By Matt Stathopoulos, Youngstown Phantoms
Former Phantoms forward and current Quinnipiac Bobcat (ECAC) Sam Anas has been named the 2014 Tim Taylor National Rookie of the Year by the Hockey Commissioners Association (HCA).
Anas is the first Bobcats player in the program’s history to win the award, which is given to the top freshman in NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey.
“I credit a lot of my success to the last two years I spent in Youngstown,” said Anas. “A lot of it goes to the coaching staff, Noreen, Patterson, Rassey, the combination of the three. It really helped that all three of them were there for both of my years. Obviously the USHL is a prestigious league that’s very competitive. We had a great team and made the playoffs both years. I think it taught me a lot looking ahead, and I really cherish those memories that I have.”
The young forward led his team and all NCAA Division I freshmen in goals (22) and points (43). He scored at a 1.07 points per game pace, and his 21 assists ranked seventh among all freshmen.
“I think it was just sticking with my game,” Anas said on what the keys to his success were throughout the season. “There were a few times where things weren’t working, but I knew that if I stuck with it, they would eventually come back my way. There were a couple times when I would be stuck in a slump, but the coaches trusted me. I’m sure glad they did because it worked out for the best.”
Additionally, Anas was selected as the ECAC Hockey Co-Rookie of the Year and was named to the 2014 ECAC Hockey Second Team and the ECAC Hockey All-Rookie Team. Earlier this month, Anas was also named the George C. Carens Rookie of the Year by the New England Hockey Writers Association and the College Hockey News Rookie of the Year.
“It’s an incredible honor,” Anas said. “You look at the other guys who were nominated for these awards, and I was just happy to be nominated. To win it, it was a great achievement, and a pretty good feeling. I know that my parents were very proud as well, so it was a good day for us.”
Despite moving on and enjoying this new chapter of his hockey career, Anas still clearly remembers where it all began and continuously keeps tabs on his former team.
“Absolutely,” Anas said when asked if he still follows the Phantoms. “Some of my best friends were made when I played in Youngstown. I would love to see the team succeed—I like following the scores and seeing who’s doing well. I was happy to call Youngstown home for two years. I’ll always keep track of them and see how they progress.”
In 115 games with the Phantoms over two seasons, Anas recorded 54 goals and 43 assists for 97 points. He also suited up for 15 playoff games with the team, where he notched an additional three goals and 13 assists for 16 points.
“The biggest thing I’ll always remember with Sammy was his attitude that he brought to the rink,” said Phantoms head coach Anthony Noreen. “He always had a smile on his face and he’s a kid who truly loves the game. Above everything else comes his passion for the game. His hockey sense, his ability to make people around him better, and his ability to make game changing plays is what separates him from everyone else.”
Anas is on the smaller side of players throughout college hockey, and has been with other teams that he’s played for, but he has never let that get in his way.
“It’s very easy to look at a player of his size and assume that every next level he goes to, it will catch up to him,” Noreen said. “But it hasn’t yet, and he’s just determined to find a way to have success. His size is something that he’ll never let affect his love for the game or what he accomplishes in the game.”
His former head coach could not be more proud of what he has achieved at this point in his career, and considers it to be one of the more highlighted moments.
“I think it’s a huge honor for everyone that’s been a part of Sam’s path,” Noreen said. “His youth team, high school team, coaches, and to all of his family members that supported him along the way. It’s an honor for us to know that we’ve helped move a player along, helped develop a player, and a guy that can step in and have an impact as a freshman. It’s something that I’m as proud of as anything else that I’ve seen during my coaching career. It’s certainly well deserved.”
USHL stats - Sam Anas
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 12th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2013-14. A record 32 players were chosen in the 2013 NHL Draft and more than 300 players on team rosters last season have committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent. For more information, visit us on the web at www.USHL.com or visit the League’s social media platforms, including Facebook (www.facebook.com/ushlhockey), twitter (www.twitter.com/ushl), and YouTube (www.youtube.com/ushlinteractive). Fans can also watch USHL action all season long, live or on-demand via FASTHockey (ushl.fasthockey.com).
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