Bobcats' Anas named nation’s top freshman
By Roman J. Uschak
Sam Anas' stellar rookie year made him not just the best freshman at Quinnipiac, but the best in the country. (John Crouch/J. Alexander Imaging)
Quinnipiac University freshman forward Sam Anas wasn’t just the best newcomer on his own team this season — he also was the top rookie in the nation. The Potomac, Md., native earned the newly renamed Tim Taylor Award after leading all Division 1 freshmen in scoring.
“We are very proud of Sam and all that he accomplished this year,” said Bobcats head coach Rand Pecknold (Bedford, N.H.). “Along with Connor and Kellen Jones, they formed one of the best lines in college hockey this season.”
Andrew Merritt/New England Hockey Journal
The 5-foot-8, 150-pound Anas finished his inaugural NCAA campaign with 22 goals and 21 assists for 43 points in 40 games. He paced the Bobcats in both goals and points, and also tied for the team lead with 10 power-play tallies while helping the squad to a third-place ECAC finish and a 24-10-6 overall record.
“It’s an incredible honor and very humbling,” said Anas of copping the Taylor Award, named for the late longtime Yale coach. “I can’t thank my coaches enough for putting me in a position this year to succeed.”
“Sam was a major factor in Quinnipiac’s top-10 national ranking,” added Pecknold. “He is a great teammate, excellent student and competes hard every day, both on the ice and in the weight room.”
Anas tallied three points in just his second contest with the Bobcats, a 3-1 win over Alaska-Fairbanks at the Kendall Hockey Classic in Anchorage in October. He debuted in Hamden, Conn., with an eight-game scoring string, and on the year recorded two or more points in a single contest on no less than a dozen occasions.
He collected three goals in ECAC tournament play and helped the Bobcats to both the league semifinals and a berth in the NCAA East Regional, where Quinnipiac fell to Providence to end its season. He was selected ECAC Co-Rookie of the Year and was named to both to the league’s All-Rookie Team and ECAC Hockey second team.
Prior to enrolling at Quinnipiac last fall, Anas spent two seasons with the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms, with whom he recorded 54 goals and 97 points in 115 appearances. He previously starred back home with Landon (Md.) Prep School.
“There have been so many people that have helped me develop in recent years, especially my summer training at Pinnacle Performance, and playing for the Youngstown Phantoms the last two seasons under three great coaches,” he said. “And obviously I can’t thank my parents and family enough for all they have done and sacrificed over the years for me to keep playing the game I love.”
If anything, wining the Taylor Award might also have fueled Anas’ desire to help Quinnipiac make another run at a national championship, after the Bobcats finished as NCAA runner-up in 2013.
“It’s definitely something that I will never forget, but there is always room for improvement,” said Anas. “I’m looking forward to improving throughout my career here at Quinnipiac.”
Just what the rest of the league wanted to hear.
2013-14 ECAC Year in Review
The Good: The Bears’ three top scorers are all expected to be back next season in sophomores Mark Naclerio (Milford, Conn.) and Nick Lappin, and junior Matt Lorito. Naclerio (16 goals and 19 assists for 35 points) and Lappin (13-19-32) both topped the 30-point mark, while Lorito (10-19-29) was just one point short.
The Bad: Brown got 11 goals from its blueliners, but six of those came from graduating senior Dennis Robertson. The Bears also scored more than three goals in a game just six times on the season. The power play operated at slightly over 15 percent, while the penalty-killing unit functioned at just below 76 percent efficiency.
The Future: Tyler Steel (8-10-3 record, 2.67 goals-against average, .911 save percentage) took over the crease as a rookie and played in 21 of Brown’s 31 games, recording 40 or more saves in two contests. The Bears will hope he can help backstop them to the cusp of the NCAA tournament like Anthony Borelli did in 2012-13.
The Good: The Golden Knights recorded their first 20-win season since 2008 and were on the periphery of garnering their first NCAA tournament berth since that same year. Clarkson also was in the top 20 in the nation in goals allowed per game (2.43) and will return its third-leading scorer in sophomore Jeff DiNallo (11-14-25).
The Bad: Clarkson loses four of its top five scorers, including senior forwards Allen McPherson (13-19-32) and Ben Sexton (6-22-28). Even with them in the lineup, the Golden Knights averaged just 2.4 goals per contest, putting them in the lower echelon of Division 1. Conversely, Clarkson averaged nearly 15 penalty minutes per game as a team, which ranked it among the top 12 schools in the country in that category.
The Future: Clarkson appears to be set in net with a pair of Pennsylvania natives in freshman Steve Perry (11-10-3, 2.05, .917) and sophomore Greg Lewis (9-6-1, 2.53, .898).
