GLENDALE – It didn’t take very long for Mike Lee to set the bar high for his pro career.
Less than a month into his first season, Lee, one of several outstanding goaltending prospects within the Coyotes’ organization, was named the ECHL Goalie of the Week for his play with the Gwinnett Gladiators in the last full week of October.
“I was surprised,” Lee said when asked how he reacted to learning the news. “I didn’t find out until after practice on Wednesday when Coach (John) Wroblewski mentioned it in passing, but yeah, it’s pretty cool to be recognized individually like that. But I think, most importantly, it was a product of a good road trip for the whole team. We were able to pick up three wins in four games and spend a long, grueling week on the bus traveling through the state of Indiana. It was a good experience and, for me, a nice little welcome to life in the pros.”
Lee posted a 2-1-0 record, with one shutout, a 1.00 goals-against average and a .955 save percentage last week, and helped the Gladiators move into first place in the ECHL’s South Division. He stopped 17 shots to notch his first professional shutout in a 3-0 win at Evansville on Oct. 24. Then, on Oct. 26, he made 18 saves in a 4-2 win at Fort Wayne. He ended the week with a 29-save outing in a 1-0 loss to Fort Wayne the next night.
“We focused on our defense the past week and luckily we were able to get some goals with it,” Lee said. “Unfortunately, the game we lost we got shut out. The other goalie played a good game for Fort Wayne, but I thought all-around a lot of our guys fell into their groove and we started clicking as a unit.”
The Coyotes selected Lee 91st overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Before turning pro this season, Lee spent the previous three seasons at St. Cloud State, posting an overall record of 32-29-9 with four shutouts, a 2.65 goals-against average and a save percentage of .917.
Phoenix signed Lee to a three-year entry-level contract in March.
“I’ve enjoyed it a lot so far,” Lee said about his young pro career. “The one nice thing, I think, coming out of college is having a lot of time to yourself. So, now with this lifestyle, I can really focus on taking care of my body and preparing myself for a road trip like the one we just had… You have to take the hours that you’re not playing games to make sure your body is feeling good and you’re getting the right foods in you to make sure your body is ready to go come game time.”
Next up for Lee and the Gladiators is a three-game homestand that starts tonight.
Also on Lee’s calendar is some one-on-one time with Coyotes Goaltending Coach Sean Burke, who is in Gwinnett this week to watch Lee play.
“Sean Burke was with us at the AHL camp the entire time and it was so nice having someone with his experience there whenever we needed him,” Lee said. “He’s so personable and always knows what to say. He can pick out little things that he thinks he sees in your game that need fixing and that can be improved upon. I’m looking forward to working with him some more here this week.”
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