With a flick of his wrists, Joe Snively became the first player from Northern Virginia to score a goal in an NHL game earlier this month.
In the second period, he scored again. Two games later, he would bury the puck into the back of the net once more. Then, he cemented his growing reputation with another goal on Thursday (Feb. 17).
The Pride of Herndon, VA Joe Snively has scored four goals in four games.
He's got seven points in nine career games.
He should be inducted into the Hall of Fame tonight. pic.twitter.com/9YVp9cIo9F
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) February 18, 2022
As popular as hockey is in this region, Snively’s success is notable as well as somewhat surprising, including to the 26-year-old Herndon native and Washington Capitals forward: That goal against the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 10 was the NHL’s first by a person from Northern Virginia.
“Hockey has, for sure, grown in the Northern Virginia area in my lifetime,” Snively told FFXnow. “I’m proud to be from the area and be the first to score a goal in the NHL, but I think there’s going to be more to follow.”
Hockey participation has grown by 221% in the D.C. region over the last two decades, according to statistics provided by the Washington Capitals.
This D.C. hockey boom is likely tied to Alexander Ovechkin’s drafting in 2004, giving the Caps a generational superstar who inspired countless young players. The team’s first Stanley Cup win in 2018 drew even more local young players to the ice.
Less than a year after winning the championship, the hometown team signed Snively, who just might be the first of many from Northern Virginia to make a big impact in the NHL.
Snively comes from Reston hockey royalty. His dad, Rich Snively, was a longtime coach for the local youth hockey club Reston Raiders, where he and his older brother played. His uncle David Snively was an Olympian on the Canadian team that boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Snively attended Reston’s Forest Edge Elementary School and grew up only 10 minutes from SkateQuest on Michael Faraday Court. He cherished every moment he got to spend on the ice at the 25-year-old rink.
“It was kind of my home. In the summer…at camps, I’d spend all day there, all week,” Snively said. “I was just a kid who loved hockey, who loved being on the ice.”
He played his way to a spot on the Bulldogs at Yale University, where he excelled. Then, at the age of 24, the Washington Capitals signed him to a contract, making Snively the first Virginia native to play for franchise.
Nearly three years later, he made his debut for the Caps in front of the home fans, including his parents.
“It was awesome. Being a hockey parent isn’t the easiest,” Snively said. “They gave me all the opportunities to play hockey and I’m so grateful for that.”
While he got an assist in that game, it took him a few more weeks to get that first goal.
It came early in the first period, when teammate Justin Schultz flung a shot that deflected off the goalkeeper’s leg pad right to Snively. With a smooth rebound, Snively buried the puck in the back of the net.
“In the moment, it was almost a relief, a weight off my shoulders,” Snively recalled. “Then, there was some happiness. But once it happens, you kinda have to get back dialed into the game.”
His recent scoring success could be leading to a bright future. After a challenging first two months, the forward is back to doing what he did on the Reston Raiders — scoring goals.
Hoping for a long, stable career in the NHL while playing on a winning team, Snively also recognizes that there are kids in Reston and Herndon watching him, just like he watched Ovechkin when he was their age.
“Keep working hard…and have fun doing it,” Snively said when asked what advice he’d give. “Even if it’s not in hockey, just love what you do.”
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