Photo by Rena Laverty
For Adam Samuelsson, it was his family and teammates that helped him through one of the most difficult seasons in his entire life.
After all, he played in only nine games due to injury.
“It was extremely tough last season,” he said. “I wanted to be out there with my teammates. It was very tough mentally. It was the first time I had an injury and I didn’t know how to handle it. It was difficult to accept that I would be out for the year. My billet family was very supportive and the team and coaches also supported me. It really showed me how much they cared.”
Samuelsson’s USA Hockey National Team Development Program teammates form an extended hockey family, but he has plenty of hockey ties within his immediate family as well. Father Ulf played in the National Hockey League for 19 years and won two Stanley Cups as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He currently serves as an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Adam’s oldest brother Philip won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2009 International Ice Hockey Federation U18 World Championships and currently plays in the Carolina Hurricanes organization. Henrik, next oldest, played for the NTDP in 2010-11 and is now playing for the Idaho Steelheads of the East Coast Hockey League. Sister Victoria plays women’s hockey at Penn State University.
It was his family that Samuelsson trained with this summer, also squeezing in a little time for some fun in their new San Diego home.
“I definitely worked hard over this past summer to get ready,” he said. “I trained with my family. My dad does the training stuff and I do my workouts with him. It was so much fun in California. We spent a lot of time together and went to the beach and golfing. It was really fun to be with my family.
“They have always been there for me, especially after such a tough year. I had left home and my comfort zone. It made me a stronger and better person after dealing with the injury.”
After all his struggles as a member of the Under-17 Team, the 6-foot-5, 204-pound blueliner has a far greater appreciation for his Under-18 year. He has skated in 38 games to date, tallying four goals and 17 points.
“It feels great to be out there with the guys,” he said. “I will never take my health for granted. I come to the rink with a smile and I’m happy to finally be healthy. It’s nice to be back on the ice.”
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Samuelsson and his U18 teammates are hosting the 2018 Five Nations Tournament at USA Hockey Arena this week. The Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden and the United States will compete for the title in round robin action. There’s a very simple formula that he knows his team needs to follow to be successful.
“We need to be prepared and we have to stick with it. We have to keep it simple and I hope that we can go in and play well and win the tournament,” he said. “There is nothing like it to wear the USA jersey. It is always an honor to wear the jersey. I’m reminded of this every day when I put it on, whether it is for practice or a game.”
It’s also extra special to Samuelsson to play at home in front of his family, friends and of course, the fans.
“We have had unbelievable fan support this season,” said Samuelsson. “It is amazing that our fans will be able to experience the tournament. Hopefully, they will come out to USA Hockey Arena to watch some great action. It’s the first time we have held the tournament here too.”
We have to keep it simple and I hope that we can go in and play well and win the tournament.
When it came time to pick his future college team, he was able to turn to his family for some advice on what would work best for him. It was his brother Philip that really helped him in his decision.
“[Boston College] has always been my dream school,” Adam said. “Philip went to BC and I asked him about the school and program. He said I should go there. Coach [Jerry] York, Coach [Greg] Brown and Coach [Mike] Ayers are great people and great coaches. I loved the campus and I get to play college hockey. I think it will be fun to go there.”
It’s also helping that he gets to play college competition this season so he will be prepared for next year.
Photo by Rena Laverty
“It’s definitely cool to see how fast college hockey is and to see how much older, stronger and faster the players are then us. It just shows us what we will be competing against next year,” he said.
For Samuelsson, no matter how tough it gets, he only needs to remember some simple words his dad told him. This advice resonates with him, each and every day.
“It is very simple,” he said on his dad’s wisdom. “You need to go out there and have fun. If you listen to the slogan, it is really your whole life and so far that is what I have been doing. I really love this game.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.