by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips
Type in the name Payton Lee on eBay and you will find 34 hockey cards for sale.
The highest price listed is for a "2013-14 Goalie Graph #A-PL Payton Lee Giants Autographed Card jh6" which has a buying purchase of $14.99.
When informed of the price of the card, Payton Lee, now a second-year goalie with the SAIT Trojans of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) replied: "I had no idea about that but it is pretty funny."
"The first time it happened (a card produced of him) was when I was with the Vancouver Giants (Western Hockey League) and it was pretty cool because growing up that's what kid's dream of, so it was pretty special.
"They gave a stack of them to you, so you could hand them out when you went to schools."
A native of British Columbia, Lee would play...count em'...five seasons in the WHL with the majority of time spent with the Vancouver Giants franchise with cups of coffee for the Edmonton Oil Kings and Kootenay Ice.
A career away from home which started at the age of 14, leaving home to attend the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy in Kelowna, B.C.
"It was obviously a big commitment to make that and definitely what I wanted to do and I grew up pretty quickly and it was a good life experience."
To ebb any home sickness, Lee was fortunate to have his grandparents residing in Kelowna.
"They always came out and watched games and were there to support me," recalls Lee, now 22 years-of-age, of his grandparents Jim and Jackie Lee.
Lee also credits his father Jamie Lee as a major influence.
"My dad coached me growing up in Cranbrook and I learned a lot of work ethic from him," said Lee, of his father who is a heavy duty mechanic. "Having your father as coach, you are held accountable and I always had to be the hardest worker on the team and that was obviously beneficial to my development as well."
Living away from home may prove difficult at times though for a young teenager.
"When I was 16 and going into my 17th year, my parents were splitting up and that was hard for me and challenging."
"I didn't blame myself though but it was pretty hard to understand. You know what is happening but it is hard. It is part of life and you learn from it and go on."
Go on indeed, as Lee would claim ACAC Rookie of the Year honours last year 2017-2018.
"That was pretty special," said Lee, who minded the net for 1,669 minutes during 27 regular season games, posting 17 wins, 9 losses and 1 tie with only 76 goals against for a 2.73 goals against average.
"Being able to balance school and hockey is always challenging, so it was pretty awesome to be recognized."
"Payton stepped in this season and immediately showed why he was one of head coach Dan Olsen's most sought-after recruits in the off-season," said Wade Kolmel, SAIT Athletics and Recreation Director in a media release. "We are looking forward to seeing him grow as a student athlete at SAIT."
Of his time so far at SAIT, Lee says, "Being here at SAIT, it is definitely a time in my life that I will remember for a long time. I have met a lot of special people here at SAIT and in Calgary. It was the right choice for me."
An avid outdoorsman who enjoys, "hunting, fishing and hiking," Lee has left his options open for a possible future career in professional hockey.
"I still think about it," said Lee. "But I wanted to use my WHL scholarship money to get an education first and then evaluate that after I am done."
Lee said, aside from a broken finger, he has "been pretty blessed to be healthy" with no major injuries.
Lee, standing 6-foot-1, has played a major factor in the Trojans performance so far in 2018-2019.
They currently sit in second place behind the NAIT Ooks with a record of 14 wins and 5 losses. The Ooks are 15 wins and 5 losses.
He is fourth in goals against average, save percentage, saves and win percentage at 2.99,.916, 424 and .692 respectively.
(Photo by Billie Barrett/The Press)