Anas Adds to Quinnipiac Arsenal
Leads Team, and Nation's Freshmen, In Scoring
by Joshua Seguin/Staff Writer
With names such as Jordan Samuels-Thomas, Matthew Peca, the Jones twins and Travis St. Denis, everyone knew Quinnipiac would score goals. Few would have predicted, however, that none of those names would lead the team in points heading into the holiday break.
Instead, freshman Sam Anas has gone out and produced in high volume alongside those household names, actually bettering their numbers.
"Sam is very opportunistic and does the little things well," Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. "When he gets chances, he can finish. He is probably our best pure goal scorer."
That is saying quite a bit, but Anas has been taking nothing for granted.
"I really couldn't have asked for anything more," Anas said. "A lot of it I have to credit to the coaching staff, as they have given me every opportunity I could have ever asked for. I am making the most of it. Obviously I love playing on the same line with Connor and Kellen Jones. They like to work hard and get me the puck."
Perhaps another surprise aspect to Anas' situation is his lineage. He is one of the few college hockey players to call Maryland their home state, sharing the hometown, Potomac, of another former ECAC star — Princeton's Jeff Halpern. It was even more rare in Halpern's day, he being the first player from Maryland to make the NHL, but things are starting to grow there.
When Quinnipiac faced Providence last Wednesday, Anas shared the Maryland roots with Friars backup goaltender Nick Ellis. Maryland, although close to Washington D.C, which hosted the Frozen Four in 2009 and is home to the Washington Capitals, has just 12 D-I roster players this year.
"It's a lot of fun coming up here to play," said Anas. "But Maryland is growing too. There is no college hockey there but now in the last couple years it has produced a lot of D-I players. ... It's good to see that you don't have to be up here to make it."
A lot can be said of a young player that comes in knowing he will be a top-six forward. The expectation will always be there to succeed and score. If anything there is more pressure on a player coming in knowing this. But Anas doesn't seemed fazed by the excess pressure.
"I almost didn't expect that it would be this much right away," Anas said. "But It has just been great."
The freshman not only leads Quinnipiac in scoring with 25 points but he also sits fifth in the country in points.
"I wouldn't have expected to be anywhere near the top," said Anas. "I obviously like to put up points and that is my style of game."
His consistency as an offensive hockey player is visible in his stats and on-ice play. Anas has 13 goals and 12 assists, which speaks of the consistency in his game. He has three game-winning goals, which puts him in a tie for third nationally and second in the ECAC. He also has eight multi-point games and has points in 13 out of his last 15.
"He is a real good player that is smart with the puck," said QU forward Kellen Jones, explaining his linemate's strong start. "He is real shifty and finds ways to get open so we have been working pretty well together."
It certainly helps the cause when a player is put on a line with Connor and Kellen Jones. There will be naysayers questioning whether he would score as much on other lines, but then again look at the highly-touted rookies that come in and play alongside other great players who don't produce; it happens more often than not.
Against Providence, in a matchup of teams currently sitting in the top eight of the Pairwise, it was clear how much confidence Rand Pecknold has in the freshman. Anas was on the ice for every crucial situation and his line played more than most other top lines would. And again Anas came through, with a goal and an assist, as the teams tied, 3-3.
Every great college hockey line has chemistry but the best of them are complementary.
"We really complement each other well," Anas said. "They make me better and hopefully I make them a little better too. We love to push the pace and run and gun."
"Sam just scores points, scores goals and makes plays," Pecknold said. "He is a really nice complement to Connor and Kellen, who have long been two of our best players and I think they are two of the best players in our league. Sam has been a great third wheel on that line but it's hard to call him a third wheel, but he is because those two make us go."
In the first period of Quinnipiac's game against PC, the freshman made a rookie mistake in his own zone that could have
cost his team the game. Anas attempted to pass the puck out of the zone and toward his own blue line; it was intercepted by the Friars' Nick Saracino, who went in all alone and scored for a 2-1 lead.
Anas could have been rattled, but instead responded by scoring the next goal and assisting on the third. His response impressed his coach and teammates, but the play showed there is still work to do.
"He has a little work to do on the other end of the ice," said Pecknold. "He is working on it and he has gotten better since he has gotten here. He is a great kid with great character and is very accountable for his mistakes but its part of being a freshman. This was a great experience for him tonight playing in this atmosphere and with this much pressure on him."
Said Anas, "It was an awful play by me. In a game, you just need to bounce back from it. I knew that dwelling on it wasn't going to do anything for me. One or two shifts later I found Toews on the backdoor and he put it in. That really helped my confidence."
Quinnipiac recently had a 13-game unbeaten streak snapped by Princeton before embarking on a mini-slump. Rand Pecknold knows, though, he has just another weapon at his disposal.