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San Jose’s Lee joins Cape Cod team for deep Nationals run By Joshua Boyd/


effrey Lee is confident in his Cape Cod Whalers organization that he can once again return and compete for a USA Hockey national championship. The ‘02 defenseman from San Jose, and his Whalers’ 16U Tier I teammates, were just two games away from reaching the game played for all the marbles in Grand Rapids, Mich., and he knows that the Scituate, Mass.-based program has what it takes to get him back there as an 18U player. “It’s a goal for a lot of players growing up,” said Lee. “It was a great team, a great group of guys. To go all the way to Nationals, that was probably one of my bigger moments of my career thus far.” The Whalers, who play in the EHF Selects split-season division of the USPHL, earned their way to the Nationals by winning the Massachusetts state championship last November. Once at Nationals, they swept their way through the round-robin portion of the April 3-8 tournament, going 3-0 against the Anaheim Jr. Ducks, Detroit Honeybaked and the Yale (Conn.) Jr. Bulldogs. In the end, it was the eventual national champion, the No. 3-ranked Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, that defeated the Whalers 2-0 in the April 6 quarterfinals and went on to win the title two days later against Yale. “I had connections with the Whalers after I met Mr. Beniers (Whalers coach Bob Beniers) three years

“Our team doesn’t stress too much on systems – ago when I played for a Jr. Bruins tournament team with his son Matt Beniers,” said Lee. “Mr. Beniers we’re allowed to do what we want with the puck,” said ended up becoming the coach for the Whalers. We Lee. “In terms of transitioning, it all came naturally. “That Whalers 16U team was probably the best I’ve had that bond and connection and he wanted me to played for. Every line was balanced, play for his team.” and I was comfortable passing the At the time, and up through the puck to anyone or receiving the puck 2017-18 season, Lee was playing from anyone.” for the San Jose Jr. Sharks. Moving Lee started skating at the age more than 3,000 miles east was a of 4, starting with figure skating but major decision for Jeffrey and the switching to hockey after he saw the Lee family. Luckily, they found Milton sport for the first time the next year. Academy, in Milton, Mass., a suburb Lee started out with the Califorof Boston. It was there he would nia Cougars, located in Cupertino, continue his academic and athletic career after playing as a freshman before moving on to play several years with the Sharp Shooters profor Archbishop Mitty High School in gram and then the Jr. Sharks before his home city. going east. “It was really a decision made by “That’s a great organization with my parents and I,” said Lee. “Milton good players, good coaches, a good is strong in academics and my parfacility,” said Lee. “I was able to creents wanted me to go to a strong academic school. It was a tough deci- Jeffrey Lee grew up playing for the Cali- ate connections and it stunk to leave fornia Cougars and San Jose Jr. Sharks sion, but the academics were there, before joining the Cape Cod Whalers of the people I developed bonds with. and the hockey was there. It was the USPHL’s EHF Selects division this For sure, playing for the Jr. Sharks had a great impact on me.” always in the back of my mind that I season. Photo/USPHL Lee is looking forward to a bright future ahead, would play for Cape Cod before and after.” Lee said that even before this season with Cape whatever it may hold. For now, he’s happy to be returnCod, he knew about half the kids on the team. Like ing for what should be a huge 2019-20 season for him them, he was given a lot of freedom to create on the ice. with Milton Academy and, of course, the Whalers.

Addition of ECEL competition bolsters Tahoe Prep slate By Greg Ball


ahoe Prep Hockey Academy took yet another major step in its development as one of the premier prep programs in North America recently when the academy announced that it will be playing next season in the Tier I East Coast Elite League (ECEL) as well as in the NAHL Prep League. The newest addition to the program’s schedule will give Tahoe Prep players exposure from Blaine, Minn., to Boston. “We already have the practice development model down, and we know it works,” said Chris Collins, the assistant coach for Tahoe’s prep team. “This opens the program to a national scale and gives our players exposure from the Midwest to the East Coast.” Collins said the competition in the NAHL Prep League - which Tahoe joined to start the 2018-19 season - was a mix of 18U and 16U Tier I teams. Joining the ECEL will bring games with strictly 18U Tier I teams and bigger, stronger, and faster competition. “We wanted to toughen up the schedule for the program and extend the season,’ Collins said. “This will emulate more of the experience of college sports and gives the players more substance and focus throughout the academic year. “This year was a great learning year for the boys. They had success but also saw there’s a lot of work to be done to meet their goals. It also taught us as coaches that we would rather have more games than too few.”

Tahoe Prep will be the second team from California in the ECEL as they join the Ontario Jr. Reign. “We are so delighted to expand into the West Coast market,” ECEL president Peter Alden said. “The Tahoe Prep Hockey Academy staff brings a high level of professionalism and their program is breaking the mold of a typical prep or youth program.”

Founded in 2013, the ECEL is a four-weekend showcase series that will provide maximum exposure for its member organizations and their players by playing in top venues in ideal scouting locations. Spread across the 15U, 16U and 18U divisions and represented by several of the top hockey organizations across the country, the ECEL “is the premier showcase series in the United States, unmatched in

its format and exposure opportunities,” according to the ECEL website. The ECEL has rapidly expanded within the last two years, adding 15 teams in that time period. Its 18U division has teams in New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, California, Colorado and a number of other states. It has quickly become a prime landing spot for players to get both the top competition and the most exposure to college and junior hockey coaches and scouts. “Our growth has been amazing to see, especially the last two years,” Alden said. “Our members and I are very excited to work with great operators and feel the level of competition is excellent. “The ECEL allows us to take our expertise running tournaments and showcases and apply it in a league setting. Having successfully run dozens of elite tournaments and showcases, we understand how best to provide a structure that offers quality competition and prime exposure for our member organizations and their players.” Tahoe Prep also announced this month the addition of their first international player with the signing of goalie Gian Burer from Switzerland. He is joining the program after an impressive season playing for the Rapperswil U20 in the Swiss Elite Junior League. Burer maintained a 1.77 GAA for the season with six shutouts and earned his league’s Most Valuable Player honors. “We are honored that Burer chose Tahoe as his path to pursue his dream to play NCAA hockey,” said Leo Fenn, Tahoe Prep’s president and head coach of the varsity team.


Profile for Rubber Hockey Magazines

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