Every little hockey player grows up dreaming of playing for their favorite NHL team. Often that team is the closest to their hometown. Every so often, those dreams come true. This year, the Washington Capitals have one of those heartwarming stories in Joe Snively.
Joe Snively grew up in the shadow of Washington, DC in Herndon, Virginia. When he was 13, he played for the Washington Little Caps 13U AAA team, which played out of the Capitals’ practice arena. At 15, he left Virginia to play for the Sioux City Musketeers in the USHL. In his third and final year with the Musketeers, he was an alternate captain and notched 64 points in 55 games.
Snively was clearly no scrub when it came to academics, as he went on to study and play at Yale University. He finished his career at Yale averaging over a point per game over four years, leading the team. His success made him a Hobey Baker candidate and ranked him at 15th in the nation in points. He signed a contract with the Washington Capitals for the following season (19-20).
Immediately after leaving Yale, Snively joined the Hershey Bears for the remainder of the 18-19 season. He had 7 points in 9 regular-season games in that stretch. He made his mark in the lineup the following season as well, scoring 24 points in 45 games. The Bears were at the top of the standings and tipped to win the Calder Cup before the pandemic shut everything down.
Last season, Snively had 17 points in 30 games. This year, he’s had a breakout season with Hershey. In 35 games, Joe has scored 38 points.
Snively made his NHL debut on December 19, 2021 against the LA Kings, where he notched his first NHL point. It was an assist to Connor McMichael’s opening goal of the game. The Capitals eventually fell 3-2 to the Kings.
He had another assist in his second game over a month later against the Dallas Stars. He’s been up and down from Hershey since December and has accumulated 9 games played.
On February 10, Snively replaced Alex Ovechkin on the Capitals’ first line, alongside Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson, against the Montreal Canadiens. He scored his first NHL goal on a huge rebound. His second NHL goal came less than an hour later on a 1-on-2 breakout. Snives also recorded an assist to Tom Wilson’s empty netter at the end of the game. He’s only the 3rd Virginia player to record a goal in the NHL; he is also the 8th Capitals rookie to score a goal this season.
Joe Snively has not had the typical route to the NHL. He was signed as an undrafted free agent, then played his first two seasons of professional hockey during a pandemic. But he’s made the most out of the hand he was dealt. He’s a hard-working winger who doesn’t mind collecting his own rebounds. The Capitals’ scouting team did a fantastic job finding and signing such an underrated player.
The Caps don’t play again until Thursday, and while I hate to see players on the IR, I hope Snively is in the lineup again.
-Heidi Thomas (@DamselOnDrums)
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