The Good: The Raiders finished second in the ECAC standings behind Union, made it to the league championship game, earned their first NCAA berth since 2005, and were a couple of scores away from advancing to the Midwest Regional final. Colgate’s top five scorers were all sophomores, led by Tylor Spink (14-16-30) and Tyson Spink (10-23-33).
The Bad: Colgate got outgunned in a 5-2 loss to Union in the ECAC title game, falling behind, 4-0, after surprising Quinnipiac in overtime the night before. It also got off to a slow start in October, going 2-5-1 in its first eight games, and dressed five underclassmen as regulars on defense with no seniors on the blue line.
The Future: Charlie Finn (16-8-4, 2.35, .918) solidified the No. 1 goaltending spot as a freshman and became the first netminder to backstop Colgate to the NCAA tournament since Steve Silverthorn did it nine years ago. Brendan Corcoran (Milton, Mass.) played in 35 of 39 games on defense (1-5-6) and has one year remaining.
The Good: Cornell rebounded from its first sub-.500 campaign since 1998-99 by coming within two wins of a return to the NCAA tournament. Defenseman Joakim Ryan was the team’s second-leading scorer (8-16-24), and one of five juniors who finished among the Big Red’s top six point producers. Cornell also ranked among the top 10 teams in Division 1 by allowing just 2.3 goals per contest.
The Bad: Like several other schools, the Big Red had the misfortune of drawing Union in the postseason, which spelled an end to their run. Blueline production also tailed off noticeably after Ryan, and Cornell was shut out three times on the year and scored four or more goals on only nine occasions.
The Future: The Big Red will need to establish a new No. 1 netminder with the departure of ironman Andy Iles (16-10-5, 2.17, .919), who appeared in all but two contests. They’ll also need to replace top scorer Brian Ferlin (13-14-27), who passed up his senior season to sign with the Boston Bruins.
The Good: Charles Grant (9-13-3, 3.01, .909) solidified his hold on the Big Green’s top netminder spot, playing in 25 games as a sophomore after making 16 appearances as a freshman.
Big Green junior forward Eric Neiley nearly doubled his offensive output from his first two years combined as he led Dartmouth in scoring (16-13-29), while classmate Brandon McNally (Saugus, Mass.) was second in points (7-14-21) and led the team in penalty minutes (87).
The Bad: Dartmouth never really recovered after starting the regular season with an eight-game losing streak, including two overtime defeats. The Big Green still managed to win a playoff series against Rensselaer, but was then swept away by eventual NCAA champ Union.
Special teams also needed shoring up, with the power play clicking on less than 17 percent of its chances and the penalty-killing unit successful just under 80 percent of the time.
The Future: The Big Green is poised to return no less than their top 18 scorers from this season and two of their three goaltenders.
The Good: Five of Harvard’s top eight scorers were freshmen. Sophomore Jim Vesey (North Reading, Mass.) paced the Crimson in goals and points (13-9-22), while classmate Kyle Criscuolo was second (11-9-20) and Brian Hart (Cumberland, Maine) was fourth (6-9-15). Sean Malone was third and was the team’s top scoring rookie (6-14-20).
The Bad: Five of the top eight scorers were freshmen, and only four goals came from the blue line in all. The Crimson also suffered through their second straight losing season and fifth in the last six winters. Harvard, which had only four seniors on the roster, endured a pair of four-game losing streaks, plus a four-goal loss to Yale at Madison Square Garden, and then finally a season-ending sweep by the Bulldogs in the ECAC tournament.
The Future: Junior goaltender Steve Michalek (Glastonbury, Conn.), who played in a team-high 18 games (5-8-2, 2.47, .921), should be back in Cambridge after splitting time in net with departing senior Raphael Girard.
The Good: Senior forward Andrew Ammon led the Tigers in scoring in his final season with career-high marks (11-10-21), tying teammate Andrew Calof in points. Ammon also tallied the game-winning goal unassisted with less than three minutes left in a 4-3 victory at 2013 national runner-up Quinnipiac on Nov. 23. The Tigers later took Clarkson to three games in the first round of the ECAC tournament.
The Bad: Princeton won just six games the entire season, finishing 6-26 overall, and was last in the ECAC with a 4-18 league mark. Following the win at Quinnipiac, it went 2-12-0 in its next 14 outings. The Tigers also scored three or more goals in a game only nine times.
The Future: Princeton might have found its new starting goaltender in freshman Colton Phinney, who counted the win at Quinnipiac among his first four career victories (4-14-0, 3.64, .901). The Tigers also will return seven of their top 10 scorers from 2013-14, along with seven defensemen.
