It’s not often a 19-year-old goaltender would consider vying for a backup job in the Western Hockey League, but Luke Lee-Knight is doing just that with the Tri-City Americans.
“During the summer, (Americans general manager) Bob Tory called me up and asked if I wanted to come to camp,” Lee-Knight said. “I jumped at the chance. Tri-City has been a great team lately. It’s nice to go to a good team and compete for a job.”
With Eric Comrie, 17, penciled in as the starter with permanent ink, Calgary native Lee-Knight knows he will have work hard to beat out Winnipeg, Manitoba, native Brendan Fiebelkorn, 18, who played for the Winnipeg Thrashers AAA midget team last season.
“I like competition,” Lee-Knight said. “I know Eric is a good kid and I want to be pushed by him, and I want to push him.”
Comrie, Lee-Knight, Fiebelkorn and 15-year-old Evan Sarthou are on the roster for this weekend’s Everett Tournament.
“The goalie situation is still in the infancy process,” Tory said. “No need to speculate now.”
Lee-Knight played sparingly with Spokane and Prince Albert last year, appearing in 22 games. He was 2-4-2-1, with a 4.82 goals against average and a .841 save percentage. He said he was ready for a change of scenery.
“This was at the top of my list of places to play,” he said. “If the opportunity arises, I will be ready. (Goalie coach) Lyle (Mast) has a good reputation from what I’ve heard, and I look forward to working with him.”
Lee-Knight said there’s only one drawback to the Tri-Cities.
“There’s no Tim Horton’s,” he said of Canada’s favorite coffee.
Main Camp: The Americans played their last scrimmage Wednesday, and will take today to prepare for the Everett tournament.
“It has been good,” Tory said of main camp. “We’ll get a better read after Everett, and our tournament will give us a better indication of where we are.”
The Americans trimmed their roster to 34 on Wednesday. That list includes four players from May’s WHL bantam draft, who will be heading home after the Everett Tournament.
The roster also includes Swedish forward Malte Strömwall, who has not yet arrived at camp, and forward Jesse Mychan, who still is getting back into the flow of things after having his Achilles’ tendon severed last year in the first round of the playoffs against Everett.
“Mychan is ahead of schedule and we are happy with his progress,” Tory said. “Malte will get here when his visa is approved. You have to follow government regulations.”
Tory said Mychan and overage forward Patrick Holland would not play in the Everett Tournament.