This was written here 16 seasons ago. Jimmy Samuels of Las Vegas is now the GM of the ACHA D3 Kansas University hockey team – Lee




Las Vegas – There he was, skating in the big roller rink over at the Crystal Palace. He did the hokey pokey and the chicken dance and all of the other stuff kids do in skating school.

When the music stopped, Jimmy Samuels, age 3, took one more spin around the big rink. He went past the giant red NARCH sign, the one that gives all the news about the upcoming ‘World’s Greatest Hockey Tournament.”

He skated on unsteady yellow plastic wheels and took a long look at the blue Bauer sign, the brown V-Forms, CCM, Kuzak, Easton, Tour, Mission, Mister Sticky and all of the other hockey signs nailed to the wood boards.

“It’s big out there,” said Jimmy, when he eased off the rink and took a long look towards the video machines. He skated his hardest while making a move towards the Radikal Bikers video machine. He didn’t need any quarters, either. At age three, you don’t bother putting coins in. Jiggle the red and blue plastic handles and all of the motorcycles come to life, breathing fire on a blacktop highway.

The first time Jimmy Samuels ever came into this rink, he was fast asleep and gently carried in.

That was three years ago.

Mother Stacey had him in a blue baby basket, as teenage ‘Uncle Eddie’ Samuels was on the wood floor wearing a red and black Las Vegas Tour jersey and spending time fighting off over-heated defensemen.

The electric scoreboard buzzed, referees blew whistles, skaters thundered past, gates clanged.

The little one slept through that long-forgotten thriller.

For the recent holidays, Jimmy got a wood hockey stick, a few pucks, net and some official Mission roller blades which somehow, someway coach Larry Sanford was able to locate and deliver in time for Christmas.

Ever since, Jimmy has been a big Larry fan, saying “I want to play on Larry’s team.”

That’s going to happen some day.

But not right now.

There are more skating lessons to take. More hokey pokey and chicken dances. More getting used to the flow of the the skating.

Someday he’s going to skate so fast, he’ll be like the wind out there….and Jimmy Samuels won’t even need to hold onto Grandma Mary’s right hand as he skates around the big rink.