The Good: The Bobcats made it back to the NCAA tournament for the second straight season and won 20 or more games for the fourth time in the last five years. Sophomore goaltender Michael Garteig (24-10-6, 1.94, .910) was among the national leaders in minutes played (2,409) and shutouts (six) in his first year as the starter. The Bobcats also fashioned an early 13-game unbeaten streak and were ranked among the top five teams in Division 1.
The Bad: Quinnipiac went 1-3-1 just before the ECAC tournament and was eliminated in overtime by Colgate. The Bobcats then never got going in the NCAA East Regional against Providence and were blanked by the Friars. They also will lose forwards Kellen Jones (18-24-42) and Connor Jones (15-23-38), who combined for 256 points in four years and then signed with the Edmonton Oilers organization.
The Future: Sam Anas earned the Tim Taylor Award as the top rookie in college hockey after leading the Bobcats and all freshman Division 1 players with 43 points.
The Good: Junior forward Ryan Haggerty (Stamford, Ct.) finished fourth in Division 1 with 28 goals before signing a free-agent contract with the New York Rangers. Sophomore forward Scott Zalewski tallied a career high in points (9-17-26) before signing with the Vancouver Canucks and playing in his first two NHL games. Senior forward Brock Higgs (14-16-30) won the Senior CLASS Award as the most outstanding senior student-athlete in Division 1 men’s hockey, and then signed with Worcester (AHL).
The Bad: The Engineers came up short in a best-of-three opening-round ECAC tournament series against Dartmouth, losing the final two games at home, and finished below .500 for the second time in three seasons.
The Future: Scott Diebold took the reins as RPI’s top goaltender in his junior year, playing in 36 games (14-15-6, 2.50, .916) after seeing action in just seven contests as a sophomore. The freshman class of four skaters, however, combined for just three goals and 11 points.
The Good: Greg Carey completed his college career by leading the ECAC in scoring in both overall and league games. He also earned first-team All-America honors and was a Hobey Baker Award Hat Trick finalist for the second straight season. Freshman defenseman Gavin Bayreuther (Canaan, N.H.) was the Saints’ third-leading scorer (9-27-36) behind Greg and Matt Carey.
The Bad: The Saints ranked in the top 15 nationally in averaging 3.2 goals per game but suffered a seven-game losing streak between the end of November and the middle of January that ultimately became a nine-game winless string. Besides Greg Carey, St. Lawrence must replace second-leading scorer Matt Carey (18-19-37), who turned pro after just one season with the Saints, along with senior goaltender Matt Weninger (13-16-4, 3.29, .878).
The Future: Either freshman Tyler Parks (2-1-0, 2.99, .861) or sophomore Kyle MacDonald (0-2-0, 3.90, .862) of Hanover, Mass., who combined for 11 appearances, must earn the starting job in net, or else be superseded by an incoming freshman.
The Good: The Dutchmen earned the No. 1 national ranking after copping the ECAC regular-season and tournament titles, then dispatched Vermont, Providence, Boston College and Minnesota in the NCAA tournament to claim the school’s first-ever national championship. Head coach Rick Bennett (Springfield, Mass.) led Union to 32 wins and a fourth straight national tournament bid and collected the Spencer Penrose Award as national coach of the year.
The Bad: Things got ugly in a 2-1 loss to Rensselaer in the Mayor’s Cup contest in Albany in January, as Bennett was suspended after going after RPI coach Seth Appert following several player altercations. The Dutchmen then finished the season on a 17-game unbeaten tear (16-0-1) and a 12-game winning streak.
The Future: Freshman forward Mike Vecchione (Saugus, Mass.) was third on the team in goals (14-20-34), including key tallies in the Frozen Four against both BC and Minnesota. Junior netminder Colin Stevens (28-4-2, 2.05, .929) won two ECAC titles and the NCAA championship in his first year as Union’s starter.
The Good: The Bulldogs (22-12The Good: The Bulldogs blitzed archrival Harvard by a 5-1 count before more than 15,000 fans at fabled Madison Square Garden in New York City on Jan. 11. Senior forward Kenny Agostino tied for the team lead in goals and finished second in team scoring (14-18-32), closing out his career with 132 points before signing with the Calgary Flames and scoring his first NHL goal.
The Bad: Yale was swept out of the ECAC tournament by local rival Quinnipiac, one year after the Bulldogs had bested the Bobcats for their first-ever NCAA crown. Yale also didn’t string together three wins in a row until March. The Bulldogs killed off roughly 80 percent of opposing power plays, ranking them in the bottom half of Division 1.
The Future: Minnesota native and freshman goaltender Alex Lyon (14-11-5 2.41, .918) established himself as Yale’s new No. 1 netminder, playing in 30 of 35 games and notching three shutouts.
This article originally appeared in the May edition of the New England Hockey Journal. Click here to access the FREE digital edition.