I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Anthony and Demetri Samarkos. The two East Lake players came into the Lightning Made Studios last week. When asked how they got into hockey, they were quick to credit their father and their first experience at an NHL hockey game, “When we were very young our Father took us to a Lightning game and once it started we could not take our eyes off the game. It was magical and since then we have been Tampa Bay Lightning fans.” Anthony and Demetri started skating together at age seven and one year later they started playing competitive hockey. The 2018-2019 season marks their tenth year playing hockey and throughout all of it, the appropriately nicknamed hockey twins have always been together on the same team.
If you know anything about Demetri, you aren’t shocked as to why he migrated to a forward position. “I love scoring goals. I have always had a passion for going out there and putting the puck in the net. I played goalie once and that did not go well. Not to mention that I am an absolute liability on defense, so I’ll just stick to playing forward.” On the other hand, Anthony always had a strong urge to shut down his opponent. “For as long as I can remember I have been a goaltender. Even growing up playing soccer, I always wanted to keep the ball or puck out of the net and I have a passion for doing such.”
It makes sense from a brotherly love standpoint that one brother would try to score goals and the other would want to stop them from scoring. Something I got from this conversation was that it must have been an absolute blast growing up knowing if you wanted to play hockey outside in the driveway One of the boys could hop in net and the other would just start shooting! The other children in the area must have loved the fact that Anthony was willing to play in net at such a young age because as you know, the hardest thing about playing pick-up hockey, is finding a goalie.
When I asked the two boys how others would describe them outside of hockey they responded with two very different answers except that by living under the same roof, they have the same beliefs, traits, and core values. But when you look at their circle of friends it is completely different. Anthony said, “If I were to guess, people would describe me as the funny and sarcastic one. I am constantly making a lot of people laugh because of all the of jokes I make. People know me at school because I run the ‘Blue Crew’ which is the student section for East Lake high school. I am responsible for the social media for the Blue Crew as well as making sure the student section is full at sporting events.”
Demetri, on the other hand, isn’t just known for his sharpshooting ability on the ice. He aims to succeed just as well in the books, “My friends, as well as my peers, would say I am both trustworthy and determined. I really enjoy being known as the guy who can be relied on for information or answering questions correctly among my friends and classmates. But what I am probably most known for is being in the National Honor Society, Future Business Leaders of America and of course as well as being the class treasurer. The boys did admit they have some mutual friends but at the end of the day they both live different lives but what brings them together is their love of hockey.
I reached out to the East Lake coaching staff to get a better feel for who these boys were on and off the ice. Coach Shawn Price said, “Anthony and Demetri are equally some of the most well-mannered players I have coached. They are as big of leaders and successful, on the ice as opposed to being in the classroom. They both are very dedicated to hockey and make it very easy for us to do our job. We wish them all the best moving forward but, we know there is no need to do so. They will excel in whatever they have their mind set on. All in all, two very good people and we’re lucky to have them.”
Jim Anna, Head coach of the East Lake team the boys both play on added: “These are two good kids that live to play the game!”
With their on-ice success, and their off-ice intellect and work ethic, one can’t help but wonder what will come next for these two after they hang up the East Lake jerseys and skates, so I asked the twins what their plans were and they both simultaneously yelled out “College! We are going to college. We don’t know where yet, but we hope it is close to home. We would like to stay in Florida and either attend USF, or FSU, or UF, or FGCU could be landing spots.” When asked if they would pursue playing hockey after high school, they made it very clear that they are looking to play but it isn’t the main focus. “If it happens, it happens.” The boys did make it very clear that at the end of the day, some things work out and some things just don’t so they wouldn’t get discouraged if they did not receive any offers to play at the next level. At the same time, they are well aware that if they play well at a lower level such as club hockey, there is without a doubt a chance that all it takes is for one person to see what they have to offer.
Folks let me tell you something that I learned very quickly from talking to these boys. Anthony and Demetri live and breathe hockey. I figured this out rather quickly when I asked the boys what other sports they played besides hockey whether it was growing up or in their spare time. They answered that they played roller hockey. I couldn’t help but let out a light chuckle because at first, I didn’t believe that two boys growing up in Florida their whole lives and only played hockey, but it is true! Hockey is life to these ones.
Since these boys have hockey flowing in their veins. I had to ask them, in their ten years playing the sport what there happiest moments were. Demetri said, “Mine is hands down winning the state championship last year but being named captain is my biggest accomplishment and that is something I am very proud of.” Demetri went on to tell me that they beat the team they considered to be their rivals who beat them the previous year. Demetri scored three times in that game to seal the deal for the title. Anthony did not play in net that game, but his brother says that without Anthony’s stellar play in the semi-final game, the team wouldn’t have had a chance to be in the final. Both boys raved about the fact they got to play at Amalie Arena for that game. As for Anthony’s happiest moment in hockey, he said, “ When our team traveled north and won a Can-Am tournament in Lake Placid and I was named the top goalie at the tournament.” The boys got to talking about the tournament in Lake Placid, they went into great detail about how amazing it was to be in the same building, rink, and locker room as the Miracle on Ice USA team that won the gold medal let alone the greatest hockey game in USA history when they beat the USSR. Anthony said, “To be totally honest, at the moment I could not believe that I was actually playing in the exact spot where Jim Craig put on his 36 save performance. It was something I will never forget because It’s one thing to hear about playing at Lake Placid, it’s another to actually live it.”
When the topic of home life came up, I wanted to get a feel for who these boys were off the ice, without being too intrusive I asked what their grades were like. Demetri proudly said he had a 4.0 GPA and Anthony has a 3.96 GPA, so you can tell that the sibling rivalry was just as fierce on the ice as it was off considering he bragged about a very small but important .04 that separates him from his brother. They raved about how passionate and caring their parents are. “Without our parents, we don’t know where we would be today. They have supported us through everything without them I don’t know where we would be. They are always on top of their homework and school work. It doesn’t matter if we have the next day off or if we happen to get home late from practice, our mom stays on top of them making sure they are prepared for the next day.”
Since we already know that these boys, are hockey enthusiasts I had to ask them what they do for fun outside of hockey. Folks, these are the hockey twins. They literally think about hockey 24/7/365. It is quite remarkable. If they are not on the ice, they are playing roller hockey, if they can’t play hockey outside they play mini-hockey inside on their knees. They did mention that they enjoy bowling, but I think by now, we all know that they would prefer to be playing hockey. Towards the end of our interview, I wanted to know what the boys thought of the LHSHL and how it has improved since the time they started to now. The boys said it has gotten better each year. They love the fact of how interactive it has become with the social media components and that they listen to every episode of the podcast to stay up to date on all LHSHL news.