It was also a special day for USA Hockey. Unprecedented, in fact, according to the organization that oversees the more than 500,000 male and female hockey players in the nation.
That day, three members of the Samoskevich family – 21-year-old Melissa and 15-year-old twins Maddy and Mackie – became the first trio of siblings to wear the USA Hockey sweater at the same time.
Melissa wore the jersey in Calgary as a member of USA’s under-22 women’s select team, sister Maddy put it on for the U18 women’s select team (which was also in Calgary) and, across the pond, Mackie wore it as a member of USA’s U17 select boys team, which competed in the Five Nations Cup in Piestany, Slovakia.
“It’s a really great honour for all of us to wear the USA hockey sweater,” says Maddy, a defenceman. “We never really imagined something like this but, over the past few years, we all got better at our sport and we just love the game of hockey. That passion and grit to become better hockey players all made us be where we are today and we couldn’t be more honoured.”
The United States’ U18 team faced off against Canada in a three-game series in Calgary, with the Americans winning the opener 2-1 in overtime but dropping the next two games by scores of 4-3 and 5-4 (OT). Maddy and her teammates are attempting to make the final roster for the 2019 IIHF World Under-18 Women’s Championship which will take place January 6-13 in Japan.
Older sister Melissa, a forward, helped the American National Women’s Development Team – comprised of players aged 22 and under – win all three games against Canada’s development team by scores of 4-1, 3-1 and 2-1.
“It’s honestly crazy. You can’t really find words for it. Just ‘wow’,” says Melissa. “All of a sudden, it just happened. One day, you’re getting ready for a game, and I think ‘oh my sister has a game too, and my brother has a game too.’ And then you think ‘We’re all playing for USA.’ It’s really hard to find words for.”
Mackie, a forward, and his Team USA U17s went 2-2 at the Five Nations Cup, picking up wins against Switzerland and Slovakia and dropping games versus Czech Republic and Germany. Although the results weren’t what Mackie and his teammates wanted, he knows what he and his sisters have accomplished is special.
“It’s a good goal reached for us,” says Mackie. “This is all kind of a dream that we have all been striving for since we were little kids, just competing all our lives, whether it was in the back yard shooting pucks or on the ice. It’s an honour.”
For Melissa and Maddy, the week in Calgary gave each of them the chance to watch their sister play, which doesn’t happen often these days. Melissa is about to start her third season at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, which is less than an hour’s drive from the Samoskevich’s hometown of Sandy Hook, Connecticut.
Maddy and Mackie, however, both play hockey at Shattuck St. Mary’s in Faribault, Minnesota, located about half-way across the United States. Maddy and Mackie played for the U16 girls and boys Shattuck teams in 2017-18 and get to see each other a lot around the Shattuck campus and at each other’s games. Shattuck, a prep school, is well known for producing such hockey stars as Sidney Crosby and Zach Parise and American twin sisters Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux.
The eldest Samoskevich sibling, Melissa, was the first to play hockey and a big reason for that was her dad Fred, who is passionate about the sport. Fred played high school hockey and built a backyard rink at the Samoskevich home in Connecticut.
Melissa says her parents, Fred and Patty, are the ultimate hockey parents, racking up miles and miles on family vehicles and sacrificing many an early morning to shuttle their kids around from rink to rink. It has certainly paid off.
Melissa has played in two IIHF World Women’s U18 Championships, winning silver in 2014 and gold in 2015 and is a three-time member of the USA’s U22 development team. Melissa was also invited to try out for the US Olympic Team in April and May 2017. Although she didn’t crack the roster for the 2018 Olympics, the 2022 Olympics are certainly among her goals.
Maddy and Mackie seem to be following Melissa’s path as they’re both rising the ranks with USA Hockey.
The Samoskevich siblings will now prepare for their respective seasons at Quinnipiac and Shattuck St. Mary’s. Melissa laughs when asked if it’s hard to keep in touch with her siblings and parents, given the busy lives each of them lead.
“Not really,” she says, “especially now that my parents have found out what Snapchat is. That’s how we communicate as a family because they know we’re always checking our Snapchat. They’re always on the Snapchat group chat. It’s never hard. You find a way with family even though we’re so far apart.”
Fred and Patty weren’t able to travel to Calgary (or Slovakia) for the recent games due to work commitments. But they kept a close eye on the scores and how their kids did, and the week gave the Samoskevich’s a chance to reflect on a lifetime of hockey.
“I am so grateful to USA Hockey and all the coaches that helped along the way,” says Patty. “We have met so many great people over the years. This week makes all the late night practices and back-to-back tournaments worth it. We are blessed with great kids and friends.”