ESPN presents the best player in the world of the week, celebrating the player who has the best stats, impact or storyline to earn the honor. To nominate someone, please email us here by midnight ET on Monday each week. Photos and context are encouraged!
Jermaine Loewen, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
Loewen had a hat trick and seven points overall in three games over weekend for Kamloops, which doubled its season win total. Loewen has a great story: Orphaned in his native Jamaica, adopted by a Manitoba couple, and he became the first Jamaican-born player to be selected in the NHL draft, No. 199 overall by the Dallas Stars last June.
Lukas Pilar, Choceň (Pardubice Regional League)
We cast the net far and wide to find the best player in the world of the week, all the way to the fourth-highest league in the Czech Republic. Oh, it was a bad game for Choceň. It was down 8-1 to Česká Třebová by the 38th minute of the game. But then things turned around, fast: It scored six goals in just 5:37 to cut the lead to 8-7. Then it was bad again, as Choceň gave up two more goals. But then it was good! Choceň scored another three goals in the third period to push the game to overtime, where it lost in a shootout for a 11-10 defeat. Which is bad, but considering the context, pretty good. Anyway, Pilar had four goals and an assist to help his team to that 10-10 tie, so he gets the nod here. (Thanks to reader Jiří Vítek.)
Emma Polusny, St. Cloud State (NCAA)
We're here for this Emma Polusny save.
- HUSKY MAG (@UTVS_HUSKYMAG) October 28, 2018
There's a lot to love about this 19-year-old sophomore's save, like the fact that that she lurched to her left to make a save and then had to lurch back to knock the puck away from the goal line. Great stop from a Team USA hopeful.
Stephen Dhillon, Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
Speaking of goalies, Dhillon posted a 3-0-0 record, turning away 97 of 100 shots, for the IceDogs. That's a 0.97 goals-against average and a save percentage of .970, for those scoring at home. You might remember him from his Penguins development-camp goalie stint. No word if he's followed up on his 2016 Halloween perfection, having dressed up as a Starbucks beverage.
Amanda Leveille, Minnesota Whitecaps (NWHL)
Another goalie! Leveille protected two one-goal leads to lead the Whitecaps to a pair of wins over Buffalo, making over 30 saves in both victories. (That she won the Isobel Cup with the Beauts only added to the intrigue.) The NWHL goalie of the year last season, she's 6-0 with a .947 save percentage thus far for Minnesota. Oh, and an Oscar-worthy actress.
Goalie tip 407
We all will give up bad goals and will make great saves the only thing that really matters is the next shot! pic.twitter.com/onguPPi8CA
- Amanda Leveille (@MandyLeveille29) October 23, 2018
Conor Garland, Tucson Roadrunners (AHL)
Garland had never recorded three points in an AHL game, through more than 110 games. He did it in one period for the Roadrunners in a five-point explosion against Ontario, scoring a goal and two assists in the first period. He added two more helpers in a victory over San Diego in overtime.
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL)
There are few things more satisfying than watching Sid react to someone trying to snatch his crown. As the Connor McDavid vs. Auston Matthews debate raged, Crosby essentially said, "Um, over here!" and posted seven points in three games, including five goals, to lead Pittsburgh to a 3-0-0 week. That included this sweet overtime tally against McDavid's Oilers, part of Sid's "Backhands Across Western Canada" tour that continued in Calgary and Vancouver:
UNBELIEVABLE. CROSBY IN OT. pic.twitter.com/dq15URr2aw
- NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) October 24, 2018
An incredible week, but we're headed back to the Southwest for our winner.
And the best player in the world of the week is ...
Johnny Walker, Arizona State University
As Alex Ovechkin will tell you, there's no shame in scoring on the power play. No shame at all. So kudos to you, Mr. Walker, for this shooting gallery against Nebraska-Omaha on Saturday night:
- Arizona State Sun Devils (@TheSunDevils) October 29, 2018
The Sun Devils sophomore Ovi-spotted his way to a four-goal game, all on the power play, in ASU's 7-2 win. It was his first career hat trick. He added an assist in a win over Nebraska-Omaha on Friday night, as the Sun Devils have the longest winning streak in program history at four games.
And to his credit, Walker gets it: "I really didn't create too much on those," he said. "[Demetrios Koumontzis] made four sweet passes and I did what I was supposed to do. There definitely wasn't anything special I did, the other four guys worked just as hard and we got it done on the power play tonight."
We might be burying the lede here: Through eight games, Walker has eight goals, good enough to lead the nation in goals. Arizona State player, Phoenix native, and leading the nation in scoring. If only there was an appropriately named beverage to raise in his honor ...
Congrats to Johnny Walker, on being the best player in the world of the week! (Stick tap to reader Richie Flores for the nomination.)