It’s not unusual to see players from around the world in the USPHL, but the path taken by Kent Lee, who played this past season with the Philadelphia Hockey Club Premier and NCDC squads, was a bit unique.
He took full advantage of all of his experiences, turning it into a commitment to King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., beginning in September.
“I am ready to start my college career under Coach [Tom] Seravalli for King’s College,” said Lee. “I am super excited for this opportunity. I started talking to coach Seravalli when I started playing for the Premier squad and he showed a lot of interest in me, and he was someone who believed in what I had.
“I always had success when I was under a coach who believed in my game and my abilities, and I knew choosing King’s and Coach Seravalli was not a mistake. I am excited to step right in and start where I left off,” said Lee. “I will be majoring in business since their business program is elite.”
Son of a pilot in the United States Navy, Lee spent most of his early years in Asia but came to one of the most famous Prep Schools in the nation to get his hockey career a jump start in his high school years.
“I tell people I am from Misawa, Japan, but I was actually born in Guam [a U.S. Territory],” said Lee in an e-mail interview. “My father served his time as a pilot in the U.S. Navy for 20 years and during his time, he was assigned to be stationed in different bases throughout the world. Guam, San Diego, Yokosuka, and Misawa. It just happens to be that my dad was stationed in Misawa the longest. which is why our family considers Misawa as home.”
The move to Japan occurred when Lee was 2 and he said he started playing hockey there at age 5. A decade later, his family invested in Lee’s hockey career, sending him to Shattuck St. Mary’s in Minnesota, where he has fond memories.
“Academic standards were high but if you put in the work, you succeeded,” Lee added. “Shattuck was great on and off the ice. I like to say they treated students like adults and gave us full responsibilities to succeed on our own.”
Drafted by a Tier 2 organization in 2019-20, Lee said it was difficult to crack the roster on a squad with a substantial number or returners. It was a tough experience, but Lee took what he could from it.
“It was definitely a learning experience and a really hard experience mentally,” said Lee who said in the off-season, a former teammate at Shattuck invited him to the Philadelphia Hockey Club’s NCDC camp.
“I was lucky enough to start my season with the NCDC squad. Unfortunately, my time with that squad did not last and I was put on waivers. I saw it coming and I always would watch the Premier team practice after my NCDC team, and I thought to myself I would really like to join this team and go far in playoffs and potentially win a championship. which finally led me to playing on the Premier squad.”
Lee finally felt comfortable, and it showed on the score sheet as he racked up 40 points in 25 games under Head Coach Adam Bartholomay, eventually becoming named a Mid-Atlantic Division All-Star earlier this month.
“The season I had under coach Bartholomay was awesome. I had a blast,” said Lee.
“I had a lot of great players to play with. Markus (Odermatt), Thomas (Odermatt), Kristers Klavins and Sterling Nash.” Ironically, the Odermatt brothers also call Japan home.
“I played with the Odermatts for a little bit, and we definitely had the Japanese connection,” said Lee. “I switched and played with Klavins and Nash and that was a blast as well. Those players are really good, and I give a lot of credit to them. With them it was about moving the puck and having hockey brains.”
The season was good, but the end came a little earlier than hoped for as the Elmira Jr. Enforcers wrestled second place away from the Philadelphia squad late in the season then used home ice to advantage in the second round of the postseason. As tough as that was, Lee is set to take the next step in his career at King’s College.
The USPHL congratulates Kent Lee, his family, the Philadelphia Hockey Club and King’s College for his commitment.