Samanski pursues hockey dream in Canada

[audio:|titles=PatrikSamanskiFinalPodcast]At the age of 15, Patrik Samanski left his friends and family behind and flew more than 6,000 kilometres to follow his dream of becoming a professional hockey player.

Samanski, a native of Erding, Germany, is currently playing for the minor midget Toronto Red Wings of the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL), arguably the best minor hockey association in the world.

“In Germany everybody wants to come play over here, it’s just so much better,” Samanski said. “It’s getting bigger over there too. In the older years you couldn’t really go to North America, but now it’s getting easier.”

A brief glance at the early years of NHL stars such as Jason Spezza, Rick Nash, John Tavares and Mike Cammalleri attests to the quality of prospects that flow through the GTHL pipeline.

“I’m always trying to compare myself,” he said. “I never got to see them play here, but you can see that it’s possible [to succeed at the next level].”

According to his coach, Cosmo Nardone, who has spent 35 years behind the bench, Samanski has the potential to follow in the footsteps of former GTHL standouts.

“He does all the little things that you as a coach lose your mind trying to tell people to do over and over again,” he said. “He just has it. He had it when he got here, his dad probably taught him.”

Patrik’s father is John Samanski, a former Ontario Hockey Association forward for the Oshawa Generals and NCAA star for Bowling Green State University.

After a brief stint in the International Hockey League (IHL), the elder Samanski packed his bags and moved to Germany, where he went on to have a spectacular 14-year career, scoring 395 goals and 895 points.

Whether it’s genetics or good teaching, the 6-foot-1 centre possesses the tools to succeed at the next level.

“Just coming from another country and coming here at that age is something special—the kid can play,” Nardone said. “He’s got good size, a little thin, but he’ll grow and get bigger. He’s got good hands, good vision, plays both ends of the ice and is just a complete team player.”

Samanski is humble in the praise he receives and understands that hard work is necessary if he plans to fulfill his goal of playing in the Ontario Hockey League.

“I want to get bigger and try and be more dominant, just try and be more confident in myself and make more happen,” he said.

“I work out pretty much everyday, I don’t have practice and just play hockey as much as I can.”

Nardone is confident the hard work will pay off and believes Samanski could be among the top players in the GTHL come season’s end.

And if that’s the case, reaching the next level could come as early as next season.

“If they look at him well enough, I think he could go in the first round [of the OHL priority selection],” Nardone said. “He could definitely be a star at the next level.”

The biggest reason according to his coach: “He’s got this,” Nardone said as he pointed to his head,  “and you can’t teach that.”