Lee credits star athlete mom for his hockey success

BROOKS, Alta. - Chong Min Lee has emerged as a scoring threat in the playoffs for the Prince George Spruce Kings and has been one of the team's most dependable forwards this week in the national junior A hockey championship.

Through four games, he had two goals and two assists with his team heading in the right direction as they prepare for a semifinal clash Saturday with the Oakville Blades.

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The 20-year-old Lee has gained a reputation as a tremendous shifty skater who is difficult to knock off the puck and together on a line with the Poisson brothers, Ben and Nick, they've been an effective combination.

Lee comes by his athleticism honestly. His 22-year-old brother Chong Hyun played two years in the BCHL with the Spruce Kings from 2015-17 and has played internationally in Korea in the IIHF world championship.

Their mom, Choi Kyung-hee, is a former basketball player who played 10 years professionally in South Korea as a national team shooting guard. In 1984, she helped South Korea to a silver medal at the 1984 Olympics and was also with the team at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, her Korean hometown.

"It's great that my mom's such a good athlete, she's supported me well and that's the biggest part," said Chong Min, whose mom made the trip to Brooks from Seoul to cheer on the Spruce Kings. "She taught me about the importance of sleep and how to eat properly."

Choi says her best years came later in her career, when she was the MVP for Korea in a gold-medal run at the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing, after winning a silver medal at the 1986 Asian Games in Seoul.

Korea lost to the host United States in 1984 in Los Angeles. Just getting that far was a huge surprise. She was just 19, the youngest player on her team.

"I wasn't expecting to win the Olympic silver medal, it was amazing," said Choi. "We had a big parade through Seoul when we came home. For me, the 1990 win at the Asian Games was better, because I was one of the best players on the team."

She has four children, three boys and one girl, and all four played hockey.

Chong Min played basketball for a few years but turned to hockey full-time in Korea, before he came to Canada five years ago to live with his agent in Port Coquitlam.

He scored the winning goal in the third period of Game 6 in the Doyle Cup final on May 4 in Prince George. Choi wasn't there to join the celebration but she watched the game on her computer.

This is the second time Choi has been there to watch her son play live with the Kings. In March, she followed the team in the first two playoff series with Coquitlam and Chilliwack.

"Canada is a good environment for Chong Min to play hockey, the people are very nice here," she said. "It's really exciting to watch his games, they don't play like that in Korea, it's so intense. I was worried about how he would adapt to this team and his teammates but now he's doing so well. The start of the season was tough, for the first half, but now he's doing so well and I am proud of him."

Lee has been approached by a few NCAA schools and is getting closer to deciding on a scholarship offer. He will likely defer until after his final season of junior eligibility.

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