahead of him. We’re excited for him.”
Prior to joining the Oil Capitals, Lee was selected as a first team all-star defenceman at the prestigious Mac’s AAA midget hockey tournament this past season. The event included teams from Canada, U.S. and Europe. In December, Lee was named to the Team Canada West selection camp roster, taking part in practices and games as part of the evaluation process for the World Junior A Challenge, which took place later that month. Although Lee didn’t make the Team Canada West roster, he certainly left an impression, says Leslie.
Jamie Hodson, director of business and hockey operations for the Oil Capitals, says for Lee, the college route was where he aspired to end up and the fact that he ended up committing to where he did, with the University of Denver, shows just how much hard work Lee has put into the process of reaching that goal.
“Justin is dialed in accomplishing his goals and has a vision of where he wants to be as a player. From a hockey standpoint, he’s stepped in this year and as a rookie, he’s really been one of the top defencemen not only for our team but the whole league.”
Hodson says the Lee family has been very professional and have done a great job in being patient, making sure Justin’s decision to commit to the University of Denver was the right choice for him.
Hodson went on to say that Lee does “everything the right way” on the ice.
“He’s very competitive and he doesn’t back down from anything,” he said. “He doesn’t shy away from physicality, and his offensive upside has really taken him to an even higher level of play. He’s everything you want in a top tier defenceman.”
Hodson says having a player of Lee’s ability committing to a Division 1 program speaks volumes to not only the Oil Caps but the Manitoba Junior Hockey League as well.
“It shows the league’s continual progress in terms of developing talented hockey players into the college and major junior routes. But at the end of the day, Justin has accomplished this, and we have been along for the ride in helping him get to where he wants to be and hopefully it’s only the beginning for him.”
The University of Denver Pioneers men’s hockey team is a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1 program and are a member of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. The Pioneers, who play their home games at Magness Arena in Denver, Colorado, won their eighth NCAA national championship this past season.