ESPN presents the best player in the world of the week. If there's a player you'd like to nominate, from your local team to a high school team to your beer league, email us here.
Whoa, this was a week for the Blues defenseman. He led all NHL scorers with three goals and six assists for nine points in four games. In the process, he became the second defenseman in team history to string together consecutive three-point games. The last time it happened was in 1987, when, like, everyone had consecutive three-point games.
T.J. Hensick, Ontario Reign (AHL)
Hensick was named the AHL player of the week for timeliness. He scored an overtime game-winner to defeat Cleveland. He set up the tying and game-winning goals against Milwaukee. Overall, he had three goals and three assists in six games for the Reign. Hensick is one of those AHL guys who's carved out a nice little career: Drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in 2005, getting time with both the Avs and the St. Louis Blues, and amassing 620 games in the AHL. He has 36 points in 50 games for Ontario, the Los Angeles Kings affiliate, this season.
Jake Kulevich, Jacksonville Icemen (ECHL)
From reader Allie Walker-Lavette:
"The Jacksonville Icemen are a first-year ECHL team, associated with the Winnipeg Jets. They have developed a dedicated following, the Jacksonville Icemen Puckheads. Supporting an ECHL team is tough, but the Puckheads consider themselves fortunate to get to watch and support players at the start of their pro careers. On March 11, the Puckheads organized a road trip to join their boys in South Carolina for a game against the Stingrays. About 30 fans made the trip up from Florida, greeting the team bus as it arrived, cheering their hearts out during the game, and immediately planning more trips. But here is why I am nominating Jake Kulevich for the Best Player in the World."
Jake Kulevich is a 25-year-old defenseman who is playing with the IceMen after playing 26 games with Manitoba this season. And he clearly knows the best thank you is the one that involves snacks.
Elizabeth Giguere, Clarkson University (NCAA)
The Knights won their second straight Div. I national championship last weekend, and needed overtime in every tournament game to accomplish it. Freshman and ECAC Rookie of the Year Elizabeth Giguere had a hand in all three game-clinching goals. She scored the overtime, title-winning goal in the National Championship game against Colgate on Sunday, with an amazing individual effort you can see here.
Alex Hayward, Plymouth South (MIAA)
Plymouth South's Alex Hayward flips one off the Stoneham goalie's back 2:36 into OT. Panthers are D2 state champs. pic.twitter.com/Ts5uhm6zxQ
- Chris McDaniel (@ChrisMcDaniel88) March 18, 2018
The junior high-school forward scored the game-tying and game-winning goals in their Div. 2 state boys' hockey championship win over Stoneham, the first D2 title in school history. The game-winner 2 minutes and 26 seconds into OT was scored off the midsection of the goalie, sending TD Garden into hysterics. (Shout out to Plymouth South's Matthew Peckham, whose buzzer-beater in the semifinals put them in the title game.)
Paul Tucek, Ridge Meadows Flames (PJHL)
How about this performance?
Probably the best @Pacific_Junior goaltending performance I've ever witnessed. @Toosey_1 was a human highlight reel tonight. Check out his 87-save performance in a triple OT @flamesjunior win over Delta. pic.twitter.com/bP6Cpd83OK
- Gregory Balloch (@GregBalloch) March 19, 2018
Full marks to Tucek for this effort in the Pacific Junior Hockey League. But we're going to give the nod to another triple-OT winner, one that sent her team to the championship final.
The best player in the world of the week is...
Noora Räty, Kunlun Red Star (CWHL)
One of our favorite hockey players in the world, Raty pitched a shutout in Game 3 of Kunlun's series-winning game against the Calgary Inferno, making 66 saves in a 1-0 triple-OT win to send the Red Star to the Clarkson Cup final on Sunday. That's over 114 minutes of play, the longest Clarkson Cup playoff game in history.
- Kunlun Red Star (@KunlunCWHL) March 19, 2018
Raty is a goalie of the year finalist, with a 1.60 GAA and .944 save percentage. And she's the best player in the world of the week.
(Thanks to reader Robyn and the others for the nomination.)