Best Friends on the ice – Eddie Del Grosso (left) and Eddie Samuels of Las Vegas.
Sunday, August 7, 2106
By Bob Wright
Friend of the Samuels Family
Las Vegas – Eddie Samuels, a star goal scorer for years and who is in the Vegas Hockey Hall of Fame, has passed. His family including father Lee Samuels and mother Mary Margaret plus brothers Ross Brown, Rich Samuels, Jimmy Samuels, sisters Shelly Cruz, Mary-Catherine Zurfluh and fiance Leilani, who are making funeral arrangements.
He grew up playing street roller hockey with his neighbor friend Travis Hackney in Las Vegas. Eddie’s mother Mary Margaret then spotted a large sign ‘Learn to Play Hockey‘ on the outside of Crystal Palace Roller Rink on North Rancho Drive. There Eddie, at age 9, met coaching legend Larry Sanford and within a year Eddie was playing in roller tournaments for the Las Vegas Roller Thunder. Larry was Eddie’s roller coach for years and their roller teams went to major tournaments including NARCh Regionals and Nationals.
Eddie played travel ice hockey at a young age in Las Vegas. As a bantam he was signed and played for a Jamie O’Leary-coached AA Vail, Colorado, Avalanche team which included Travis Roseberry and T.J. Craig of Las Vegas. They were called ‘The Vegas Connection’ on the ice.
In Las Vegas coach Rob Pallin took a 4-31 midget program and began constructing a national power. Coach Rob contacted out of town Las Vegas players including Josh Jasek who was in Riverside, Ca. and the two Eddie’s in San Diego.
In 2001-02 the Red Line Line of Josh Jasek, Adam Naglich and Eddie Samuels scored a team record 154 goals and had a team record 348 points on an AA Las Vegas Mustangs 60-11-3 team which won the Pacific District Championships and was the first Las Vegas team to play in the U.S. Nationals. Eddie led the team with 20 powerplay goals that historic season.
“Eddie was very young when he played on that Las Vegas team,” said coach Rob Pallin, in a telephone interview from Austria where he is coaching HC Innsbruck. “But he had a high compete level and a will to win. That was one one of the best lines ever in Las Vegas. I also considered the two Eddie’s – Samuels and Del Grosso – as my two younger brothers. They loved hockey so much and we had a lot of long talks about the game.”
The entire top line – Jasek, Naglich and Samuels – was recruited and signed by the BCHL Victoria Salsa. Two other Las Vegas teammates defenseman Justin Johnson and goalie Paul Lowden were also signed by Victoria. Eddie loved playing in the BCHL with all of the big crowds in historic arenas.
Before his start in junior hockey Eddie and Eddie Del Grosso skated for the AAA San Diego Jr Gulls who were coached by Rob Neumann.
“Eddie played very hard. He touched the lives of many,” said coach Rob Neumann who is now retired.
In junior hockey Eddie played for the NAHL Billings Jr Bulls where one of his teammates was his dear friend and goal scorer Will ‘Money’ Munson of San Diego. The following year Eddie played for legendary coach Rob Profitt of the NAHL Fairbanks Ice Dogs. Eddie was the Captain of the team. “Just spoke to Eddie last week. We spoke for a long time about hockey. I am crushed something like this could happen,” said Rob Proffitt.
Eddie had a scholarship offer from UConn but was injured in his final junior level game and never played on a high level again.
Adam Naglich said “I will never forget the times we had played together for the Mustangs in Las Vegas and the Victoria Salsa. I will always remember Eddie as the kid who always had a smile on his face, a player who loved the game so much.”
UNLV hockey coach Anthony Greener said “Eddie was a Las Vegas hockey kid who paved the way for a lot of the kids in the game today.
“Think of all of of the good things he did for our city.”
Eddie Samuels was in and out of hospitals for the last few months. His frequent visitors were Eddie Del Grosso and Rob Pallin.
Vegas Hockey HOF roller coach Larry Sanford – “I am so sorry to hear about Eddie. He was a great kid and I loved the time time we spent together. Eddie always brought back fond memories for me and I will miss him dearly. My love and condolences to his family.”
Star goal scorer Jeff Hajner of Las Vegas – “Eddie was so passionate about hockey, a great friend who would do anything for any one of his teammates when we were playing. I am sure Eddie is up in heaven making tape to tape passes the way he always did on the ice down here.”
Aaron Kinslow, former head coach of the WSHL Park City Moose (Eddie was an assistant coach) – “Eddie was very passionate as a coach, he loved the game, he related to our players very well, we worked great together. We were texting each other about hockey stuff just last week. I will miss him dearly.”
Las Vegas roller star Bret Watts – “I always enjoyed playing in the big roller games with Eddie. He loved the game. He left this world too early. Prayers and love to his family.”
Hockey dad Steve Allen – “My greatest hockey memories are of my son Jason and Eddie playing in the games. So sorry to hear this.”
WSHL Park City Moose skater Zach Jewby, who skated when Eddie was an assistant coach there, is making plans to take a flight and be at the funeral this week.
Coaches who have contacted Vegashockey.net about Eddie:
Anthony Greener, UNLV Head Coach
Aaron Kinslow, Head Coach, WSHL Park City Moose (Eddie was an assistant coach)
Derek Eisler, Head Coach, AAA San Jose Jr Sharks
Rob Neumann, Head Coach, AAA San Diego Jr Gulls
Rob Pallin, Head Coach, HC Innsbruck, Austria
Rob Proffitt, GM, NAHL Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Nick Robone, UNLV Assistant Coach
Larry Sanford, Vegas Hockey Hall of Fame roller coach at Crystal Palace, Las Vegas
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