Photo by Rena Laverty
Adam Samuelsson first picked up a hockey stick for a simple reason.
“I started to play because everyone played in my family,” he said, “so I gave it a try.”
He’s come a long way since starting the sport at age 4, and he’s had some strong role models to follow.
His dad, Ulf Samuelsson, played 19 years in the NHL and won two Stanley Cups as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Meanwhile, his oldest brother Philip won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2009 IIHF U18 Men’s World Championships and currently plays in the Carolina Hurricanes organization. His next brother, Henrik, played for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program in 2010-11 and is part of the Edmonton Oilers organization. And his sister Victoria plays on the women’s hockey team at Penn State.
“My mom [Jeanette] even started playing hockey for fun,” Adam Samuelsson said.
Following in their footsteps, Adam Samuelsson has thrived as well, and he just finished his Under-17 season with the NTDP.
“My dad has made a tremendous impact on my hockey career, but everyone is my family has, too,” Samuelsson said. “My sister helped me. We have practiced together for years. I have looked up to my older brothers — they have both been role models for me.
“Growing up, my dad was never my coach, but he would help out when he could with drills and tips. It was always fun to have him there.”
From his early days playing the sport in Rye, N.Y., Samuelsson was drawn to the blue line, and he’s been a defenseman pretty much ever since.
“I tried playing at forward, but I didn’t like it,” said Samuelsson, who is 6-foot-5 and 222 pounds. “I was always a taller guy in my age, and it seemed that the taller guys always played defense. I felt I could visualize more as a defenseman. Plus, I am taller, so I have a bigger reach with my stick. My stick is pretty long, so I’m always trying to get my stick on pucks.”
Samuelsson jumped at the opportunity to play at the NTDP, but that excitement turned to frustration as injuries cut his season to just nine games.
“It’s always tough to be out with an injury,” he said. “I tried to make the best of it. The coaches were really good. I was doing my rehab and trying to keep a positive mindset. I tried to be involved with the team as much as possible.”
Despite the injuries, Samuelsson plans to use this season as a learning experience as he heads into his U18 season.
“It will definitely help me mentally,” he said. “I look forward to finally being healthy, and I do not plan to take anything for granted. Before my injury, I definitely took my health for granted. I want to be 100 percent on the ice. I was able to return late in the season, but then I got reinjured and missed the last four games.”
Samuelsson is busy getting prepared for his second season with Team USA, which includes working with a new coach Seth Appert and, of course, trying to get healthy.
“I’m skating four times a week with the guys. Every day I getting better and getting stronger,” he said. “I definitely can see the improvement. Coach Appert really seems to care about us. His motto is to be part of the family, and that is what he is doing. I look forward to that next season.”
For many NTDP players, the program is their first opportunity to wear the red, white and blue Team USA sweater. That wasn’t the case for Samuelsson, though. He was a member of the U.S. team that captured the gold medal at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway.
“It was an unforgettable experience, and it was amazing to win the gold,” he said. “To be around the other athletes, such as the snowboarders and other sports, it was a special moment. It was great to get to know others.”
Following his time with the NTDP, Samuelsson plans to follow in his brother’s footsteps and continue his hockey career at Boston College.
“Since I was little, it has always been my dream school,” he said. “Philip was there, and he said it was the best two years. The campus, the rink, the coaches and the location — it just cannot get any better. I’m really excited to go there when I’m done here.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Photo by Rena Laverty
Favorite NHL Team
St. Louis Blues/New York Rangers
Favorite U.S. Born Player
Favorite TV Show
How I Met Your Mother
Favorite Activity Away from the Rink
Foosball with teammate Erik Middendorf (Middy)
Favorite Home-Cooked Meal
Homemade Chicken Parmesan