Thunderbirds’ Anas voted winner of Fred T. Hunt Award

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Sam Anas of the Springfield Thunderbirds is the 2021-22 winner of the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award as the AHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey.

The award is voted on by coaches, players and members of the media in each of the league’s 31 member cities.

In his first season with Springfield, Anas set team records with 44 assists and 64 points in 2021-22, leading his team in scoring for the third consecutive season. He also reached the 20-goal mark for the third time in his career, highlighted by the goal he scored on Mar. 5 during the Thunderbirds’ Pink in the Rink Night – the first he had participated in since the loss of his mother, Demetra, to breast cancer in 2020. Named an alternate captain at the start of the year, Anas skated in 75 of the club’s 76 games and accumulated only 12 minutes in penalties.

In six AHL seasons with Springfield, Utica and Iowa, Anas has totaled 96 goals and 188 assists for 284 points in 357 while amassing just 56 penalty minutes – including zero majors or misconducts. The native of Potomac, Md., won the league scoring title and was a First Team AHL All-Star in 2019-20. Undrafted out of Quinnipiac University where he was a two-time All-American, Anas originally signed with the Minnesota Wild in 2016 and joined the St. Louis Blues organization as a free agent on Oct. 10, 2020.

This award, which was first presented by the AHL in 1978, honors the late Fred T. Hunt, a long-time contributor to the league who won three Calder Cup championships as a player and three more as a general manager during a career spent primarily with the AHL’s Buffalo Bisons and the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. Previous winners of the award include Ross Yates (1983), Glenn Merkosky (1987, ’91), Bruce Boudreau (1988), Murray Eaves (’89, ’90), John Anderson (1992), Tim Tookey (1993), Ken Gernander (1996, 2004), Randy Cunneyworth (2000), Mike Keane (2007), Bryan Helmer (2011), Jake Dowell (2014), Tom Kostopoulos (2016), Craig Cunningham (2017), Bracken Kearns (2018), Brett Sutter (2019), John McCarthy (2020) and Cal O’Reilly (2021).

In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League continues to serve as the top development league for all 32 National Hockey League teams. Nearly 90 percent of all players competing in the NHL are AHL graduates, and through the years the American Hockey League has been home to more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The winner of the 2021-22 Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award (outstanding coach) will be announced on Wednesday.

Photo: Lucas Armstrong