Sam Anas has been here, on the ice at Ketter Capitals Iceplex, before. He’s even played here in a Capitals jersey, albeit a much smaller one than he’s wearing this week at development camp.
The 20-year-old right wing grew up in Potomac. He played for the Little Capitals as a youngster and watched the full-sized version with his family, Caps season ticket holders.
Anas was even here last for camp last year, though he was in the stands, not on the ice. Now a non-roster invitee to the Capitals’ annual midsummer prospect camp, the Landon School product says it’s “pretty cool” to be on the other side of the glass.
The Capitals often invite a local kid or two to development camp in a nod to the community that supports them, but Anas is no token invite. Undrafted, but not entirely off the radar, he played the past two seasons with the USHL’s Youngstown. There, he he faced off against NHL prospects on a nightly basis; the USHL had 32 players from 2012-13 rosters drafted this year.
“I was kind of talking to my coach [in Youngstown] about [the camp] and it was kind of a might happen, might not, thing,” Anas said. “I got a call during lunch, it was pretty exciting.”
Exciting, if not entirely surprising.
Anas has proven himself as an elite USHL scorer over the past two seasons in Youngstown. He broke the Phantoms’ single-season record with 37 goals in the 2012-13 season, one so spectacular that it was featured on SportsCenter’s top 10.
The 5-foot-8, 155-pound winger is also Youngstown’s career leader in goals (54) and power-play goals and points, a resume that earned him a hard look from several top college programs. He chose Connecticut’s Quinnipiac University, which lost to Yale in last year’s national championship game after holding a No.1 national ranking for parts of last season.
“I want the Caps to like me. I’m going to school next year, but in the future I’d like to be a Capital, and that all starts now,” Anas said. “I want to do well, I’m not just here for the experience.”
His family, on the other hand, is pretty darn excited about the experience.
When asked what having his son in a Capitals camp meant to him and his family, Sam’s father, Peter, was silent for a moment before struggling to find an answer:
“Well… I don’t think there’s any way to describe it,” he said. “I don’t even know how to put it in words.”
You’ll forgive Peter, who played college hockey in Canada and attended camp Tuesday, if he’s a little overwhelmed by it all. He still remembers the first time Sam picked up a hockey stick — in the kitchen, of all places — where the 2-year-old honed his shot against the fridge and dishwasher.
After three more years of targeting appliances, Anas started aiming at goals and began his organized hockey career.
He looked up to his idols on the Capitals squad, particularly fellow right winger Peter Bondra.
Bondra’s son, David, played bantam hockey for the Little Capitals while Sam was a peewee. The two squads shared ice time, and one day the elder Bondra showed up to help tutor his son’s team.
Sam was nursing an injury and not participating fully in practice, so he and his father were standing between the two teams at center ice when Peter Anas asked Bondra if he had any tips he could share with Sam.
“He came over and spent 40 minutes with him,” Peter Anas said. “I don’t think I could tear the smile off Sam’s face for weeks.
“You don’t know what to think of pro athletes when you’re watching from afar, but when you see the quality of what NHL players are, it’s just a nice thing to see.”
You never know, he may just have one in the family soon.