ESPN presents the best player in the world of the week, celebrating the player that has the best stats, impact or storyline to earn the honor. To nominate someone, please email us here by midnight on Monday each week. Photos and context are encouraged!
Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames (NHL)
Our current leader for the Norris Trophy had himself a week for the first-place Flames. Giordano had three goals and five assists in four games to help the Flames to a perfect week. That included a three-assist game in a win over the Avalanche. He also played in his 800th game in the NHL, celebrating with two goals and an assist in a win over the Coyotes.
Morten Jürgens, Jukurit U20 (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
Jürgens is an 18-year-old winger from Estonia who also plays for the Jukurit in the SM-Liiga. Here he is with your normal, everyday, between-the-legs-and-back-again deke into a backhand shootout goal:
Morten Jürgens are you freaking kidding me? Unreal shootout goal. pic.twitter.com/znDsVneYnJ
- Alex Nunn (@aj_ranger) January 14, 2019
Two minutes for cruelty to the goaltender on that one.
Ryan Vandervlis, Jr. B Red Deer Vipers (Heritage Junior Hockey League)
In three games this month, the 20-year-old Red Deer native has five goals and five assists, which is impressive. But here's "impressive" redefined: Vandervlis was in a medically induced coma last August after a freak campfire accident burned 50 percent of his body. He played in the WHL last season; after the accident, it was assumed he'd never play again. But Vandervlis wouldn't be denied, fighting back to play the sport that he loves.
"They said it'll take upwards of two years to fully mature and heal. My scars are pretty young still, but my body is capable of playing at this level, so that's what I'm doing," he told Lethbridge Now. (s/t reader Byron Hackett)
Sam Carrick, San Diego Gulls (AHL)
Hey, remember Sam Carrick? Well, he's playing for the Anaheim Ducks' affiliate after getting in three games for them this season. He tore it up last week: back-to-back three-point games for the Gulls, with two goals and four assists.
San Diego has won eight games in a row. Sounds like they have pretty good coach down there, with NHL experience, and probably ready for another shot at the show. If only there were a team in the same state that might need a new coach in short order...
Moritz Müller, Kölner Haie (DEL)
Sometimes, our nominees don't have to do anything spectacular on the ice to merit a mention here. Such is the case with Moritz Müller, a 32-year-old German defenseman. Oh, he's an accomplished player, to be sure: Captain of the Kölner Haie of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga and a member of Germany's silver medal-winning Olympic men's hockey team in 2018. But the reason we're spotlighting him here is because he stood up for his sport.
On Saturday, the DEL Winter Game was held in Cologne between Kölner Haie and Düsseldorfer EG. These are long-standing rivals, and they played in a soccer stadium in front of 54,000 fans, and it was awesome.
Topwerte für das #DELWINTERGAME2019 mit @Koelner_Haie_72 vs @DuesseldorferEG @SPORT1: 230.000 Zuschauer im Schnitt & 340.000 in der Spitze waren bei der Übertragung am Samstag mit @SBanderm, @BastiSchwele & @RickGoldmann dabei. Dazu starke Marktanteile von 2,8% (M14-59) und 1,2% pic.twitter.com/CGfOKuGup7
- SPORT1 PR (@SPORT1_PR) January 14, 2019
Alas, despite all that fanfare, it wasn't covered at all on the nation's biggest Saturday night sports show, Aktuellen Sportstudio. Which didn't set well with Müller. He took to Facebook and Instagram and blasted the show, calling it "Soccer Studio" and slamming it for covering that sport more during its Winter Break than it did this hockey game.
Their meek response to his critique? That the hockey news didn't make the cut due to some "technical difficulties."
Full marks to Moritz Müller for standing up for his sport. (s/t to Simon Wittke for the nomination.)
Taylor Keast, La Ronge Ice Wolves (SJHL)
She didn't see the ice during the game, but Keast made history in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. The 17-year-old served as a backup goalie for the Ice Wolves on an emergency basis, and league officials believe she broke the SJHL's bender barrier. The team had traded away a goalie and the one they acquired as a replacement wasn't going to make the game in time. So Keast stepped in, having been mentioned by a local midget hockey coach. She took warmups, but didn't play.
"It was good. I was really nervous," she said. "So my movements were off a bit. But it was still a pretty cool experience." (s/t to Chris Clark)
And the best player in the world of the week is ...
Patrick Doyle, St. Ignatius College Prep
Now, who is Patrick Doyle?
He's a star for St. Ignatius College Prep in the Chicago Catholic Hockey League, which hasn't had a team win the Illinois state championship since 2012. But Doyle and the Wolfpack are 28-4-2, and might give the league its best shot at one in some time.
Speaking of shots, that's why Doyle is our honored player of the week. He's had a great season, with 26 goals and eight assists heading into this weekend's games. He's never been better than he was against the Benet Academy Redwings on Sunday, the team right behind St. Ignatius in the standings (and the alma mater of his father). Doyle had a hat trick, and his final goal of the trick came as the buzzer sounded -- in overtime!
A huge 5-4 OT W against @BenetHkyVarsity. MVP of the game- Pat Doyle with the hat-trick and the buzzer beater game winning goal. The boys are back this weekend with the Jesuit Cup. Go Pack! pic.twitter.com/UNRO8NpG0Q
- St. Ignatius Hockey (@SICPBoysHockey) January 14, 2019
I mean, c'mon, we get how many buzzer-beaters in a hockey year? Three, maybe? And this one was such a stunner that no one even remembered to throw a hat for Doyle.
The senior is chasing a scoring title for St. Ignatius this season, which is something no one on the team assumed he could before this season. Because, as it turns out, he wasn't on the team.
As reader Andrew Weiss of Northwestern University, who nominated Doyle, writes: "Doyle made a decision over the summer to attend Northfield Mount Hermon High School in Massachusetts, a big hockey prep school in the Northeast. Right before the hockey season started, Doyle elected to come back and play his senior year with St. Ignatius, a team with his close friends and his younger brother Sean."
The Wolfpack certainly are happy he made that call.
For an incredible moment and an incredible season, Patrick Doyle is the Best Player In The World Of The Week.